Tolkien Tag!

I have never really engaged with the book blogging community, because I don’t really consider myself a “blogger”, I just write lame lists whenever the mood strikes me (so usually like, once a year) and reviews like once in a blue moon, and I don’t really have the energy to promote my blog or have any sort of presence other than just sharing my stuff with my friends sometimes. So I haven’t really bothered with any communal stuff. But in the recent weeks I have fallen into the very deep hole that is booktube videos on YouTube, and while I doubt I will ever find the self-esteem or energy to get into vlogging (again, I used to do that very haphazardly in my teens), it has inspired me to maybe try a bit more with my blog in the future. Maybe. We’ll see. I do also have a bookstagram account nowadays, but it’s pretty quiet on that front at the moment as well. I just forget to make content, it is what it is. But rambly preamble aside, let’s get into the meat of the matter!

middle-earth-maps-of-middle-earth

It is September and the most important day of the year is approaching, and by that I of course mean September 22nd aka HOBBIT DAY! Aka the birthday of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins and the day I fully give up on anything resembling a life here in this realm and head over to Middle-Earth instead. In understandable words: September 22nd marks the beginning of my rereadathon and movieathon of The Lord of the Rings. This tradition got to a sneaky start in, I think 2016 when my best friend Emma and I decided to binge watch the movies to celebrate her birthday in October. And once we’d watched the movies we both agreed that we weren’t ready to leave Middle-Earth and decided to pick up the book as a way to extend our stay. We had both read the book before, but it had been years since my last time reading it and while I remembered that I loved it, I didn’t actually remember that many details. But upon rereading it my love for the book and its story and world were reignited big time, and ever since then Emma and I have read the book and watched the movies every single autumn. So this year will be my fourth annual rereadathon.

September 22nd isn’t always the date when we start because usually we’ve watched the movies first and scheduling conflicts have been a thing, but this year, as Emma is somewhat unfortunately in Australia, I have decided to pick up the book on Hobbit Day and get reading immediately. AND I CAN’T FREAKING WAIT! Not to be a huge nerd, but I honestly start looking forward to this rereadathon in like, June at the latest. Like I’m not saying I spend 11 months of the year just waiting for when I get to start reading LotR again but I kinda do and also shut up. #noshame But since I’m still three days away from my official kick-off date and I don’t intend to jump the gun, I have decided to stoke the flames of my fire of excitement by writing a little about my relationship with LotR and Tolkien in general through the Tolkien Tag, created by booktuber Andrea Heckler. So NOW let’s really stop with the preamble and get started!

1. How does your Middle Earth story begin?

I became aware of The Lord of the Rings at a pretty young age, my big sister and cousin read it when we were children and they were really hyped about it. Initially I, being the contrary little sister, was really negative about the whole thing without having even read it, just to fight the hype, but I think I gave in and tried to read it pretty early on. However – somewhat understandably as I was a quite small child – I was discouraged by the florid, slow prose and intricate worldbuilding and gave it up. I did get all the way to the middle of The Two Towers sometime in my childhood (I’m terrible with remembering years or ages that far back so sorry about the vagueness), but then got stuck and never picked it up again. It wasn’t until I was about 15 or 16 that I gave it another serious try and that time I LOVED IT and ended up devouring it in just a couple of days.

At that point I had already seen the movies (I was only 8 years old when Fellowship was released, so I never made a serious effort to read the books before seeing the movies) and loved them as well, so I guess the book came along relatively late in my Middle Earth story. But despite that anomaly, I’ve been a resident of Middle Earth from a very young age and continue to be so to this day!

2. What is your favorite Middle Earth book?

The Lord of the Rings, obviously. I’m a mainstream bitch, so sue me. I must also admit that LotR and The Hobbit remain the only Tolkien books I’ve read to this day. This year I think I might give Silmarillion a go if my Tolkien frenzy continues after the reread. But honestly I’m not sure any book, of Tolkien’s or otherwise, could compete with LotR. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that has touched me more deeply and stayed with me so long and become such an intrinsic part of my soul and identity as The Lord of the Rings. It really just is the perfect book, in my mind. Having read it every year for three years in a row now I do sometimes worry it’ll lose its charm and power if I read it too often, but that has yet to happen. I hope it doesn’t this year either! Either way probably a good thing to point out that due to the fact that those two are the only ones I’ve read, this tag will be extremely LotR-centric. Also these days I am also That Nerd in the sense that I don’t really think of LotR as three books since that isn’t how Tolkien intended it, so I don’t really think I can choose between its parts as such. But if I could, the answer would probably be pretty much the same as the next question so READ ON!

3. What is your favorite movie?

I swear I try to settle this debate in my head every single year and I never find the answer! For some reason I always think it’s The Two Towers because the last act of the movie is so badass, but then I watch it and remember it’s actually pretty darn boring for the first two thirds or so… And then I’m torn between Fellowship and Return of the King. Both have a lot going for them, so I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to make a conclusive decision – or if there even is one, but if I absolutely had to choose for some strange reason, under great duress I would say Fellowship of the Ring. Maybe. Ask me again in a few minutes and I’ll have changed my mind! But I really just love the fellowship itself so much! The beginning of the story is just so wonderful and magical and exciting, I love it. Plus the movie itself is just fantastic from a technical standpoint. The sequels totally rule as well, but they do suffer from Hollywood-itis a bit more than the first one. Then again the first one doesn’t have Faramir or Éowyn in them so it has that going against it… Gah, I really don’t know!

(Side note: I only ever watch the extended editions of the LotR trilogy so those are the ones I’m evaluating here. Fellowship is the only one I’ve seen multiple times in its cinema release form since we originally had it on VHS. I’m that many years old. The Hobbit movies I’ve only seen once or twice per movie and if I never have to see any of them again I will die satisfied.)

4. Movies or books?

I’m actually not going to say “books, OBVIOUSLY”, that’s how much fondness I have for the movies (and just to be crystal clear: When I say movies, I mean The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Hobbit movies do not exist). My answer is still books, but I don’t roll my eyes at this question at all. Like I said, I saw the movies first, and those were my Lord of the Rings for several years until I was old enough to really appreciate the book for what it is. If I had read the book first and fallen in love with it, I would probably be much harsher on the movies. And don’t get me wrong, when Emma and I watch them it’s like 55% complaining about the foolish changes they made and how they misunderstood some of the characters and relationships (the rest is like 20% crying, 5% laughing at our same dumb injokes every fucking year and 20% going “HOLY SHIT THIS WAS MADE IN 2001 HOW DOES THIS LOOK SO GOOD HOLLYWOOD THESE DAYS COULD NEVER!!!”) and I am painfully aware of the many things they got so very wrong about the books.

So yes, the book is far superior in most senses. But like, it is the original product so it’s probably to be expected that it would tell the story better. However, as an adaptation of such a dense, difficult and deeply beloved book, the movies RULE. I honestly cannot quite believe how lucky we are to have such good movies made of the book. I love the cast so deeply and the love everyone put it into the movies really shines through UNLIKE IN THE HOBBIT TRILOGY WHICH CAN SUCK MY ASS I HATE IT SO MUCH IT CAN BURN IN HELL and I will probably never get tired of watching them. Also best score in all of moviedom.

5. Who are your favorite characters?

How can I even choose?? Don’t do this to me, tag. I could write an essay per character, but I’ll try to contain myself. First of all, Frodo. I think he gets overlooked a lot because for the main character of the story he is quite withdrawn a lot of the time. But oh, how I love him. I’m trying to find the words to explain why I love his character so much but it all sounds so silly and superficial when attached to him. I love that he is not a swashbucking hero or a chosen one type. He’s bookish and intelligent and gentle and resolute and I’m starting to sound like Samwise, aren’t I? I don’t mind at all, because Sam is definitely also my favourite character and I would literally die for him. Quote me on that. He is such a beautiful character and just thinking about him kinda makes me wanna cry so MOVING ON. I love the entire fellowship so freaking much, especially the Hobbits, and also I have to mention Gimli, whose character assassination is definitely among he crimes for which I will never forgive the movies.

Aside from the fellowship I am a devout lover of Faramir and Éowyn, both separately and together. Fun fact: As a child I was a major Éowyn hater because I stanned Arwen so hard and was apparently still under the impression that you can only love one female character, especially if they are seemingly competing for the same man. Plus I was going through an elf phase. But I have since learned the error of my ways and would also gladly lay down my life for Éowyn. They are just the most wonderful characters and their story lines really Hurt Me So Good.

6. What Middle Earth race would you be?

I think some variety of Hobbit because I, too, appreciate the simple things in life and would like to just be a farmer and live in a hole in the ground and have nothing change ever. But honestly Hobbits would probably judge me so hard for being a bookish weirdo, so maybe I wouldn’t fit in super well after all. As a kid I was always the least interested in humans in a fantasy setting because who gives a shit about humans when you have elves, but unfortunately I do think that in the grand scheme of things I would probably just be a human – or I guess Man – in Middle Earth as well. Sigh. I wouldn’t mind living in Rohan, though. ALL THE HORSES.

7. Best actor/character casting match?

Hmm, tough! I don’t actually have many complaints about any of the casting choices in the movies. I mean many of them are very different from the choices I would’ve made, but that’s usually the case with movies anyway. Many of the characters were woefully misunderstood and misrepresented in the films, but that’s usually not the actors’ fault in my opinion. So I don’t really know, hard to pick just one! The four Hobbits in LotR are all great, as are the wizards in particular (I still wish Christopher Lee had been allowed to play Gandalf just for his sake, but he does make a truly fantastic Saruman!) I also really like Sean Bean’s Boromir and David Wenham’s Faramir! They work so well as brothers and really bring out their different characteristics super well! Boromir also happens to be one of the characters I think the movies really successfully developed beyond the source material! I will also deign to acknowledge the existence of the Hobbit movies just long enough to mention how much I love Lee Pace as Thranduil – and in general!

8. What is your favorite place in Middle Earth?

The Shire is really the core of the story in so many ways that I think it is quite naturally my favourite. It’s where it all began and ended, and it was carried along for the whole adventure. I’m making myself emotional just thinking about it! But I also really love Rivendell! And if given the chance to actually go to Middle Earth, I would haul ass to Lothlórien SO FAST you would see a me-shaped hole in the nearest wall. I love forests so much!!!

9. What is your favorite quote from the books or movies?

I HAVE SO MANY. But I will contain myself to just two. The first one being:

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

No points for guessing why that quote has been on my mind a lot these past couple of years… And the second one being:

“I love him. He’s like that, and sometimes it shines through, somehow. But I love him, whether or no.”

Now you must excuse me while I GO CRY MY EYES OUT.

Anyway, this has been a long and rambly tag and I apologise! But this tag did fulfill its purpose in that I am now even more excited to get reading on Sunday! Wish me luck on the emotional rollercoaster I am about to get on and see you on the other side!

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