As it’s Tolkien Week, and inspired by my favourite Tolkien blogger, James Moffett and my friend Candi, I am completing this Tolkien questionnaire. I shall endeavour not to ramble. But I can’t promise anything.
1. What draws you to Tolkien’s stories? (The characters, the quests, the themes, the worlds, etc.)
How to avoid an essay answer? First, it is the grandeur and breadth of Tolkien’s creation.
Secondly, it is the layers. Anytime I read any of the Middle Earth books (and to Jackson’s eternal credit, when I watch the films) I am struck by the gaps. I am aware of things missing. It reads as a history, but a necessarily incomplete history. It makes me sometimes wish that Tolkien would get out of the way so a team of archeologists, anthropologists and scientists with carbon dating equipment can take over. I want them to discover what parts of his tale are true, what parts are embellished and what parts are pure fiction.
Thirdly, it is the story of Lord of the Rings. It is a relatively straightforward quest. Return the One Ring to where it had been forged and thus unmake it. These are the good guys and those are the bad guys. Here are the people we trust to carry the Ring. Well, this is the person who can carry it and these are his companions, who are mostly trustworthy. This is the current political situation. These are the personality, familial, racial, internal, external, dynastic and military tensions that have to be negotiated. Then there’s the overwhelming numbers, the presence of magic, immortal beings and shedloads of geography. And what is the Ring exactly and what do you mean there are other Rings of Power. Gandalf is a what now? Simple.
And finally there are the characters. So many of them and so wonderfully realised.
2. What was the first Middle Earth book you read and/or movie you saw? What did you think of it?
I read Lord of the Rings, for the first time, in my mid-teens. I was blown away by it. I adored it. Have read fantasy ever since. I even write it now.
3. Name three of your favourite characters and tell us why you like them.
Galadriel – I like that she is so hauntingly majestic. I was always drawn to the elves and she represents the most complete Elf on Middle Earth.
Boromir – He stumbled. Badly. But he did his duty. What more can be asked of anyone?
Éoywn – A warrior who had to fight for the right to prove her valour. A true hero.
4. Are there any secondary characters you think deserve more attention?
Does King Theoden count as secondary? He probably doesn’t but the previous question only allowed three favourites. Then there’s Beren and Luthien. You just don’t get bigger or more epic romances than theirs. And I know Treebeard may be a controversial choice, but book Treebeard had a mournful quality and a majesty that I really liked.
5. What Middle Earth character do you relate to the most?
Faramir. Definitely Faramir.
6. If you could ask Professor Tolkien one Middle Earth-related question, what would you like to ask him?
Do you regret that your vision is now cast in stone? Your work is regarded as so sacrosanct that it is treated as if it is complete? Would you prefer the gaps to be filled in with new stories or with scholarly speculation? (That’s one question in three parts. Honestly.)
7. Are there any pieces of Middle Earth merchandise you would particularly like to own, but don’t?
I would kill any number of friends and relations to have either Theoden’s sword or helm.
8. What battle would you absolutely not want to be part of?
The Kinslaying at Alqualondë.
9. Would you rather eat a meal at the Rivendell or Bag End?
Rivendell of course. There are elves there.
10. List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotes from the books or movies.
“I go to my fathers in whose mighty company I shall not now feel ashamed.”
“My Brother, My Captain, My King.”
“Death. Death. Death.”
“I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”
“Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!” Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. “But no living man am I!”
“He will come to death an image of the splendour of the kings of Men in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world. But you, my daughter, you will linger on in darkness and in doubt as nightfall in winter that comes without a star. Here you will dwell bound to your grief under the fading trees until all the world is changed and the long years of your life are utterly spent.”
Gimli: “I have taken my worst wound at this parting, having looked my last upon that which is fairest. Henceforth I will call nothing fair unless it be her gift to me.”
Legolas: “What was it?”
Gimli: “I asked her for one hair from her golden head. She gave me three.”
“We set out to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me.”
“I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.”
Have some fun and answer the questions yourself and have a very Happy Tolkien Week everybody.