Middle-earth on the back of an envelope: Sketch of Thorin and Others

Every now and again it’s fun to opt for something less wordy here at the blog.  Middle-earth usually provides the inspiration. I have a habit of doodling on random bits of paper I find – very often it will be the proverbial back of an envelope.  A series of lines or a bit of shading might sometimes morph into a sketch, which somehow or other takes a Middle-earth turn.  I usually have no idea what scene or even character the sketch represents, but that’s  OK – I like to leave it ambiguous. Continue reading

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‘I Won’t Be Reading It Though’. Go Set a Watchman and Literary Dilemmas

I admit I’ve found the whole reaction to ‘Go Set a Watchman’ fascinating. People, and the things that move, inspire and upset them, are fascinating. This literary phenomenon has provided profound insights into the writing process and tells us about readers’ relationships to fictional characters. Indeed, what about those characters: Who do they belong to in the end? Once an author has successfully created a credible secondary universe, how robust is it to external, and more critically, internal shocks? What should count as ‘canon’? What and who defines the boundaries – what represents the internal truths of the secondary, fictional world, carefully and lovingly created by the author and adopted by the reader? Continue reading

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At the Summit of Ben Nevis

The morning of the hike dawned – we looked apprehensively out at the sky, would the weather be kind to us? A thick white cloud clung to upper end of Ben Nevis, but it looked clearer than it did the day before.


Source: Wikimedia commons

We stocked up on a nourishing but not too heavy breakfast, and plotted our route on the OS map. We left our contact details with Pat at the reception desk – a precaution just in case any of us went missing…Did we have a map? Emergency food supplies? Compass? We gave a confident affirmative to his questions.

So, did he have any tips? Instead of venturing all the way out to the official starting point over a mile away, Pat suggested we go straight up the path from the Hostel; people get put off by it because it looks steep, but it’s much quicker that way, he assured us. Sounded reasonable enough. What else? Be careful when you get to the ‘Red Burn’; that’s where a lot of people get lost…  Continue reading

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UK Hike: Glen Nevis (The Highlands, Scotland)


If you’ve hiked up Snowdon and Scafell Pike and are yet to complete the trio of peaks, I’d say (in my completely insignificant opinion) you’ve saved the best till last. Continue reading

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A Dishevelled Dryad Loveliness

A super post by Stephen Winter at his blog, reflecting on Tolkien, Nature, and one of my favourite chapters in the Lord of the Rings.

Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings

Frodo and Sam have journeyed through many landscapes since they left Bag End together stepping out onto the Road that Bilbo once sang about, that “Goes ever on and on”. From the gentle woodlands and fields of the Shire to the tangling branches of the Old Forest to the wilds of Eriador; from the magical lands of Rivendell and Lothlorien to the dreadful desolation before the Gate of Mordor, they have seen so much that will change them for ever.

Now they have arrived in the land of Ithilien, once the garden of Gondor upon its northern borders but now fallen into the hands of the Enemy who has already begun his work of destruction. But the foul work of his servants has only recently begun and although Frodo and Sam see many signs of that work they still see for the first time upon their journey Spring “busy about them”…

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Mysterious Cities of Gold Episode Recap: Ep 2, Part2 – New Foes and New Friendships

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This post continues with an analysis of episode 2.  I previously discussed the way in which this episode makes a strong foundational contribution to the Secondary World via history and enchantment. But we also see foundations being laid for key relationships in this series – of both friendship and rivalry. Zia, the young inca girl, gets special attention in this post. Continue reading

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Mysterious Cities of Gold Episode Recap: History, Enchantment and Tolkien

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We arrive at Episode 2 – the long voyage across the Atlantic officially begins, and it gets a truly epic treatment.  These early episodes journeying across the ocean are absolutely integral to the story.  As often happens with long stories, people tend to overlook the early episodes/chapters: sometimes they are seen to be superfluous to the main story.

Continue reading

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