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An Alternate Take on Bard (Timeline of 'The One Ring')

Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 13 2014, 3:12pm

Post #1 of 17 (475 views)
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An Alternate Take on Bard (Timeline of 'The One Ring') Can't Post

Peter Jackson inspired much discussion with his interpretation of Bard the Bowman (as portrayed by Luke Evans). The character definately needed some fleshing out and an earlier introduction; however, there was significant disagreement regarding Jackson's backstory for the character and the changes in his circumstances from the book. I think that it might be interesting to look at how Bard is portrayed in The One Ring Roleplaying Game from U.K. game company Cubicle 7, especially now that the campaign book The Darkening of Mirkwood brings his story to its conclusion.

BARD THE BOWMAN -- THE TALE OF YEARS

Year 2911
Bard, a direct descendant of King Girion of Dale, is born in Lake-town.

Year 2941
Bard the Bowman slays the dragon Smaug; with Thranduil of the Woodland Realm he leads a combined army of Men and Elves to Erebor where the Free Peoples unite for the Battle of Five Armies.

Years 2944-2945
Bard completes the reconstruction of Dale and is crowned king.

Year 2946
The Council of the North. Envoys from Lake-town, the Woodland Realm and the Kingdom under the Mountain meet in the presence of King Bard to debate matters concerning Wilderland.

Year 2948
Una, a young merchant princess from Dorwinion, leaves her court in early summer to visit Dale for diplomatic reasons. A detachment of Barding warriors...is sent by King Bard to meet her caravan along the Running River; they reach the merchant convoy just in time to discourage a band of raiders from the East that was following them. When the princess finally arrives in Dale, everyone witnesses how King Bard is captivated by the sight of Una's dancing during the feast held in her honour.

Year 2949
Early this year, King Bard marries Una of Dorwinion. The bond reinforces the status of the kingdom of Dale as a rising power in the North, as Una comes with a rich dowry of gold and diplomatic relations. In December, Una gives birth to a male son, Prince Bain, making Bard a father at the age of 38.

Year 2956
At the age of 45, Bard is considered a wise ruler, loyal to allies and generous to friends. He is very ambitious, as he sees the refounding of a wider kingdom of the North as Dale's manifest destiny. Fifteen years after the death of Smaug, the king still holds excellent relations with the Kingdom under the Mountain, as the economies of Erebor and Dale are deeply interconnected - and last but not least, Bard considers Din Ironfoot as a personal friend. There is friendship also between King Bard and King Thranduil, but this sentiment is weakening on Bard's part, as the memory of the Battle of Five Armies grows dim (even if the Elvenking shows less and less interest in the dealings of Men and Dwarves). Bard's rule is recognised in some measure in nearby Esgaroth, especially since Bard's marriage with Una of Dorwinion.

Year 2968
Word comes from the north of trouble at King Bard's court. Some of the nobles of Dale have grown greedy and proud. As wealth and prosperity continues to make the kingdom stronger, some nobles agitate for Bard to exert his power more. They want Dale to seize the eastern woodlands from the Elves, so there will be firewood for the winter and timber for building, and to reclaim Lake-town and its rich trade for the kingdom.

Year 2969
A rival for the rulership of Dale surfaces. Seventeen year-old Girion, son of Valdis the outaw, is another direct descendant of Girion, Lord of Dale, and a possible contender for the throne currently occupied by King Bard, and destined for his son Bain. Bain leads a group of chosen men to investigate the origins of Girion in the Western Eaves of Mirkwood.

Year 2970
Prince Bain of Dale has not returned from his journey into Mirkwood and the realm is ruled by a council of regents, as King Bard is sick. Rumours say that Bain was slain by outlaws in Mirkwood, while others claim that the prince escaped and is now living in the woods.

Year 2971
Prince Bain sends messengers to Dale from his exile to reveal that he is alive and well, and meaning to return soon. Some time later he takes the road, but must abandon his plans when assassins try to kill him. He is saved by faithful Ottarr, who is grieviously wounded but survives. In the meantime in Dale, young Girion accuses Prince Bain of having betrayed and deserted his own folk. More and more nobles flock to support his cause. King Bard remains bedridden and afllicted with the plague.

Year 2972
King Bard continues to grow weaker, and many in Dale openly discuss teh succession of Girion to the throne.

Year 2973
The quarrels between Prince Bain and young Girion continue. While it has not yet come to open war, teh two continue to gather allies. Bain is made a prisoner of Girion in the castle of Orlmond. Prince Bain is rescued and Bard is healed after the discovery that his affliction was caused by Valdis.

Year 2977
In this year, King Bard the Dragonslayer dies in bed, and the crown of Dale passes to his son, Prince Bain.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jul 13 2014, 3:16pm)


dormouse
Half-elven


Jul 13 2014, 6:10pm

Post #2 of 17 (180 views)
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Well, it's interesting and a nice enough story... [In reply to] Can't Post

...but it doesn't bear much resemblance to Tolkien, does it, beyond picking up the few dates from the Tale of Years that are all Tolkien gave us? And there are a couple of elements in it which seem to me to be distinctly un-Tolkien, particularly the use of titles. Girion was Lord of Dale, wasn't he, rather than King (I think), and though Bard did become King, there's no reference ever to Bain as 'Prince.' Tolkien is very sparing in the use of titles, even in cases like this where it might be expected. Using them instantly marks the text as being 'not his'.

Although the film version plays down Bard's apparent status, I think it's actually closer to the book than this is. When we first meet Bard he's just a 'grim-faced-fellow', or words to that effect, and people laugh at him for his pessimism. And as far as the film goes, they really didn't need anything this elaborate for him; in fact, a story of this kind wouldn't have helped them as most of it takes place after the action of The Hobbit. They had to create a pre-Hobbit character for him.

This is really just a.n.other fantasy plot. The last bit, the sick king and the missing prince, reminds me a lot of C.S. Lewis's The Silver Chair.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 13 2014, 8:14pm

Post #3 of 17 (164 views)
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I find this far closer to Tolkien, myself. [In reply to] Can't Post

Bard is fairly well-regarded in his early years; it's just that some folk do find his outlook and manner a bit gloomy. It is only when he slays Smaug and distinguishes himself in the Battle of Five Armies that Bard comes into his own. The TOR timeline is in fact consistent with that. And you are right in that Bard's story only becomes interesting after the coming of the dragon.

Girion of Dale is both lord and king. Tolkien does use king as a title for Bard and his descendants Bain and Brand, so the use of prince for Bain is appropriate. The additions of young Girion and his outlaw mother, and the plot-threads associated with them, are there for purposes of adventure hooks for the role-playing game (be glad that I skipped over the part where Valdis becomes a Vampire). The dates for Bard's birth, marriage and death are of course speculative, as is the identity and character of Una, Bard's wife. However, having Bard marry and sire Bain after he becomes the ruler of Dale is more consistent with the story as Tolkien wrote it.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jul 13 2014, 8:17pm)


dormouse
Half-elven


Jul 13 2014, 10:44pm

Post #4 of 17 (156 views)
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Sorry, I must be missing something here... [In reply to] Can't Post

Why is it more consistent with Tolkien's story to have Bard marry and become a father after killing the dragon? I can't recall anything in The Hobbit or in the Tale of Years to say whether Bard was married when the dwarves came to Laketown - he might have been and he might already have had a son, or not - there's no clue in the book to his age that I remember. So I can't see that either version is more consistent - either is possible, based on what we know.

As for the titles, I know 'prince' is appropriate for the son of a king, but Tolkien tends not to use it often in that way, so when someone else does, it stands out for me as being a usage that doesn't really fit his characters.


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 14 2014, 11:46am

Post #5 of 17 (136 views)
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Occam's Razor [In reply to] Can't Post

Because Tolkien made no mention of Bard having any family at the time of Thorin's quest, the probability is that he had no family at that time. If he had a wife and/or children to protect, it would have been worth mentioning in the narrative. This makes it more likely that Bard wed and sired Bain sometime after the Battle of Five Armies. The Tale of Years given in The Darkening of Mirkwood is consistent with this point-of-view. Also, odds seem good that Bard was closer to the age of 30 than (say) 50, since he still seemed to be in his physical prime.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


dormouse
Half-elven


Jul 14 2014, 1:34pm

Post #6 of 17 (141 views)
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And a man of 30 can't have fathered children? [In reply to] Can't Post

In that kind of period and society it seems more likely to me that he would be a father at 30 than that he wouldn't. As for mentioning it in the narrative, the narrative of The Hobbit is so spare that I don't think it's safe to assume anything simply on the grounds of no mention.

No, sorry, as far as I can see, 'The Darkening of Mirkwood' is just a piece of derivative fiction. Reasonable enough story as stories go, but totally irrelevant to Tolkien and lacking in sensitivity to his creation, especially in the use of names and titles. 'Una' is another example. That's from a Latin root and it is a name; Tolkien hardly ever uses names in everyday modern use for his characters other than the hobbits. Most of the names he uses are rooted in his own invented languages, or they're Germanic or Norse. So that name, like the use of 'Prince', stands out a mile as being out of place in something supposedly related to Tolkien's writing. (The films make the same mistake occasionally. Two 'ouch' moments for me were the naming of Sebastien and - *cringe* - Percy.)


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 14 2014, 7:40pm

Post #7 of 17 (119 views)
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You are being deliberately obtuse, dormouse. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
And a man of 30 can't have fathered children?



You know very well that that is NOT what I stated. I merely pointed out that we have an absence of evidence for a wife or children for Bard. We know that he does father at least one child in time, Bain, but there is no evidence of either him or his mother in The Hobbit. The simplest explanation for that is that Bard is still single. Is it the only explanation? No; however, it is the most likely one. If Bard had had a wife or children to worry and mourn after him, there should have been some sign of it at some point in the book. Yes, Tolkien could have simply overlooked the possibility of Bard having living family; however, later writings do not confirm this for that period of time in his life.

As for the name Una in the rpg suppliment The Darkening of MIrkwood, the name is one that might well exist independently in multiple cultures with varying linguistic roots. It does not need to be associated with a Latin root. Una is far less bothersome than Sebastian--an obviously Christian name. Percy might, at least, be something other than a nickname for Percival, especially since it also has a derivation from the Greek name Perceus (just as Sam in LotR is short for Samwise, not Samuel).

I do have some regret for including entries on young Girion and his mother, as they constitute spoilers for the rpg campaign.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


dormouse
Half-elven


Jul 14 2014, 8:01pm

Post #8 of 17 (109 views)
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No, sorry, I wasn't.... [In reply to] Can't Post

... I couldn't see any other reason for your having brought up Bard's possible age.

I'd say that the simplest explanation for Bard's [wife and] son being missing from The Hobbit is precisely the same reason that the Elvenking's son is missing. Tolkien hadn't thought of them at the time of writing. They weren't necessary to The Hobbit and he didn't know then where the story was going to take him. Once he created Legolas it was implied that Legolas must have been around somewhere during the time of The Hobbit even though he wasn't mentioned - so far as I can see, that could apply to Bain as well. Or Bain could have been born later - both seem equally possible to me.

As for the names, for me, and only for me, Una of Dorwinion is as un-Tolkien as Sebastien or Percy. It doesn't sound to me like anything Tolkien would have written. If you like it, fine, we don't have to agree. But you did ask how people felt about it, and that's how I feel. The film version of Bard's circumstances is not as I imagined, but it is a whole lot closer to what I imagined than the story you've outlined.


Darkstone
Immortal


Jul 14 2014, 8:07pm

Post #9 of 17 (107 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

In many historical circumstances, due to the customs of the prevailing culture, it can readily be argued that, in the absence of any word to the contrary, a man (or woman) could naturally be assumed to be married since, if they were not, it would definitely be cause for comment in that culture. (I note such an argument has been used by scholars to make assertions about the marital status of figures as diverse as Beowulf and Jesus.)

So one might readily assume that unless Bard was specifically said to be unmarried, he must have been married.

******************************************
"Weve heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true."
-Robert Wilensky


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 14 2014, 8:18pm

Post #10 of 17 (100 views)
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All right. [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not sure your previous subject title read as intended. I mentioned Bard's alleged age because the game timeline assigned him a year of birth. That made it relevant to the discussion.

I probably should have specified that I meant to discuss in in-story explanation for the lack of evidence for a family for Bard. However, Tolkien's later writings, if they do not confirm the premise, neither do they contradict it. Barring any evidence that directly says otherwise, it is more likely that not that Bard did not wed until after the Battle of Five Armies. It is not definitive, but it is the simplest explanation.

I do have to state that, even if you disagree with some choices, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan and Francesco Nepitello (writers of The Darkening of Mirkwood) put more thought into the names for their invented characters than do Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phylippa Boyens (Tauriel wasn't so bad, but it was devised only after the more questionable Itaril).

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jul 14 2014, 8:20pm)


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 14 2014, 8:26pm

Post #11 of 17 (101 views)
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Book-verse, not movie-verse. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
In many historical circumstances, due to the customs of the prevailing culture, it can readily be argued that, in the absence of any word to the contrary, a man (or woman) could naturally be assumed to be married since, if they were not, it would definitely be cause for comment in that culture. (I note such an argument has been used by scholars to make assertions about the marital status of figures as diverse as Beowulf and Jesus.)

So one might readily assume that unless Bard was specifically said to be unmarried, he must have been married.



In this instance, we are discussing Bard of Tolkien's legendarium. There is no evidence in The Hobbit or any of Tolkien's subsequent writings that Bard ever had a wife, children, or even a lover prior to the Battle of Five Armies. We do know that he fathers Bain, but we don't know when that happens. From the evidence (or lack thereof) we can postulate that Bard did not wed until after the refounding of Dale. In Peter Jackson's films, we have a Bard who is widowed with three children by the time that Thorin's company reaches Lake-town, but this is not directly supported by Tolkien.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Darkstone
Immortal


Jul 14 2014, 8:48pm

Post #12 of 17 (102 views)
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Yes, that's what I meant, book-verse versus movie-verse [In reply to] Can't Post

The question is, in the Legendarium is it unusual for a Man of Bard's age, experience, position, lineage, etc. to be unmarried?

If so, then in the absence of any statement to the contrary, we must assume that he is married.

******************************************
"Weve heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true."
-Robert Wilensky


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 14 2014, 8:56pm

Post #13 of 17 (100 views)
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Bard's single status is implied, not stated outright. [In reply to] Can't Post

In the films Bard is definitely a widower. Book-Bard is not disrespected, but he is a bit of an odd duck around Lake-town. He is grim, a loner, and gloomy; he probably was not seen as a prize catch prior to the return of Smaug. Afterward, he doubtless had the pick of Rhovanion for a wife.

Bain is never mentioned in the legendarium until after Bard becomes the king of Dale. The implication is that he was probably not born until that time. Nothing at all is written about Bard's queen, but we can at least guess that they were not wedded until after the Bo5A. We might be wrong, but it still seems probable.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jul 14 2014, 9:00pm)


Darkstone
Immortal


Jul 14 2014, 9:18pm

Post #14 of 17 (96 views)
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A worthy and courageous duck. [In reply to] Can't Post

Their captain was Bard, grim-voiced and grim-faced, whose friends had accused him of prophesying floods and poisoned fish, though they knew his worth and courage.
-Fire and Water

Any person of "worth and courage" is surely of highly marriageable material. And any unmarried person with such admiring friends is doubtless going to be subject to unending attempts at matchmaking. Again, it would be unusual if he *wasn't* married, and thus a state that would be surely mentioned in the Legendarium.

******************************************
"Weve heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true."
-Robert Wilensky


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


Jul 14 2014, 9:24pm

Post #15 of 17 (99 views)
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Point noted. [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, Bard's valor and ethic were known. However, we may simply have to agree to disagree on the likelyhood of his marital status in Tolkien's legendarium. I am sure that we can find supporters for both viewpoints.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Darkstone
Immortal


Jul 14 2014, 9:30pm

Post #16 of 17 (97 views)
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Thank you... [In reply to] Can't Post

...for a civil end to a discussion.

******************************************
"Weve heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true."
-Robert Wilensky


squire
Valinor


Jul 15 2014, 5:12am

Post #17 of 17 (135 views)
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Another way to look at it [In reply to] Can't Post

I appreciate that the absence of evidence is not evidence. Still, to me the likelihood of Bard being unmarried at the time of the events of The Hobbit is quite high, in the context of the story as a whole. Of course The Hobbit is famous for having no female characters, but when you think about it, it has almost no implicit female characters either. Almost none of the male characters are said to be married, to have children, or even to be the child of a named father (thus implying an unnamed mother).

Characters in The Hobbit who are not said to be married:
Bilbo Baggins
Bullroarer Took
Golfimbul
Gandalf
Radagast
Thorin Oakenshield
Fili
Kili
Balin
Dwalin
Oin
Gloin
Ori
Dori
Nori
Bifur
Bofur
Bombur
The Necromancer
Elrond
Tom
Bert
William
The Great Goblin
Gollum
The Lord of the Eagles
Beorn
The Elvenking
Galion
The Master of Lake-town
Smaug
Roc
Bard
Dain
Bolg
Chubb
Chubb
Burrowes

Characters in The Hobbit who are said to be or to have been married:
Bungo Baggins, Bilbo's father
Belladonna Took, Bilbo's mother
The Old Took, Bilbo's maternal grandfather
Carc, whose son is Roac
The Sackville-Bagginses, mentioned as a family


Now for many of the above apparently unmarried characters, Tolkien added or implied wives when he continued their stories into The Lord of the Rings: Elrond, The Elven King, Gloin, Beorn, and Bard, if not others as well. But if you take him as he was first written, in the only story in which he is actually a character and not a mere reference, that is in The Hobbit, Bard is hardly alone in being single -- not by the author's thoughtless omission, or specific intention, much less by the standard of a typical human society, but simply by the heroic convention of the story he is in.



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