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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The 2019 Rookie Reader Review
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Cygnus
Lorien


Jan 1, 6:09am

Post #1 of 94 (2206 views)
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The 2019 Rookie Reader Review Can't Post

After watching all 6 movies probably 12 times I thought it would be fun to read the books. With this thread, I hope to present a different perspective since most folks here have done the opposite. I will never know the experience of reading the books while visualizing the characters.....then later seeing the big screen version. I'm sure there was good and bad to that, just like I expect to experience good and bad by doing it this way.
This will be a thread that will likely unfold over several months, possibly even all of 2019. I would love to hear your input and comments to my posts. I will try to keep mentions of the movies to a minimum since this is the Reading Room but it will be tough to avoid at times. I look forward to you posting your experiences with the books as a rookie reader. I realize that might be a lot to ask since it was literally decades ago for some of you.
I will likely have questions along the way on my big adventure. If you are the type who likes to help a rookie along his path I would greatly appreciated it. If not, feel free to ignore them. I do understand there is only so much time in the day.
So here I go...over 40 years after all my high school classmates were raving over this Tolkien guy, I'm getting ready to finally read the first word of the greatest fiction ever written. *deep breath before the epic plunge*

"I found it is the small things.....everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.....simple acts of kindness and love." - Gandalf


Cygnus
Lorien


Jan 1, 6:42am

Post #2 of 94 (2011 views)
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Surprised already! [In reply to] Can't Post

That sure didn't take long. I wasn't expecting to be surprised in paragraphs 3 and 4. Tolkien writes ".....you will see whether he gained anything in the end." AND "As I was saying, the mother of this hobbit...."
I wasn't expecting Tolkien to refer to himself and the reader in this manner. Now I'm wondering if he does it the entire book. (Go ahead and respond if you'd like. Throughout this thread I'm not concerned about spoilers).
Now, please don't ask me why this surprised me so much. I don't really know. It was just something I didn't expect. Already I've learned what a rookie I truly am.

"I found it is the small things.....everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.....simple acts of kindness and love." - Gandalf


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 1, 9:26am

Post #3 of 94 (1989 views)
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Hobbit is very much a children’s book... [In reply to] Can't Post

... in the tradition of children’s authors of the time (Wind In The Willows, say, or Just So Stories, or Five Children and It). You’ll find a lot of writing designed to appeal to children, as their needs were understood then. Jackson’s movies, by contrast, were made for a different audience.

Good luck with your project: I’ll be interested to read how it goes.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Chen G.
Lorien

Jan 1, 10:06am

Post #4 of 94 (1987 views)
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It certainly starts like one [In reply to] Can't Post

What's unusual about it for a children's book is the final few chapters. In them you can really see the line of thought from which The Lord of the Rings would eventually take shape.

Essentially, if each chapter leading up to the end is an episodic vignette of an adventure, in the tradition of commercial adventure literature, the final few chapters kind of deconstruct that mould.

A formulaic children adventure story would end with the slaying of the dragon, but Tolkien takes it a step further by weaving what is in effect a political thriller centered around the wealth of Erebor and Bard's claim for remunerations.

That, and the outcome of the battle, aren't the sort of thing you'd normally put in a children's story.


Paulo Gabriel
Bree

Jan 1, 11:16am

Post #5 of 94 (2006 views)
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Wow. [In reply to] Can't Post

You didn't know that? You really are a rookie. Wink


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


Jan 1, 9:37pm

Post #6 of 94 (1948 views)
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So excited for you! [In reply to] Can't Post

Expect the unexpected for sure. Smile

My 2 cents would be to think of it as if these were historical events, being told by 2 completely different observers/participants. Say, an English soldier and an American soldier both writing their memoirs of the battle of the Bulge. Much of their source material would be essentially the same, but the point of view and the language used would be very different.

Tolkien's language is so beautiful and evocative (and in my opinion, utterly gripping, in the more "intense" sections), that 1) to me the language itself is a feast and 2) Tolkien's wording, to me, conveys the adventure with a richness and detail, along with insight into the inner life of many of the individuals, that simply couldn't be brought out in even 3 movies (and probably not if Jackson had made 5 or 6 or more for each story). This is more pertinent in LOTR, but it still stands in the Hobbit.

And the Hobbit is just a very different story in the book. The LOTR movies digressed a lot, but not so much in "tone" as did the Hobbit movies.



(This post was edited by Ethel Duath on Jan 1, 9:40pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 2, 12:33am

Post #7 of 94 (1931 views)
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You will reach some familiar parts, and soon [In reply to] Can't Post

I felt like the movie version of the dwarves' party at Bilbo's house was true in spirit to the book, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Maybe one warning of sorts is that "The Hobbit" book is very centered on Bilbo as the title suggests, and book-Thorin doesn't get as much attention as movie-Thorin does. So you might be surprised that Tolkien just won't shut up about Bilbo, but hopefully it will be a pleasant surprise. Please keep us posted!


Cygnus
Lorien


Jan 2, 1:47am

Post #8 of 94 (1927 views)
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Dragon [In reply to] Can't Post

"and out of it comes the dragon too---far too often, unless he has changed his habits." This sure has me wondering how often Smaug took flight.
I was surprised to see "the Necromancer" mentioned so soon. The word "the" is used and not "a". I'm struggling to remember how many there are. When Radagast got the sword didn't he say "a"?
I just finished the first chapter "An Unexpected Party". This is every bit as wonderful as I hoped it would be. Thanks for the last two posts.....sould I single out a quote from them to comment on or start using threaded instead of flat? It seems like most folks use threaded. (I'm so bad with technology)

"I found it is the small things.....everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.....simple acts of kindness and love." - Gandalf


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 2, 2:00am

Post #9 of 94 (1926 views)
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You don't need to use threaded unless you want to. [In reply to] Can't Post

 Just hit the "reply to this post" on the particular post you want to respond to and write your reply to that one. That way it will show correctly for those who use threaded and flat. If you want to start a new sub-discussion under the same header or just make a general reply to all, reply to your root post.

Silverlode

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.




entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 2, 2:20am

Post #10 of 94 (1918 views)
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How exciting! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for sharing your experience. So many of us have read the books so many times, it's refreshing to hear from folks like you, who are experiencing them for the first time.
It is true that Tolkien inserts the narrator's voice often in The Hobbit. I read The Hobbit first, then LOTR, more than 40 (gulp!) years ago, so The Hobbit is especially dear to me.
There will be some foreshadowing, but I didn't catch it until I had read LOTR, then gone back to The Hobbit.
One logistical note - don't feel the need to keep all your posts in this one thread. If you find your post has fallen off the page, feel free to start a new one, and reply to it until it falls off the page. On this board, new posts don't cause a thread to "bump".
Happy reading!


squire
Half-elven


Jan 2, 4:31am

Post #11 of 94 (1913 views)
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It's more like back-shadowing than fore-shadowing [In reply to] Can't Post

Especially now that the film versions have embedded themselves in the collective mind, it's important for readers at least, including new readers like Cygnus, to remember that The Hobbit was written with no thought of The Lord of the Rings at all.

The only part of the first book that actually displays 'foreshadowing' is the one chapter Tolkien liberally re-wrote after he finishing LotR: the 'Riddles' chapter with Gollum and the Ring. For instruction in how the gag worked, seek out the text of the original chapter, in which Gollum having lost the game quite amenably agrees to show Bilbo the way out, and then pads back down to his pool! The thing to remember is that was the original Gollum - Gollum as he was meant to be in The Hobbit. The Ring, thus, has no evil implications at all and no connection whatever with the Necromancer - it's just a great device that acts as an equalizer for a timid and small Hobbit.

For all the rest of the book, it's substantially the same as when it was written. However, throughout the early chapters of Lord of the Rings, and in the Appendices, are liberal examples of explanations, expansions, and correlations that give The Hobbit, strictly from the point of view of the LotR reader, a feeling of being a prequel.



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


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jan 2, 5:22am

Post #12 of 94 (1908 views)
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The Dragon and the Necromancer [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
"and out of it comes the dragon too---far too often, unless he has changed his habits." This sure has me wondering how often Smaug took flight.
I was surprised to see "the Necromancer" mentioned so soon. The word "the" is used and not "a". I'm struggling to remember how many there are. When Radagast got the sword didn't he say "a"?


In the book it seems to be implied that Old Smaug napped for years, maybe decades at a time; then he would leave his lair to feed and return to the Mountain.

Remember that in the book the Necromancer has been long established in southern Mirkwood; he his not recent addition. Only Gandalf and a few others seem to know the truth about his identity (and that isn't made clear until we reach The Lord of the Rings). In Jackson's movies Sauron has only dwelt in Dol Guldur for a relatively short time, though just how long we do not find out.

"I reject your reality and substitute my own." - Adam Savage


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jan 2, 6:00am

Post #13 of 94 (1898 views)
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Have fun! [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's something we perhaps can return to when you get to the relevant point in the book. I've just been reading "King Alfred's Last War" by M. E. Griffiths, one of the essays (pp. 41-50) in the 1962 collection, English and Medieval Studies Presented to J. R. R. Tolkien on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday, edited by Norman Davis and C. L. Wrenn. Griffiths was a former student of Tolkien's who in the mid-1930s lent the manuscript of The Hobbit to Susan Dagnall, who worked at the publisher Allen & Unwin. Griffith's 1962 essay argues that Alfred gets short shrift from historians for his defense against Viking attacks in the 890s. Griffiths quotes regularly not only from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle but from the 1947 edition of Frank Stenton's Anglo-Saxon England, whose first edition of 1943 Tolkien mentions reading in a 1945 letter to his son Christopher. This passage (p. 48) from Griffiths's article caught my attention:


Quote
In the annal for 896 the last Danish expedition of this war is related. They had rowed up the Thames and now they built a fortress on the Lea about twenty miles above London. An attack made in the summer by the citizens of London and other people was repulsed, but by this time Alfred was no longer engaged in the west and in the autumn he encamped in the neighborhood of the town so that the Danes could not stop the gathering in of the harvest. Not content with a merely defensive action, he took the initiative, rode up along the river, and saw where it could be blocked against the enemy ships. When the Danes realized their predicament, they abandoned the ships and 'in one of the astonishing marches of which they were capable in an emergency' they struck across country to Bridgnorth. The dash of this action availed them not at all, for in the following summer they dispersed, some to East Anglia, some to Northumbria, and those who had no property departed south over the sea to the Seine.


The quoted line is from Stenton's book, which, as noted, was first published six years after The Hobbit saw print and more than a decade after most of Tolkien's story was written (although the part of The Hobbit which that line suggests to me wasn't written until after Dagnall had read the manuscript). Still, I wonder: was Stenton's description of Viking marching abilities (Google Maps suggests they would have covered about 110 miles) a commonplace among Old English historians and thus something Tolkien might have had in mind?


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
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How to find old Reading Room discussions.


squire
Half-elven


Jan 2, 6:05am

Post #14 of 94 (1895 views)
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The Necromancer's 'true identity'? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think in The Hobbit there is anything suggesting the Necromancer has a 'truer' identity than his own. He is a deeply evil being, in his own right, and good riddance when the White Council evicts him from Mirkwood.

The idea that he is Sauron from the Silmarillion is only made clear in The Lord of the Rings, even if (as I understand it) Rateliff has shown that Tolkien did have Sauron in mind when writing the vaguely delineated character for his children's story. He was wise enough not to say more than he did, given that his readership would have had no idea what he was talking about!



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


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jan 2, 6:20am

Post #15 of 94 (1891 views)
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Don't read too much into my post. [In reply to] Can't Post

What I meant is that Gandalf, Elrond and the "great council of the white wizards" (to jump ahead of the narrative a bit) seemed to know much more about the Necromancer than anyone else did. In Tolkien's greater legendarium, though, we learn the details and how Gandalf and the Wise came by their knowledge.

"I reject your reality and substitute my own." - Adam Savage


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 2, 8:32am

Post #16 of 94 (1881 views)
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Separate posts for separate chapters would also be an option [In reply to] Can't Post

So, for example, you would have a series of posts called:

Rookie Readthrough: [chapter name]
(Inserting the right chapter name each time)

That helps make it easy to navigate if you get a lot of replies. If you go back a few pages in this board’s list of posts, you’ll see how that worked out for the last read-through we did.

But this is just an option- unless you get to the point where admins ask you to start a new post, then please do as you like!

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 2, 9:25am

Post #17 of 94 (1882 views)
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“How to enjoy The Hobbit” [In reply to] Can't Post

Our last read-through of the book as a group included good discussions about the book’s status within Tolkien’s work. I’ll try to summarise...

One way of enjoying The Hobbit is to imagine that it takes place in Middle-earth at its fullest development by Tolkien*. So for example, places such as Lorien, Gondor and Mordor exist in LOTR, and so must logically exist in TH, it’s just that they aren’t relevant to this story, and so aren’t mentioned. Similarly, one can imagine that characters such as Gandalf, Elrond or the Ring are what they will be revealed to be in the later work, and it’s just that readers of The Hobbit are not told everything yet.
It mostly works: a reader sometimes has to find explanations for the odd contradiction or change. And the more playful, sometimes quite silly tone of the early parts of TH doesn’t fit too well with the more solemn LOTR.
This is, of course, pretty much what Peter Jackson and his team did - treating The Hobbit as an LOTR prequel in which they could include material derived from other Tolkien works, as well as new ideas of their own.

An alternative is to try and read Hobbit as its early readers did, as a stand-alone work, not supported by the as-yet-unstarted LOTR. A further development of that approach is to think about what Tolkien might have been thinking, given the state of his worldbuilding at that time. So, for example, nobody- not Gandalf nor even Tolkien himself knows that Bilbo has found the One Ring, because the idea of the Rings Of Power hasn’t yet been invented.

I don’t myself see a right or wrong choice here- as usual there is no one rule to ring us all. Personally, I like to try one approach sometimes, and sometimes prefer the other.


* At a certain level of detail there’s a further problem of what the “fullest development” might be. Tolkien’s unpublished papers have been much studied, showing several changes of mind, and so there is room for disagreement about what his “final word” was, if he’d reached one at all.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 2, 9:40am

Post #18 of 94 (1881 views)
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Yes. [In reply to] Can't Post

I was only talking about replying and discussing various sub-topics that arise within a thread. Separate posts for separate chapters or sections of the book are fine if desired. Smile

Silverlode

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.




(This post was edited by Silverlode on Jan 2, 9:40am)


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 2, 10:43am

Post #19 of 94 (1876 views)
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It’s our convention on this board to keep things positive and to welcome ‘rookies’’ [In reply to] Can't Post

Our slogan is “all you need is a book and an opinion.”

While the board does attract contributors who could write textbooks about Tolkien’s works (and at least one who has done so) “rookies” are welcome, and it’s considered rude to gloat about what someone else doesn’t happen to know. It’s a refreshing change from some discussion boards and their aggressive, competitive tone, and an atmosphere I for one would be sorry to see eroded.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Darkstone
Immortal


Jan 2, 6:54pm

Post #20 of 94 (1863 views)
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You weren't born with that knowledge in your DNA? [In reply to] Can't Post

Me neither!Wink

Looking forward to more of your posts!

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”

(This post was edited by Darkstone on Jan 2, 7:05pm)


Chen G.
Lorien

Jan 2, 11:03pm

Post #21 of 94 (1816 views)
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Or as part of the Silmarillion [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
An alternative is to try and read Hobbit as its early readers did, as a stand-alone work, not supported by the as-yet-unstarted LOTR.


Reading The Hobbit it always seemed quite clear to me that Tolkien put into the yet-to-fully-form Silmarillion: The Woodland Realm IS Doriath and the Elvenking IS Thingol. The Arkenstone is Nimphelos and, Mirkwood is Taur-nu-Fuin.

Even Erebor can be seen as based on Amon Ereb, and Beorn is kind of a variation on Huan.

In that sense, the mysterious Necromancer in Dol Guldur was always going to be Sauron, being that both The Necromancer from The Hobbit and Sauron from The Lord of the Rings Are Thu, and Dol Guldur is a hybrid of The Wizard’s Isle and Thu’s undisclosed abode in Taur-nu-Fuin.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jan 3, 12:24am

Post #22 of 94 (1808 views)
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Speaking of dragons. [In reply to] Can't Post

R.I.P. Captain.


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Paulo Gabriel
Bree

Jan 3, 1:30am

Post #23 of 94 (1804 views)
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You misunderstoood. [In reply to] Can't Post

I was just making a joke, I never meant to insult this person in any way, shape or form.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 3, 2:32pm

Post #24 of 94 (1728 views)
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That's an interesting idea: one-way borrowings, do you think? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Reading The Hobbit it always seemed quite clear to me that Tolkien put into the yet-to-fully-form Silmarillion: The Woodland Realm IS Doriath and the Elvenking IS Thingol. The Arkenstone is Nimphelos and, Mirkwood is Taur-nu-Fuin.

Even Erebor can be seen as based on Amon Ereb, and Beorn is kind of a variation on Huan.

In that sense, the mysterious Necromancer in Dol Guldur was always going to be Sauron, being that both The Necromancer from The Hobbit and Sauron from The Lord of the Rings Are Thu, and Dol Guldur is a hybrid of The Wizard’s Isle and Thu’s undisclosed abode in Taur-nu-Fuin.


That does sound interesting, but I don't know the Sil. very well, so I'll wait for others to tease it out further if they will.

One thing I'd be interested in is the extent to which folks feel the Sil material was adapted - conciously or unconciously- to make new but recognisable versions of things, suitable for their new context in a childrens' book. It's something I think is called a 'one way borrowing' and my (doubtless limited) understanding of this is something I mentioned earlier, when I described the Arkenstone as being a 'Schrödinger's silmaril' (Nimphelos hadn't occurred to me):


Quote
I think the Arkenstone is Schrödinger's silmaril - of course it's not a silmaril (certainly it can't be and be consistent with the rest of Tolkien's legendarium as finally published). But I think that simultaneously it kinda is a silamril. More specifically, I think Tolkien made what I've seen called 'a one-way borrowing'. I think this means that the silmarils he was writing about elsewhere were much in his mind (quite appropriate really) and influenced the writing of how the Arkenstone looks and how Thorin behaves about it. And yet (I think) maybe this idea of it being a silmaril doesn't quite 'break the surface', such that Tolkien doesn't deploy it in all its consequences. It is and it isn't a silmaril - until you make up your own mind. But personally, I think I'll keep that box shut and leave it both a silmaril and not.

me in response to Darkstone...http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=948731#948731


Clearly, just as the Arkenstone can't literally be one of the silmarils and be consistent with the rest of the legendarrium, I suppose that the Elevnking cannot literally be Thingol, who is killed during the 1st age as the legendarium finally stands. in the published Sil. Or, wait a minute - - was Thingol as yet unslain by dwarves as the Sil stood in the 1930s when Tolkien turned to The Hobbit, such that he might plausibly turn up as an (un-named) 3rd age elvenking?

And - are we in danger of hijacking Cygnus' thread? This sounds like a fruitful area of discussion we missed in the recent Hobbit read-through. But it might be pretty incomprehensible to someone who has read neither Hobbit nor Sil as yet (which I infer is Cygnus' current situation) So maybe it ought to have a thread of it's own, before it zooms off on a tangent?? Let me know - someone (I don't mind if it's me) can summarise the argument so far in a new OP from which to continue, if that is what folks want to do

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Chen G.
Lorien

Jan 3, 2:46pm

Post #25 of 94 (1721 views)
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I think its more than borrowing [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm certain the Elvenking is supposed to be Thingol, as is the case with the rest of the recurring narrative elements.

Its not as appearant in reading the Silmarillion, but in earlier versions of the legendarium where Thingol is called "Elvenking", and goes on celebrating with his people (commemorating the hunt of the Wolf) much like the Woodland Elves do in The Hobbit, its readily appearant.

They're obviously not 1:1, but than the legendarium was still very much in flux in the professor's mind, and he obviously he had to adjust it for the sensibilities of a children's story. So darker elements like Turin Turambar or the sack of Doriath, were obviously going to be left out.

And yes, the Arkenstone is very much based on Nimphelos and not so much on the Silmarils.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Jan 3, 2:56pm)

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