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Tolkien

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by AlexanderKira, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I don't think that would work either. Sauron was tuned to the ring. If they started flying in, I think he would have immediately sensed them coming. It would be a much more dangerous approach and much more risky, with the fate of the world at stake. Who knows if the eagles would even have done it. Of course, it is a fictional work, but it is fun to speculate.
     
  2. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Well, if Sauron was so connected to the ring... how come he did not realize that Frodo and Sam had walked into Mordor and were heading to the volcano to destroy it?? After all, Sauron was distracted by Aragorn and Frodo's path was cleared, so they could have distracted Sauron for the eagles to fly in and that would have been much quicker =)

    That would have ruined the story, but like you said, it's fun to speculate a little...
     
  3. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    A blind spot is a blind spot. It never occurs to you to cover something you never even think of. No one can think of everything… and I highly doubt Sauron was the sort of person to surround himself with good advisers who might point out such little details. :p (Nor, as I previously mentioned, was getting to Mount Doom exactly a "little" thing.) Would you have been happier if he'd been defeated because of some big thing? Say, if the only thing he was vulnerable to was silver weapons–but Mordor was a major silver exporter because it liked the cash? It's usually the little things that get you: the big ones, you do think of, and prepare for.

    (I might have been inclined to plug up the entrance with a rock, too… then again, if there's no reason for anyone except you to go there anyway–which, apparently, he does from time to time, since there's a well-maintained path up the mountain from his front door at Barad-Dur–why go to the bother of putting a door in?)

    The eagles couldn't actually "drop" the ring into the mountain: while the volcano is described as "fuming," it also was clearly not actively bubbling away… passages such as "There was a brief red flame that flickered under the clouds and died away" make it reasonably plain that exposed lava in the caldera was very much an intermittent thing. Imagine what would have happened if they'd tried to fly it in, only to discover that at the time of their arrival there wasn't any place to drop it? That would have made for a shorter story, too, no doubt.…

    No, the Ring had to go to the place where it was made: in a cave in the side of the mountain. Which means that even if they could fly into Mordor (through the smoke, which was rather conveniently cleared by the north wind the eagles rode in on after the Ring was destroyed), they'd still have to locate the crack, find a place to land and off-load passengers (it's implied that they did not land when picking Frodo and Sam up, but simply snagged them off the rocks), etc.

    It's less accurate, I think, to say that Sauron was attuned to the Ring per se than to say he was attuned to someone using it. Which is why the Ringbearer was constantly cautioned to avoid doing so. Proximity seems to be a factor as well, along with physical barriers: he spends close to five centuries within a few hundred miles of the Ring without ever locating Gollum beneath the Misty Mountains. I imagine his ability to sense it would have made it trivial for him to locate it in that warehouse where the Ark of the Covenant ended up. ;) By comparison, at the very end, when Frodo puts on the Ring–the first time it gets worn since they entered Mordor–and claims it for his own, Sauron becomes instantly aware of this… and of how badly he'd screwed up, because he also knows exactly where the Ring is. If he'd had more than about two minutes to react, who knows how things would have turned out? The Nazgul he'd recalled were within sight of the mountain as Sauron's power crumbled: Sam sees them crash and burn at the end.

    Saying the eagles could have "distracted" Sauron is, I suspect, simply incorrect. If he'd seen a bunch of eagles flying into his realm, he would have either slapped them aside as a triviality, or he would have focused his full attention on them to discover why they were engaging in such uncharacteristic behavior–and his full attention is never focused on anything until that very last moment in Mount Doom: it's entirely possible that he could have found the Ring at any moment after it passed into Mordor simply by giving serious consideration to the possibility it was there to be found. If it turned out the eagles had the Ring with them, he would have noted this and reacted accordingly; if they did not, he would have wondered why they were there–with a distraction being about the only reasonable explanation, at which point he would have realized he was being distracted and started looking for what it was he was being distracted from. (Along with slapping the eagles aside as a triviality.) In other words, such an obvious distraction would have been worse than no distraction.

    The reason the action outside Mordor works as a distraction is because Sauron doesn't realize it is. (Which is pretty much required for a distraction to work under any circumstances, the only exception being one you're forced to react to even if you realize that's what it is… which in turn requires that the distraction be able to itself turn the tables on you if you don't.) He has, at that point, suffered a series of surprises and reverses: Saruman's treachery and defeat, the death of the Lord of the Nazgul, the military defeats in Gondor, the revelation of a new King armed with the sword that had cut the Ring off his hand ages ago forged anew. Momentum is going the way of his enemies, contrary to what he had believed them capable of; in such circumstances, it is reasonable–in his lights–to assume that Aragorn's army represents a genuine challenge to his power, in spite of its apparent weakness. And the most serious challenge to his power–and to him the most obvious, if not the only possible way for that army to win–would be if they had the Ring with them. Which is exactly what he believes. (This is far and away the easiest kind of distraction to pull off: one which confirms what your opponent is inclined to believe anyway.)

    Yes, speculation is fun to engage in–as well as worthwhile. It helps you focus on what the author did right as well as wrong, see the things that may have been behind what is written but which never get stated… which can only serve to benefit your own writing in the long run.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
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  4. Hm, that'd be a way for a little heat to escape from the mountain. I suppose you could call that *ahem* a small thermal exhaust port.
     
  5. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Right. In fact, this is pretty easy to answer: the balrogs are Maiar as well. (Which makes their original name–Valaraukar–a bit confusing, as that would suggest they ought to be Valar. But Tolkien is quite clear about them being Maiar. As well as Sauron outranking them.) Since Gandalf barely managed to defeat one–technically, he didn't: it was a draw–it's a fair bet that he'd be turned into wizard squishies if he'd tried taking Sauron on heads up. Also, since Gandalf apparently returns more powerful after his death, there appear to be considerable limits on how much of their original might the Istari retained, whereas there were no obvious ones on Sauron. So I'd have to say Saruman couldn't have pulled it off, either. (Of course, my single biggest gripe about the trilogy is just how much of a wimp Saruman is, once it comes down to it.)

    With the Ring, Gandalf (or, presumably, Saruman) probably would have won: he and Elrond both imply as much when they refuse to take it. I'd have to say it's a stone-cold certainty Galadriel would have been able to win–she clearly believes she could, given her reaction to being offered it. On the other hand, she's also no less than ten thousand years old, possibly the oldest elf in Middle-Earth other than (maybe) Cirdan; is one of the few remaining who had personally met the Valar in their own digs–no small thing: Glorfindel is another, and he was willing to charge all nine Nazgul accompanied only by three hobbits and a guy with a broken sword; she was trained by yet another Maia after she'd returned from Valinor… and is the only wearer of one of the Three with the chutzpah to reveal her ring before the end of the story. (Or, as I put it in another thread: "But she's Galadriel.")
     
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  6. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Ravana, thanks for that detailed explanation of Middle-Earth matters =) I have read only the first book of The Lord of the Rings, so I do not really know all the details of that world and everything about the story... Anyway my answer is yes, I would have liked Sauron to be defeated because of some BIG thing instead of a little mistake like not sealing the cavern with a boulder!! I hate the entire super-evil-dark-lord-that-must-be-defeated concept, which is why it is not seen at all in my own Fantasy stories
     
  7. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Maester

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    I think this is what I was trying to say. Oh and I am 95% sure Cirdan is older, he is the only elf to reach the third phase of life, if I remember correctly.
     
  8. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Don't know about phases; don't recall having ever seen a reference to them. I've never seen any mention of Cirdan's parentage, which suggests that he's one of the first born (which is why I had him pegged as older). He shows up fairly early on as the lord of one group that never crossed into the west, but it isn't said whether or not he was their original leader.

    Galadriel is third generation (which doesn't mean a lot, since for elves, a generation could be anything from a couple decades to a couple epochs). There's no mention of precisely when she was born, but she was present in Valinor, so she has to be around ten thousand (there's some indication she was born after the elves had reached Valinor, though this doesn't seem completely clear; if correct, this would put her maximum age at c. 10,650). If my main source is correct as to when the elves first arose–11,362 years before the War of the Ring–Cirdan beats her by at least seven hundred years or so.

    Speaking of which… a site you might be interested in checking out, if you haven't seen it before:

    The Encyclopedia of Arda

    Seems pretty reliable, even if one might wish a couple entries had greater detail.

    -

    I'm no fan of "super-ultimate-dark-lord" types either: with ya there. On the other hand, if you prefer to see them beat by big things, you can always read The Silmarillion: Sauron's original boss, Morgoth (aka Melkor), was beaten by main force… of the gods. Which is also not something I'm terribly fond of.… :rolleyes:

    You take whatever win you can get. If you find a weakness in your enemy you can take advantage of, you'll probably be inclined to use it, even if you might have obtained victory by other means. The biggest reason dark lords are so uninteresting is because something like that is usually the only way they can be beaten–no climactic battles, grand strategies, or other similarly nifty stuff. You can't fight them, directly at least… which usually makes them boring.

    Still, I'd argue that sneaking into the enemy's impregnable fortress-realm, crossing twenty leagues of hostile territory, evading constant surveillance and outmaneuvering all his minions isn't exactly "small"… even if the final act was no bigger than, say, sliding a dagger into his back. Not having the Crack of Doom guarded is roughly equivalent to not having his bedchamber guarded–no, I don't know if he slept or not: the point is he probably would have considered posting guards outside his bedchamber just as pointless. (Or inside it: why neglect that added layer of protection?) I highly doubt he was worried about an assassin trying to knife him, even though it had already been established he could be harmed by at least some weapons (he lost the Ring when he lost the finger it was on). He might have even welcomed the attempt. And it probably would have been just as dissatisfying if that's how he was taken down.

    Or… Tolkien could have left out the One Ring altogether, had the story end in a draw–essentially what would have happened if he'd left things as they stood after the battle at Minas Tirith–and set up a sequel. I think we can all be thankful he didn't do that, at least. :p

    Keep in mind something that was mentioned earlier, too: most of the "quest-to-save-the-world-from-the-dark-lord" stories you've seen were written after this, and in imitation of it. If all the other stories you'd read ended with the heroes triumphant because of their swords, their spells and their virtue, this would probably have seemed an incredibly clever and refreshing variation. For that matter, if none of the other stories you'd read ever included a "dark lord," even that might have seemed clever.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  9. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Maester

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    Something I know, that Ravana doesn't? Oh no! It's a sign of the Apocalypse... Fly you fools!!!

    Thing about phases is actually not very well known. If you look at Cirdan's description in the Grey Havens chapter it mentions that he has a beard and someone asked him why since elves don't have facial hair. His reply was that he was in the third stage of his life. Also now that I think about it Cirdan was alive during the great migration and the Sundering of the Elves so yah I think he is one of the firstborn.

    No, not the accursed Encyclopedia of Arda! must resist reading articles and not doing work...

    Originally Tolkien was planning on writing a sequel with the Witch-King as the big baddy, but quickly canned the idea.
     
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  10. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

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    I'm glad that someone brought it up. I really am. I can't stand people who suggest that Tolkien imagined such races we view now as the standard in this genre.

    Have any of you not read The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson? I have a copy right beside me.
    "Written in Iceland a century after the close of the Viking Age, it tells ancient stories of the Norse creation epic and recounts the battles that follow as gods, giants, dwarves and elves struggle for survival."
     
  11. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Before or after he offed him in front of Minas Tirith? :p

    I see the beard; don't see anyone make mention of it. Perhaps that's an edition issue? Dunno. Thought I'd seen references to beards on one or two other elves somewhere, too, but I can't seem to locate any offhand. (Though, of course, since you don't normally end a description with "…and he didn't have a beard," they could be all over the place, for all we know. Or not.)

    And the day I can't learn something new is the day I pack it in. Though I honestly doubt that will ever be much of a worry. ;)
     
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  12. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Yeah, well, nobody reads the classics any more, eh? Sturluson, Spenser, Ferdowsi, Ovid, Hesiod, Virgil, Valmiki, Chrétien de Troyes, Lönnrot, all those guys named Anonymous.…

    Oh, well: what can ya do? I mean, look at all the people here who haven't even read Tolkien.
     
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  13. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    What Frodo and Sam did was remarkable, as well as Aragorn and the others, especially considering that they do not have magical powers!! That was certainly not something small...

    I don't know what it's like in the book, but in the movies when the riders of Rohan arrive at the final battle and they see Sauron's army, Eowyn says "Courage, Merry, courage!!" and that moment touched my heart, it's so inspiring =) Anyway, everything would have been for nothing if Sauron had just thought about putting a boulder at the entrance to the cavern!!

    That's what annoys me about characters like Sauron, Voldemort and the White Witch...
     
  14. DameiThiessen

    DameiThiessen Minstrel

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    Perhaps many others have already said this, but I'll give it a shot.

    Tolkien, by far, was not the first or only fantasy writer of his kind. Lewis gave us Narnia, Baum gave us Oz, and James gave us Shangri-la. Before that we still has stories of Atlantis, Lilliput, and Utopia. And of course there's piles of mythology and folklore before that. But Tolkien defined High Fantasy. His stories are not about human beings finding a magical world and trying to help people within it and then get back home like so many others were. He was one of the first to actually create a seperate magical realm (with no connection to our's) and set all of his characters within it, rather than have someone from this world cross over and explore. It is a completely different place, much of which is unfamiliar. And that is what made him so different and original.
    Nowadays it isn't uncommon to have a book or a movie introduce us to a new universe and the things within it. But back then this was still fairly unfamiliar.

    The elements of his stories were among the first of his kind. They were based on folklore and mythology and previous works, yes, but were highly original all the same. So you can't really call them a cliché, because they were what came first. Everything after it is a cliché. ;P
     
  15. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Maester

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    I wouldn't say it was completely separate. Middle-earth was supposed to be a pre-history/mythology of Britain.
     
  16. DameiThiessen

    DameiThiessen Minstrel

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    But you understand what I mean, don't you? It wasn't about someone from the 1930s travelling to Middle Earth, where readers from the 1930s are familiar with the nature of at least one character and the history of the place they're from. All of it takes place in the fictional world of Middle Earth, which he created himself.
     
  17. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Or, to put what DameiThiessen said another way: Tolkien invented "world-building" as a pursuit separate from the writing of the story itself. And did it so well we're still all playing catch-up.

    -

    SheilawiszSheilawisz: Actually, in the book, Eowyn doesn't say a thing to Merry at that point.

    What is in the book is dramatic enough it still sends tingles up my spine after reading it for the twenty-somethingth time. I know–because it just did it again last night. And it's not like I don't know exactly what's going to happen by now.… ;)
     
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  18. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Ravana, that part of the movie touched me because I was already feeling very inspired by Merry: I mean, as a Hobbit he was so small and not as strong as the Rohan riders, but still he wanted to fight, to do his part to protect his country and his people... They wanted to leave him behind but Eowyn takes him with her, and then they arrive at the battlefield and they see such a huge and awful army... "Courage, Merry, courage!!" That's my favourite part of the entire movie series =)
     
  19. Wormtongue

    Wormtongue Minstrel

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    Tolkien may be the creator of the genre, but he was not the first of the genre that I read. I believe Dragonriders of Pern* was the first fantasy I read. And I read countless other fantasy and sci-fi novels before I read LOTR.

    I say that to say this: I feel I had a good feel for the genre when I first read LOTR. I found it a bit purple, and dense, but still excellent adventure.

    I could not read The Silmarillion. Way too dense for my taste. Reading it was too much work. lol

    *I know there is disagreement about what genre Dragonriders properly belongs to, but it's got dragons and that's fantasy to me. Although in the end it turned pure sci-fi...
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011
  20. JamesTFHS

    JamesTFHS Scribe

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    Hello i am a die hard lord of the rings fan and have been studying the novels for several years. I understand why you have a hard time reading the novels, the way in which Tolkien writes his works is difficult for americans because that is not a way in which we talk or even write now. I believe it is called some sort of king charles dialect but i am not sure.

    First i would like to address the orcs issue. Orcs are the twisted deformed versions of elves. The dark god Melkor kidnapped and tortured thousands of elves till they became the twisted forms of orcs. that is really why they are evil. Though the other beings view elves as perfect the gods that created them do not. The elves were originally created to guide the world in its destiny but the all failed because the cared more about knowledge than anything else. So the gods view them as fallen beings that are far from perfect. Though i am not sure that Tolkien really makes that clear.

    I am not going to talk about the evil part cause it is very simple with most of the villains. The eagles are far older then sauron and have the blessing of the gods so really sauron couldn't do shit to them and they dont give a **** about anyone but gandalf really. Though they dont say it they pretty much only show up at the black gate to save gandalf's ass at the end of the books/movies. Same goes with tom bombadil. He could probably walk into mordor with the one ring and sauron would be too afraid to stop him from destroying it. Sauron is a pussy in all honesty. And i am sure if all of middle-earth were like burning and being destroyed the eagles would just pick up gandalf and fly back to the undying lands and say **** you to everyone. They are too old to give a shit.

    The ghost thing doesnt make much sense but that kinda has always been the rules with spirits. and i dont think they really wanted aragorn to save them. i think in the book they would have rather been left alone. again probably dont give a **** about anything.

    Tolkien viewed it as a pre history/mythology of england because england does not have one of their own. All fairy tales we view as english really are french and viking really. Tolkien also more of called it a secondary world or fairie realm.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2011
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