042 – Resistance is Futile

We return to Chapter 23 of The Silmarillion with our second episode on Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin. Tuor’s star rises in the realm of Turgon, and soon he finds himself wedded to Idril Celebrindal, becoming the second Man ever to marry one of the Firstborn. But Maeglin is bitter at his cousin’s rejection, and soon Morgoth seizes on his discontent to fulfill some long-laid plans of his own. We trek with you through the flames, the fights, and the frights of the fall of the last Elven stronghold in Beleriand, and hint at the hope to come. Plus, don’t miss Alan’s impression of a beloved Hollywood icon.

For an image of Glorfindel and the Balrog by John Howe, visit the artist’s home page here: http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/details.php?image_id=284

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Recommended Reading:

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

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

 

Pity and Fear: the Tragic Tale of Túrin

It’s been three weeks since Alan and I finished our trilogy of episodes on the story of Túrin Turambar in The Silmarillion, and no one is looking forward to Tuor showing up on the podcast more than I am. But before we say farewell to the son of Húrin, I still wish to explore the idea of Túrin as a tragic hero, as I promised to do at the end of our epic-length episode 039 – Exit the Warrior.

I have to say that Alan did such an excellent job with his last Prancing Pony Pondering examining Túrin’s free will and fate as defined in the philosophy of Boethius, that I think we have enough to close the book on Túrin’s case: his responsibility for his own misdeeds, and the verdict that Morgoth’s Curse — though real and powerful — does not overcome Túrin’s free will, has been well established by my co-host. But I’d like to add some additional insight to that discussion that satisfies my desire for a literary explanation of Túrin’s responsibility, in addition to the philosophical one; and I’d still like to investigate the question of just why Professor Tolkien saw fit to present such a tale of grief in the first place. Continue reading

040 – He’s Dead, Gem

In Chapter 22 of The Silmarillion, Húrin is released from Angband to finish his son’s work of destroying everything he touches, and his visit to Thingol starts a chain reaction leading to war between Doriath and the Dwarves of Nogrod. As Menegroth falls, the Silmaril comes through the hands of Beren and Lúthien to their son Dior, and is noticed by seven guys we haven’t heard from in a while. Plus, a look at Tolkien’s writings explaining the kinship of Celeborn and Nimloth tells us how to get to Sesame Street.

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Silmarillion (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 227-237, “Of the Ruin of Doriath”

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback)

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

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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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.

Listen to the episode here or on YouTube

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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)

 

037 – No Man’s Land: An Interview with Simon Tolkien

Alan and Shawn are thrilled to welcome Simon Tolkien, novelist and grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien, to The Prancing Pony Podcast! Simon’s new novel No Man’s Land tells the story of a young man’s journey from a class-divided coal mining town to the Battle of the Somme in World War I. We talk about the novel, its vivid depiction of the war, and the experiences of J.R.R. Tolkien that inspired it. Plus, childhood memories of young Simon and his grandfather certain to bring you unbridled geek joy.

No Man’s Land is available at Amazon.com.  For more information, visit Simon Tolkien online at https://www.facebook.com/SimonTolkienAuthor/.

Listen to the episode here or on YouTube

simon_tolkien

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, Simon. No Man’s Land: A Novel (Nan A. Talese, hardcover)