On This Day in Middle-earth

February 29th

Meriadoc and Pippin escape and meet Treebeard

The Rohirrim attack at sunrise and destroy the Orcs

Frodo descends from the Emyn Muil and meets Gollum

Faramir sees the funeral boat of Boromir

Entmoot begins

As I’ve said before, things pick up alot in these next two months and again we’re reminded of how much can happen in one day. Merry and Pippin escape, Éomer defeats the Orcs, Frodo and Sam encounter Gollum and bind him with Elven rope, Faramir gets his first view of Boromir’s fate, and the Entmoot begins.

Also, at Of Blades and Kings we’d like to point out an event that regards Frodo Baggins doesn’t include Samwise Gamgee. It’s extremely unfortunate, but a trend we’ll continue to see moving forward. Sam will get his moment, in due time.

Gondor receives it’s first sign of their fallen son, we lament the passing of Boromir and look to Captain Faramir.

Thank you for your time and remember, the crownless again shall be king.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

February 28th

Éomer overtakes the Orcs just outside Fangorn Forest

A stand still takes place between the two armies, the Orcs set up a perimeter while the Rohirrim test the aim and distance of the Orc archers. Neither group is ready for a full on attack, they’re seizing up their opponent and preparing for the next move.

What is not mentioned here, is that Merry and Pippin are both still captives of the Orcs. They’re both right in the middle of this attack, hearing news piecemeal, and trying to workout a way to escape.

All this waiting makes us anxious, but as Gandalf the White said, “it’s the deep breath before the plunge.”

Thank you for your time and remember not all those who wander are lost.

– The Wandering One

Character of the Week

Cedric Diggory

Let’s take a moment to talk about the true Tri-Wizard Champion of Hogwarts.

Hufflepuff’s seem to have a long history of being the worst house of Hogwarts. Even though there are great wizards who were Hufflepuffs, if you start talking about them as a group…they get no respect. Then, Cedric Diggory was chosen as the Tri-Wizard Champion.

Cedric Diggory, a Hufflepuff, a bright young wizard, who had plenty of opportunities ahead of him, was chosen to represent Hogwarts. Finally, the Hufflepuff House was going to get the respect they deserve and everyone was feeling it, at least at the Hufflepuff table they were. Imagine being a Hufflepuff when his name was called, it probably was the coolest moment of your time at Hogwarts. Then, Harry Potter’s name was called and all the excitement faded. Everything always has to be about Potter.

Cedric, however, never let that deter his focus, he knew what the stakes were but always stayed above the drama and excitement. His strength and determination remained with him until the end. This is what defines Hufflepuffs, a strong heart and the will to do the right thing.

True heroes are defined by heart, and Cedric Diggory was a true hero. I hope you’ll join us at Of Blades and Kings and celebrate his life.

Thank you for your time and remember, not all who wander are lost.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

February 27th

Aragorn reaches the west-cliff at sunrise

Éomer against Théoden’s orders sets out from Eastfold about midnight to pursue the Orcs

It’s interesting how the Appendices only reference Aragorn on this quest to save Merry and Pippin. We all know that Legolas and Gimli were an important part of his journey, but it’s only Aragorn’s name that is remembered. At Of Blades and Kings, we’re not fans of this, but be warned, we are going to see it often in the Appendices. What’s really crazy is in The Silmarillion, they refer to Sam as Frodo’s servant, which is straight disrespect. I mean, yes, he worked for Frodo like his dad worked for Bilbo but come on, he’s way more than that. Before we go down a longer rabbit hole, let’s get back to today’s events.

Éomer, again, is showing us why he’s a boss, not even the orders from the King can keep him from doing the right thing. Remember, at this moment Saruman has been poisoning Théoden’s mind and Théoden’s son died. Sometimes evil’s influences are so strong we can’t see the difference between right and wrong. We just see the options as doing what we want, or what we don’t want. It’s difficult to break through that line of thinking, and it’s so much easier just to keep going. Even so, we can’t keep falling down that path, let’s try to be better.

Let’s try to be like Éomer and do the right thing, no matter the consequences.

Thank you for your time and remember, renewed shall be the blade that was broken.

– The Wandering One

Boromir Tribute: On This Day in Middle-earth

February 26th

Breaking of the Fellowship

Death of Boromir; his horn is heard in Minas Tirith

Meriadoc and Peregrin captured

Frodo and Samwise enter the eastern Emyn Muil

Aragorn sets out in pursuit of the Orcs at evening

Éomer hears of the descent of the Orc-band from Emyn Muil

During the next two months things are going to really pick up, so much stuff happens in February and March. As we head into the summer, things die down and we can speculate on events that might’ve transpired.

Today, however, we are reminded that so many things can happen in one day. The Fellowship breaks, Boromir tries to take the Ring from Frodo, Frodo tries to leave the group, The Fellowship frantically searches for Frodo, Sam uses his head and meets him at the boats, Merry and Pippin get captured by Orcs, Boromir dies trying to save them, and Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli leave Frodo and Sam to rescue Merry and Pippin.

We learn some more about happenings in Rohan, Éomer has taken it upon himself to rid their land of Orc filth.

The introduction of Éomer should be treated as an immensely happy event, but for now, we should feel sadness at the passing of Boromir.

I understand that Boromir is not a character everyone loves, he’s headstrong, rash, and he is conceited at times. Regardless, Boromir was the watcher and protector of Gondor, he loved his land and home more than anything. It was his duty to protect it and it would break him to fail. The pressure of being a Captain of Gondor ceraintly affected Boromir and caused him to act the way he did. He would not be able to lead the Men of Gondor without having a headstrong and tough approach to life. Boromir might have been a thorn, but he was incredibly loyal, he was a protector of The Fellowship, and a fighter you would want to have in your corner. In the book Boromir was pierced by many arrows, many, in the movies he was pierced by three. The ferocity and inner strength a man has to have to fight through those injuries is astounding.

This was a man born in war, he was forged by it, that’s what it meant to be Captain of Gondor. I imagine he never had the time to do anything else. He never got the chance to have a family of his own, the city was his family and they loved him for it. This is something not spoken of much but, Boromir was the beloved son of Gondor. He protected the city and its inhabitants, in return they loved him for it. His father’s love was extended when Boromir did his duty and retracted in failure. Therefore, failure never was a consideration for Boromir, he goal was to succeed for his father and his city. On the outside looking in, we might not see that, and after he tried to take the Ring it’s easy to cast him aside. We can’t forget that the Ring has a way of affecting those with fear in their hearts. Boromir was extremely fearful of failing his city. The Ring preyed on that fear and corrupted him, even though it was only for a moment, it was enough to begin the Breaking of the Fellowship.

Boromir knew his mistake immediately and wept from it, never again would he fail The Fellowship and he died proving that.

I love, in the movies, when they take a little extra time cultivating a relationship between Boromir, Merry, and Pippin. He taught them how to wield a sword, during the Flight to the Bridge Boromir immediately grabbed them and jumped across the pit to safety, and in the end Boromor gave his life defending Merry and Pippin. It’s a beautiful addition that should be applauded.

Boromir was a warrior who always fought for good, he wasn’t perfect and weakness might’ve over taken him for a moment, but the strength in his heart would always return. At Of Blades and Kings we remember Boromir as a true warrior and protector, we hope you will to.

Boromir my Captain, I wish you well, may you rest in peace, son of Gondor.

Thank you so much for your time, this turned into a tribute to Boromir post but I hope you enjoyed it.

Thank you and remember, the crownless again shall be king.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

February 25th

The Company pass the Argonath and camp at Parth Galen

First Battle of the Fords of Isen; Théodred son of Théoden slain

After the attack on the 23rd, The Fellowship had an uneventful, albeit stressful, trip down the Anduin. They had to carry the boats along the shores past the rapids at Sarn Gebir, after that the continued by river.

As they set up camp they plan out their next steps. It was as this point that, had Gandalf been there, Aragorn would’ve turned south with Boromir to Gondor. It seems no matter what fate lied ahead there always was going to be a breaking of The Fellowship.

Théodred son of Théoden fell, by forces from Isengard. The same orcs it seems that captured Merry and Pippin. So ends the line of Théoden, his son will join his grandfather and those before him. This scene in the movie cuts me deep. “No parent should have to bury their child.” After witnessing my Grandfather hear the news of his daughter, my aunt, dying, his reaction? It’s heart breaking, I don’t wish this on anyone and my heart goes out to Théoden. He’s being corrupted by Saruman, and he couldn’t protect his son. Saruman is very cruel indeed. Théoden faced many evils but this event cut him more than anything.

With a solemn note let’s raise a glass to Théodred and Théoden tonight and remember, a light from the shadows shall spring.

– The Wandering One

How to Handle the Astros’ Scandal

Let’s take a break from the fantasy and talk about a topic that’s blowing up the sports world…The Houston Astros Cheating Scandal. I believe I have a way Major League Baseball can and should handle it.

Before I get into that though, here’s a little backstory, just incase you’re not aware of what’s going on. The Houston Astros have been caught illegally video taping opposing catchers and telling their batters what types of pitches were coming, and when. Yes, it’s confusing, there’s a legal way to do it and an illegal way to do it. I think the line lies somewhere between looking around for signs during the game, and video-taping signs as they take place and telling the batter before the pitch is thrown.

If you’re not familiar with baseball, it’s a clear advantage for the batter to know how fast or slow the ball is coming towards them. While there’s no guarantees they’d hit the ball, these guys are pros, knowing what’s coming is like bowling with the guards up. You might not bowl a strike but you’re definitely going to knock some pins down. In a game like baseball, when you can win games 1-0, any advantage is huge. After the investigation found Astros personnel guilty, a list of punishments were given out. You can bet that everyone from fans to players and coaches have opinions about it, so naturally, we’d like to give ours.

The punishment was as follows.

The General Manager and Head Coach of the Astros were suspended for the 2020 season, and then subsequently fired. The organization has also been fined $5 million and lost 4 draft picks. It’s one of the heaviest punishments a team has received from the MLB. Coaches that moved on from the Astros to manage other teams have also been fired for their role in the scandal. Sorry, not fired, “mutually agreed to part ways.” Every team is doing what they can to distance themselves from this blemish on baseball history. Oddly enough, none of the punishments have reached the players who were a huge part of this scandal. It was the players that would bang their bats to let the batter know what type of pitch was coming. Sounds like a simple cheating process, but it involved more details than I’m willing to get into.

When the Chicago White Sox allegedly lost the 1919 World Series in exchange for money from a betting organization, all the players involved were banned from playing baseball and the Hall of Fame. Some of those players would’ve earned a spot in the Hall if not for the scandal. That punishment has not been lifted.

A similar punishment was doled out to Pete Rose when, as a coach, he allegedly made illegal sports bets. Even though there was no evidence that his betting altered any of his coaching decisions, he still is not allowed to be apart of baseball or the Hall of Fame. Pete Rose has the most hits of any baseball player, in the history of the MLB. That is, of course, if you don’t count Ichiro Suzuki’s Japan League hits. It’s an incredible achievement that is definitely Hall of Fame worthy, but because of his bets, he’s not allowed in.

Both of these punishments are deservedly harsh to the individuals involved, perhaps that’s because legal entities became involved. I’m not 100% sure, what I do know is, none of the Astros players who helped orchestrate and participated in the cheating have received any punishment, nor has there been any word that there will be a punishment. Even though there’s an uproar in the league, in my opinion, it’s too late to go after the players now. The Commissioner of the League has made his punishment, and to go back on it or change it would set a bad example. He made a mistake not involving the players in the first place and now he has to deal with the repercussions of that.

There will be repercussions, players are not happy about this and baseball has many unspoken rules. Break those rules and you’re going to get hit the next time you come up to bat. The Astros players broke a written rule that degrades the game and gave them an unfair advantage. If players get hit over bat flips, the Astros are definitely going to get hit for this. Make no mistake, right or wrong, these players have a target on their backs.

I can’t forsee a solution that protects the Astros, other players have been boiling under the surface since this news was released. Not much can be done at this point.

But, here’s what I’m proposing. I thought this was the way to go when the punishments were first handed out, but it didn’t happen. Here’s what should be done:

  • Maintain the Astros World Series win in the history books, albeit, with an asterisk. Some people want to see their title stripped away, but history is an important part of this game. They keep track of the most minute details and milestones. They should not get rid of this scandal, but learn from it and use it as a lesson to other coaches and players.
  • Take back the World Series rings from players and coaches on the 2017 team. Logistically there might be some headaches here, but I think it can get done. If they don’t send them back, fine them for it. They didn’t earn those, so they should not be allowed to keep them.
  • Take away the World Series banner that hangs in the Astros stadium, and take away any other mention of their World Series win in the building. The team should not be allowed to tout that title when it wasn’t earned.

These moves would cast a deserved shadow on the organization, the players, and coaches.

I believe that’s all the league can do at this point, at least until some players get to be chosen for the Hall of Fame. Carlos Beltran, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa will all be names to watch when their time comes. Well, they might be, baseball can be a fickle sport. Beltran and Altuve, however, have maintained and will maintain a career that could end up being Hall worthy. So, we’ll see if those players and coaches receive a ban similar to past rule breakers.

Let me know what you think, have you heard about this before? If not, what do you think about it? Should the players receive a ban from baseball like others before them, or would my punishment suffice?

Thank you for your time and remember, not all those who wander are lost.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

February 23rd

The boats are attacked at night near Sarn Gebir.

While sailing the Anduin, Aragorn led The Fellowship to the best of his ability. What he didn’t account for was how fast that river flowed, that mistake put them in an unforeseen bind.

As the river flows to Sarn Gebir it turns to rapids, and as fast as The Fellowship were moving they unknowingly approached the beginning of these rapids. Quickly, they fought the river to the shores. During their retreat, arrows from the opposite bank began whizzing past them. Orcs had tracked them down and began attacking.

As soon as they reach the bank Legolas unleashed his bow and notched an arrow, the cover of trees and darkness of night did not allow him to make a shot. As he was surveilling the opposite bank a shadow spread across the sky, Frodo felt a sudden cold and Legolas loosed his arrow at the figure. With a harsh croaking scream the shadow disappeared from the sky and the arrows from the opposite bank ceased.

The Fellowship would continue their journey, looking over their shoulder and keeping an eye out for any signs of the enemy.

Thank you for your time and remember, a light from the shadows shall spring.

– The Wandering One

Character of the Week

Ahsoka Tano

For many casual Star Wars fans you’ve probably never heard of Ahsoka until everyone started freaking out about some random voice in Episode 9. However, Clone Wars fans will remember and know this name well.

Ahsoka was brought into the Star Wars cannon through The Clone Wars animated movie, which helped set up The Clone Wars TV show.

I, for one, was skeptical of this new direction Star Wars was going and didn’t hop on the amazing ride until later in the series. Pretty much a season or two before Darth Maul’s return, man was I missing out.

For many fans of the series, Ahsoka is a stalwart of the Star Wars franchise, she started out as a rash decision-making, quick to anger, too smart for her own good character. Now-a-days she’s taken her training and turned into a wise and formidable Force user. Ahsoka used to be the Padawan of Anakin Skywalker, based off the description above one would be correct in assuming they were a perfect fit. Ahsoka had the opportunity to learn from one of the most raw talented Jedi of her age. She took that opportunity and made the most of it, learning from Anakin’s strengths and weaknesses. Anakin, of course, pushed her to reach the greatness he saw in her. So, when Ahsoka made a mistake it usually had severe consequences, but Anakin always had her back and was able to guide her through it. The show also allowed Ahsoka to interact with other Jedi like Obi-Wan, Plo Koon, Yoda, Mace Windu, and Luminara Unduli. They all were able to instill small amounts of knowledge for the young Padawan. You were really able to see the scope of investment the Jedi council had in Anakin and Ahsoka.

Now that The Clone Wars show is back, we couldn’t think of a better way to honor Ahsoka than to bestow upon her the, Of Blades and Kings Character of the Week title.

As always, thank you for your time and remember, not all those who wander are lost, the crownless again shall be king.

– The Wandering One

A Tribute to Christopher Tolkien

On January 16th, news hit the world that Christopher Tolkien had passed away at the age of 95.

The last defender of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works has left us and joined his father and mother in the great beyond. We wish you a safe journey, may the grey rain-curtain turn all to silver glass and roll back to behold white shores, and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

It’s easy to take for granted everything Christopher Tolkien did for the Tolkien Estate. I know in my early days of reading Tolkien, I certainly did not hold him as high up as I did his father. After all, they were his father’s stories, but that’s the thing about Christopher Tolkien. People forget or don’t know that he was a chief editor for Tolkien’s books. As a kid he was one of the first people to read through The Hobbit and help his father craft the story. He played that same role in his teens when his father was working on The Lord of the Rings. He also helped his father draw and coordinate maps for Middle-earth. As I said, it’s easy to forget how influential he was in creating the greatest story I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

Tolkien invited his son to join The Inklings at the age of 21 (becoming the youngest member to do so), he even referred to Christopher as his “chief critic and collaborator,” and named him his literary executor in his will. When one reads Christopher’s work you’re reading the embodiment of Tolkien himself. We were blessed with more of Tolkien’s stories due to this son’s love and devotion for his father’s work. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are successful enough but the additions of The Silmarillian, The Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth Series, The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien, and The Fall of Gondolin flesh out the details and history of Middle-earth. Please take a chance and read some of these tales. They’re Published under his father’s name but Christopher Tolkien put them together for us.

Christopher Tolkien could’ve easily published any of those works under his name but he didn’t. He dedicated his life to finishing his father’s work and providing readers with more content than could be digested.

As a Tolkien fan, I’m sad that I took this man for granted. As I got older I learned of his greatness, his love for his father, and began to fully appreciate all he did for the Tolkien Estate.

Professor Tolkien, the works of your father will never be more closely guarded with you not watching over them. As we step into this new age of the Tolkien Estate, I doubt we’ll have a leader who revered your father’s works as much as you do.

For that reason alone we should all say thank you for your time, your effort, and your heart. My world would be completely different having never read your works.

Thank you, Christopher Tolkien.