049 – The First Age Strikes Back: The Silmarillion Retrospective

A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, Alan and Shawn started discussing The Silmarillion. Now, witness the power of this fully armed and operational retrospective episode! First, we open Barliman’s Bag and stay on target to answer as many questions about the First and Second Ages as we can. Then we search our feelings for our favorite recurring themes in The Silmarillion and discuss Morgoth’s playbook for evil, the greatness of Finrod, the enduring importance of hope in Tolkien’s works, and more. And we make use of our Star Wars referencing skills for the first time in a long time… a long time.

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The Silmarillion (Mariner Books, 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)

041 – Make It So

In the first of two episodes on Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin, we go beyond The Silmarillion into Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales to tell the story the way it was meant to be told. The son of Huor and Rían survives capture, thraldom, and life as an outlaw to follow the footstep of doom, and soon finds himself face-to-face with Ulmo, the Lord of Waters. Tuor is offered a quest to find Gondolin and bring a message of warning from Ulmo, in fulfillment of a plan laid centuries ago. Also, answers to a listener question about Elven sleeping habits reveal gaps in both Shawn’s research… and his knowledge of Star Trek.

Below is an image of the painting Taur-na-Fuin by J.R.R. Tolkien, depicting Beleg’s finding of Gwindor:taur-na-fuin

Gwindor can be seen lying prone near the roots of the large tree at center, with a red hat and a Fëanorian lamp on the ground beside him: taur-na-fuin_zoom

Artwork above is copyright of The Tolkien Estate Limited or The Tolkien Trust.

For an image of Tuor, Gelmir, and Arminas by Ted Nasmith depicting Gelmir’s Fëanorian lamp, visit the artist’s home page here: http://www.tednasmith.com/tolkien/tuor-gelmir-and-arminas/

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 17-56, “Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin”

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Silmarillion (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 238-239, “Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin”

 

Túrin: “Simple Twist of Fate”, or “Freewill”

Yes, I referenced both Bob Dylan and Rush in the title of this essay. Fair warning: that may very well be the essay’s high point. After all, philosophers have been debating—without a certain answer—the nature of free will for centuries, and I’m unlikely to solve it here. (Spoiler alert: I don’t really try.) But it’s such a fascinating subject in the context of Professor Tolkien’s legendarium—and, especially, in the life of Túrin Turambar—that I cannot help but offer my thoughts on the matter.1

If you’ve been listening to the podcasts, you know that Shawn and I have recently released our Túrin Turambar trilogy of episodes. In the course of preparing for those recordings, I wanted to explore the way that Tolkien addressed the apparent paradox between the way he presents ‘fate’ and the exercise of free will — both among Men in general, and in Túrin in particular. Continue reading

039 – Exit the Warrior

We conclude our trilogy of episodes on Chapter 21 of The Silmarillion, “Of Túrin Turambar.” After Glaurung sacks Nargothrond, Morwen pulls a Thingol and ignores Melian’s advice. She leaves Doriath, Nienor secretly follows, and the dragon ensnares another child of Húrin. We witness a fateful reunion of brother and sister, and the final showdown between hero and dragon. We close the sad tale with a discussion of fate, free will, pity and mean, mean pride in a marathon podcast that challenges popular opinions about Tolkien’s tragic hero… and the stamina of your hosts.

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Silmarillion (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 209-217, “Of Túrin Turambar”

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The Children of Húrin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, paperback)

Flieger, Verlyn. Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World (Kent State University Press, paperback)

038 – I Will Choose Free Will

We continue our trilogy of episodes on Chapter 21 of The Silmarillion and Tolkien’s tragic hero Túrin Turambar. Túrin comes to Nargothrond with Gwindor, then quickly surpasses his friend in the favor of the king and the love of the king’s daughter. Túrin’s military advice brings early victory, but his deeds soon draw the attention of Morgoth, who responds with a massive army led by the dragon Glaurung. We begin examining Túrin’s choices, tally up his many name changes, and earn the wrath of Hugo Weaving fans everywhere.

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Email theprancingponypodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Silmarillion (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 209-217, “Of Túrin Turambar”

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The Children of Húrin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, paperback)

 

036 – Fly By Night, Away From Here

Alan and Shawn begin yet another trilogy of episodes — this time on The Silmarillion Chapter 21, “Of Túrin Turambar.” The son of Húrin of Dor-lómin is fostered by the King of Doriath, but an awkward dinner party drives him to a life among outlaws. Fleeing from his own fate, he manages to bring disaster wherever he goes, and he’s headed to Nargothrond next. We give an overview of the history of the story Tolkien called the “germ” of his mythology and — surprise! — we quote Monty Python.

Listen to the episode here or on YouTube

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Email theprancingponypodcast (at) gmail (dot) com.

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Silmarillion (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 198-209, “Of Túrin Turambar”

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The Lays of Beleriand (The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 3) (Del Rey, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The Children of Húrin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Verlyn Flieger, ed.) The Story of Kullervo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hardcover)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (translator) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo (HarperCollins, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays (HarperCollins, paperback)

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