As I stated in my “Greetings and Goals” when establishing this blog, my chief objective at Master of Lore is to bridge the gap between the current flurry of commercial products related to Middle-earth and the timeless literature of J.R.R. Tolkien. Unlike Christopher Tolkien, the Professor’s son and executor of the Tolkien Estate, who believes that the “absurdity” of Peter Jackson’s films and corresponding merchandise has caused the significance of his father’s life work to be vulgarized and “gutted”, I’ve personally discovered that it has instead served as a gateway for many (myself included) into a deeper appreciation of the original works and the resonant themes they propound. Therefore, any time someone cracks the spine of Tolkien’s text as a result of something intriguing on this blog, my goal is being met! Today I’d just like to briefly share a couple of recent comments from readers that have made my day. 🙂
The first is from Tonskillitis who, in perfect keeping with the goal of bridging the gap between the original literature and the licensed works, posted:
Wow. I finally understand some of your enthusiasm about The Silmarillion & the wider legendarium of Tolkien. I just read the chapter with the story of Beren & Luthien in it. Totally awesome, crazy tale with just tons of adventure, excitement, combat and some outlandish characters. I wonder if Peter Jackson will ever get his hands on it. Totally epic and cinematic stuff and certainly worthy of a card game expansion pack if they could ever wrench the license out of Christopher Tolkien’s claws! How awesome is the hound of Valinor, Huan, who singlehandedly vanquishes every enemy in his path, be he warg or werewolf, elf lord or Sauron himself! Thanks for encouraging me to persevere with that rather esoteric tome with your passionate and meticulous articles…
Thank you, Tonskillitis, for your awesomely pharyngeal username and enthusiastic word of encouragement. While it’s true that The Silmarillion may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there are definitely some tales in there that everyone can enjoy. If you’re looking for a place to start, the story “Of Beren and Lúthien” is definitely a winner. It is perhaps Tolkien’s most precious and personal Middle-earth myth, demonstrated by the fact he has the names of his characters Beren and Lúthien engraved on he and his wife’s tombstone.
The entire text can be found online and begins with this poignant prelude:
Among the tales of sorrow and ruin that come down to us from the darkness of those days there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures.
If you don’t find that moving enough to read on, what more can a guy do? As a bonus, you’ll also learn a little bit more about Beren’s father Barahir, whose ring is worn by Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings and is also a featured artifact in FFG’s card game.
A second comment that I want to highlight comes from GrandSpleen (another reader with a username based on a bizarrely named part of the human anatomy that is often surgically removed). In his FFG forum thread, he writes:
I had always thought Dunhere to be a creation of FFG– I remember hearing somewhere that Dunhere, Beravor, and Eleanor were FFG creations and used in a previous Middle-earth themed game. But there in the print was his name, and even a footnote that gave him a bit of substance:
A valiant captain, nephew of Erkenbrand. By courage and skill in arms he survived the disaster of the Fords, but fell in the Battle of the Pelennor, to the great grief of Westfold. [Author’s note.] – Dúnhere was Lord of Harrowdale (The Return of the King V 3).
Just thought I would share this with others who are curious about the lore, but haven’t come across this bit. Now I wonder, are Eleanor and Beravor purely FFG creations, or is there a footnote out there for them, too?
EDIT: I guess it is Thalin that was an FFG creation, that’s what I was forgetting. Unless I am mistaken about that as well!
Ian of Tales From the Cards chimed in to point out that so far the FFG created heroes include Beravor, Eleanor, Thalin, Mirlonde, and Caldara. The first three were originally invented for the Middle-earth Quest Board Game along with Eometh, a rider from Rohan, and Argalad, a Woodland Elf. Only time will tell whether these FFG characters will also find their second incarnation in the LOTR LCG.
In the meantime, I did not exactly remember Dúnhere from The Lord of the Rings either, and GrandSpleen‘s post took me deeper into the lore myself. Harrowdale is the region of the White Mountains where the Paths of the Dead begin. While Théoden and those Rohirrim who were ready to ride advance to Helm’s Deep to defend against Saruman’s invasion of Rohan, Dúnhere stays behind with the task of assembling “the remaining strength of his people”. After being warned by Gandalf of the “winged Shadow” of the Nazgûl, Dúnhere musters the Rohirrim in the mountains rather than the fields. There he “meets the King of the Mark [coming] back victorious out of the West” following Helm’s Deep and rides with them to Gondor where he gives his life in the Battle of Pelennor Fields.
With this little tidbit of lore, suddenly Dúnhere’s affiliation with the Spirit sphere becomes thematically richer, as his proximity to the Paths of the Dead as the Lord of Harrowdale suggests he is not easily daunted by the deep terror of the shadow. And given his role mustering the Rohirrim while his countrymen fought at Helm’s Deep and the Nazgûl circled overhead, Dúnhere’s staging area attack also becomes more interesting. Rather than being involved in the current combat phase, he is instead leading out to make progress against future threats to Middle-earth.
What a great reward to have a reader turn to Tolkien’s writing and return with a passage that depeens my own thematic experience and exploration of the text. Thank you all for joining the quest to grow in appreciation and knowledge of Tolkien’s world and ideas through this game. Please keep the comments and feedback coming!