So. Amazon has rights to The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.

[UPADTE: Patreon!]

That is indeed news. I suspect that many will not see this as good news, but I guess we’ll have to wait until the first episodes become available for review. Reportedly, the nudity that had been reported earlier will not be titillating, but instead be “very dark thematic material suggestive of concentration camp-type visuals of victims, a harrowing portrayal of the corruption of the Elves by dark powers to ultimately become Orcs.” So if you were dreading hot nekkid Noldor-on-Sindar action, that at least might not be actually happening.

Or it might be nothing but elf-orgies* all season. It’s kind of up to Amazon at this point.

Continue reading So. Amazon has rights to The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.

‘New’ book by ‘J.R.R.’ Tolkien coming out.

Air quotes deliberate: “If you’re a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth novels, you’ll be excited to hear that there’s a new unpublished book that will be released soon called The Fall of Gondolin. The book was edited and revised by Tolkien’s son Christopher.”  …or, more accurately: “Tolkien never actually wrote The Tale of Eärendel, but The Fall of Gondolin will contain Christopher’s best sketch of it based on his father’s outlines.”

OK, look.

Continue reading ‘New’ book by ‘J.R.R.’ Tolkien coming out.

Tweet of the Day, TIME TRAVELERS MUST READ THIS edition.

You want to calibrate exactly when you go to eavesdrop on this drunken conversation between Arthur C Clarke, CS Lewis, and JRR Tolkien. You don’t want to get there too early. Two drinks is too soon; five drinks is too many. You want to arrive somewhere between three and four ales apiece: that’s probably the peak point for Awesome Drunken Conversations.

…What? Recording awesome stuff on the sly is the only really ethical use of time travel that I can think of. I mean, you don’t want to actually change anything, right? …RIGHT?

This teacher will end up regretting that he messed with JRR Tolkien and TERRY PRATCHETT.

If this Graeme Whiting had just stuck with being generally dismissive of Game of Thrones, he’d have been fine. I mean: the statement “I’m not going to let my nine year old watch GoT” is an absolutely uncontroversial opinion. Virtually nobody reading this is going to go Oh, sure, it’d be a fun bonding experience for the family. And I figure that not letting my kids read the GoT books until puberty teaches them how to successfully hide things from me is likewise a perfectly valid parenting choice.  So this Whiting guy was actually not in a bad rhetorical place, if he had just been smart enough to realize it. Continue reading This teacher will end up regretting that he messed with JRR Tolkien and TERRY PRATCHETT.

Book of the Week: “Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary.”

OK, I admit it: I’m saving JRR Tolkien’s Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary for Pennsic.  Gotta have something to read while I’m waiting for the rain to stop, the dancing to start, or the beer to get cold. But my wife read it, and she liked it, and shoot, it’s JRR Tolkien.  It’s not like I’m taking some kind of hideous risk here.

And so, adieu to A Matter for Men, which was apparently a touch more, ah, controversial a choice than I had hitherto imagined. Continue reading Book of the Week: “Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary.”

On the Matter of the perverted Messianic romanticism of Islamic State.

Via @cayankee comes this article with a provocative (to me) title, but that’s mostly because the article actually understated the influence of the Arthur legend on Tolkien.

But the story of the arrival and lingering global charisma of ISIS features something that sets it apart: the idea of the Caliphate. Last June, the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself caliph. The grandiosity of the claim was likely lost even on many educated non-Muslim observers. A position that has been gone from Islam in anything but name for 1,000 years, the caliph has to meet certain requirements: he must control territory, must enforce sharia law within it, and he must descend from the Quraysh tribe, the tribe of the Prophet Muhammad (the Ottoman emperors claimed the title into the 20th century, but their claim is widely rejected because they did not descend from the Quraysh). Pledging allegiance to a valid caliph, when one is available, is an obligation that ISIS supporters view as binding on all Muslims. And while Baghdadi’s claim has been divisive even in the world of violent jihadism, groups in Nigeria and Libya have apparently made this vow of allegiance.


Far from being a parochially Islamic impulse or a nerd’s fantasy – something you can get involved in from ‘your mama’s basement’, as one counter-terrorism expert has said – the myth of the Caliphate echoes dreams of transcendent legitimacy that are deeply embedded in European culture and literature. To find a story of a sovereign authority long lapsed in kingship but still entitled to the allegiance of all the just, and fated to reappear at an auspicious moment, we need look no further than The Lord of the Rings (1954-55).

Continue reading On the Matter of the perverted Messianic romanticism of Islamic State.