My new tattoo

The problem with Tolkien is that there aren’t at least two millennia and two fallen civilisations between him and us. Everything he wrote is available to us. Even his workings are public. His opinions and his comments on what he wrote are still with us. This causes tension. 

On the one hand, there’s his grand vision of reinventing a lost English mythology and then there’s the fact that not even a prolific genius can invent an entire mythology. If it could be done, then it would have been done by someone who could spin whole languages out of his imagination. But he left us an incomplete history. How could he not leave it incomplete? Galadriel left Middle Earth when she was over 8000 years old. It would take more than the span of a human life to recount the details of such life. Her part in the final war against Sauron doesn’t even make it into Lord of the Rings proper. She’s relegated to the appendices. Galadriel, arguably the most powerful being in Middle Earth, in an appendix! 

His life and work are so recent we are understandably a little precious when someone attempts to add to his creation. We are quick to dismiss attempts as fan-fiction. But when someone produces an adaptation as wonderful as Peter Jackson’s trilogy, we forgive the changes, additions and omissions. Changes in his second trilogy are not so forgivable because the entire project was less than stellar.

As for, Rings of Power episodes one and two? I loved them. Many things irked me, and I will get to some of them, but overall, I was transported back to Middle Earth. It is always my fervent wish to be in Middle Earth, and this took me there. And they showed us Telperion and Laurelin. They showed us the Trees! Sanitising the reason the Elves left Valinor irked me. Really sanitising why Galadriel left, really irked. But Morfydd Clark’s Galadriel is wonderful. Elrond, Gil-galad, Celebrimbor, all excellent. Lindon, wow. I enjoyed the Har-foots, though being from Ireland, the Oirish accents grated quite a lot. Why not just give them North Kerry accents and add subtitles? But I’ll get over it as Nori is the ‘everyperson’ character reflecting all our wanderlust and she is very engaging. As for Arondir, I couldn’t take my eyes off him anytime he appeared. If he doesn’t get passage to Valinor by the end of this story, I will be most displeased. And to see Khazad-dûm in all its glory was a pure pleasure. Adding a Dwarven princess worked for me. Sophia Nomvete’s Disa made me regret there never being a female Dwarf depicted before. And I mean within the Tolkien world, of course, Pratchett did that years ago.

The fight with the troll irked me. These are Noldorian Elves. Any one of them should have been able to dispatch a troll without pausing for breath or thought. For the same reason, I didn’t bat an eyelid when Galadriel decided to swim across a sea. She’s Noldor, that’s what they do. I’m not sure they have convincingly conveyed how much time has passed between the Elves leaving Valinor to this point in the history of Middle Earth. Though Galadriel did spell it out at one point with my favourite line in the episode. The trilogy had the luxury of ruins to show time has passed, the Second Age is not as replete with destruction and lost kingdoms.

I wait with bated breath for episode three. 

I hope this continues as is. For in a thousand years this strange mythology will still be studied. It will have survived in fragments. Scholars will debate which parts of the story are original and which were added, no one will be sure. But they will never stop poring over this wonderful secondary creation.