Inklings

A Toast to the Professor | Celebrating with Favorite LOTR Moments

Today is Tolkien’s 126th Birthday! Every year on January 3rd, we fans raise a toast! (According to The Tolkien Society, it’s at 9:00 p.m. your local time.) Here’s the official way from their website :):

All you need to do is stand, raise a glass of your choice of drink (not necessarily alcoholic), and say the words “The Professor” before taking a sip (or swig, if that’s more appropriate for your drink). Sit and enjoy the rest of your drink.

Current office decor

So tonight I’ll raise a glass, but thought it would be fun to share a few favorite quotes from the book and scenes from the LOTR movies!

1. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” The Fellowship of the Ring

2. “Courage is found in unlikely places…be of good hope!” (Gildor to Frodo in The Fellowship of The Ring)

3. “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.”

4. Samwise being Samwise

5. “Where there’s life there’s hope.” Sam’s Gaffer (The Two Towers)

6. “But that’s not the way of it with tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in mind. Folks seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t.” Samwise Gamgee

7. Éowyn being awesome:

8. “He (Faramir) looked at her, and being a man whom pity deeply stirred, it seemed to him that her (Éowyn) loveliness amid her grief would pierce his heart. And she looked at him and saw the grave tenderness in his eyes, and yet knew, for she was bred among men of war, that here was one whom no Rider of the Mark would outmatch in battle.” I love this because it shows the romantic Tolkien was (Return of the King)

9. “For Frodo.” Gets me every time.

I couldn’t resist, I had to sneak one in from The Hobbit:
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” (Thorin to Bilbo as he was dying)

What are some of your favorite scenes?

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Inklings

The Silmarillion (Part 2) by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

It’s time for more of Middle Earth! In case you want to check out Part 1 discussion of The Silmarillion, you can find that post here.

Yet again I am amazed at Tolkien’s ability of creating such an incredible world. There’s intense sadness, pain, evil, extra evil and yet, goodness, hope and love. Even if you don’t like fantasy, you have to respect the talent.

I love the sentences he creates (and descriptions). Like this one:

But Fingolfin gleamed beneath it as a star; for his mail was overlaid with silver, and his blue shield was set with crystals; and he drew his sword Ringil, that glittered like ice.

In case you were wondering how creepy and scary and evil Morgoth was, here’s a snippet of what he was like (and also an epic and tragic Tolkien battle scene):

Then Morgoth hurled aloft Grond, the Hammer of the Underworld, and swung it down like a bolt of thunder. But Fingolfin sprang aside, and Grond rent a mighty pit in the earth, whence smoke and fire darted. Many times Morgoth essayed to smite him, and each time Fingolfin leaped away, as a lightning shoots from under a dark cloud; and he wounded Morgoth with seven wounds, and seven times Morgoth gave a cry of anguish, whereat the hosts of Angband fell upon their faces in dismay, and the cries echoed in the Northlands. But at the last the King grew weary, and Morgoth bore down his shield upon him. Thrice he was crushed to his knees, and thrice arose again and bore up his broken shield and stricken helm. But the earth was all rent and pitted about him, and he stumbled and fell backward before the feet of Morgoth; and Morgoth set his left foot upon his neck, and the weight of it was like a fallen hill. Yet with his last and desperate stroke Fingolfin hewed the foot with Ringil, and the blood gushed forth black and smoking and filled the pits of Grond.

Also, Sauron is all kinds of nasty as well: “Sauron was become now a sorcerer of dreadful power, master of shadows and of phantoms, foul in wisdom, cruel in strength, misshaping what he touched, twisting what he ruled, lord of werewolves; his dominion was torment.” He also sometimes turned into a vampire. So there’s that.

But, as with the first half, it would be near impossible to discuss each story or segment, so I thought I would spend most of my time on the story of Beren and Lúthien because it’s my favorite. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • I love their relationship. From how it started, to how it grew.
  • She fights right along side him.
  • They help each other overcome evil
  • They show what’s worth fighting for
  • They change into some hardcore animals when taking on Morgoth
  • They have their own happily ever after
  • They have the most awesome animal best friend ever in Huan the Hound of Valinor.

I think the way Tolkien even started our their chapter says something:

Among the tales of sorrow and of ruin that come down to us from the darkness of those days there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures. And of these histories most fair still in the ears of the Elves is the tale of Beren and Lúthien. Of their lives was made the Lay of Leithian, Release from Bondage, which is the longest save one of the songs concerning the world of old; but here the tale is told in fewer words and without song.

Sigh….

Then there’s simply sentences like this:

But she was not willing to be parted from him again, saying: ‘You must choose, Beren, between these two: to relinquish the quest and your oath and seek a life of wandering upon the face of the earth; or to hold to your word and challenge the power of darkness upon its throne. But on either road I shall go with you, and our doom shall be alike.’

This was and still is my favorite story in The Silmarillion.

Then of course, if you’ve read The Children of Húrin, I’m sure you were just as excited to re-read the cliffnotes version of one of the most DEPRESSING FAMILY STORIES EVER. In case I forgot how tragic their lives were due to Morgoth’s wickedness, I was super excited to re-live it. Since the internet doesn’t give off sarcastic vibes, let me tell you…I got to be sad all over again. It’s such a sad sad tale. Tolkien definitely introduced it right:

Here that tale is told in brief, for it is woven with the fate of the Silmarils and of the Elves; and it is called the Tale of Grief, for it is sorrowful, and in it are revealed most evil works of Morgoth Bauglir.

One thing that came from it though, Húrin was pretty legit to withstand Morgoth’s torment as it all went to rags around him. “And even so it came to pass; but it is not said that Húrin asked ever of Morgoth either mercy or death, for himself or for any of his kin.”

Of course there is quite a bit more that goes on, but those were some highlights for me. As far as discussion questions, I have mostly the same ones:

1. After reading the whole book, do you have a favorite story?
2. What are some overall thoughts about it?

It’s been real Silmarillion, until I return to Middle Earth!

Inklings

My (Current) Top 6 Books Written by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

Welcome to the final post of Inklings Week! You can find all the posts here. Thank you for joining in – it’s been a lot of fun and I look forward to next year (which will actually be by International Inklings Day, May 11th)! Think there’s something that should be added for next year? Please share!

Whenever I create any type of “favorites” list, I don’t include books written by Tolkien or Lewis. It wouldn’t be fair to the competition. But since it’s Inklings Week, I wanted to share my current favorites of the boys.

If you’re new to either Tolkien or Lewis, then this post is especially for you, but only because I get the honor of introducing you to some of the best books ever written. It’s a list of my favorites and ones I recommend to folks who are interested reading one of their books for the first time. (If I’ve read it for this blog, then it’s linked up, so you can hear me gush and discuss on those posts.)

Let’s start with Professor Tolkien. How can one adequately put into words just how amazing the creation of Middle Earth is? Before this turns into a gush fest, here’s my current top 3.

  • The Hobbit
  • The Two Towers
  • The Return of the King (Stop by next Wed. for this discussion!)

C.S. Lewis is a bit more difficult. From Narnia to Mere Christianity, how’s a girl to choose? Well, I’m going with the following three. Ask me next month and the list will probably change, but no matter, because these are all excellent ones to start with.

  • The Screwtape Letters
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • The Great Divorce

I’m glad we can all agree that they were geniuses and I look forward to reading more from them!

What are some of your favorite works by Tolkien and/or Lewis?

Inklings

Welcome to Inklings Week (and Why I Love Their Books)!

Ready for a bit of summer fun?! It’s the first ever Inklings Week! I thought of doing a Inklings Week earlier this year around International Inklings Day (it’s not a thing yet, but it shall be!) in May, but the idea popped in my head two days before. All kinds of planning time right? I also didn’t want to wait until 2016, so I figured July was the perfect month! (For all the posts from this year, just go here!)

First, things first – a (hopefully) fun announcement. You’ve already heard this if you subscribe to my quarterly newsletter (which you should totally sign up if you haven’t! It’s all kinds of bookish fun and there’s giveaways. You can here), but if not…there’s an Inklings podcast coming! I’m working on the details (like how I even get this up on iTunes) and material (I’m hoping it won’t be just me talking!) and I’m really excited about it. So if you’re into podcasts, I hope you’ll join in the fun!

There’s plenty of reasons people love the works of Tolkien and Lewis and I’d love to hear why you do! For me? Where to begin right? Their books have shown me what it means to be brave, what it means to be a true and loyal friend until the very end, what it means to love, what it means to fight for good against all odds, and what it means to embrace what you were meant to do.

Their books have also helped me realize it’s okay to wrestle with faith, to understand God’s character in ways I didn’t see before, how to hope in the most dire of circumstances and that there’s always a chance to turn back.

They wrote more than just books. They left a legacy (of their lives and their stories) that will continue to impact generations to come.

I love knowing I can always come back to them and be amazed. Sigh…I just love them.

So please, fellow fans, share below! Why do you enjoy reading Tolkien and Lewis?

Bookish Radness, Inklings

You don’t like Lord of the Rings? This Post is For You.

I like to think I have an open mind. I can debate with others who share completely different opinions from my own without getting fiery or feisty. Healthy debate is a good thing. Why? It helps you really understand why you value and believe what you do and you can learn a thing or two from other people.

Unless we’re discussing one thing. Then I have no choice but to inwardly (and quite possibly outwardly) judge you. What topic would cause such a dramatic reaction you ask? Must be one of the hot topics right? Religion or politics si? Nope, this goes much deeper readers.

Much much deeper.

We’re talking about Lord of the Rings* internet. Lord.of.the.Rings.

When someone tells me they don’t like Lord of the Rings, I’m a bit taken aback at first.

Say wha????

So I am here to make my confessions. I can’t help but possibly think some (or all) of these things when I encounter one of those lonely souls who doesn’t seem to enjoy my beloved Middle Earth.**

1. I don’t trust you.
Or anything you might say.

2. If we’re related, I question our blood connection.
Neither my parents or brother enjoy this type of genre, thus they aren’t fans of this EPIC, AWESOME AND LIFE-CHANGING story. As I’ve mentioned before, this has led me to believe I’m actually adopted from Middle Earth and they are hiding this from me. The only other explanation is they simply don’t like them and I’m not sure I can emotionally handle that yet. Now I know how Smeags felt.

3. I’m going to assume you hate friendship and love.
Because that’s what Middle Earth adventures are made of. If you want to be a murderer of love and happiness, well, to each his own. But I also have to ask, do you also hate puppies? Sunsets? Chocolate??? Because that’s what it feels like. Forget stabbing me in the back, just go right to the front. Why you’re at it, punch me in the face too.

4. I’m also going to assume you have plans to take over the world since you, as mentioned above, obviously hate friendship and love.
I should just start calling you Sauron now. But it’s cool, I’ve got arrow wielding friends.

5. I unfortunately can’t invite you to all of the things that happen in the cool kids’ circle.
I may or may not have thrown extremely awesome Middle Earth type get togethers in the past. Show up at my door with Frodo haterade?! Well then…

6. I might not show it, but you’re crushing my heart.
I can only handle so much of the world speaking crimes against Tolkien. But it’s cool, crying is healthy.

7. I’m going to need you to please provide legitimate reasons for not liking my Middle Earth.
If you don’t like Lord of the Rings because you were once attacked by a Hobbit, I can give you that. But if say you adore certain reality television or reading 50 Shades of Grey instead, well….I can only weep for you and all of humanity.

But if none of these apply to you and you’re Team Middle Earth, then if we’re ever in the same town, let’s pull a Merry and Pippin kay?!

*This also applies to all things The Hobbit and Narnia.
**This is all in jest of course! But only kinda. J.K….j…..k…..

What have I missed fellow fans? Also, if you aren’t a fan – what is it about the series you don’t like? I promise I’m genuinely curious as I know not everyone is a fantasy fan :). Also, if you want to join in the monthly Inklings series, I’d love to have you join! You can find all the details here!

Inklings

The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien | The Inklings Series

I’m so excited for another Inklings post! Today we’re diving into one of Tolkien’s sagas of Middle Earth, but before we do, since this is a lesser read work, I want to officially warn you that there shall be many o’ spoilers ahead, so please no hollerin at me if you feel jipped! And I will say it’s very much worth reading!

First things first. The story was not at all, I mean, AT ALL what I expected. Being used to epic heroes and characters you love, it was an interesting twist to read a tale of woe and tragedy. My blogging friend Wesley may have said it best: it was like an episode of Game of Thrones. I don’t watch the show, but I knew exactly what she meant. People dying, curses thrown down and oh yeah, PEOPLE DYING. While it was very different, I still kinda liked it. It definitely evoked emotion and it expanded the Middle Earth universe in a different kind of way. Tolkien knows how to write a story that draws you in and this one most definitely did (you know, after the first few chapters of getting into the details and Middle Earth vibe), even if it ended rather tragic.

Random sidenote: If you read the intro, you may have seen this, but I loved how Tolkien himself described The Silmarillion (since it’s one of my favorites): Tolkien said of the tale of Beren and Luthien: “the chief of the stories of The Silmarillion” and “the story is (I think a beautiful and powerful) heroic-fairy-romance…” This makes me want to read it all over again!

Random Fun Facts and Thoughts

  • Middle earth was once called the Great Lands and rests between the seas of the east and west.
  • Lembas bread! Túrin the first man to eat it. Nom! Nom! I feel geekyishly cool knowing that fact.
  • The whole time I kept thinking donde esta Hùrin? Oh wait…he was released to find his family destroyed and his wife die in his arms.
  • One of Tùrin’s names, Turambar (Master of Doom) was such a fitting name.

Favorite Quote: “I do but follow my trade, which is Orc-slaying.  I have no idea why, but it made me smile. I’m adding it to my resume.

Thoughts of Characters

Morgoth: Why hello satan! He plays dirty. Tolkien has such a way of epitomizing such things in characters. In Morgoth’s case? Pure Evil. This was a great quote about him as well: “Neither are you the most mighty; for you have spent your strength upon yourself and wasted it in your own emptiness.”

Andróg and his band of outlaws: I had flashbacks to last season on The Walking Dead and the loonies that Rick/Daryl/Michonne and Carl took care of. But they definitely redeemed themselves. Like Andróg? Times 50!

Túrin: I gotta admit, overall I wasn’t a huge fan of him. It doesn’t help that I had Aragorn on my mind. Early on, he was described as this: “…he learned to speak early and was slow to forget injustice or mockery; but the fire of his father was also in him, and he could be sudden and fierce. Yet he was quick to pity, and the hurts or sadness of living things might move him to tears…” His arrogance seemed to blind him (like from the true evil of Morgoth’s curse), but his tale is a most interesting one.

Beleg: He was such a true true friend! Like Samwise. He was probably my favorite of the book. I love the ideas and ways Tolkien displays friendship. Such strong and amazing themes. But what happens to him? HE DIES.

“Thus ended Beleg’s Strongbow, truest of friends, greatest in skill of all that harboured in the woods of Beleriand in the Elder Days, at the hands of him whom he most loved; and the grief was graven on the face of Túrin and never faded.”

Another great friend? Brandir. Too bad our buddy Túrin accidentally kills him as well. Cool.

Mîm: Shady McShady.

Niënor: I felt bad for her. I’ve decided those are my final feelings. When she finally entered the scene grown up, I thought her fate would liken to Éowyn or Arwen, but no. She did not. She died. By jumping off a cliff into raging rapids.

“Mourning you named me, but I will not mourn alone, for father, brother, and mother. But of these you only have I known, and above all do I love. And nothing that you fear nor do I.” At first I was excited to finally see more of her, but after everything that happened, homegirl, you should have stayed.

Glaurung the Dragon: He is evil. This quote is one of many examples. “The neighing of the horses and the cries of the riders came to the ears of Glaurung; and he was well pleased.” His love of destroying humanity was just creepy.

THINGS I NEED TO TALK ABOUT!

  • Remember that one time Túrin and Niënor, GOT BLOODIED MARRIED?? I mean WHA?? I thought I read it wrong or had their names mixed up. Nope. That sealed the deal that this story was 100% a tale of a cursed family. Tolkien wasn’t lying about Morgoth. Then when she finds out the truth, she jumps off a cliff and he kills himself with his sword. Twisted Morgoth. Twisted.
  • Oh and she was pregnant.

“To Brethil they brought their dark doom’s shadow. Here their doom has fallen, and of grief this land shall never again be free.”

Alright let’s discuss!

  1. How would you rank Túrin against the other men heroes of Middle Earth history?
  2. Did this book meet your expectations?
  3. I need to brush up on my Middle Earth history, but when does Morgoth get the boot?
  4. Since friendship plays such a major role, what’s one of your favorites in Tolkien lore?

The more I read of Tolkien and his tales of battles with men, the more I see how his WWI experience influenced his writings. I cannot fathom the horrors of surviving battle, but Tolkien’s tales pay homage to the brotherhood bonded in battle.

In case you missed the last announcement, we’ll be reading Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis next. The discussion is set for July 16, 2014. Hope to have you join us!

Book Reviews, Fiction, Inklings

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien | Book Review

What can I say about The Hobbit? Here’s my review in one word: Awesomeness.

J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the greatest authors ever and if we’re being honest, I’ll stop being your friend if you say anything bad about his stories or him.

It’s been so long since I’ve read The Hobbit that it was like reading it for the first time. I forgot so much of it and I love Tolkien’s way of telling a story. I laughed at many lines, grew to love each character and was reminded again that Tolkien was a genius. If you’ve never read the books, put them next on your list!

He created a language, incredible story lines, creativity beyond most people and even today’s famous books are influenced by his story (I love me some Harry Potter, but you can’t help but notice the similarities with Lord of the Rings). I am so excited to see the movie coming out this weekend! Not sure how three movies will pan out, but I figure that’s just more Tolkien radness on the big screen.

In case you live under a rock and haven’t seen this preview, you’re welcome. How do you not get chills when Thorin starts singing?

After every read or re-read of Tolkien, I’m left with one single question: Is it too much to ask for Middle Earth to be real and for me to be an elf or rider of Rohan?

I didn’t think so either.