Alternate history of Middle Earth

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Arshad Ali
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Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by Arshad Ali » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:49 am

I’d like to suggest a brief visit to an alternate Middle-earth: one in which Frodo Baggins, facing the final crisis of the Third Age and the need to leave behind everything he knew and loved in order to take the Ring to Mount Doom, crumpled instead, with a cry of “I can’t, Gandalf, I just can’t.” Perhaps you’ll join me in a quiet corner of The Green Dragon, the best inn in Bywater, take a mug of ale from the buxom hobbit barmaid, and talk about old Frodo, who lived until recently just up the road and across the bridge in Hobbiton.
http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/ ... itten.html

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:02 pm

Arshad Ali wrote:
I’d like to suggest a brief visit to an alternate Middle-earth: one in which Frodo Baggins, facing the final crisis of the Third Age and the need to leave behind everything he knew and loved in order to take the Ring to Mount Doom, crumpled instead, with a cry of “I can’t, Gandalf, I just can’t.” Perhaps you’ll join me in a quiet corner of The Green Dragon, the best inn in Bywater, take a mug of ale from the buxom hobbit barmaid, and talk about old Frodo, who lived until recently just up the road and across the bridge in Hobbiton.
http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/ ... itten.html
Thanks for that, Arshad (the rest of that blog is quite something as well). I don't think you are in the UK, but if there are any Tolkien fans around, there was a bit on Tolkien in the final programme of Ian Hislop's 'Olden Days' series:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... ined_Land/

Arshad Ali
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Re: Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by Arshad Ali » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:38 pm

I'm a long-standing fan of Tolkien -- read LOTR, Hobbit and Silmarillion decades ago and over and over again. An alternative viewpoint was given by Yeskov's The Last Ringbearer, and a review can be found here:

http://www.salon.com/2011/02/15/last_ringbearer/
In Yeskov’s retelling, the wizard Gandalf is a war-monger intent on crushing the scientific and technological initiative of Mordor and its southern allies because science “destroys the harmony of the world and dries up the souls of men!” He’s in cahoots with the elves, who aim to become “masters of the world,” and turn Middle-earth into a “bad copy” of their magical homeland across the sea. Barad-dur, also known as the Dark Tower and Sauron’s citadel, is, by contrast, described as “that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle-earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic.”
A propos the Archdruid's blog, I'm a long term follower and am presently reading his latest book, Decline and Fall. This is definitely the autumn of the US empire.

David Robertson
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Re: Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by David Robertson » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:00 pm

Arshad Ali wrote:read LOTR, Hobbit and Silmarillion decades ago and over and over again
Once is enough with this lot. Surely? :roll:

Phil Neatherway
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Re: Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by Phil Neatherway » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:28 pm

Once is too often for the Silmarillion, if you ask me.

Arshad Ali
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Re: Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by Arshad Ali » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:39 pm

Phil Neatherway wrote:Once is too often for the Silmarillion, if you ask me.
It provides context for the LOTR. I've heard a number of people complain about how boring it was but I personally never saw it that way.

Bill Porter
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Re: Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by Bill Porter » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:40 pm

I’d like to suggest a brief visit to an alternate Middle-earth: one in which Prince Ralph of Upmeads fails to defy Gandolf, the somewhat evil tyrant of Utterbol, leaving that task to his insanely brave future wife, who later persuades Ralph to complete his great quest ie drinking a cup of water from a hard to reach well.

The tale is sadly lacking in evil people the hero can enjoy killing and there isn't even one evil empire.

As he heads home he hears that Upmeads is beset by bandits and gathers an army to fight them.

As his army is only outnumbered two to one, the outcome is never really in doubt.

With this tale's lack of absolute good and evil it's easy to see why Tolkien's clearly defined goodies and baddies are much more popular.

This 'alternate Middle-earth' is taken from The Well at the World's End: A Tale by William Morris, written 50 years before LOTR.

Arshad Ali
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Re: Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by Arshad Ali » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:52 pm

Bill Porter wrote:With this tale's lack of absolute good and evil it's easy to see why Tolkien's clearly defined goodies and baddies are much more popular.
GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire is perhaps at least as popular as Tolkien and also lacks absolutes. I'm re-reading that as well (on Vol 4 right now) and that is so complex one misses or forgets some things after only one reading.

David Robertson
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Re: Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by David Robertson » Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:12 pm

Bill Porter wrote:Tolkien's clearly defined goodies and baddies are much more popular
If goodies and baddies are what you want, they don't come gooder or badder than in Milton's Paradise Lost. It's not for wimps, mind. It's seriously scary. Satan is one big rascal. And God's not to be messed with either. There's some sex in Book II, and even more in Book IX. Don't recall anyone hitting on Bilbo Baggins.

Arshad Ali
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Re: Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by Arshad Ali » Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:32 pm

David Robertson wrote:
Bill Porter wrote:Tolkien's clearly defined goodies and baddies are much more popular
If goodies and baddies are what you want, they don't come gooder or badder than in Milton's Paradise Lost. It's not for wimps, mind. It's seriously scary. Satan is one big rascal. And God's not to be messed with either. There's some sex in Book II, and even more in Book IX. Don't recall anyone hitting on Bilbo Baggins.
Not sure. I suspect Milton had some sneaking sympathy for Lucifer and that reveals itself in some ambivalence. No such ambivalence in LOTR towards the various baddies (Sauron, Saruman, Shelob, the various named orc characters).

Postscript: The exception would be Smeagol/Gollum.

David Robertson
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Re: Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by David Robertson » Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:50 pm

Arshad Ali wrote:I suspect Milton had some sneaking sympathy for Lucifer
My view too. Satan had cause to be peeved. God's nepotistic succession management strategy was straight out of the Rupert Murdoch playbook.

MartinCarpenter
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Re: Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by MartinCarpenter » Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:45 am

A song of ice and fire is well written yes, but also incredibly unlikely to actually be finished.

Good commercially I suppose but (along with the wheel of time stuff and some others) it really needs a much more fierce editor to make him cut his plans back, keep the sideplots even remotely under control etc. Very few stories genuinely need 10+ LoTR sized books to tell them!

Have to admit to not finding the well at worlds end hugely readable. Tolkien at least manages that.

Phil Neatherway
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Re: Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by Phil Neatherway » Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:06 am

Going back to William Morris, I was wondering if Utterbol was some sort of an abbreviation?

Arshad Ali
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Re: Alternate history of Middle Earth

Post by Arshad Ali » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:00 pm

MartinCarpenter wrote:A song of ice and fire is well written yes, but also incredibly unlikely to actually be finished.
That's my opinion as well. I don't think even three more thousand-page volumes will do the trick -- the character arcs of Arya and Bran are just getting off the ground. I think at least five more volumes are needed. Chances are that Martin will bite the dust before it's finished.

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