tribute to J..R.R. Tolkien

hobbit

Best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. the English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE sadly passed away 2nd September 1973. Born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State (now Free State Province in South Africa . As a child Tolkien was bitten by a large baboon spider in the garden, an event which some think would have later echoes in his stories, although Tolkien admitted no actual memory of the event and no special hatred of spiders as an adult. When he was three, Tolkien went to England with his mother and brother to live with her parents in Kings Heath, Birmingham. Soon after, in 1896, they moved to Sarehole. He enjoyed exploring Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog and the Clent, Lickey and Malvern Hills, which would later inspire scenes in his books, along with places  such as his aunt Jane’s farm of Bag End, the name of which would be used in his fiction.Taught at home, Tolkien was a keen pupil and learnt a great deal about plants he also liked to draw landscapes and trees, and also enjoyed languages, so his mother taught him the rudiments of Latin very early and encouraged him to read many books. He liked stories about “Red Indians” aand the fantasy works by George MacDonald. In addition, the “Fairy Books” of Andrew Lang were particularly important to him and their influence is apparent in some of his later writings. Tolkien moved to the Edgbaston area of Birmingham where he lived in the shadow of Perrott’s Folly and the Victorian tower of Edgbaston Waterworks, which may have influenced the images of the dark towers within his works. He attended King Edward’s School, Birmingham, and later St. Philip’s School, before winning a Foundation Scholarship and returning to King Edward’s School.In 1911, Tolkien went on a summer holiday in Switzerland, a trip that he recollects vividly in a 1968 letter, noting that Bilbo’s journey across the Misty Mountains (“including the glissade down the slithering stones into the pine woods”) is directly based on his adventures .Fifty-seven years later, Tolkien remembered his regret at leaving the view of the eternal snows of Jungfrau and Silberhorn (“the Silvertine (Celebdil) of my dreams”). They went across the Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald and on across the Grosse Scheidegg to Meiringen. They continued across the Grimsel Pass, through the upper Valais to Brig and on to the Aletsch glacier and Zermatt.n October of the same year, Tolkien began studying at Exeter College, Oxford. He initially studied Classics but changed his course in 1913 to English Language and Literature, graduating in 1915 with first-class honours in his final examinations.In 1914, the United Kingdom entered World War I. Tolkien’s relatives were shocked when he elected not to immediately volunteer for the British Army. Instead, Tolkien entered a programme wherein he delayed enlisting until completing his degree in July 1915. He was then commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He trained with the 13th (Reserve) Battalion on Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, for eleven months.Tolkien served as a signals officer at the Somme, participating in the Battle of Thiepval Ridge and the subsequent assault on the Schwaben Redoubt.Tolkien was invalided to England on 8 November 1916. Many of his dearest school friends, including Gilson and Smith of the T.C.B.S., were killed in the war. He might well have been killed himself, but he suffered on more than one occasion from trench foot and was removed.

EyeofSauronSoA weak and emaciated Tolkien spent the remainder of the war alternating between hospitals and garrison duties, being deemed medically unfit for general service. During his recovery he began to work on what e called The Book of Lost Tales, beginning with The Fall of Gondolin. Throughout 1917 and 1918 his illness kept recurring, but he had recovered enough to do home service at various camps and was promoted to Lieutenant.Tolkien’s first civilian job after World War I was at the Oxford English Dictionary, In 1920, he took up a post as Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds, and became the youngest professor there.While at Leeds, he produced A Middle English Vocabulary and a definitive edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with E. V. Gordon. He also translated Sir Gawain, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo. In 1925, he returned to Oxford with a fellowship at Pembroke College.During his time at Pembroke College Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature there from 1945 to 1959. He was a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien’s 1936 lecture, “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics,” had a lasting influence on Beowulf research, Tolkien argued firmly against reading in fantastic elements. In 2003, Tolkien’s handwritten translation of and commentary on Beowulf, running to roughly 2000 pages, was discovered in the archives of the Bodleian Library.In the run-up to World War II, Tolkien was earmarked as a codebreaker.In January 1939, he agreed to serve in the cryptographic department of the Foreign Office in the event of national emergency. However, although he was “keen” to become a codebreaker, he was informed in October that his services would not be required at that time. So he Turned his hand to writing instead and subsequently wrote The Hobbbit.which was Published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim and Set in a time “Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men”, The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins who joins the Wizard Gandalf and a company of thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Okenshield on a dangerous quest to the Lonely Mountain, to reclaim treasures which have been stolen  by the dragon, Smaug, along the way they encounter many dangers including Cave Trolls, Giant Spiders, Hordes of Orcs and Imprisonment by the Elves. The story reaches its climax in the Battle of Five Armies, where many of the characters and creatures try to reclaim the treasure stolen by Smaug.

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GondolinAfter the success of The Hobbit, and prior to the publication of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s publisher requested a sequel to The Hobbit, and Tolkien sent them an early draft of The Silmarillion which comprises five parts. The first part, Ainulindalë, tells of the creation of Eä, the “world that is”. Valaquenta, the second part, gives a description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural powers in Eä. The next section, Quenta Silmarillion, which forms the bulk of the collection, chronicles the history of the events before and during the First Age, including the wars over the Silmarils which gave the book its title. The fourth part, Akallabêth, relates the history of the Downfall of Númenor and its people, which takes place in the Second Age. The final part, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, is a brief account of the circumstances which led to and were presented in The Lord of the Rings.Ainulindalë and Valaquenta.The first section of The Silmarillion, Ainulindalë (“The Music of the Ainur”), takes the form of a primary creation narrative. Eru (“The One”, also called Ilúvatar (“Father of All”), first created the Ainur, a group of eternal spirits or demiurges, called “the offspring of his thought”. Ilúvatar brought the Ainur together and showed them a theme, from which he bade them make a great music. Melkor — whom Ilúvatar had given the “greatest power and knowledge” of all the Ainur — broke from the harmony of the music to develop his own song. Some Ainur joined him, while others continued to follow Ilúvatar, causing discord in the music. This happened thrice, with Eru Ilúvatar successfully overpowering his rebellious subordinate with a new theme each time. Ilúvatar then stopped the music and showed them a vision of Arda and its peoples. The vision disappeared after a while, and Ilúvatar offered the Ainur a chance to enter into Arda and govern over the new world. Many Ainur descended, taking physical form and becoming bound to that world. The greater Ainur became known as Valar, while the lesser Ainur were called Maiar. The Valar attempted to prepare the world for the coming inhabitants (Elves and Men), while Melkor, who wanted Arda for himself, repeatedly destroyed their work; this went on for thousands of years until, through waves of destruction and creation, the world took shape.

Valaquenta “Account of the Valar” describes Melkor and each of the 14 Valar in detail, as well as a few of the Maiar. It also reveals how Melkor seduced many Maiar — including Sauron and the Balrogs — into his service.

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Quenta Silmarillion (“The History of the Silmarils”),makes up the bulk of the book, iand is a series of interconnected tales set in the First Age that make up the tragic saga of the three jewels, the Silmarils. The Valar had attempted to fashion the world for Elves and Men, but Melkor continually destroyed their handiwork. After he destroyed the two lights that illuminated the world, the Valar removed to Aman, a continent to the west of Middle-earth, where they established their home called Valinor, illuminated by Two Trees, and left Middle-earth to darkness and Melkor. When stars began to shine and the Elves awoke, the Valar fought Melkor to keep the Elves safe, defeated and captured Melkor and then invited the Elves to live in Aman. Many Elves travelled to Aman, while others refused and still others stopped along the way, including the Elves who later became the Sindar, ruled by the Elf King Thingol and Melian, a Maia. Of the three tribes that set out, all of the Vanyar and Noldor, and many of the Teleri reached Aman. In Aman, Fëanor, son of Finwë, King of the Noldor, created the Silmarils, jewels which glowed with the light of the Two Trees. Melkor, released after feigning repentance, destroyed the Two Trees with the help of Ungoliant, killed Finwë, stole the Silmarils, and fled to Middle-earth, where he attacked the Elvish kingdom of Doriath. He was defeated in the first of five battles of Beleriand, however, and barricaded himself in his northern fortress of Angband. Fëanor and his sons swore an oath of vengeance against Melkor – and against anyone who withheld the Silmarils from them, even the Valar. Fëanor persuaded most of the Noldor to pursue Melkor, whom Fëanor renamed as Morgoth, into Middle-earth. Fëanor’s sons seized ships from the Teleri, attacking and killing many of them, and left the other Noldor to make the voyage by foot. Upon arriving in Middle-earth, the Noldor under Fëanor attacked Melkor and defeated his host, though Fëanor was slain by Balrog

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After a period of peace, Melkor attacked the Noldor but was again defeated and besieged. Nearly 400 years later, he broke the siege and drove the Noldor back.After the destruction of the Trees and the theft of the Silmaril, the Valar had created moon and sun, thereby also causing the awakening of Men, some of which later arrive in Beleriand and allied themselves to the Elves

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Beren the, a man who had survived the latest battle, wandered to Doriath, where he fell in love with the elf Lúthien, the king’s daughter. The king sought to prevent their marriage by imposing what he believed an impossible task: retrieving one of the Silmarils from Melkor. But together, Beren and Lúthien embarked on this quest. Sauron, a powerful servant of Melkor, imprisoned them along the way; but they escaped, crept into Melkor’s fortress, and stole a Silmaril from Melkor’s crown. Having achieved the task, the first union of man and elf was formed, though Beren was soon mortally wounded and Lúthien also died of grief.The Noldor, seeing that a mortal and an elf-woman could infiltrate Angband, perceived that Melkor was not invincible. They attacked again with a great army of Elves, Dwarves and Men. But they were deceived by Melkor, who had secretly darkened the hearts of many of the men. Thus it was that the Elvish host were utterly defeated, due in part to the treachery of some Men.

However, many Men remained loyal to the Elves and were honoured thereafter.None received more honour than the brothers Húrin and Huor. Melkor captured Húrin, and cursed him to watch the downfall of his kin. Húrin’s son, Túrin Turambar, was sent to Doriath, leaving his mother and unborn sister behind in his father’s kingdom (which had been overrun by the enemy). Túrin achieved many great deeds of valor, the greatest being the defeat of the dragon Glaurung. Despite his heroism, however, Túrin was plagued by the curse of Melkor, which led him unwittingly to murder his friend Beleg and to marry and impregnate his sister Nienor, whom he had never met before, and who had lost her memory through Glaurung’s enchantment. Before their child was born, the bewitchment was lifted as the dragon lay dying. Nienor, realizing what grew within her, took her own life. Upon learning the truth, Túrin threw himself on his sword.Huor’s other  son, Tuor, became involved in the fate of the hidden Noldorin kingdom of Gondolin. He married the elf Idril, daughter of Turgon, Lord of Gondolin (the second union between Elves and Men). When Gondolin fell, betrayed from within by Maeglin, Tuor saved many of its inhabitants from destruction. All of the Elvish kingdoms in Beleriand eventually fell, and the refugees fled to a haven by the sea created by Tuor. The son of Tuor and Idril, Eärendil the Half-elven, was betrothed to Elwing, herself descended from Beren and Lúthien. Elwing brought Eärendil the Silmaril of Beren and Lúthien, and using its light Eärendil travelled across the sea to Aman to seek help from the Valar. The Valar obliged; they attacked and defeated Melkor, completely destroying his fortress Angband and sinking most of Beleriand; and they expelled Melkor from Arda. This ended the First Age of Middle-earth.

Eärendil and Elwing had two children: Elrond and Elros. As descendants of immortal elves and mortal men, they were given the choice of which lineage to belong to: Elrond chose to belong to the Elves, his brother to Men. Elros became the first king of Númenor.

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Akallabêth (“The Downfallen” recounts the rise and fall of the island kingdom of Númenor, inhabited by the Dúnedain. After the defeat of Melkor, the Valar gave the island to the three loyal houses of Men who had aided the Elves in the war against him. Through the favor with the Valar, the Dúnedain were granted wisdom and power and life more enduring than any other of mortal race had possessed, making them comparable to the High-Elves of Aman. Indeed, the isle of Númenor lay closer to Aman than to Middle-earth. But their power lay in their bliss and their acceptance of mortality. The fall of Númenor came about in large measure through the influence of the corrupted Maia Sauron (formerly a chief servant of Melkor), who arose during the Second Age and tried to conquer Middle-earth.The Númenóreans moved against Sauron, who saw that he could not defeat them with force and allowed himself to be taken as a prisoner to Númenor. There he quickly enthralled the king, Ar-Pharazôn, urging him to seek out the immortality that the Valar had apparently denied him, thus nurturing the seeds of envy that the Númenóreans had begun to hold against the Elves of the West and the Valar. So it was that all the knowledge and power of Númenor was turned towards seeking an avoidance of death; but this only weakened them and sped the gradual waning of the lifespans to something more similar to that of other Men. Sauron urged them to wage war against the Valar themselves to win immortality, and to worship his old master Melkor, whom he said could grant them their wish. Ar-Pharazôn created the mightiest army and fleet Númenor had seen, and sailed against Aman.The Valar and Elves of Aman, stricken with grief over their betrayal, called on Ilúvatar for help. When Ar-Pharazôn landed, Ilúvatar destroyed his fleet and drowned Númenor itself as punishment for the rebellion against the rightful rule of the Valar. Ilúvatar created a great wave, such as had never before been seen, which utterly destroyed and submerged the isle of Númenor, killing all but those Dúnedain who had already sailed east, and changing the shape of all the lands of Middle-earth. Sauron’s physical manifestation was also destroyed in the ruin of Númenor, but as a Maia his spirit returned to Middle-earth, now robbed of the fair form he once had. Some Númenóreans who had remained loyal to the Valar were spared and were washed up on the shores of Middle-earth, where they founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. Among these survivors were Elendil their leader, and his two sons Isildur and Anárion who had also saved a seedling from Númenor´s white tree, the ancestor of that of Gondor. They founded the Númenórean Kingdoms in Exile: Arnor in the north and Gondor in the south. Elendil reigned as High-king of both kingdoms, but committed the rule of Gondor jointly to Isildur and Anárion. The power of the kingdoms in exile was greatly diminished from that of Númenor, “yet very great it seemed To the Wild Men of Mddle Earth.

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TThe Lord of the Rings which was Published  as three volumes over the course of a year from 21 July 1954 to October 1955, thus creating the now familiar Lord of the Rings trilogy – The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.  The title of the novel refers to the story’s main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron, who  Long before the events of the novel had created the One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer and rule all of Middle-earth and corrupt everyone. He is defeated in battle, and Isildur cuts the One Ring from Sauron’s finger, claiming it as an heirloom for his line. Isildur is later ambushed and killed by Orcs in the Gladden Fields, and the Ring is lost in the River Anduin. Over two thousand years later, the Ring is found by a river-dwelling stoor called Déagol. His friend Sméagol immediately falls under the Ring’s spell and strangles Deagol to acquire it. Sméagol is banished and hides under the Misty Mountains, where the Ring extends his lifespan and transforms him over the course of hundreds of years into a twisted, corrupted creature called Gollum. He loses the Ring and, as recounted in The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins finds it.Meanwhile, Sauron takes a new physical form and reoccupies his old realm of Mordor. Gollum sets out in search of the Ring, but is captured by Sauron, who learns from him that Bilbo Baggins now has it. Gollum is set loose, and Sauron, who needs the Ring to regain his full power, sends forth his powerful servants, the Nazgûl, to seize it.Meanwhile back  in the Shire,  the hobbit Frodo Baggins inherits the Ring from Bilbo, his cousin and guardian. Neither is aware of its origin, however Gandalf the Grey, a wizard and old friend of Bilbo, suspects the Ring’s identity. When he becomes certain, he advises Frodo to take it away from the Shire. So Frodo leaves, accompanied by his gardener and friend, Samwise (“Sam”) Gamgee, and two cousins, Meriadoc (“Merry”) Brandybuck and Peregrin (“Pippin”) Took. They nearly encounter the Nazgûl while still in the Shire, but shake off pursuit by cutting through the Old Forest, where they are aided by the enigmatic Tom Bombadil, who alone is unaffected by the Ring’s corrupting influence. After leaving the forest, they stop in the town of Bree where they meet Aragorn, Isildur’s heir. He persuades them to take him on as guide and protector. They flee from Bree after narrowly escaping another assault, but the Nazgûl follow and attack them on the hill of Weathertop, wounding Frodo with a Morgul blade. Aragorn leads the hobbits toward the Elven refuge of Rivendell, while Frodo gradually succumbs to the wound. The Ringwraiths nearly overtake Frodo at the Ford of Bruinen, but flood waters summoned by Elrond, master of Rivendell, rise up and overwhelm them.Frodo recovers in Rivendell under the care of Elrond. The Council of Elrond reveals much significant history about Sauron and the Ring, as well as the news that Sauron has corrupted Gandalf’s fellow wizard, Saruman. The Council decides that the best course of action is to destroy the Ring, which can only be done by returning it to the flames of Mount Doom in Mordor, where it was forgedSo the hobbits Frodo Baggins, Samwise “Sam” Gamgee, Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck and Peregrin “Pippin” Took, aided by the hobbits’ chief allies and travelling companions: Aragorn, a Human Ranger; Boromir,  son of the Ruling Steward Denethor of the realm of Gondor; Gimli, a Dwarf warrior; Legolas, an Elven prince; and Gandalf, a Wizard set off on a perilous quest across Middle Earth to destroy the Ring in the Fires of Mount Doom. Encountering many dangers along the way including The  Machinations of corrupted wizard Saruman, The Nazgul, Hordes of vicious orcs, and The Ancient Demonic and fiery Balrog.

They are helped along by the Elves Galadriel and Celeborn after they tdake refuge in the Elven forest of Lothlórien and Merry & Pippin are befriended by Treebeard, the oldest of the tree-like Ents.  who are roused from their customarily peaceful ways by Merry and Pippin,and attack Isengard, Saruman’s stronghold, and trap the wizard in the tower of Orthanc. Meanwhile The rest of the company ride to Edoras, the capital of Rohan, where they meet Théoden, King of Rohan, whom Gandalf convinces  to ride to the ancient fortress of Helm’s Deep to engage Saruman’s forces, and are joined by company of the Rohirrim. Gandalf  then convinces Treebeard to send an army of Huorns to the aid of Théoden at Helm’s Deep, and the Huorns destroy Saruman’s army. Frodo and Sam capture Gollum, who had been following them from Moria, and force him to guide them to Mordor. Finding Mordor’s Black Gate too dangerous to attempt, they travel instead to a secret passage Gollum knows.Torn between his loyalty to Frodo and his desire for the Ring, Gollum eventually betrays Frodo by leading him to the great spider Shelob in the tunnels of Cirith Ungol. Frodo is felled by Shelob’s bite, but Sam fights her off. Sam takes the Ring and leaves Frodo, believing him to be dead. When orcs find Frodo, Sam overhears them say that Frodo is only unconscious, and Sam determines to rescue him.Having been defeated at Helm’s Deep Sauron unleashes a heavy assault upon Gondor. Gandalf arrives with Pippin at Minas Tirith to alert Denethor of the impending attack. The city is besieged, and Denethor, under the influence of Sauron through another palantír, despairs and commits suicide, nearly taking his remaining son Faramir with him. With time running out, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli take the Paths of the Dead, where Aragorn raises an undead army of oath-breakers bound by an ancient curse. The ghostly army help them to defeat the Corsairs of Umbar invading southern Gondor. The forces of Gondor and Rohan break the siege of Minas Tirith. Sam rescues Frodo from the tower of Cirith Ungol, and they cross Mordor. Meanwhile, in order to distract  Sauron from his true danger, Aragorn leads the the armies of Gondor and Rohan in a march on the Black Gate of Mordor. His vastly outnumbered troops fight desperately against Sauron’s armies. At the edge of the Cracks of Doom, Frodo is unable to resist the Ring any longer, and claims it for himself. Gollum suddenly reappears, struggles with Frodo and bites off his finger, Ring and all. Celebrating wildly, Gollum falls into the fire, taking the Ring with him. Like the Silmarillian, the next novel The Children of Húrin was also published posthumously and he Children of Húrin tells the story of Túrin Turambar and his sister Nienor, children of Húrin Thalion. The material was compiled by Christopher Tolkien from The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth, and unpublished manuscripts.The Legend of Sigurd and GudrúnPublished worldwide on 5 May 2009,This, retells the legend of Sigurd and the fall of the Niflungs from Germanic mythology. It is a narrative poem composed in alliterative verse and is modelled after the Old Norse poetry of the Elder Edda. Christopher Tolkien supplied copious notes and commentary upon his father’s work

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