This is the Way of the Faithful (Miriel and Elendil)

Elendil – You’re doing well.

Queen Miriel – Patronize me like that again, Captain, and I’ll have your ship.

Elendil – (slight smile) Come then. I have you.

Queen Miriel – And who has you?

Elendil – (hardens gaze)

Queen Miriel – Given your loss, I would understand it if, upon our return, you wish to take a leave of duty.

Elendil – You once asked me why I pulled Galadriel from the sea. I claimed to have had little choice. But the truth is, I could have left her there. Could have refused to follow her to Middle-Earth. Or stopped my son from doing so. Yet, at every turn, I made the choices I did because…

Queen Miriel – Why, Elendil?

Elendil – Because “Elendil” does not merely mean “one who loves the stars.” I just never imagined it would lead here.

Queen Miriel – (breath trembling) My father once told me, that the way of the Faithful is committing to pay the price… even if the cost cannot be known. And trusting that, in the end, it will be worth it.

Elendil – (whispering) Sometimes the cost is dear.

Queen Miriel – (sighs) It is.

Elendil – We have little choice then but to keep serving. And I, for one, will see to it that we make the end worth the price.

Queen Miriel – Come what may?

Elendil – Come what may.

A brief history of Sauron

Count me among the Rings of Power fanboys. I think the series deserves the same consideration as the movies did, in terms of being free to depart from the text and embrace the medium. The only valid canonical complaint in my opinion would be a discrepancy between the show and the movies because I want them to be the same canon, which isn’t technically necessary. All of the characters are mythic in scope and the series could be considered to be a version of events as told.

As an aside, since this series is aired at the same time as that Other Show – I find Rings of Power thematically superior to House of the Dragon. One is a grand sweep of good vs evil and the other is a dirty crawl through the sewers of human nature. At this time in my life, I find that the former is what I need.

“Hope is never mere, Elrond … even when it is meager. When all other senses sleep, the eye of hope is first to awaken, last to shut.”

Gil-Galad to Elrond, Rings of Power Episode 5

The compression of the timeline is a brilliant device in my opinion to bring the racial histories of the Second Age into alignment. This narrative decision also fuels the central question of who/where Sauron is, by raising the stakes for all the races of Middle Earth at once. Unlike the current speculation on The Stranger, Halbrand, Adar, or even Bronwen (lol), I think it is extremely unlikely we will see Sauron until after the resolution of the Mithril storyline and the completion of Celebrimbor’s forge. Understanding who Sauron is requires, I believe, a review of the textual timeline, whether or not the text is being strictly adhered to or not.

Here, in order, are the events in the text (and I am purposely omitting year) pertaining to Sauron’s whereabouts and actions. (source)

  • Sauron arises in Middle Earth after Morgoth’s defeat
  • Sauron deceives Celebrimbor into forging the rings of power, and secretly forges the One Ring to rule them all. At roughly the same time, Sauron finishes building his fortress of Barad Dur and establishes his domain in Mordor.
  • War between the Elves and Sauron. This goes badly, with Rivendell besieged and Eregion destroyed. Until…
  • The Numenorians arrive and save the day, destroying Sauron’s forces and causing him to flee to Barad Dur. Then they go back.
  • Much later, the Numenoians return under Pharazon, defeating Sauron and taking him captive back across the sea.
  • Sauron corrupts Numenor, leading to their downfall and destruction, and the breaking of the world.
  • Elendil and his sons escape and found Gondor. More warm ending in the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, Sauron’s defeat, and the One Ring being cut from Sauron’s hand. Thus ends the Second Age.

So, in a nutshell, Sauron first deceives the Elves to create the Rings of Power and the One Ring, and uses that power to establish his dominion. War begins, and the Numenorians help defeat him. Sauron goes as a prisoner to Numenor and then returns with Numenor destroyed. War continues, and the Elves and Men defeat him.

From the above, I think we see that Sauron’s appearance in the narrative doesn’t make a lot of sense until after Celebrimbor’s project is finished. I predict that there won’t even be any mystery around it. The series will probably introduce him openly as Annatar in Season 2. That’s my prediction, let’s see if I’m right a year from now 🙂

complete Game of Thrones ebook set for $9.99 #asoiaf

The complete 5-volume set of A Song of Ice and Fire
is on sale right now for $9.99 at Amazon, so grab it quick if you don’t already have it.

The complete series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is probably the authentic heir to Tolkien’s crown of Reference Epic Fantasy. Being American rather than British, it’s heroes are more typified by the tragic Starks than the homely Bagginses. Bilbo and Frodo (and especially Sam!) were the typical WW2-era simple Briton, preferring a simple life but when called upon to great tasks, heroic in their pragmatism and perseverance. Ned Stark’s clan is more violent, impulsive, bred for leadership and heroism and fated for nasty ends. If anything the heroes of ASOIAF are the antithesis of the heroes in LOTR (the closest that LOTR comes to an ASOIAF-style hero is Aragorn, who has the same Starkian bearing but gets to keep the girl and his crown. And head.)

I’ve never read ASOIAF and have no illusions about it being an easy read, but I am looking forward to the journey, especially since by the time I finish it, book 6 will surely come out. I am certain that this series will fill the void left by LOTR that the Wheel of Time series failed to fill.

Space Shuttle Program coda: There and Back Again

STS-135, 7/21/11

But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap.

He drew a deep breath. “Well, I’m back,” he said.

Aragorn Shrugged

Overheard on the Internet:

“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

(original source)

The reconquista subtext of The Lord of the Rings

Courtesy of Wikipedia, some history about the fall of Granada:

On January 2, 1492, the last Muslim sultan in Iberia, Emir Muhammad XII, known as Boabdil to the Spanish, surrendered complete control of Emirate of Granada, to Ferdinand II and Isabella I, Los Reyes Católicos (‘The Catholic Monarchs’), after the last battle of the Granada War.

(emphasis mine)

I’ve completed a detailed textual analysis of all references to Tom Bombadil in the Fellowship of the Ring and consulted supplementary texts such as The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (reprinted in The Tolkien Reader) and I’ve concluded that Bombadil is indeed Boabdil. The implications of this upon the subtext of the entire trilogy (and especially the reinterpretation of the prequel, the Hobbit) cannot be overstated.

It’s no accident that later that same year, Columbus – aka Celebrimbor – sailed into the West.

Does the Ring turn Sauron invisible?

One Ring to Rule Them All
The Ring
On Facebook, one of my friends posed an innocent question:

How come the ring doesn’t make Sauron invisible?

Indeed! Out of the mists of Facebook, a truly awesome discussion ensued. I found this reply the most intriguing and erudite:

The Ring doesn’t actually make someone invisible in the sense we understand the term. It shifts its bearer into the world of the Unseen (which is why it can’t hide Frodo from the Nazgul on Weathertop–they already dwell in the World of the Unseen). As a former Maia, Sauron simultaneously dwells in Middle-earth and the realm of the Unseen–so the Ring would not make him invisible.

Surely we haibane can contribute to this critical topic. What say you all? Agree or disagree with the theory above?

LOTR on Blu-Ray?

Warner Studios made a big splash this past week when they announced they were going to ditch HD-DVD in favor of Blu-Ray. The ripple effect of this hasn’t fully played out, but one consequence appears to be that the Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit, one assumes) will only be on Blu-Ray:

According to Variety, New Line and HBO will follow Warner’s lead to side only with Blu-ray Disc. BBC Video, the company behind the popular high-definition nature documentary Planet Earth, has not yet publicly expressed its intentions with format exclusivity.

New Line already positions its Blu-ray Disc products with greater priority than the equivalent HD DVD. New Line’s first high-definition film, Hairspray, hit Blu-ray Disc in late November 2007, while an HD DVD version was only promised sometime in early 2008.
Perhaps the most important outcome of New Line’s upcoming decision is that the studio owns the rights to The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Should the (second) most compelling motion picture trilogy hit high-definition home video, it’ll be on Blu-ray Disc.

If anything, this means that it’s better to just stick with legacy DVD and get my HD content via the internet. At least until the price of Blu Ray drives falls to the $100 mark or below (territory already occupied by HD-DVD). It also should be noted from the article that part of the reason for the preference of Blu-Ray is again the region-coding issue.

Shorter Lord of the Rings

Scene: The Council of Elrond

Elrond: It is decided. The Ring shall be cast into Mount Doom. The Ringbearer and the Fellowship shall journey to Mordor.

Radagast the Brown: (arrives) Hellooo! So sorry I’m late. Had a terrible time of it, all sorts of things cropping up at the last minute and all. My advice is never try to drink a Beorning under the table. What’s all this, then?

Gandalf the Grey: The Fellowship is tasked with destroying the One Ring of Power.

Radagast: Ah, good idea, about bloody time if you ask me. How, exactly?

Elrond: The Ring shall be cast into Mount Doom. The Ringbearer and the Fellowship shall journey to Mordor.

Radagast: Journey? You mean on foot??

Elrond: Well, yes.

Radagast: I can have three Eagles here in 36 hours.

(eyebrows rise around the Circle)


Sam: Well, we’re back.

UPDATE: a similar argument.