Inklings

Closing out Inklings Week 2019 with International Inklings Day

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

So what exactly is International Inklings Day? It celebrates these two genius and the beginning of their friendship. On May 11th, 1926, Tolkien and Lewis were gathered for English tea with Oxford English faculty at Merton College and met for the first time. This would begin a 40 year friendship and this friendship would inspire generations to come and also help to produce some of literature’s greatest masterpieces. I thought to close out the week, I’d re-post the story of their friendship, since it’s been a while. I hope you enjoy! (Originally posted on May 11, 2016)

The Friendship of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

“Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.” Cicero

Today is officially International Inklings Day!!!! On this day 90 years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were gathered for English tea with Oxford English faculty at Merton College and met for the first time. This would begin a 40 year friendship and this friendship would inspire generations to come and also help to produce some of literature’s greatest masterpieces.

Yet, truth be told, it wasn’t friendship at first sight. After that first meeting, Lewis commented (I believe jokingly!) about Tolkien: “No harm in him: only needs a smack or so.” He thought him rather opinionated, but this was more due to the fact that at the time Lewis was an atheist and Tolkien was a strong Roman Catholic. As Diana Pavlac Glyer explained in Bandersnatch (which really is an excellent book and you should all read it!)

“It got worse. As Lewis and Tolkien got to know each other, it became clear that they had a number of serious disagreements. They had different interests and personalities. They came from different religious traditions. And they had different academic specialties. Lewis was an expert in literature and philosophy; Tolkien was a philologist, an expert in languages. He loved Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon. Lewis said that meeting Tolkien triggered two of his childhood prejudices. He explains, “At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a [Catholic], and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.

Soon after the faculty disagreed on required courses for English students and Lewis and Tolkien found themselves on opposite sides of the debate. So Tolkien decided that in order to win people over to his curriculum, he would gather the faculty together to bring about love for mythology and ancient languages. This turned out to be a genius move. Once again, I’ll quote Bandersnatch:

Lewis and Tolkien discovered they had significant common ground. They gravitated towards each other because they shared an interest in what they called “northernness,” the vast skies, icy landscapes, and heroic tempers of the ancient Vikings. As they talked together, Lewis was slowly won over to Tolkien’s view of the English curriculum. And as they worked side by side, they forged a solid friendship. E. L. Edmonds, a student at Oxford, remembers, “It was very obvious that [Lewis and Tolkien] were great friends—indeed, they were like two young bear cubs sometimes, just happily quipping with one another.”

Tolkien would go on to play a significant role in Lewis’ conversion to Christianity (especially on the night of September 19, 1931, where, along with Hugo Dyson, the three men spent hours discussing life and faith and Lewis later said this was his final push for Christianity) and Lewis would be Tolkien’s biggest supporter and encourager in finishing Lord of the Rings and other works. Their friendship was a staple in each other’s lives and, while, in later years the friendship did change, it never lost it’s meaning.

In Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship by Colin Duriez, we see that “with C.S. Lewis’ death, it was a “wound [Tolkien] knew he would not lose, as one loses a falling lead.” Even years after Lewis’ death Tolkien wrote about Lewis: “The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not ‘influence’ as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him [did I] ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby.”

I’ll leave with a few fun facts because I’m all about fun facts.

  • Lewis’ character, Elwin Random, in Out of the Silent Planet, resembles Tolkien quite a bit. Elwin means “elf-friend” and the character is a Cambridge philologist who has a love for languages.
  • The Professor in Narnia was also inspired by Tolkien.
  • Treebeard was inspired by C.S. Lewis.
  • They each have rad names: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clive Staples Lewis
  • They both lost their moms at a young age
  • Tolkien’s dad died when he was a toddler and Lewis’ Dad withdrew and sent Lewis to a boarding school after his mother’s death.
  • They both fought in WWI.
  • In 1961, Lewis nominated Tolkien for the Nobel Peace Prize in literature (which he totally should have won)
  • Both Humphrey Carpenter (Tolkien’s official biographer) and Edith Tolkien (when she told scholar Clyde S. Kilby) stated that C.S. Lewis actually wrote Tolkien’s obituary, which was published the day after his death (9/2/73) in The Times.

“My happiest hours are spent with three or four old friends and old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs – or else sitting up till the small hours in someone’s college rooms talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer tea and pipes.”

I hope y’all enjoyed this brief look at Tolkien and Lewis’ friendship! Who has greatly encouraged and inspired you in your life?

Don’t forget: Last chance to enter! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (image below), “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Inklings

My Year with the Inklings | Guest Post by Katherine Reay

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

Joining us today is the fabulous Katherine Reay! Her books are some of my favorites and I highly recommend them. Her upcoming, The Printed Letter Bookshop is one of my favorites this year!

Before we begin, I have a confession —it’s been a one note Inkling year. I can stretch it to two, as I rewatched The Lord of the Rings movies this year, but my focus has been primarily on C.S. Lewis.

My Writing

It all started with a single line…

The present is the point at which time touches eternity.

He states this in his deceptively simple book The Screwtape Letters. I say “deceptively simple” because it is just as much that as it is a “diabolical satire.” I am always entertained at every line and think I understand — until I look deeper, and then I’m blown away.

First of all, it’s a pithy statement. It caught my attention on that level alone. Then I found its life altering truth: The past is behind us. We cannot change it and to live there, linger there, dream of returning there, keeps us from living in the present. We don’t have to carry it as far as Miss Havisham sitting amidst the decayed ruins of her wedding banquet in Great Expectations to get my point — the past can be a dangerous place to dwell.

What about the future? I took the line and parsed that direction as well. Lewis doesn’t mean not to plan for the future, after all, “The duty of planning tomorrow’s work is today’s duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present.” (Again, The Screwtape Letters) But to live in the future — again, danger. We can’t assume we have one and to dream that all will be roses and buttercups there only detracts us from the business of living here.

So what about the present? Now that was an idea — What would learning to live well in the present look like? And there you have it… Three women, a bookshop, a trial or two, a few mistakes, a few wrong turns and The Printed Letter Bookshop.

The Printed Letter Bookshop releases next week and I am so excited about this story, but this one line’s power over my year doesn’t end here…

As soon as I finished writing The Printed Letter Bookshop, my first nonfiction manuscript sold and this very line consumed me again. Awful Beautiful Life is Becky Powell’s story regarding an eighteen month period in her life. And this idea — living in the present — took on particular poignancy. You can read a little about the story below, but bottom line: Becky could not look back — the past held no answers and could drown her in a quagmire endless questions and anger, and she could not depend upon a future — the prospect of criminal charges and serving time in jail was real. Becky had to live in the present and take each day as God gave it to her — and I had to figure out how to write that reality and bring her story to life on the page.

Awful Beautiful Life releases December 3, 2019. As I said, it has been a Lewis year!

And it doesn’t end there…

My Reading

I have had a wonderful time reading this year. As you can surmise from my writing, I spent a great deal of time in The Screwtape Letters. But, when looking back, I realized I spent more time reading about Lewis this year than reading his works. Here are a few to add to your TBR pile:

Becoming Mrs. Lewis — This wonderful book takes a close look at Joy Davidman and her marriage to Lewis. It gives beautiful insight into Lewis, his love for his wife and the literature they created together. I have always loved Till We Have Faces and now find the story makes more sense, in both content and style, as I understand Joy’s influence on its writing and editing. And what a fun book this is— what a wonderful love story they had!!!

How to Live Like A Narnian — This little guide walks one primarily through The Chronicles of Narnia and give hints on how to live one’s best life. It’s a short book and an absolute delight. Prior to this, I never realized the joy and wonder of King Lune from The Horse and His Boy. Pay attention when next you read The Horse and His Boy. He’s not a “throw away” character at all, but a true model of joy, duty, wisdom and affection. Again, Lewis is deceptively simple — he says so much in such a small character.

Planet Narnia  — Wow!  But I must warn you… You get more from this book once you’ve read all the Narnia books plus Lewis’s space trilogy — primarily That Hideous Strength. Once you’ve done that, pick this up and marvel in Lewis’s genius. The author, Michael Ward, has done his research and presents an incredibly convincing case for the binding thought and connection, the very meta-theme, running beneath all Narnia. It’s an extraordinary read.

The Horse and His Boy — This is the only Narnian story I returned to this year. While The Voyage of the Dawn Treader holds my favorite scene, this book holds my favorite line:

“Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

Again — deceptively simple. After I chew on that one sentence for a while, it sure makes it hard to assume I know anything about another’s story or make judgements at all. 🙂

Thanks for letting me share my year with one Inkling with you today. This next year I plan to expand  into the Inklings a little more. I recently bought The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings and can’t wait to dig in.

Happy Reading!

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS , “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Also, here’s more about Katherine’s books. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Love, friendship, and family find a home at the Printed Letter Bookshop

One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once-treasured aunt — and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.

While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls. When Madeline’s professional life takes an unexpected turn —and a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions – she questions her plans and her heart, and begins to envision a new path for herself and for her aunt’s beloved shop. Yet, even working together, these three women may find their best efforts too little and too late.

The Printed Letter Bookshop is an engaging story of good books, a testament to the beauty of new beginnings and a sweet reminder of the power of friendship.


A gripping story of grace, faith, and triumph for a woman whose world
shattered hours after her husband’s suicide.

Rebecca Powell faced the unthinkable on May 13, 2013. Her husband Mark called and said, “I’ve done something terrible.” Within hours, she learned that he had taken his own life and, over a period of several years, millions of dollars from friends and colleagues. Everything she believed to be true, the very fiber of her marriage, was called into question. Within a week, rather than planning carpool runs and volunteer fundraisers, she owed almost one hundred creditors millions of dollars and had her own team of ten lawyers. She was also the subject of open FBI, SEC and DOJ investigations-and faced potential criminal charges. And, although she instantly denounced every cent of Mark’s $15M in life insurance and promised to repay every penny taken, her lawyers knew that in reality she faced years of court battles and lawsuits, and possible jail time.

Yet from that first horrific moment, God was there. He showed up in his Word, in Rebecca’s friends, in her lawyers and in the generosity of those around her. He worked miracles. CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and others covered the first moment, but what about the last? What about the story in which God gives your next breath because you can’t find it on your own? What about the story of a mom and three kids trying to make sense of their pasts, present and future while living under a microscope?

AWFUL BEAUTIFUL LIFE is Rebecca’s journey through the two years surrounding Mark’s death and how she overcame. It came down to a loving God who surrounded her, a present and dedicated family, and friends, who made her life, offered her sanctuary and showed up for her and her kids in tangible ways. This is a story of remarkable grit, strength and what the Body of Christ in action looks like.

Inklings

A Review of the TOLKIEN Movie: The Power of Story, Fellowship, and Love

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

As you may have heard, TOLKIEN comes out this Friday. Last night, across 400 theaters, there was an early screening through Fathom Events, followed by a live simulcast with Nicholas Hoult (he plays Tollers), Lily Collins (she plays Edith), Dome Karukoski (Director), and hosted by fellow fan Stephen Colbert. It was a great event!

I really enjoyed the film. I think it was Colbert (or possibly Hoult) who said in the simulcast, that it was a story of “friendship, love, and loss.” Between the early years of Tolkien’s life, his schooling, and his time spent in WWI, especially The Battle of the Somme, this movie seeks to show how these experiences shaped the man who would write such beloved novels.

While Tolkien had often said that Lord of the Rings wasn’t an allegory to his war time experience, I thought this movie beautifully showed how the emotions of losing his parents at a young age (thus becoming an orphan) and fighting in horrific trench warfare still greatly impacted his life. (Although, fun fact sidenote: Tolkien did use his experience from The Somme for some of his works, including the Dead Marshes in The Two Towers). I can’t help but believe his writing the hope he created in them, were healing for him in some ways.

Even Karukoski, who after watching this one interview, clearly loves Tolkien deeply, shared that in his hard years as a young child, Tolkien’s “stories became friends.” I don’t think Tollers could have imagined the impact and hope his mythology would give millions, years after they were published.

His early friendships with Robert Gilson, Christopher Wiseman and Geoffrey Bache Smith portrayed the deep impact and meaning friendships have on each of us. It’s a reminder that we each need our own fellowship. It’s a beautiful part of life. Also, even having read about it before the movie, I still chuckle at the name they gave themselves: TCSB (Tea Club and Barrovian Society).

I also loved how the movie gave us a peek into the relationship between Tolkien and Edith. I’ve always loved the strong women in Middle Earth and knowing Edith played such a role made me enjoy it all the more.

Finally, I absolutely loved hearing Karukoski and Colbert share what Tolkien’s meant to them (both encountered him in early teen years and, as they both said, saved them) and geek out about his stories and characters. Books will always come to you at the exact moment you need them.


Can we hang out Stephen Colbert?!

While I wasn’t surprised there was some artistic license (and yes, there are pieces I wish they would have explored more), I do believe this will draw more people into Tolkien’s story and give a deeper appreciation to Middle Earth and Lord of the Rings.

I’ll close with a quote from Colbert on why Tolkien’s stories matter: “The power of story, it can give us hope.”

Inklings

A Day in the Life of a Hobbit | Guest Post by Wesley Hoffman

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

Joining us today is my friend Wesley from Library Educated! Enjoy!

Even though the hobbits drive me a little crazy in the works of Tolkien (everyone just keep your hands to yourself! Don’t start a fire when you’re trying to be sneaky! Stop drinking too much and telling people things, THE RING’S DISAPPEARING ACT IS NOT A TRICK YOU SHOW PEOPLE AT THE PUB).

Good gravy, no joke Elf Lord.

However, life in the Shire sounds preeeetttty good. The hobbits and I are alike in a lot of ways, just wanting the finer things like: eating, drinking good beer, and hanging out with friends until the wee hours.

Which got me thinking: “Man, with all the eating and drinking and friend time, how do you get anything else done?” If it was me it would be a lot of sticky notes, reminders in my phone, and an alarm or two. But honestly, something tells me that the hobbits don’t live and die by their bullet journals and efficiency apps – but if they did I feel like it would like this.

6:45am: Slap the alarm off of the nightstand and wander into the kitchen scratching and belching. Almost slept through breakfast. That was a close one.

7:00am: Breakfast – chow down on leftovers from last night’s supper. Ugggghhh it’s going to be a busy one, should probably get a move on it. Wander out to the garden to pull some weeds and do some gathering of whatever looks ripe and delicious. But gosh, doesn’t that sun feel great on your hairy hobbit toes and your (somehow) hairless face? Maybe we just stretch out on the grass just for a quick nap……….snoooooooree….

8:30am: Wake with a start as a caterpillar sneaks across your forehead. By Gandalf’s beard, did you almost sleep through another meal? We need to get our priorities straight…and maybe plant some Valerian Root or something. Wander into the house with your hastily gathered veggies and throw them in a basket. You’ve got to trade those later on in this incredibly busy day but since it’s right around 9:00am you better get on with Second Breakfast because you’re not as young as you used to be and you have to keep that stamina up.

Yeah, what about it?

10:00am: After eating Second Breakfast over the sink because you realize you haven’t washed dishes in a few days you decide you can probably put some in the sink to soak (look at you, adulting so hard) and will wash them later. Right now you have to see your distant cousin who lives at the other side of Bag’s End about making a trade for your home grown goodness in exchange for HIS home brewed goodness. It’s kind of a hike so you should probably get to getting.

11:15am: Um, okay, how did that walk take longer since the last time you walked it? And now you’re hot and sweaty and cranky and your carrots look droopy and just.so.thirsty. Luckily your cousin has a chair in the shade waiting for you to sample some of his fine ale and have a little snicker snack for Elevensies. Even if it’s closer to like ElevensiesTwenty when you’re done. After several samples and a snack you know you should talk business but that breeze sure feels nice and you already here your cousin’s thunderous snores and decide, yeah, let’s take a nap and wheel and deal when we are firing on all cylinders. You eventually get shaken awake for an early lunch, and then after some hard negotiating find yourself tottering home with a small cask of ale underneath each arm. Which is good news because you’re having a couple of people over for dinner that night – it’s not going to be an all night bender but you have a reputation to uphold and you don’t want to run out of ale.

3:00pm: You are a beast! Those dishes in the sink are cleaned, you swept, you made sure there was clean ash trays for everyone’s pipe ash, the casks are chilling like villains in the root cellar, you have stew simmering in the fireplace, your crudite platters are on point and you have never felt more entitled to a nice long tea.

5:59pm: Hobbits never on time unless there is free booze and food involved. #FACT #Dont@me. Dinner is off and running!

Things get……fuzzy after here…..you’re assuming there was supper at about 9:00pm, and it’s not just because literally every dish in your cozy kitchen is dirty AGAIN, it’s also because there is no food left in your house. Dinner must have somehow turned into that all night bender it wasn’t supposed to because not only are those casks empty they are dry as the eyes of Sauron. You find some sad looking radishes under an over turned bucket and decide that will serve for breakfast tomorrow, because what would you actually cook that early. As you swerve to your cozy hobbit bed you think….

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (image below), “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Inklings

A Collection of Randomness to Kick Off Inklings Week 2019

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

“Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality. There are mass emotions which heal the wound; but they destroy the privilege. In them our separate selves are pooled and we sink back into sub-individuality. But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like a night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.”

C.S. Lewis penned these words in his essay, “An Experiment in Criticism.” Isn’t that one of the key reasons humanity is drawn to literature? We, for those moments we are reading the book, are transcending ourselves.

As you know, for myself, Tolkien and Lewis’ stories do just this. That’s why I love Inklings Week and the opportunity to celebrate them. To kick off Inklings Week, I thought I’d share a few fun finds about Tolkien and Lewis. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Also, we’ll have a giveaway throughout the week, so be sure to check it out!

Lewis was a spy. I repeat Lewis was a spy.

(Full story here)

Found in the archives: Tollers reading from The Hobbit.

How I wish there were audio versions with them reading their books! (You can hear it by clicking here or by clicking on the image below)

And here’s Jack reading from The Four Loves.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to have him as a Professor?

Finally, they both new how to party.

I found this thread on Twitter (via @SketchesbyBoze) and it’s time I finished this biography, because I’m missing out on some gems!

From Humphrey Carpenter’s Tolkien biography

Thanks for joining the start of Inklings Week 2019!

Now it’s giveaway time! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (image below), “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Inklings

Next Week is Inklings Week!

GUESS WHAT?! Inklings Week is BACK!!

I’m so excited for next week and so sad that I had to miss last year (life sometimes…). We’ll kick things off next Monday (5/6), but any chance to talk about it beforehand, I’m in!

Also, I would like to thank Hollywood for joining the Inklings Week celebration with the release of TOLKIEN on May 10th. I’m glad you recognize the importance of this week :). (If you haven’t seen a preview, check it out here).

We’ll have daily posts here on the blog, but also have some fun on Facebook, so be sure to follow along and sign up for the event here.

Also, I’d like to introduce two of the contributors for next week. Inklings Week is always more fun with friends!

Wesley is the reader behind Library Educated. When she isn’t corralling the neuroscientists at work she is – reading, snuggling her dog, planning her next trip and getting experimental with her secondhand bread machine.

Wesley is not always good at articulating just why she loves the Inklings. Is it because no one writes a great wizard or a lonely bear man like Tolkien? Is it because C.S. Lewis’ words have spoken directly to her soul in more situations than she can count? Is it because it sounds awesome to sit at the pub with your friends and talk about the awesome books that you or reading or writing? All very good possibilities.

Katherine Reay is a national bestselling and award-winning author of several novels, including Dear Mr. Knightley and the upcoming The Printed Letter Bookshop. She has enjoyed a lifelong affair with books — and with everything C.S. Lewis wrote — and brings that love to her contemporary stories. Her first full-length nonfiction work will release in December 2019. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University. She currently writes full time and lives outside Chicago, IL with her husband and three children. You can meet Katherine at http://www.katherinereay.com or on Facebook: KatherineReayBooks, Twitter: @katherine_reay and Instagram: @katherinereay.

I’m a fan of writers getting together and sharing life — and this is just about the most famous group there is. The name, the meeting place, and the stories surrounding the Inkings also create this hazy image of a smokey room, a pint of beer, and some the of best and liveliest conversation to be had — by some of the most interesting men — and an occasional woman — anywhere. We primarily think of Lewis and Tolkien when pondering the Inklings, but it was a very diverse group — academics, children’s writers, historian, biographers, poets… And I love that fact that despite this diversity of thought and all their erudite credentials, they loved fantasy. They loved that fiction held a unique place in all writing and that by inviting readers into new worlds, they could change ours.

I’m so excited to have both Wesley and Katherine join us next week! Be sure to pass it along to friends who might enjoy!

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!