On This Day in Middle-earth

October 6th

The camp under Weathertop attacked at night. Frodo wounded.

They cross the Ford of Bruinen; Frodo feels the first return of pain.

Two big events are being discussed today, all featuring a harrowing moment for the company.  Last night Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Strider were attacked at their camp at Weathertop.  As we’ve said in a previous post, Weathertop was a great area for surveying the surround lands, and since the Black Riders attacked Gandalf here they made sure they kept an eye on this area. 

A huge difference from the movies, the books depict everyone standing guard against the attack and Frodo feels overcome with a strong urge to put on the Ring.  When he does so, the Ringwraiths are shown before him white and clear in the darkness.  They began to advance, in response Frodo can only draw his dagger which, to him, glowed like a fire in the darkness.  Two Ringwraiths halt at this action, but a third, the Witch-King, advanced against Frodo, in desperation Frodo dove and slashed the Ringwraith’s feet.  A shrill cry broke through the air and Frodo was pierced through his left shoulder. 

As he was losing consciousness, Frodo saw Strider leap through the darkness with torches in each hand.  As Strider fends off the Ringwraiths, Frodo takes the Ring off his finger and collapses on the ground. 

Now the company is in a race against time.  Strider knows that Frodo was pierced by a cursed blade beyond his capacity for healing.  So, they move as fast as they can through the Wild, but with three Hobbits traveling by foot and Frodo riding on Bill the Pony, the going was slow.

Shifting timelines to the end of The Lord of the Rings, as Frodo and the Hobbits return to the Shire in The Return of the King, Frodo feels a sharp pain on the anniversary of this attack.  He will probably feel this for the rest of his life, sadly, for Frodo, the memories of his quest are not the only things that will linger.

Thank you for your time and remember, from the ashes a fire shall be woken.

– The Wandering One

What a Great Adventure

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)

Is this a review?  A critique?  Or perhaps a showering of love?  It could be considered all three and, at the same time, none of them at all.  We want to discuss our thoughts, feelings, emotions, likes, and dislikes of our most recent endeavor:  the completion of The Hobbit. 

Being a book that was written for children, it’s not a terribly long book, but it isn’t a book that we have read often, especially not compared to The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.  So, jumping back into this story was a fun adventure.  This is a great book filled with fun, laughs, wild adventure, death defying feats, a dragon, and most importantly a Hobbit.  It seems so fittingly wonderful that the smallest creature would make such a huge impact on the world.  Beyond the obvious excitement the book follows, there is that theme, no matter how small you are, you can still do great and amazing things.  Don’t believe us?

Well, for Bilbo Baggins’ case, over the course of a year, he traveled with 13 Dwarves across Middle-earth, narrowly escaped 3 monstrous Trolls, dwelt with the fair Elves of Rivendell in the house of Elrond, survived the twisting caverns of Goblins in the Misty Mountains, riddled his way past Gollum, found the Ring, escaped Wargs and more Goblins, was carried by a great Eagle, stayed the night with a great bear, dared the dense forest of Mirkwood, saved the Dwarves from countless giant spiders, snuck his way into the Elven kingdom of Mirkwood, rescued the Dwarves from a seemingly inescapable captivity, floated the river to Lake-town, discovered the ancient key-hole to the secret passage into the Lonely Mountain, burgled treasure from Smaug, survived a close encounter with the great dragon, saved the Dwarves from the dragons wrath and anger, discovered Smaug’s only weakness, found the Arkenstone, helped Thorin become King Under the Mountain, fought for peace between the Elves, Men, and Dwarves, fought in/made his way to safely through the Battle of Five Armies, brought Thorin to a realization of kindness and peace, helped bring peace and prosperity to the lands surrounding the Lonely Mountain, and finally made the long journey back to his home under the Hill.

Bilbo, an unassuming Hobbit, went there and back again, he helped fulfill that prophecy of the King Under the Mountain returning and bringing riches forth.  It is a wide world out there, but this young Hobbit ventured through it and prospered himself.  Overall, we think the biggest theme from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings hits on the idea that the smallest creature can change the course of history.  For us, that is an incredibly encouraging thought.  If a Hobbit can do all of that, then there’s endless possibilities to what we can accomplish.  Yes, it’s just a story, but we ask you, what’s wrong with getting positive motivation from it?

One of the best parts about The Hobbit is witnessing the character growth of Bilbo Baggins.  It’s clear as day, but it still gets us excited when we read this story.  Bilbo goes from a timid, uptight, and somewhat pompous Hobbit to a spider slaying, treasure burgling, facer of dragons.  It’s a complete 180° change, if you ask us, and it is incredibly awesome to read.  We couldn’t be prouder when Bilbo slowly, but surely, gains the respect of his Dwarven companions.  But, when Bilbo starts coming up with plans, making suggestions, when the Dwarves turn to him for guidance?  That’s when we see Bilbo turn into the leader they need.  Yes, Thorin is widely known as the “leader” of this Dwarven company, but in times of great need he turned to Bilbo to get them out of Mirkwood and face Smaug.  Make no mistake, Bilbo has got to be the bravest Hobbit since Bandobras “Bullroarer” Took.  This change makes Bilbo somewhat of an outcast in Hobbiton, but he didn’t care he had faced dragons, goblins, giant spiders, trolls, and wargs, ill-mannered Hobbits didn’t frighten him like they used to.  We have to give props to this Hobbit, he ends up becoming a straight boss.  Even in The Lord of the Rings, when the Council of Elrond was discussing what to do with the Ring he was the first person to stand up and say “I’ll take it.”  Bilbo was ready to accept responsibility for his part in this story and bring an end to it.  Without a doubt Bilbo is our favorite Hobbit in Middle-earth, yes Frodo and Sam are great, but for us Bilbo sets the tone for an adventurous Hobbit and we love seeing how his story begins in The Hobbit. 

To bring this long winded discussion to an end, The Hobbit is a great book, very different from The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, or any other story in Middle-earth that Tolkien had written, and for us, that makes this book extremely special.  It has adventure, suspense, fun riddles, comical moments, Elves, Wizards, Dwarves, and a great Hobbit hero.  Now that we’ve finished this book we have a strong urge to start it back over again, just to feel those familiar emotions.  However, other books are begging to be read, so we must say goodbye to The Hobbit, for now.

Thank you so much for your time, let us know what book your reading right now, what recommendations you have for us?  Have you read The Hobbit before?  What did you think?  Let us know and let’s continue the discussion.

Remember, renewed shall be blade that was broken.

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

October 5th

Gandalf and the Hobbits leave Rivendell.

We’re moving forward in the timeline with today’s event.  Previously the past couple of days we’ve been discussing events as they’ve happened in The Fellowship of the Ring.  Today’s event takes place near the end of The Return of the King.  Since September 21st, the Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Gandalf has been staying in Rivendell spending time with the Elves and Bilbo. 

However, as much as they enjoyed spending time in Rivendell, these Hobbits knew they needed to get back home to the Shire.  So, today they continue their journey, at a leisurely pace though. 

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

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

October 3rd

He is attacked at night on Weathertop.

He, meaning Gandalf, went to Weathertop because, in the Wild, between traveling from the Shire to Rivendell Weathertop is a great central point where you can survey they land around you and set out to continue your journey.  It also helps that Gandalf and Aragorn had discussed meeting at Weathertop should things not go according to plan. 

What doesn’t help is that the Black Riders were surrounding all areas around Bree.  When Gandalf showed up around Weathertop, he lit a fire and naturally they were drawn to his light.  Luckily, Gandalf was aware of the Black Riders’ presence and he was able to get away from the ambush.

Still, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Strider, and Bill the Pony are traveling through the Wild, doing everything they can to pass undetected by the Black Riders.  Even if they have to pass through the Midgewater Marshes.

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

– The Wandering One

On This Day in Middle-earth

October 1st

Gandalf leaves Bree.

Happy October everyone, not much to discuss about today’s events in Middle-earth.

Gandalf, like the Black Riders, is still searching for Frodo, but since Strider has taken the Hobbits into the Wild it’s proving hard for anyone to find them.  That’s obviously a good thing when you’re being tracked by enemies, but it does make it hard for your allies to find you.  Regardless, Gandalf has done a great job catching up, he just missed the Frodo leaving Bree by around 8-12 hours last night and he left early today.  He also made sure he had a few choice words for the Prancing Pony’s innkeeper, Butterbur.

Since Gandalf knows Frodo is with Strider a sense of comfort must have come over him.  Now Gandalf can go to a location that he and Strider had spoken about before and hopefully they’ll reunite soon.

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

– The Wandering One

Character of the Week

Hunk, Paladin of the Yellow Lion

This kind, brave young spaceknight won over the hearts of many as he saved the galaxy from the Galra.

Hunk started out as a shy timid space cadet, but when he became a Paladin of Voltron his strength and confidence grew.  Hunk may just seem like the comic relief of the group, along with Lance, but he’s so much more.  He is the heart of Voltron, Hunk is always there to remind his team what the right thing to do is, not what’s best for themselves, but what is honorable and decent.  Hunk has a strong bond with the Yellow Lion, which is the tank of the group.  Together, they can deal massive damage to the opposing enemy and take on massive damage at the same time.  Though Hunk is more of a lover than a fighter he is able to stand up for himself, his family, and his friends when it counts.

We should all strive to be more like Hunk, that is why we’re honoring this hero with the Character of the Week title.  If you haven’t had the chance to watch Voltron:  Legendary Defender we’d highly recommend it.

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

– The Wandering One

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 Original 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