My Life’s Tower of Fantasy

Here at the end of all things, Samwise Gamgee the end of the second Silmarillion Awards, wherein we celebrate all things fantasy, Tolkien, and favorite characters, I have a bit to say about these things and their importance to me in my life so far.

So today, the 63rd birthday of The Fellowship of the Ring’s publication, seemed a good time to do so.

*distant cries of “Happy birthday!” and Bilbo saying (un?)complimentary things concerning knowing people half as well as he should like etc.*

*also birthday cake for one and all*

*and 63 still-burning candles to feed to your dragon*

(You’re welcome. I hope he likes wax.)

Warning:

The following is a somewhat lengthy post that is more of an essay than many posts I’ve written (don’t worry, it’s broken into segments with handy headers, so you might survive), and contains such things as Middle-earth, Diana Wynne Jones, Prydain, Stephen Lawhead, epic heroines, tower metaphors, nostalgia of some books/series that have shaped me, and how wonderful and life-changing Fantasy can be.

If this does not sound like your cup of tea, turn around and flee — for here in the realm of Faerie and Fantasy, truths are hidden behind every tree, characters are noble as can be, fancy runs free, and here . . . there be dragons.

On The Silmarillion

This month, using the Silmarillion Awards as a much-needed excuse, as I was re-reading The Silmarillion for the first time in many years, it startled me how much it felt like coming home. I used to read that book (as well as The Lord of the Rings, etc.) a lot when I was younger and just discovering the amazing worlds of Middle-earth. I lived in Middle-earth and The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but I lived in Beleriand in The Silmarillion too, and in a sense that was more “mine” since fewer people were into it than LOTR. The Silmarillion and surrounding mythology was like my special world that I went to live in, learning to write the Tengwar Elvish alphabet in calligraphy, studying maps, creating family trees of all the characters I knew by name…

It’s been a lovely journey, returning there and meeting these long-lost friends in this place I’ve been absent from far too long. I’m also bringing more to it now at a slightly older age, which has been fascinating. I’m aware The Silmarillion might not be for everyone, but it’s extremely special to me. I met it at a younger age and was so immersed in it that I knew all the names so well that returning was like going home and meeting old friends.

On The Tower of Fantasy

I’ve been thinking about the impact Tolkien’s works and other beloved works of fantasy have had on my life. Looking back, I can trace a few books and series that stand out as those important, life-changing, core-of-your-being books that I believe everyone (or all bookworms, at least) have. Those ones that are so much a part of you that, consciously or unconsciously, you are changed by them and they inform much of who you are and what your life is, your tastes in fiction (and in writing, if you’re a writer like me), and form a core part of your heart. They are different through the years, and that’s how I measure parts of my life (about three or four of them so far, I think) — by what was the most ME books I was reading or loving or living at the time.

Imagine your life is a tower that you are slowly building as the years go on. I see those books as the building blocks of the tower of my own life, the stones of my foundations (or at least, for the purposes of this post, the foundation for my love of fantasy in both reading and writing, which is what I’m here to talk about) that come and go in a way as I gain new interests, so that sometimes it feels like betrayal . . . How could you move on? But I can always go back down the winding stairs of the tower and visit them again, and they’ll always be a part of me. They all inform who I am, and what my reading taste is, and how I think, and what I want to be and do, and most especially (for this writer) what I write as well.

I can see blocks of time in this Fantasy Tower of my life.

Level One: Prydain and MacDonald

It started with George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin, and Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles. I don’t know which were first, I only know, looking back, that they were very early and, I believe, introduced me to Fantasy. Those are at the base of the tower; they were the first, and I read them and was enchanted. I LIVED in those worlds, and I loved those stories and characters so much. I still do, as with all of these. I’m afraid some of my earliest writings bore an uncanny resemblance to both those works, but we all start somewhere, yes? πŸ˜‰

So, first was my beginning years of loving fantasy, with MacDonald and Prydain. (I believe Narnia came in somewhere around there a little after, and other works of Fantasy, though I don’t know how extreme their influence was.) That’s the first layer of stones at the base of the tower of Fantasy. They’re awhile ago from when I was younger and wasn’t aware of my tower, so it’s a little jumbled and vague, hidden in mists near the ground, and more instinctive than my deeper understanding of the later portions as I grew older, as I look back and remember better.

(Do you know why it’s called “in the mists of time”? Because YOU CAN’T SEE VERY WELL INTO IT. Ahem. Foggy memories… *shakes head*)

Level Two: Tolkien

The next really big thing, which is the largest on the fantasy tower so far, was Tolkien.

I read The Hobbit at one point, and then I later read The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was ten or so, I believe. Some writers (and readers) come to Tolkien first, as their big fantasy introduction, but for me I already had the groundwork of fantasy laid; Tolkien served to strengthen it and built the next part of the tower, and was a focus of mine for many years, my absolute favorite. As I mentioned, I was enchanted and fell in love with these books, and went on to read The Silmarillion (several times), as well as reading any other works, finished or unfinished, by Tolkien that I could get my hands on. But not only were these stories, this world, these characters and languages, epic and beautiful and beloved and some of my favorites of all time, but the author himself simply seemed . . . right.

Tolkien was a kindred soul, and I know that sounds pompous to say, but when I read his letters and thoughts, I find myself agreeing with him and thinking “Oh! Yes! I’m just like that!” on so many levels. He and I just agree so well and have such similar temperaments. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near his level of talent or genius etc., I’m merely saying that he and I click, in a way that no other author that I can currently think of who I’ve run across does.

Tolkien’s works remain the next solid layer of my Fantasy tower, a very large portion of it, and still inform so much of my life and core personality and interests today.

Level Three: Diana Wynne Jones

(also concerning strawberry icecream)

Then, in 2012, I read Howl’s Moving Castle on a highly-trusted recommendation, and discovered Diana Wynne Jones. This is the third layer of my Fantasy tower. As some who read my blogs might have noticed, I’ve been very big on DWJ for awhile now. XD I’m captivated by and addicted to her books, particularly certain ones which have just stuck with me really well. I love her writing style and the humor she always had in her books, and her quirky but charming and lovable characters, and the absolute originality of her fantasy, mashed together with other genres to make her books unpigeonholeable (not a word, but should be), as well as how I always learn things about life and the world and people when I read her works. I’ve seen a bit of an influence on my writing as well, wanting to write more whimsical and amusing things.

It’s funny: when I decided Howl’s Moving Castle shared my top-favorite spot with The Lord of the Rings, and have been very DWJ focused, I didn’t realize (until recently) this thing about the Tower of Fantasy, how I can have different stages and favorites; and because I had just come from the Tolkien stage, I felt disloyal to Middle-earth, as if loving something else as well meant that I was betraying it by not loving ONLY it.

But I’ve realized that we have different stages in our lives, and that’s okay — it doesn’t make the previous stages any LESS important or less a part of you, you’re just on a different part of your journey so different things are more important right now. It’s not a betrayal. It’s growth and continuing and layers over the core.

I’ve always thought of myself as the girl who loves Middle-earth and the color green and Celtic music and chocolate and writes medieval fantasy. That’s still at my core and I will always be that person. But lately, if I’ve been a DWJ person who loves the color blue and dabbles in Christian rock or pop and loves strawberry ice cream and writes contemporary fantasy . . . that doesn’t mean I’m not STILL that same person as before too.

Because I can love both, I can have different layers of favorites, different layers of interests, and it doesn’t mean that blue or green or chocolate or strawberry are better than each other, or that in trying other kinds of books, music, and genres, that I’m abandoning the ones I used to have. I can do all of it, and it can all be me.

This is a slight tangent, but I feel like I need to address it while on the subject of moving through different books that are your favorites at the time. It’s okay to have different favorites at different times in your life, and it’s not being disloyal. I’m saying this partly to remind myself (especially when I feel bad about not having re-read some of these favorites in several years; I still plan to sometime), and partly in case anyone is having problems with it like I have. XD

I still interchange LOTR and Howl’s Moving Castle as my “favorite” books (and let’s be honest, sometimes I put Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal up there because I love it and it’s amazing) but hey, I can have more than one top-favorite, right? πŸ˜‰

Level Four? (Bright Empires)

It’s always hard to know, while you’re currently on a part of the tower, if something you’re reading is going to be the next part or if it’s just another great fantasy work but not quite a core one. But I think and suspect that, perhaps (time will tell), my latest addition to the Fantasy Tower of my life are Stephen R. Lawhead’s works. I just read his Bright Empires series, and while (like I said) I can’t be sure whether or not they’re the next ring of building blocks for my tower, at the very least, it’s the best series I’ve read in a long time.

Definitely favorites, the Bright Empires books have expanded my mind so much, broadened my horizons, were thoroughly epic, mind-boggling, and fun, with beloved characters, and introduced me to the first heroine in a very long time who I want so hard to be, namely Mina. She inspires me so much. Plus, the books are simply masterpieces. I think very differently after reading these books, I clicked so well with them, and they were absolutely amazing.

Speaking of Mina, let’s talk about heroines for a minute, since the award I hosted was Most Epic Heroine.

Of Heroines

Heroines are hard to write, my friends. One strange thing about my personality is that I rarely come across a favorite female character. I think it’s because I’m a girl and I find that it’s harder for an author to write a girl character that I actually like, because I am one and we’re complicated, and the fictional girls often end up either too tough or too wimpy, neither of which I like. I more often am interested in the male characters, who are generally cooler and doing more interesting things. I do run up against female characters that I like sometimes, and that’s often a sign that the author is a good one.

But there have only been a handful that have stood out as my favorites, the ones who at some level I feel like are ME, and at another level I feel like are what I want to be, what I want to become, what I want to take and emulate because they are noble and good and show some part of humanity that I want to BE. They make me want to be a better person, while I also feel like I am them.

And those are basically:

  • Princess Irene from The Princess and the Goblin
  • Princess Eilonwy from the Chronicles of Prydain
  • Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings
  • Luthien Tinuviel from The Silmarillion
  • Wilhelmina “Mina” Klug from the Bright Empires series.

(I think on some level, I was Lucy from Narnia when I was younger, and many of Diana Wynne Jones’ characters have been instant connections for me, like Sophie and others, as well, though I haven’t thought as much about those for this post; likely because they’re more recent for me but not as mind-blowing as Mina was — who was the character that got me started thinking about all of this — so I haven’t thought them out as much.)

(Also, I find this a good time to mention the dedication in The High King by Lloyd Alexander, which I never understood until now: “For the boys who might have been Taran and the girls who will always be Eilonwy.“)

Of Heroism/Nobility versus Mediocrity/”Realism”

And I think it’s important to have favorite characters one can look up to, have as role models, but still feel you are like them. There’s a sort of connection there that is marvelous. Heroes tend to be more favorites of mine than heroines, and I can learn things from them as well, of course, and they’re simply awesome sometimes, so there’s that; but I can’t exactly BE them, quite the way I can be a heroine like Eilonwy or Mina.

I think these heroines stand out to me partly because it is so rare for me to find a timeless one like that. There are many other noble and wonderful heroines I’ve liked over time, don’t get me wrong! Some even other favorites. But these are my FAVORITE favorites, the ones I want to be like. πŸ™‚

And that’s part of why I’m tired of this “make them relatable and ‘realistic’ by giving them flaws and making them fallen and ordinary” trend in modern writing.

No.

I don’t want mediocre Main Characters. I want Epic Heroines.

If your favorite characters are mediocre, you’ll only want to be mediocre, you’ll only believe that’s how far you can go.

If, on the other hand, your favorite characters are noble and epic and extraordinary, then you’ll want to rise above your ordinary and mediocre, fallen and flawed life, and try to emulate them, to BE them; and these fictional characters who aren’t “real” can change your life and make you a better person. All by being fantastic characters. What’s not to love?

Things These Core Books Have In Common

What do all these books and series have in common? They are Fantasy, yes. But they each hold things that truly resonated with me — not just one thing but all the elements and the whole.

I love the stories. I love the worlds. I love the characters — not only the heroes, not only the heroines, but both, as well as the entire cast of characters, really. They have favorite heroes. I want to be the heroines. I want to live in the books.

“The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.'”

(from The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis)

I also “click” with the authors — when I read things that these authors like Alexander, Tolkien, Jones, and Lawhead say (in fiction and nonfiction) I’ve had these wonderful “me too!” moments, those times when, like in the C.S. Lewis quote above, you form a friendship from a shared thought or feeling. We share the same truth. I feel like they’re kindred souls, and suspect that’s one of the reasons I love their fiction so much. (It’s interesting: when I love an author’s fiction work enough to try out their nonfiction, that’s when I discover my favorite works of nonfiction, essays, etc. It’s happened so many times with these and a couple other authors.)

And I learned things from these favorite, core books. Yes, shocking as it may sound to some, these fiction books, these works of *gasp* fantasy, have taught me so many things that, as I think about it, my mind boggles and I can’t even begin to explain all the things I’ve learned from these wonderful works of literature and art. (I did do a post about a few of those things, awhile back, but that was only scratching the surface.)

Because fantasy is true. These things may not have happened in our world, but they have Truth, and I learn things far better when they’re woven into a tale (a parable, perhaps?) than I can reading some boring textbook.Β I can see the things unfolding and understand things about the characters and wonder about things and want to learn about them. Fantasy may not always teach “facts” like how big the sun is or how many threes make a dozen (though they might teach that too), but they teach me real things about life and about love and about how people work and how to surmount obstacles and to try to be a better person like my heroes (and heroines).

I don’t know if these fantasy authors try to put these things in their works (I know I certainly don’t, but sometimes things creep in somehow), or if they simply are trying to tell a good story and their worldviews are shining through the particular leaf of the Tree of Tales that they are telling and coming out as good wholesome lessons from the Writer of all Lives, but regardless, I’ve found so much Truth in these and other works of fantasy.

And all of that as a bonus to reading simply amazing fantastical stories about fabulous characters in imaginative worlds. What is not to love? Who would have thought it, but Fantasy is fantastic in all meanings of that word, and that is why I love it as I do.

Plus, I mean, Fantasy has dragons. And there’s the icing on the cake.

*passes around the last of the LOTR birthday celebration cake and breaks out Gandalf’s fireworks to celebrate Middle-earth and Fantasy with a literal bang*

(P.S.: If you have a Fantasy/LOTR themed post this week, feel free to share the link in the linky over on Jenelle’s post!)

Most Epic Heroine Nominations! #SilmAwards2017

And so it begins, my friends!

The Second Annual Silmarillion Awards start today, so it’s time to nominate your favorite fantasy characters!

(Plus, don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post!)

The Silmarillion Awards are a just-for-fun “Fantasy Oscars” blog event to recognize our favorite characters from fantasy literature by awarding them “Silmaril” awards for best-in-category — more about it here, if you’re new.

We (myself and 9 other awesome bloggers, not to mention all you fantasy fans out there!) hold it in July to coincide with the anniversary of the publication of The Lord of the Rings. This is the perfect year, too — did you know Tolkien’s earliest pennings of the tales of The Silmarillion can be found in notebooks dating as far back as 1917? That’s 100 years ago, people! :O

The Silmarillion Awards is one of my favorite times of year — a time to celebrate all things Tolkien and fantasy, particularly the beloved inhabitants of our favorite fantasy books!

Here on this blog, I’m hosting . . .

The “Most Epic Heroine” Silmaril

The Most Epic Heroine Silmaril should go to a character who is a truly great heroine: she can be intelligent, brave, loving, with an inner or outer grace that defines her as a most epic heroine, willing to fight (either physically or with her intellect) against all odds for what she loves — a heroine beloved by other characters and readers alike; whether quiet or spirited, she should exemplify the spark of higher qualities which the great heroes and heroines of fantasy fiction hold.

This Silmaril will be presented by a certain shieldmaiden from the home of the horse-lords, famed for her heroism, strong will, persistence in the face of danger, and defeating a foe no man could slay, eventually finding her true place as a fair lady of healing; a graceful and truly most epic heroine.

And now, my fabulous fantasy friends, this is where you come in. These awards are fan-voted, which means you!

Nominate your favorite heroines here!

This post is the place to nominate your favorite epic heroines from fantasy, which you can do by commenting below! (Please mention the book the character is from, as well!)

If someone has already nominated a character you wanted to nominate, you can “second” (or “third”, “fourth”, “fifth” etc.) their nomination by replying to that comment.

The top five characters in each category with the most seconds/nominations will go to the next round of voting (beginning July 10).

A few guidelines…
  • When nominating, please mention which book the character is from!
  • You can nominate or second as many characters as you like!
  • Nominations are only open to fantasy characters, as these are “Fantasy” awards (hence, things like The Hunger Games don’t apply — since that’s Dystopian, for example).
  • Don’t nominate Tolkien’s characters (they’re already the standard for these categories!).
  • Don’t nominate a character you wrote (though your fans are welcome to!).
  • As lifetime awards, the characters who won last year aren’t eligible (though “Most Epic Heroine” is a new award this year, so there’s no one off-limits on that count for this one!).
  • Spread the word on social media using #SilmAwards2017
  • If you have questions that I did not answer, feel free to ask!
  • Have fun!

These awards are just for fun, so enjoy yourself and have a blast celebrating all things fantasy and applauding your favorite characters (including heroines! ;)) from fantasy literature! πŸ™‚

Timeline

Nominations are open July 3 – 7, so nominate away! πŸ™‚

  • July 10-14: Second Round Voting
  • July 17-28: Awards Presented
  • July 29: Fantasy Celebration

The Other Awards

Don’t forget to drop by the other blogs to see the other categories and nominate (or second) characters for those as well! (The other hosting bloggers have more fantasy giveaways too, so be sure to enter those!)

(FYI: You can get this gorgeous graphic by DJ Edwardson on a commemorative t-shirt or mug this year! For 10% off, use coupon code: TOLKIEN2017 [Proceeds go to support future Silmarillion Awards events.])

Giveaway

Speaking of epic fantasy heroines… I’m so excited to share a delightful giveaway with you here on my blog today!

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win one of two epic fantasy-themed prizes, featuring great heroines as well. πŸ˜‰

One winner will receive:

Firethorn Chronicles Prize Pack (Kindle copy of The Firethorn Crown, paperback copy of Midsummer Captives, dragon wing necklace, bookmark), provided by fantasy author Lea DouΓ©.

I’ve read and enjoyed The Firethorn Crown, and as a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, it definitely has several great fantasy heroines! πŸ˜‰

A second winner will receive:

A paperback copy of Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal, provided by yours truly.

Paper Crowns is one of my top favorite fantasy books of all time, and also features one of my favorite heroines ever. πŸ™‚ So it seemed like the perfect thing to give away! (Plus, everyone needs to read it. XD)

Enter the giveaway HERE via the Rafflecopter

(Giveaway is open for residents of US and Canada, running through July 3 – 9, and winners will be announced sometime thereafter. :))


So what are you waiting for?

Nominate away, my fabulous fantasy friends! Who will you nominate (or second!) for Most Epic Fantasy Heroine? Comment below through July 7th and celebrate your favorite heroines! I can’t wait to see everyone’s nominations! πŸ™‚

NOMINATIONS ARE CLOSED; VOTING BEGINS JULY 10.

Two Word Tags: Text + Quotes

Two Word Tags

I’m here today with two brief word-related tags: The Text Tag from Savannah @ Scattered Scribblings, and The Quote Tag from Mary @ Sunshine and Scribblings (all the scribblings! I love it. ❀ )! Thanks so much to both of you! ^_^ They both have absolutely lovely blogs that make me smile and laugh, so check ’em out, do!

The Text Tag

Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to them
  • Answer the original 6 text-themed questions
  • Add a typography/word related question for those you tag to answer
  • Tag 6+ bloggers and notify them that you tagged them
  • Include these rules in your post

1. What is your favorite letter of the alphabet?

Maybe V? I’m also fond of T, if the beginning letter of most of my awesome characters is anything to go by… *cough*

2. What are three words you love?

Enigmatic, adamant, & grey (with an e; none of that American-spelling-with-an-a nonsense. ;)).

3. What are three words you hate?

Whoa, hate is a strong word. How about I hate the word “hate.” XD And also, erm, dislike shall we say… the words “humidity” and “procrastination” because of associations. πŸ˜‰

4. If you could create a word, what would it be, and what would it describe?

Oh, I create words all the time. XD One I made recently is Authorialdom, as in “That takes real authorialdom” — probably “the state of being a skilled writer” or some such. *nods*

5. What are your three favorite punctuation marks?

Parenthesis, ellipses, and dashes. (I use them — at least I think I do — the most . . .) *cough*

Well, those are favorites in that sense, but I’m also very fond of “quote-marks” and exclamation marks! And semi-colons; because they’re lovely and/or useful. *nods* And let’s not forget commas, and periods either. Can’t have them feeling left out. And question marks and colons: how can we leave them out? Now that is the question. I just love all punctuation marks, I guess. ^_^ *goes to look at Eats, Shoots & Leaves again to remember there are kindred souls out there*

6. What are your three favorite fonts?

Hmm. That’s tough. Well, here are at least three of my favorites:

fonts

(Apologies for the squiggly red lines; my spell-checker is under the erroneous assumption that my name is not a word. Ahem.)

7. Savannah’s Question: What is one word you are constantly misspelling?

Received. I literally spelled it wrong when I went to type it… I know that it’s “I before E except after C” (and E before N in Chicken… *cough*Andy Griffith reference*cough*) but my fingers just want to say I-E. It’s bad. πŸ˜› Most words I’m pretty good about though. *nods* It comes with being a perfectionist of the wordish variety that I am.

The Quote Tag

Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Post a new quote everyday for 3 consecutive days
  • Nominate 3 new bloggers every day you post a quote

I’m going to disobey this one slightly and instead of posting a quote three days in a row, I will just post 3 quotes right now. πŸ˜‰ And I nominate anyone who wants to do it and hasn’t yet.

(The quote graphics were designed by me using Canva.com.)

1

Fairytales chesterton

“Fairytales are more than true — not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

— G.K. Chesterton

2

A room without books

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

— (attributed to Cicero)

3

tolkientimequote

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

— J.R.R. Tolkien (from The Fellowship of the Ring)

Well! Wasn’t that a delightful wordish-exercise? ^_^ Do you have a favorite quote/word/letter/punctuation mark? Let me know in the comments!

And consider yourself tagged for both or either if you wish to do it!

Lord of the Rings Giveaway + LOTR Tag

blogoversary3

Oh, is it not Friday? Surprise! You get this giveaway post a day early because it’s a SPECIAL DAY. But I’m also doing an extra tag today as well.

Today being Bilbo’s and Frodo’s birthday (happy birthday!), it’s a Lord of the Rings themed giveaway, naturally!

But first I’m also doing a bonus tag (LOTR themed of course) because I saw it on Pinterest (originally from Tumblr I believe) and thought it would be fun, so I couldn’t resist doing it today. πŸ™‚

LOTR Tag

It seems to be more movie- than book-oriented, but hey, I’ll give it a shot all the same. πŸ˜‰ Answers are some inconsistent mix of movie/book answers.

  1. lotrcollage1Favorite Film — The Return of the King. So much epic and amazingness, not to mention the incredible music. ❀
  2. Favorite Battle — Um. Not sure. Tie between Helm’s Deep and the Pelennor Fields I guess?
  3. Favorite Character — Faramir. He’s the best. ❀ (We will NOT talk about how his character was ruined in The Two Towers movie… though I still love him in the movies, just… it’s atrocious how they changed him.)
  4. Scene That Makes You Cry — Boromir’s death. *sniffle*
  5. Scene That Makes You Laugh — “Shall I describe it to you? Or would you like me to find you a box?”
  6. Ugliest Orc — All of them.
  7. Favorite Antagonist — WHAT EVEN DOES THIS MEAN? Gollum, maybe?
  8. Gondor or Rohan — Rohan I guess. I love their culture and horses and green fields and Fangorn forest.
  9. Favorite Hobbit — Merry! He’s just so fun and awesome and the best. (Or Bilbo if we’re talking about the Hobbit movies, because Martin Freeman as Bilbo is perfection.)
  10. lotrcollage2OTP (translation: One True Pairing, a.k.a. favorite romantic couple) — Faramir and Eowyn. They’re my precious. ❀
  11. BROTP (translation: favorite best-friend brotherly friendship) — In the book: Aragorn and Eomer maybe? In the movie, Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli as a threesome.
  12. Favorite Location — Rivendell, maybe? I’d love to vacation there… or Lothlorien… or anywhere.
  13. Favorite Weapon — You can’t go wrong with Legolas’s bow & arrows.
  14. Favorite Outfit — Eowyn’s white dress, or maybe her green one, or Arwen’s red/black dress… and an Elven cloak too, please!
  15. Favorite Armor — Faramir’s white tree of Gondor leather armor.
  16. Favorite Female Character — Eowyn. She’s fabulous.
  17. Elves or Dwarves? — Elves. They’re splendid. ^_^
  18. Coolest Visual Effect — I’m rather fond of Legolas jumping up onto his horse when they’re riding against the wargs in The Two Towers. πŸ˜‰
  19. Weirdest Screencap — I… don’t even know.
  20. Saddest Character Death — Thorin in the movie. D:
  21. Most Inspiring Moment — Both times the Rohirrim show up over a ridge at sunrise to save the day against the forces of evil; also Sam’s “I can’t carry it for you — but I can carry you!” And so many others. ❀
  22. Character You Pity Most — Gollum.
  23. Least Favorite Character — Denethor. He is… not a nice person. <.< Ugh.
  24. Scariest Moment — Everything with the Black Riders in the first movie.
  25. lotrcollage3Favorite Quote — “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
  26. Favorite Larger-Than-Life Foe — Does this mean scariest? In which case the Witch-King of Angmar a.k.a. leader of the Black Riders.
  27. Isengard or Mordor? — Hmm… Isengard, because it’s not as scary and the tower of Orthanc looks nicer. Pretty spikes and no fiery red eyeball at the top. *nods*
  28. Ents or Eagles — BOTH. (We will also not talk about how they ruined the Ents in the movies or how the Eagles didn’t talk. >.> AHEM.)
  29. Your LOTR Collection — You can see the stack of my books here, anyway…
  30. How You Got Into LOTR — I talked about it in this post for the 62nd birthday of LOTR a couple months ago… But it started with reading The Hobbit when I was hobbit-sized myself, and then listening to the Lord of the Rings audiobooks. The rest is history. *nods*

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LOTR Giveaway

Aaand, here it is, folks!

The third and final giveaway to celebrate my third blogoversary! πŸ™‚

3 different winners, as usual.

*drumroll*

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Books pictured out of box, with box shown.

One winner will receive this beautiful boxed-set of The Lord of the Rings (in case you’re a sad mortal who doesn’t own the books — please only enter this part of the giveaway if you don’t own a copy of them yourself and/or haven’t read them, or if you plan to give a copy to someone you know or something, to share the love! ^_^).

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A second winner will win this art print of one of my favorite quotes from The Fellowship of the Ring (“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” — yes, that’s the book wording, not the movie one. *cough*), handlettered in blue calligraphy and gold pen by yours-truly.

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And for the third winner… I was given some Smaug/dragon temporary tattoos once, which I have not used but figured someone out there might like, so I’m offering them as the third prize of this giveaway. πŸ™‚

Details

3 winners. Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is open to US residents only. Giveaway will run from today (Thursday, Sept. 22) until Thursday, September 29. Winners (3) will be chosen and contacted by email and also announced here on my blog, on September 30, 2016.

Well what are you waiting for? Enter below! ^_^

EDIT: The winners have been announced! Thanks for participating!

(If the embedded form below doesn’t work for you, you can find it here.)

Any answers to any of those LOTR questions? Answer in the comments or on your blog!

Happy birthday to Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, on this lovely 22nd of September, the start of Fall! And happy first day of Autumn to you, my roadlings! *throws colored leaves and Gandalf fireworks and cupcakes around*

Lord of the Rings Celebration!

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Mae Govannen once again, my Middle-earth-ish friends!

Today, July 29th, marks the 62nd anniversary of The Lord of the Rings (specifically The Fellowship of the Ring) being published for the first time in 1954!

So I am here today, following the wrap-up of the first ever Silmarillion Awards, to celebrate all things Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, and Middle-earth, as I wish “Happy Birthday!!” to my favorite book of all time. ❀

I don’t have any actual cake, but virtual cake in the form of Bilbo’s 111th birthday cake will do nicely in its place.

I celebrated today by pulling out all my Tolkien books and photographing them, and I’m typing this while listening to the gorgeous soundtracks of The Lord of the Rings films…

Turns out I have a lot more Tolkien books than I thought. I . . . may have a small obsession. *cough*

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What can I say — I go to a lot of library sales and I’ve been getting Tolkien-related things every year for birthdays and Christmases for the last ten years… So apparently that can add up. πŸ˜‰

There are also the films, soundtracks, and audiobook versions floating around the house somewhere, also much beloved.

Me & Middle-earth

I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I first read The Hobbit, but I know I greatly enjoyed it at that young age . . . But I do remember, some time later, first reading The Lord of the Rings. I was 10, and we were listening to the audiobook versions. That was the first time I remember really entering Middle-earth . . . and I think a little part of me (okay, at times a much larger part) has been living there ever since.

After that, I reread The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings from time to time, I devoured The Silmarillion a few times, and started collecting and reading all the other Tolkien books I could get my hands on (as I said, my birthday/Christmas wishlists were usually full of them, as were the paper bags I carted home from library book sales). I still have many Tolkien books (for instance the rest of the History of Middle-earth series that Christopher Tolkien put together) that I haven’t finished reading yet, but that only makes me happy to think of more in store to discover.

To call myself addicted to Middle-earth would be a large understatement . . . For a few years there when I had just gotten really into Lord of the Rings, I was a Tolkien hobbyist, and still am to some extent. I did lots of Elvish calligraphy in Tengwar (the Elvish alphabets Tolkien developed), memorized poetry from the books and wrote them out in journals, made large posters of the complicated genealogies of Elves and Men from the First to Third Ages . . . Yep, I was a little addicted, you could say.

I also vividly remember the first time I saw the Lord of the Rings movies, specifically The Fellowship of the Ring. I was visiting relatives, not so long after having read the books for the first time, which I was already in love with. I vaguely knew there were films but hadn’t seen them yet. I remember the excitement of gathering late at night with cousins and staying up to watch The Fellowship of the Ring. I came in after the movie had already started, so I incidentally missed out on the prologue and the quiet green Shire parts, coming in right when Gandalf has just ridden off to find answers and the camera pans past Sauron’s tower of Barad-dur in the dark with scary epic music — naturally nervous ten-year-old me would come in at a terrifying part. πŸ˜‰ The movie fascinated me, and I remember the next day I got to go back and watch the beginning, which I had missed, all by myself, with the Shire and the prologue and everything, and it was delicious.

I have a few quibbles with the movies which I will not forgive them for (Faramir; Frodo sending Sam away; the general de-noble-ifying of many characters like Aragorn… a few things like that) but on the whole I still love them. Especially the music, which captures the feel of Middle-earth marvelously, I think.

But nothing can ever touch the original books as Tolkien penned them. ❀ The Lord of the Rings is one of those things at the core of my being. It has been an enormous part of my life so far (and will certainly continue to be!), and I can’t imagine life without it. I’m so grateful to J. R. R. Tolkien for giving us that glimpse into Middle-earth which I will always treasure.

Happy 62nd birthday to The Lord of the Rings!

*cue chorus of hobbit “happy birthday’s!” from Bilbo’s party*

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(Editions with the covers drawn by J.R.R. Tolkien, and maps from “The Maps Tolkien’s of Middle-earth” drawn by John Howe)

#SilmAwards2016 wrapup

silmarillionawards2016And here, with this birthday post for my favorite book, I’d also like to look back at the last several weeks of the first ever Silmarillion Awards, because I don’t know about you, but I definitely had a blast with them!

Many thanks to DJ Edwardson and Jenelle Schmidt for creating and organizing this fun event, and to all the other hosts for your splendid posts, and everyone who participated through nominating, voting, or commenting — you are all awesome! I had such a good time celebrating fantasy, beloved characters, and Tolkien’s works. πŸ™‚

silmaril-strangest-award-mediumIf you haven’t seen all the award ceremony posts — where ten of Tolkien’s characters present the awards to the top-voted contestants of this year’s awards — do hurry and check them out because they’re all so much fun! πŸ™‚

Awards and their presenters:

Best Fantasy Weapon (presented by Arwen) | Most Epic Hero (pres. by Aragorn) | Most Nefarious Villain (pres. by Saruman, Gollum, & Sauron) | Best Redemption Story (pres. by Boromir) | Best Fantasy Mount (pres. by Eomer) | Riddling and Poetry (pres. by Bilbo) | Wisest Councellor (pres. by Gandalf) | Strangest Character (pres. by Tom Bombadil) | Most Faithful Friend (pres. by Sam Gamgee) | Most Heart Wrenching Death Scene (pres. by Thorin)

LOTR party posts

And don’t forget — you can post your own celebratory post for The Lord of the Rings’ birthday today (or through the weekend) and share the link in the link-up at the end of this post of Jenelle’s so we can all see it! (And if you post on social media, use the hashtag #SilmAwards2016 for this LOTR birthday celebration wrapup!)

Be sure to check out the other LOTR celebration posts listed there because they’re all fantastic! (No pun intended. ;))

Happy Lord of the Rings Day to you all!

P.S. (Because Gandalf made them notorious with his multiple post-scripts.) Aaand now I’m tempted to leave my Tolkien books stacked in the corner of my room like that because they look nice there. Who needs a nightstand anyway — pfft. ;))

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began . . .