The ‘You shall not pass’ line of Gandalf should be etched on marble. Well, at least that scene, since that ‘film show’ night back in high school, is marked on my mind from the Fellowship of The Rings. Gray robed and bearded wizard, legs apart in a determined stance, faint bluish aura of risen magic whining softly and forming a domed defense in the face of an adversary made up entirely of gloom, with hell-fire red and yellow to define its features.
For many weeks after the ‘film show,’ I would chant that phrase at any given opportunity…well, mostly when we were queued up in front of the dining hall.
At other times, a carelessly laying about mosquito net pole would be my staff of power…for as long as I could hold on to it. Those grubby-handed seniors were so jealous of my power tool. I’d dream dreams of wielding a staff spitting powerful magics to crush waves of evil seniors, commanding plane-sized eagles, and just doing things wizards did. Imagine my surprise to hear it was the movie adaptation of a trilogy. The book evangelist didn’t need to proselytize long. Anyone who had thought up such a powerful stance must be worth knowing, and he was.
Although I wouldn’t read the books for another couple of years, I was already stricken by a god I hadn’t even seen. And I would grow disgusted by the heretical misrepresentation of the Book.
Having read a lot of myths spanning quite a number of cultures, as well as many storybooks by fellow deities – Enid Blyton and C. S. Lewis (who I learned was his friend too), I was pretty confident in my knowledge of all the races in any fantasy world setting. Mostly good, many tricky and very few outrightly evil – dwarves, elves, trolls, gnomes, giants, elves, pixies, demons, genies, dragons. Tolkien, for it is he whom we speak of, created new races – orcs and Uruk-hai, Hobbits and Ents.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in 1892 and has refused to die.
His works have become classics that newer authors and RPG developers continually reference, perhaps because of his diligent detailing. By the heavens, he made ‘painstaking‘ all pains for me in The Silmarillion. I have a low attention span, yet I learned the hard way that I would need to go back if I skipped any line because things may very well become tangled up.
I don’t know the things that may have been running through his head, but creating names for his genealogies is nothing short of mind-blowing…or mind-numbing. Last time I saw such nomenclature was in Matthew of the Good Book
He is described as a Philologist, which may have been instrumental in developing an authentic and elaborate language used in his books for his races. It is nothing short of impressive the poems and songs that were sung and translated.
His books, in my opinion, talk about the strengths that can be found in the unlikeliest of places, the avalanche-esque influence of the small things, the appeal of corruption, the nigh unbearable weight of responsibility and honor, the power in friendships, the sacrifice in love, the snottiness of elves, the pigheadedness of dwarves, and how always very close we were to a certain world destruction.
So rich and striking is the world of adventure he created that it is hard not to compare recent literary works with his. Perhaps he did create the One Book to rule them all.