045 – Just Can’t Get Enough

The first of two episodes on the Akallabêth, the story of NúmenorAt the outset of the Second Age, the Valar reward the Edain with wisdom, long life and their own private island in the Great Sea. The Númenóreans become legendary seafarers, sailing east to the edge of Arda and bringing knowledge back to Middle-earth. But the Valar forbid them to sail west in search of the Undying Lands, and soon the Númenóreans begin to yearn for the one thing they cannot have: immortality. We look into Tolkien’s essays and letters to see what happens to mortals who do come to Aman, and dabble in genealogy with questionable results.

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Silmarillion (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 259-270, Akallabêth

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) Sauron Defeated (The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 9) (HarperCollins, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) Morgoth’s Ring (The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 10) (HarperCollins, paperback)

Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (Mariner Books, paperback)

 

Hope and Despair

By now, you’ve likely noticed that there are certain themes that Tolkien touches on frequently in the Legendarium that I’m quick to notice and talk about during the podcast — or even here in our Ponderings. Not surprisingly, then, this is another one of those moments, as I finally have a chance to write briefly on one of the most recognizable themes in Tolkien’s works: hope and despair, and the choice we have to embrace one or the other. We’ll even touch a little on the fulfillment of hope in the eucatastrophe. Admittedly, we we’ve been spending the last year or so discussing The Silmarillion in the podcast, and there are plenty of moments of hope and despair in this work. But today I want to focus on two characters from The Lord of the Rings — Denethor and Théoden. Continue reading

Elessar

In this Prancing Pony Pondering, I want to take a look at just one example of how deep and rich Tolkien’s backstories often were. As he pointed out in On Fairy-Stories, when an author can do this well,

[T]he story maker proves a successful ‘sub-creator’. He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is ‘true’: it accords with the laws of that world.

In Chapter 8 of Book Two of The Lord of the Rings, “Farewell to Lórien,” the Fellowship are finally (and reluctantly) getting ready to depart Lothlórien after their time of renewal and mourning — and they have just drunk the cup of parting with Galadriel and Celeborn. Galadriel then commences her generous gift-giving, beginning with a beautiful sheath that she gives to Aragorn for Andúril. Continue reading

006 – Tolkien Reading Day Special

Happy Tolkien Reading Day!  On March 25 every year – the date of the fall of Barad-dûr – Tolkien lovers worldwide celebrate by reading and promoting the Professor’s life and work. For this special, Alan and Shawn read and discuss favorite passages related to this year’s theme of Life, Death, and Immortality, and indulge in a little inter-fandom rivalry.

Listen to the episode here or on YouTube

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or our RSS Feed

Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag?

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Or email theprancingponypodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.  Don’t forget to replace the words in parentheses with the usual symbols!

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Two Towers: Being the Second Part of The Lord of the Rings (Mariner Books, paperback), pp. 495-513, “The King of the Golden Hall”

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of the Lord of the Rings (Mariner Books, paperback), pp. 812-820, “The Ride of the Rohirrim”; pp. 832-839, “The Pyre of Denethor”; pp. 1032-1038, Appendix A.v. – “The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen”