On This Day in Middle-earth

September 30th

Crickhollow and the Inn at Bree are raided in the early hours.

Frodo leaves Bree.

Gandalf comes to Crickhollow, and reaches Bree at night.

Last night/this morning Crickhollow and Bree were raided by Black Riders.  We all know about the Bree raid, and the Prancing Pony, but for everyone who hasn’t read the books, the raid on Crickhollow will be new news.  In fact, the entire Crickhollow storyline would be news.  Before Frodo left Hobbiton, he sold Bag End to the Sackville-Baggins.  The reason?  He needed to sell the idea that he was going to return to Buckland, where his mother was from, and remain there.  It was a shock to most any Hobbit who heard it, but Frodo was a little odd like his uncle, so it worked.  In truth, we know that Frodo had this incredible journey to go on, this move allowed him to leave unnoticed by watchful eyes. 

So it was, that Fredegar “Fatty” Bolger was residing in Crickhollow pretending, as best as he could, to be Frodo.  Certainly, Fatty expected danger to be on Frodo’s road, but he hadn’t expected an attack on Crickhollow.  Black Riders appeared out of the darkness and he had just gotten away in the nick of time.  He alerted the town of intruders and many Hobbits sprang into action with torches and farm tools to use for defense.  The Black Riders, knowing that Baggins no longer resided here, decided to ride off and join the others, their mission needed to remain a secret.

Black Riders also attacked Bree and the Prancing Pony.  They also opened the stables freeing any horse or pony that resided their, all except one.  The night before, a grim figure presenting himself as Strider helped the Hobbits hide from the Black Riders.  Gandalf was just a few steps behind the Hobbits, he arranged for Strider, or Aragorn as we come to learn, to meet himself and the Hobbits at Bree.  Aragorn, knowing that Gandalf’s absence was not a good sign, took the Hobbits under his protection.  They left this morning to head to Rivendell, through the wild.

We must give a shout out to Bill the Pony, the only remaining steed in Bree, who joins the Hobbits on their journey and proves to be a stout companion.

Thank you for your time and remember, the old that is strong does not wither.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

September 29th

Frodo reaches Bree at night.

Gandalf visits the Gaffer.

It’s always a tiny bit aggravating when the only Hobbit mentioned is Frodo, you know up to this point in his journey Merry had been leading the way.  Merry, being a Brandybuck, grew up around these parts of the Shire and without him they might not have been able to reach Bree.  That could be a stretch, but Merry still deserves props for leading them this far.  Today, however, the Hobbits finally reached Bree, their hopeful destination for rest and reconnection with Gandalf.

However, Gandalf, not knowing that Frodo had indeed began his journey, was in Hobbiton.  Here, he discussed all the events that had transpired with Gaffer Gamgee and learned that the Black Riders were too close to Frodo.

Thank you for your time and remember, deep roots are not reached by the frost.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

September 27th

Gandalf crosses Greyflood.

Second night with Bombadil.

September 28th

The Hobbits captured by a Barrow-wight.

Gandalf reaches Sarn Ford.

Not yet ready to leave the calming presence of Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, the Hobbits spend two nights under his roof.  The time at Tom Bombadil’s was strange for the Hobbits, during the day Tom’s cottage in the Old Forest was peaceful and pleasant.  At night, when the Hobbits went to bed, the magic of the forest would often disturb the Hobbits sleep, regardless, they were not happy to leave the safety of Tom’s cottage.  However, they knew they had to continue their journey, so they set off towards Bree.  The quickest route was through the Barrow-downs, a dangerous magical hilled terrain/burial ground, Tom assured them if they kept their eyes on the horizon and did not stop along the way, they would make it through safely.  The strength of the Hobbits was tested, and they failed, a powerful wave of fatigue fell over them and all they could do was stop and rest. 

Frodo awoke in, what looked like, a sacrificial tomb, the Barrow-wight had captured the Hobbits and was preparing some sort of ceremony.  Frodo acted quickly picking up a dagger he severed the hand of the Barrow-wight and freed the other Hobbits.  Once again, Tom Bombadil showed up singing a song and drove off the evil presence allowing them to escape.  You see, the Hobbits had taken his ponies on their journey, and when the Barrow-wights showed up they took off back to Tom’s cottage.  Clearly, the Hobbits were going to have trouble reaching Bree so Tom agreed to guide them to the borders of his land to the edge of the Barrow-downs.

Gandalf reached Sarn Ford today, there we know he saw what remained of the Rangers of the North’s defenses.  He knows the Black Riders have reached the Shire by now.  Surprisingly, Gandalf is actually very close to the Hobbits now,  Sarn Ford is almost directly south of the Barrow-downs.

Thank you for your time and remember, the old that is strong does not wither.

– The Wandering One

Introducing the Young Yoda

No, not Baby Yoda, although it’s high time for that baby Yoda species character to get it’s own name, we’re talking about a younger-ish Yoda in the High Republic series. 

On September 1st, starwars.com released new information about the High Republic series and introduced concept art for a younger Yoda.  You can check out the story HERE.

This is a bold move for Star Wars, it’s clear that long-time fans were not happy with the New Trilogy nor how they handled characters already established.  We must confess, we were not happy with the New Trilogy, well, a better description would be, we were disappointed.  Rey, Finn, and Poe had so much potential, it was a shame the creators tried to shoehorn their stories into Luke, Han, and Leia’s.  Which brings us back to our point, we’re not sure the confidence level surrounding Star Wars is at an all time high.  The biggest issue for us was that the storytelling in the New Trilogy wasn’t unique, the blueprint for the new movies followed the same as the Old Trilogy.  That ultimately did not help this new franchise, there have been great stories told, we enjoyed Rogue One, Solo, The Mandalorian, and the last season of The Clone Wars, but at the same time those stories, except Solo, brought in new characters or unique storytelling.  Now, unfortunately, it seems like they’re going back in time and potentially changing Yoda. 

We’re not on board with this decision, you can read the original post to be sure for yourself, but the Yoda we see in the High Republic won’t be the same “sage-like being we know,” and that doesn’t make much sense to us.  You already changed Luke to be someone who would give up on the Jedi, and now it seems you want to change Yoda from the same “sage-like being” we already know him to be.  Character growth is one thing, but character deconstruction doesn’t seem like a good idea.  Sure, this will probably all workout and be ok, I mean the premise of his story sounds good:

“While he’s already a respected member of the Jedi Council at this point, we meet Yoda in IDW’s The High Republic Adventures series doing what he loves best: looking out for the young folks — in this case, a group of Padawans traveling around the galaxy to learn the ways of the Jedi with a hands-on approach.”

But still, why go back and change characters we already know?  Why not just bring forth another small tiny alien to be the “Yoda” of this young group?  There’s plenty of aliens in the Star Wars Universe, bring a lesser known one to the forefront.  At Of Blades and Kings, we’re all for new characters and new stories, but if you bring in characters we know and then you start changing them?  That’s when we start to get worried.

Let us know your thoughts, should Disney’s Star Wars just leave the characters we know out of their future plans?  Or should we be more open to shifts and changes to existing characters?  Let us know in the comments below. 

As always, thank you so much for your time and remember, not all those who wander are lost.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

September 26th

The Old Forest.

Frodo comes to Bombadil.

Yesterday, Frodo finally made it safely to Crickhollow, along the way he, Pippin, and Sam had run into Elves, foxes, Black Riders, and one Farmer Maggot.  Farmer Maggot is such a pleasant character in the books it’s a shame we don’t get to see him in the movies.

At Crickhollow, the Hobbits were able to relax after an unpleasantly long journey and prepare for tomorrow.  Merry admitted that he, Pippin, Sam, and Fatty had been secretly learning about the Ring behind Frodo’s back and they had no intention of letting Frodo go on his journey alone.  Fatty would stay behind at Crickhollow, posing as Frodo incase other people became too curious.  We’ve mentioned Fatty before, but we should bring this Hobbit to the forefront for a second.  Fredegar “Fatty” Bolger was a great friend of Frodo’s, he helped often with Frodo’s move and knew of Frodo’s perilous journey.  If you’d like to read a little bit more about this Hobbit you can read our Character of the Week post HERE.

Merry, Pippin, and Sam would follow Frodo to the end.  Frodo tried to talk them out of it but Merry was having none of this.  They were his friends and he could try to leave without them but nothing would stop them following.  Seeing it was hopeless to argue and feeling relieved he wouldn’t have to leave alone Frodo obliged to let his friends join him.  The next morning, today, they set off for the Old Forest.  Merry, having grown up in the Buckland area, led the way to the Old Forest and through it, unfortunately for this group of Hobbits the magic of the forest was making it too hard to pass through. 

They came to an odd place in the wood and the Hobbits were put into a trance by Old Man Willow, an ancient tree in the Old Forest.  When Frodo woke up, Merry and Pippin had been swallowed up by the tree’s roots and it wasn’t until Frodo ran into Tom Bombadil that they were able to rescue the Hobbits.  Tom came up to Old Man Willow, sang him a song, and the tree fell back to sleep.  Merry and Pippin were now free from the tree’s roots and the Hobbits had Tom to provide safe passage through the Old Forest.

Thank you for your time and remember, the old that is strong does not wither.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

September 24th

Gandalf crosses the Isen.

Gandalf, astride Shadowfax, is passing through Rohan on his way to the Shire.  Time is not on this great wizard’s side, Frodo is on his way to Crickhollow and the Black Riders have already reached Hobbiton.  It’s only a matter of time before these dark beings catch up to the Hobbit and Gandalf knows this.  He urges the horse on, Shadowfax’s feet fly across the plains barely making a sound, bearing this wizard on his journey.

Gandalf is doing everything he can to make up for lost time.  We can’t even imagine the range of emotions running through his head, he’s still so far away.  In a couple of days time Frodo’s journey will get more and more perilous, and Gandalf will be doing what he can to reach him.

Thank you for your time and remember, deep roots are not reached by the frost.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

September 23rd

Four Riders enter the Shire before dawn.  The others pursue the Rangers eastward, and then return to watch the Greenway.

A Black Rider comes to Hobbiton at nightfall.

Frodo leaves Bag End.

Gandalf having tamed Shadowfax rides from Rohan.

There’s no jumping the timeline of The Lord of the Rings today, we’re focused solely on the events in The Fellowship of the Ring.  As we discussed, yesterday, the Black Riders broke through the Rangers of the North’s defenses at Sarn Ford.  It only took that night for four Riders to reach the Shire and begin their search for “Baggins.” 

One Rider actually makes it all the way to Hobbiton, just down the road from Bag End actually.  Frodo overheard Gaffer Gamgee, speaking to a stranger about a “Baggins'” whereabouts.  Frodo was going to step in and relieve Gaffer from his conversation, but something in Gaffer’s tone stopped him.  Frodo thought it would be best to get on the road before more trouble could be caused, so he, Pippin, and Sam set on foot towards Crickhollow that evening.  There, Merry and Fatty would be waiting for them at the house, they had ridden ahead and began moving Frodo’s possessions earlier that day.  If it seems a little late for Frodo to begin his journey leaving the Shire, you’re not wrong, but he was delaying as much as he could to wait for Gandalf.

If only Gandalf hadn’t been delayed by Sauron, the story might’ve turned out much different.  Today he tamed Shadowfax and left Rohan, but with the Black Riders already in Hobbiton, he’s way behind.

Thank you for your time and remember, the old that is strong does not wither.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

September 22nd

Bilbo Baggins’ Birthday

Frodo Baggins’ Birthday

Bilbo hosts a farewell feast for his 111th birthday.  He leaves the Shire and sets off for Rivendell that night.

The Black Riders reach Sarn Ford at evening; they drive off the guard of Rangers.

Gandalf overtakes Shadowfax.

The hundred and twenty-ninth birthday of Bilbo.

Saruman comes to the Shire.

So many events happened on Bilbo’s Birthday, in fact many people do not even know that it is also Frodo’s Birthday.  Frodo was never really one to make a big deal about his birthday, so he was happy letting Bilbo get most of the attention.  We’re going back in time, at the beginning of the book in the first chapter A Long-Expected Party for Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday.

Let’s highlight the big events, today the Black Riders reached Sarn Ford and drove off the Rangers of the North who were defending that area.  Before he left Gandalf made sure they increased their guard around the Shire, sadly it didn’t work.  Unfortunately, for Frodo and his friends, that meant the Black Riders were now a days ride away from the Shire.

It took Gandalf around two days, but finally, he was able to ride Shadowfax and prove his worth to the great horse.  Now, speed is his only ally, he must reach the Shire before the Black Riders, but luck is not on his side. 

We’re now on another time jump, after the Ring was destroyed in Rivendell, Gandalf, Elrond, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Sam, Bilbo, and the rest of the Elves were able to celebrate Bilbo’s 129th birthday, a large accomplishment for any being.  See again, no mention of this day being Frodo’s Birthday, we know that Bilbo and Frodo both wrote in the Red Book of Westmarch, so it must be Frodo writing with great respect to Bilbo.  Of course, Frodo would want to honor his uncle before he wrote about himself.

As we mentioned earlier Saruman’s plans were not yet completely ruined, as long as he had strength to walk and talk Saruman can still be a threat, especially to the innocent nature of the Hobbits.

Thank you for your time and remember, deep roots are not reached by the frost.

– The Wandering One

Let’s Celebrate Two Great Hobbits

Today is a great day for fans of The Lord of the Rings.  Today is the birthday of Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins, two great Hobbits who forever changed the course of history. 

Without Bilbo, Smaug would’ve easily been swayed by Sauron with the promise of all the death, destruction, and riches Middle-earth could offer, Goblins and Wargs would’ve torn through Rhovanion, and the Ring would’ve slipped from Gollum’s grasp into more nefarious hands. 

Without Frodo, well, the Ring would have never been destroyed, Sauron would’ve destroyed the Free Peoples of Middle-earth, and the world would’ve been covered in a second darkness. 

Was their journey easy?  No.  Was it tough along the way, did they face many hardships and bruises, were they afraid, did they lose companions, were they pushed further than they thought was possible?  Absolutely, but these Hobbits never gave up, they fought on, by tooth and nail if they had to.  When we think of these great Hobbits, we think of the quote from Gandalf.

“Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.”

We can take these words and apply them to our lives like Bilbo and Frodo did.  No matter how bad things get we can shift our thinking, follow Gandalf’s words, and understand that we are meant to be in those moments.  That can be an encouraging thought.

We hope you join us today as we celebrate Bilbo’s and Frodo’s Birthday, bust out The Fellowship of the Ring or The Hobbit and follow along as they overcome the hardships of their journey.

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

– The Wandering One

Behind the Trend, but Full of Promise

Warner Brothers, just dropped a potential game of the year bomb on the world last week.  If you haven’t seen any news on it, here’s the trailer.

Kudos to Warner Brothers for finally working on/creating an RPG game in the Wizarding World.  They’re a little behind if you think about the last Harry Potter moving coming out ten years ago, but then again, better late than never.  We must also give credit to the previous Harry Potter games that have come before this one.  From Sorcerer’s Stone to Half-blood Prince we’ve been able to run around Hogwarts as Harry Potter exploring hidden secrets, learning new spells, and following the stories we know and love.

However, never before have we been given the chance to create our own character, grow their skills, get sorted, join a Quidditch team, or explore an open world outside of Hogwarts.  These are all new features the Hogwarts Legacy game is touting.  The graphics, spell casting, and environments all look exciting, as the main character you’ll be going up against complicated wizard puzzles, feirce magical beasts, and dangerous dark wizards.  But, you have the chance to control your destiny, like most RPG games you will have the opportunity to make “good” or “bad” decisions that will affect your character and the story. 

All-in-all, this game looks like it has incredible potential, could it be the game of the year?  Absolutely, however, that will depend on the gameplay and story.  So far, the story is shaping up to be a little so-so.  You’re a new student at Hogwarts, you’ve received your acceptance letter “late,” (How late? No clue), and you go on to discover you have the ability to unlock “ancient magic” that will, undoubtedly, help you over come obstacles throughout the game and unlock more abilities.  How, or what this “ancient magic” is, hasn’t been revealed at this time.  If we were to guess, we think we’re looking at an Harry Potter version of Star Wars:  The Force Unleashed, or Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, but with character creation features.  We imagine this “ancient magic” will allow your character to be this incredibly talented, possibly over-powered, individual.  This will bode well for the entertainment factor of the game, but as for the story we’re not 100% sold on it.  Regardless, it’s too early in the process to make any bold statements about the quality of the story or the game in general. 

Our best compliment, at this time, is this game’s potential…there sure is a lot of it. 

While there are so many questions about this game right now we have one major one?  Is this game Harry Potter Wizarding World cannon?  Warner Brothers has always created Harry Potter games that were similar to the movies/books, but they have also added their own additions to their games.  Looking at you Flipendo. There’s been no news of the canonical aspects of this game, but we’ll be waiting to hear whether this story actually happened in Harry Potter’s Wizarding World, or if it was just inspired by it. 

Lots to talk about this game and we can’t wait till we learn more about it.  Let us know what you think about this news.  Are you excited about this game?  Where you expecting more?  What type of Harry Potter video would you like to play?  Let us know in the comments below!

Thank you for your time and remember, all that is gold does not glitter.

– The Wandering One