This February marks the one year anniversary of the Master of Lore blog and I want to extend my thanks to all the readers whose insightful comments and words of encouragement have made writing here such a pleasure. I’m quite proud of the feature articles on this site, and grateful to have found a partner in Derek (aka Shipwreck) of the Grey Company Podcast to work alongside with in creating content.
Over these 12 months, however, we’ve only covered 15 cards with our in-depth features — a pace that makes a Fangorn Entmoot seem like a speedy and productive operation. Treebeard may advise that we “don’t be hasty”, but with so many fascinating cards already in print and more on the way, we feel like we need to step it up a bit. Therefore, while the monthly publication of a full length essay remains a goal, Derek has proposed a new category for shorter, quicker “lore bites” which forgo the feature format and just deliver you a distilled dose of the Tolkien tale behind select cards.
After brainstorming a few potential titles for these segments, we’ve decided to name them after the popular Spirit event card Hasty Stroke as “hasty” is a typically Tolkien word that alludes to the shorter, quicker nature of these articles while “stroke” plays on the stroke of a pen or keystrokes used for writing them. Just as a well-timed Hasty Stroke can dispel the darkness of chaining shadow effects in the Siege of Cair Andros, we hope that our hasty keystrokes will cancel the long shadow of silence that currently stretches between posts at Master of Lore!
The format here is going to be very flexible but to give you some idea of what you might expect, here are five “Hasty Strokes” that I originally posted on my Facebook page. Enjoy!
Gléowine was the royal minstrel of King Théoden of Rohan. Gléowine’s name means ‘Joy-lover’ and he gets his only mention in Book 6 Chapter VI singing the eulogy for his fallen king. We are told that upon singing it, “he made no other song after.” Gléowine’s song for Théoden goes like this:
Out of doubt, out of dark, to the day’s rising
he rode singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
Hope he rekindled, and in hope ended;
over death, over dread, over doom lifted
out of loss, out of life, unto long glory.
MAP OF EARNIL
Presumably, the Map of Earnil belongs to Eärnil I, the 13th King of Gondor (913-936) and the second of four ‘Ship-Kings’ who expanded the realm. In Quenya, his name means ‘Sea-lover’. Eärnil I rebuilt the Númenorean haven of Pelargir and conquered Umbar which became a fortress of Gondor for the next 500 years. You might want to be cautious using his map though. In Appendix A we are told that:
Eärnil did not long survive his triumph. He was lost with many ships and men in a great storm off Umbar.
Fanuidhol the Grey is one of the “three white peaks” (along with Caradhras and Celebdil) of the Misty Mountains over the Dwarven homeland of Moria. This Sindarin name means ‘Cloudy-head’ which is Bundushathûr in Dwarvish. When Gimli sees the triple peaks in Book 2 Chapter III, he gets “a strange light in his deep eyes” and says:
There is the land where our fathers worked of old, and we have wrought the image of those mountains into many works of metal and of stone, and into many songs and tales. They stand tall in our dreams: Baraz, Zirak, and Shathûr.
The mysterious ‘Nameless Thing‘ is referenced by Gandalf in Book 3 Chapter V as he recounts his battle with the Balrog. Gandalf’s statement that they are older than Sauron has led commentators to speculate that they are fallen Ainur, creatures from the Void like Ungoliant, or some other spirit of the same order as Tom Bombadil (who is also called “Nameless”). As Gandalf says:
Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he. Now I have walked there, but I will bring no report to darken the light of day. In that despair my enemy was my only hope, and I pursued him, clutching at his heel.
Vilya is “the mightiest” of the Three Rings of the Elven-kings made by Celebrimbor in the middle years of the Second Age. Known also as the “Ring of Air” or “Ring of Sapphire”, it passed from Celebrimbor to Gil-galad to Elrond at the Council prior to the Battle of the Last Alliance. Vilya is only mentioned once in The Lord of the Rings, in the last chapter at the Grey Havens. The relationship between Vilya and the One Ring is described in The Silmarillion as follows:
Now these were the Three that had last been made, and they possessed the greatest powers. Narya, Nenya, and Vilya, they were named, the Rings of Fire, and of Water, and of Air, set with ruby and adamant and sapphire; and of all the Elven-rings Sauron most desired to possess them, for those who had them in their keeping could ward off decays of time and postpone the weariness of the world. But Sauron could not discover them, for they were given into the hands of the Wise, who concealed them and never again used them openly while Sauron kept the Ruling Ring. Therefore the Three remained unsullied, for they were forged by Celebrimbor alone, and the hand of Sauron never touched them; yet they were also subject to the One.