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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Middle-earth TV Series Discussion:
JD Payne and Patrick McKay showrunning
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Ataahua
Superuser


Jul 29, 9:12pm

Post #26 of 59 (1684 views)
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I suppose it depends on whose hands touch the script last. [In reply to] Can't Post

I imagine that scripts go through several iterations until the final version is locked in, and whoever does that final 'shaping' has the last say. It looks like we aren't entirely clear yet on where these guys are in the hierarchy.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


squire
Half-elven


Jul 29, 11:07pm

Post #27 of 59 (1667 views)
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It depends if one sees 'the violence, warfare, genocide and massive death and destruction' as woven into the foreground or background of the story [In reply to] Can't Post

There are books about war, and books that take place during war. There are books that acknowledge death and violence as real aspects of the characters' lived experiences without dwelling on them, and books that focus on and explore the death and violence as subjects of intrinsic interest.

I have never read Tolkien as being an author who focuses on those aspects of the war-torn world he depicts. They are there - woven throughout, as you say - but they are not the most important aspects of the narrative, not even close. He actually avoids all gratuitous descriptions of actual violence, just as he does all gratuitous descriptions of the sexual impulse, and all gratuitous obscenity in language.

Does leaving these elements in the background where Tolkien put them mean they are being "stripped" out of Middle-earth? I don't think so. If PG is a rating that is too innocuous to contain the world of The Lord of the Rings, is PG-13 similarly placed? I don't read Payne's comments as being for a PG series, but rather as against going in the R direction. I'd support him in that, just as Peter Jackson and his studios did.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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Nierestel
Registered User

Jul 30, 3:03am

Post #28 of 59 (1623 views)
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That's about where I am [In reply to] Can't Post

I interpret his comment as probably being more against sex than violence. So I would expect it to be roughly in line with the films, actually. This may stand in contrast to other streaming/premium channel genre shows, such as GOT and even the Netflix Marvel ones, which seem to have quite a bit of graphic sexual content and a lot of violence, too.

We also don't know how many "opportunities" for violence the series will have; even in LotR, it's a few big battles but otherwise, walking, although I think there's a strong market for cool fights which will probably have an influence. Also, Rangers aren't starting battles but they're probably doing raids and defending their settlements.


Archestratie
Registered User

Jul 30, 4:27pm

Post #29 of 59 (1452 views)
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Yeah :( [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
You're right that they seem to have no experience in management, and frankly they seem to have little experience as writers. I had thought Sharon Tal Yguado, Amazon Studio's Head of Event Series, was the showrunner. She was involved in the development of The Walking Dead, Outcast, and Legion so she had the experience. She was brought in at the end of 2016, about the time of the M-e series announcement. The thing is, she was hired by then Amazon Studio chief Roy Price. Price resigned in October 2017 over sexual harassment allegations. Now that previous NBC executive Jennifer Salke has taken over as Amazon studio head she seems to be making some changes.


Lack of experience seems to be a qualification for responsibility nowadays. In entertainment, especially, and not just film-making or TV.


Chen G.
Rivendell

Aug 1, 8:56pm

Post #30 of 59 (1014 views)
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What's wrong with violence? [In reply to] Can't Post

All the films are virtually the closest to an R-rated film that a PG-13 film can get. One of them is R-rated.

As for sexual elements: that depends. I don't mind the "pick up line" in The Desolation of Smaug, but as for something more explicit; say, female nudity - I'd wait until The Children of Hurin is ready to be commited to film.


(This post was edited by entmaiden on Aug 2, 1:08pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Aug 1, 10:19pm

Post #31 of 59 (997 views)
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Nothing, where appropriate. [In reply to] Can't Post

Chen, no one here seems to be objecting to violence in the show where it would be narratively appropriate. The only real push-backs I see are against the gratuitous use of sex and violence--particularly against explicit sex.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Lindele
Gondor

Aug 2, 2:41pm

Post #32 of 59 (890 views)
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I don't think it's fair [In reply to] Can't Post

to judge experience based on IMDB credits. Also experience isn't everything. Sometimes experience brings baggage. That doesn't mean that someone who has never handled a massive task like this should be thrown into it. But we don't really know what they've experienced.

I'd be willing to bet there were similar comments on here about PJ when it was announced he was making LOTR.


Lindele
Gondor

Aug 2, 2:43pm

Post #33 of 59 (890 views)
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There's certainly a difference [In reply to] Can't Post

between using violence/sex as a necessary storytelling device and using it as a gimmick. I'm a huge GoT fan but there is absolutely gratuitous sex and violence that does not further the plot in it, at least in the beginning anyway.


Jeremy
Rivendell


Aug 7, 2:11pm

Post #34 of 59 (763 views)
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On their inexpereince... [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought the same as others in here, that there doesn't seem to be much they've done to guess how good of a show they'll make. However, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss were also relatively inexperienced and they ended up creating, not only the most popular fantasy show, but the most popular show in recent television history. They even had a rocky start and had to completely redo the pilot episode because it was apparently so bad. But they managed to turn Game of Thrones into a very well made show. Hopefully JD Payne and Patrick McKay can bring the same passion to LotR.


dormouse
Half-elven


Aug 10, 10:31pm

Post #35 of 59 (642 views)
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Can't help being just a tiny bit concerned...... [In reply to] Can't Post

... that they 'feel like Frodo, setting out from the Shire, with a great responsibility in our care.' After all, his mission didn't really bode well for the 'great responsibility' he was carrying....
Sorry, couldn't resist! That struck me immediately I read the quotation.... Wink

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood and every spring
there is a different green. . .


Mari D.
The Shire


Aug 17, 2:24pm

Post #36 of 59 (583 views)
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I'm kinda hopeful :-) [In reply to] Can't Post

Hello there :-)

The two men seem nerdy enough to me, and it's great that they're friends, because friendship can inspire work with a a special quality. I hope they will be able to create something beautiful and enthralling out of the material. Also it makes me hopeful that one of them is a Mormon. I don't know much about the Mormon faith, but I think adhering to a religion oneself makes it easier to relate to the thinking of another religious person.

As concerns violence and sexuality ...

I am more on the "keep it as Tolkien wrote it" side, because I care not only for a faithful adaption, but more generally, for what media establishes as "normal" and as "we're not shocked to watch this anymore".

Sexuality is good, but very private. I think it takes deep respect and dignity to show it in an adequate fashion, and that in most cases would mean that you only hint at it or show very little. I don't believe in spying into real peoples' bedrooms and private moments, accordingly, I do not believe it helps us as a society if we constantly do it by watching it in film.

Violence, on the other hand, is bad. Again the question is, what do we establish as "normal"? If we abhorr violence in real life, it would be, I think, wise to establish it as something out of the norm. If however violence surrounds us in every movie and game, it's becoming normal – that is, in thought, or – earlier than that – in how we feel about it.

If all TV series have a lot of violence in them, we cease being shocked by watching that, in other words, we get desensitized (over time, gradually). Now, if we are less sensitive towards something negative, we might in real life not protest against with as much vehemence as we would otherwise instinctually have, we might not care about it as much emotionally, we might not be shocked by it as much if we see it happen to others, or hear about it in the news. Of course this is not either or, it's a gradual thing from being 100% compassionate to 0% compassionate. But I argue that excessive and pointless depiction of violence for the sake of entertainment will move the bar further towards fewer percent. Is this the direction we want to be moving towards as a society? This is why I think it's best not to show these things excessively. It's about the "normals" we establish.

Now, violence in a movie can be used to shape peoples' compassion and awareness, to motivate towards great courage, rather than shock into indifference. Here it's a director's job to get the tone right, especially in war movies. I think Peter Jackson's Middle-earth movies did a 75% good job at that. There were scenes that e.g. showed people frightened before a battle. There were also scenes where violence seemed to serve as a funny element. Which of the two attitudes do we wish for us to be more in tune with? A possible question to check it is: Does how it's depicted in this movie lift us up towards greater virtue, or lower us towards "I don't care, not shocked anymore by seeing a person die, give me more of the gory details so I can feel excited"?

Specifically now about the Middle-earth series ...

I think it logical to create an adaption in such a way that people who enjoy the source material would also be able to enjoy the adaption. At least largely enjoy it.
Why are books chosen for an adaption? Because of their specific "character" and quality. If a book is chosen for its character, it's logical to stay largely true to that character. Peter Jackson's LotR movies had much success, imho because they did just that. And, this way, fans of the books also (largely) enjoyed the adaption.
As has been stated earlier, the books are written in a tone that refrains from describing violence or sexuality in excess and detail. (The qualification "in excess and detail" is important. You can not leave it out either. Aragorn's life without battles? No way. And many people marry.)
The crux of the matter seems to be: Is the way these topics are handled in the novels an indispensable part of what makes the quality of the original work?
I think, or rather feel, from knowing the "tone" and feel of the books, that yes, it is. Is changing these aspects violating the spirit of the work too much? I think it is. But I see people could disagree here, depending on what they personally value about the books/movies, which aspects for them make up the core qualities. Now let's say it were agreed upon that it's is an indispensable part, the next question is: How can a movie maker imitate this way of having battles etc. in the story, but not focusing in on the violence, and somewhat imitate the approach concerning sexuality? But that I will not attempt to answer ... I'm not a movie or TV director.

My conclusion ...

I believe you can cater to some degree to an audience who are not yet fans, or only like the movies but not the books, without destroying the original spirit of the novels & appendixes, but it's tricky in this case. I hope the producers will find a healthy middle ground between preserving the "spirit" of the books, and making the series appealing in context of the other series that are out there these days. The two don't necessarily have to be a contradiction at all. Contrast can also be appealing.

From what I've read so far from the producers and about them, I can see that happening.


(This post was edited by Mari D. on Aug 17, 2:36pm)


jlj93byu
Bree

Aug 17, 3:31pm

Post #37 of 59 (564 views)
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I am also hopeful [In reply to] Can't Post

@Mari D.

I agree with your observations, very well stated. I kept finding myself nodding in agreement over and over as I read your article.

I agree with your views on intimacy. There's a reason that word describes what it does, and why it is an even more extreme version of the word private. I'm not saying intimacy can't be properly depicted, but the majority of the time its depiction is overstated and serves the wrong purpose. I also don't need to look into anyone's bedroom, thank you very much, and don't want anyone looking in mine.

Violence has a more legitimate place, albeit still not gratuitous. Violence is something that occurs regularly, out in the open, and can have far more broad consequences, at least apparent ones.

Most importantly, however, you pointed out their friendship and commitment to a set of moral values. I believe those two things will be key and have hope that elements shared by them in those two concepts and the world of J.R.R. Tolkien will shine forth.


Ataahua
Superuser


Aug 17, 8:18pm

Post #38 of 59 (535 views)
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Welcome, Mari D! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm glad to see you've joined the message boards. :)

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


Chen G.
Rivendell

Aug 17, 11:30pm

Post #39 of 59 (516 views)
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Where's this attitude towards filmic violence been? [In reply to] Can't Post

The existing film adaptations are about as violent as PG-13 gets.

Why I think violence was important to the films and would continue to be important for this television series is that it feeds into the revisionist aspect of Tolkien's work.

I believe it was John Howe who said that Tolkien was "writing the antithesis to commercial fiction." i.e. that instead of the idealized, santized, childish and fanciful Disney fairytales, Tolkien's Middle Earth is full of suffering, death and war. Even in The Hobbit, he started writing a cliche bedside-story ending, and than changed it into something of a dark political thriller.

The films did right to adapt, moreso than Tolkien's words, his themes, and among them this theme: that of deconstruction the fantasy genre. Making it considerably violent is part of that.

Nudity is another matter, though.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Aug 17, 11:31pm)


Mari D.
The Shire


Aug 17, 11:44pm

Post #40 of 59 (511 views)
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Thank you [In reply to] Can't Post

@jlj93byu: Thanks for your positive feedback to my thoughts, glad they rang so true to you :-)
Also, thanks for pointing out about violence that it has a more legitimate place as it happens out in the open. I had not considered that aspect. Maybe that could be called "representation of reality" ...So if a director wants to include violence to be more realistic about things ...I still don't think he should assume viewers to be 100% desensitized to seeing violence, but rather hope they empathize with fellow human beings ... with this assumption, instead of showing all the horrors at once at full intensity, and create plain, unproductive shock ... one could show as much as needed to get the point across, and then use the evil depicted to inspire in a positive way, e.g. like J.R.R.Tolkien did. In darkness, light shines more – the plot could continue on about bravery, mercy, forgiveness, endurance, ... in the face of adversity and violence. I'm reminded of Sam in the orc tower who in a desperate situation "finds his courage", by among other things, countering darkness with singing. Quite memorable contrasts can be created that way, I believe.

@Ataahua: Thanks very much for the welcome :-)

@Chen G.: Hmmm .... I can see your point ... no, I would not want Middle-earth as a Disney fairy land either. Thanks for the input. I'll think about how to adjust my approach to include that aspect ...


(This post was edited by Mari D. on Aug 17, 11:48pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Aug 18, 12:32am

Post #41 of 59 (505 views)
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Gratuitous Violence and Sexuality [In reply to] Can't Post

The simple truth is that Middle-earth could be a violent place and there is definitely a place for that in the series. Tolkien seemed more comfortable in depicting violence than he did sexuality. He did take the time to establish romantic relationships but he kept them somewhat at a distance, whereas physical conflicts could get downright close and personal. When Tolkien did venture closely into the subject of sexuality the results were tragic: The flawed hero Túrin and his wife Níniel (a.k.a. Nienor) learn that they are really brother and sister and both end up committing suicide, her with her unborn child. Tolkien never used sexuality in a gratuitous manner--and barely at all.

Tolkien does utilize violence much more than sex, but (again) never gratuitously. He uses it to define characters (notably Sméagol) and advance the plot, but never for its own sake. That is the ideal that I would hold up for Amazon's Middle-earth series. And actually I would give Payne & McKay--and the eventual showrunner(s)--a bit more latitude in regards to sexuality than was demonstrated by the author--still stipulating that the show should not descend into gratuitous sex.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Aug 18, 12:34am)


Eruonen
Valinor


Aug 18, 2:01pm

Post #42 of 59 (429 views)
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Yes, keeping in mind that crass sexuality would never have entered JRR's mind. [In reply to] Can't Post

This was a heroic world of honor, virtue, implied morality. That is not to say he did not consider such horrors took place in war, but it was not necessary to spell everything out. It was understood elves, humans, dwarves, orcs had sex because they had children. Great love was a theme. Were there bawdy houses in Minas Tirith? I doubt it. Were their Easterling raids that led to death and rape? Probably, but this is just assumed based on how every invasion has such events.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Aug 18, 2:01pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Aug 18, 3:00pm

Post #43 of 59 (417 views)
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Bawdy Houses? [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder, if asked, whether Tolkien would have acknowledged the possibility of houses of ill-repute or gambling dens operating illegally in Minas Tirith? While possibly not officially tolerated in the Shire, Bree, or even in Dale, I can imagine things being a bit different in Esgaroth, Pelargir or especially a place such as Umbar. I realize that a brothel would be a bit different, but would a gambling house be much more intolerable than a tavern? Or am I thinking about this all too realistically?

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Aug 18, 3:02pm)


InTheChair
Lorien

Aug 18, 3:56pm

Post #44 of 59 (401 views)
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Were there bawdy houses at all in the Middle Ages? [In reply to] Can't Post

Or were there just royal consorts and organized prostitution for the common man evolved later?

I don't doubt that there were women in Minas Tirith prepare to trade though.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Aug 18, 4:06pm

Post #45 of 59 (398 views)
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There were in the Roman Empire. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think of Minas Tirith as resembling ancient Rome or Byzantium more than Medieval Europe. Brothels in Rome are well-documented. Bordellos are probably as old as civilization itself but evidence goes back as far as the Sumerian city of Uruk. State-run brothels with regulated prices existed in ancient Athens, so there is plenty of historical precedence for having such institutions in Middle-earth (whether legal or not). Finding them might be a simple matter of paying attention to graffiti lliterally on the street.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Aug 18, 4:38pm

Post #46 of 59 (393 views)
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Vices in the Amazon Show [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I don't doubt that there were women in Minas Tirith prepare to trade though.


Probably not openly at least, though Amazon's series could show such trade taking place illegally in the lower levels of the city. And historically that would be perfectly reasonable. No one expects Aragorn (as Thorongil or otherwise) to go wenching. He might be invited into a game of dice by horsemen of Rohan or soldiers of Gondor. Not everyone would play the Elvish equivalent of chess.

And would it be that shocking to see something resembling an opium den in the City of the Corsairs?

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Aug 18, 4:40pm)


Eruonen
Valinor


Aug 18, 4:49pm

Post #47 of 59 (383 views)
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I don't think Tolkien would have included that aspect. His world was not as base as Rome. [In reply to] Can't Post

Now, if we are strictly applying realism to his world and knowing human nature, sure, all manner of activities probably took place. Yes, I can see gaming of various types - gambling - ongoing in taverns. What became of women who lost their husbands? We don't know of any social services so like women in all ages some would do what they must

However, I can't see Tolkien ever including such activity in his more pure world.

These idea have been explored academically - https://www.tolkienvt.org/2009/


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Aug 18, 4:51pm)


Eruonen
Valinor


Aug 18, 4:56pm

Post #48 of 59 (379 views)
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Tolkien and Sex [In reply to] Can't Post

http://askmiddlearth.tumblr.com/...5402/tolkien-and-sex

"Referring to Original Sin, Tolkien says that “The dislocation of sex-instinct is one of the chief symptoms of the Fall.” Basically, that lust is a product of Original Sin, and therefore either a sin in itself, or at least the gateway to sin. And Tolkien isn’t just talking about “promiscuity” or extra-marital sex, either. He argues that sex is just as dangerous within “proper” relationships:

The devil is endlessly ingenious, and sex is his favorite subject. He is as good every bit at catching you through generous romantic or tender motives, as through baser or more animal ones............. it seems pretty clear based on the types of relationships he wrote (Aragorn and Arwen, Beren and Luthien, etc.) that he (despite recognizing the artificial origins of the tradition) adopted this chivalric love as the model for his own characters’ romances. This way he could deal with love and emotional intimacy without having to address the lustful physical side of such relationships, which he so strongly viewed as a source of sin and evil.."


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Aug 18, 6:36pm

Post #49 of 59 (367 views)
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Fallen Middle-earth [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for prompting me to read Letter #43 again. I don't think we should treat a television audience as though they are as prudish as was Tolkien, or to expect them to tolerate such a limited point of view. Even Middle-earth was to some extent a 'fallen world', corrupted by Morgoth and doomed to eventually fall to entropy. That could be reflected in the civilizations of Man before their downfall: The final days of Númenor; Gondor in the years of the Stewards, especially in the time of Denethor II. Such vices as prostitution and gambling can represent the decadence of those cultures in their decline, even if such practices are largely driven underground (though in the case of Gondor there is to be a second Golden Age when the rule of the King is re-established). Naturally, we might expect to see more open examples of such institutions where the rule of Sauron has held sway, in the Mannish cultures of the Rhûn and far South.

We are going to see Middle-earth from the perspective of Aragorn traveling among the common Men, not just in the company of kings and stewards. That means we could see Middle-earth from a far less idealized position, if still one removed from the modern world. And that could be for the better by making it more relatable. I put it to you that the show can be more grounded without descending to the excesses and crudities of HBO's Game of Thrones.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Aug 18, 6:46pm)


uncle Iorlas
Bree


Aug 18, 7:16pm

Post #50 of 59 (348 views)
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Minas Tirith [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the better comparison for Minas Tirith is Camelot--that is, not the middle ages as they were, but the chivalric myth of the middle ages, its legend of itself (and that of later romancers). The clearest signal that Gondor is patterned after Arthurian legend is the presence of the brothers Boromir and Faramir. Those names belong to a pair of brothers in Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur. (Compare to the name Eomer, which is borrowed directly from Beowulf.)

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