pegkerr: (Default)
I've been reading a lot for escape lately, but reading has been difficult. I've had bad luck with a crappy succession of mindless escape fiction I've been taking out of the library, so I went out on the internet looking for fanfiction.

I was in the mood for some Éomer/Lothíriel, which is generally my preferred pairing in the LOTR universe. I like Éomer as a character, because he is quite well-rounded and has an extremely interesting background. He's heroic, but he's human, too. He shows the full gamut of human emotion. Unlike the more saintly Aragorn, Éomer has a temper which has at times altered the course of his character arc.

We know, from Tolkien's afterward, that he married Princess Lothíriel of Dol Amoth, and we know at least a little about her family, but Tolkien (to the best of my knowlege) never brough Lothíriel onstage. This is catnip for fanfiction writers: a pairing with one incredibly interesting, appealing character (Éomer) and another who is more or less a blank slate, so they can build a very wide range of stories. But Lothíriel's situation is interesting, as little we know about her, too: she is coming to a new culture, learning an entirely different language, and it's a great device for the reader: as Lothíriel learns about Rohan, the readers learn about it, too. And the culture of the Riddermark is extremely interesting, not just standard medieval fantasy.

The great risk, of course, is turning Lothíriel into a Mary-Sue character. I haven't run much into that, however, because the Éomer/Lothíriel pairing is one of the rarer ones due to the fact that the courtship and wedding and indeed the entire relationship happens after the book ends, off-stage, and so the more clumsy beginning fanfiction writers may not even KNOW about the pairing. On the contrary, the few who do write it are steeped in Tolkien's lore, and I think, better writers.

Two of the prominent writers I've enjoyed the most are Lady Bluejay and Lialathuveril, both of whom have returned to the pairing again and again, writing some impressive, novel-length works. They have played with a number of questions: was it an arranged marriage or a love match? Or was it an arranged marriage which turned into a love match? Or was it an unhappy marriage? What is Rohan like? What sort of role does Lothíriel have in her new home? What does she discover about the different role of women in her original home by the sea as opposed to her adopted home?

Deandra writes Éomer/Lothíriel, too, and she's quite prolific but her works are generally shorter, and not, I think, quite as richly complex.

However: as I said, I went out on the internet looking for more (since it's a rarer pairing it's hard to find new stuff) and I ran across a story and author I'd never encountered before. I must say I think it's one of the strongest fanfiction stories I've ever read. It's REALLY different than the standard Éomer/Lothíriel story, which often concentrates on how they met, how they fell in love, and how did Lothíriel adjust to Rohan.

I've seen some Éomer/Lothíriel stories that deal with Haradian characters (generally they're cast as villains), but I've NEVER seen a Éomer/Lothíriel story which takes place partly IN Harad. Éomer and Lothíriel spend almost the entire story apart, but they are learning about each other and their relationship is changing, even so. It examines big, big questions which seemed to me particularly timely, considering the goddawful news out of the Middle East: what is justice? How does a nation recover from war? What should you do when you encounter your enemy afterwards--if you win OR if you lose? What are the moral justifications for going to war? There was what (I thought) was a really surprising twist toward the end, and the ending itself was absolutely stunning.

I'd really love to get your reactions. The story is In His Face A Shining Light and it's by Carryon14.
pegkerr: (Default)
Delia turned me onto this one. It feels like the history of my immediate family for the past twenty years or so.




You can get the .mp3 for free here.
pegkerr: (Default)
I just upgraded one of my Apps on my iPod, and it added something intriguing which sent me out to the web where I found something even more intriguing.

The App is Lift (I got it free, I think), which encourages you to develop and track good habits. One of the habits they are encouraging is meditation. This newest upgrade included a meditation produced by The Honest Guys, who apparently have a wildly popular channel on YouTube. It is a Middle Earth meditation, called "Shelter in the Shire."



(Watching it directly on YouTube, I gather, allows you to avoid the semi-annoying icon at the upper right. Or, as I said, you can have this particular meditation by downloading the app Lift.)

It lasts sixteen minutes, about perfect for a midmorning break at work, and I found it extremely relaxing. They seem to only have the one meditation on the Lift App, but if you go here, you can see their other Middle Earth meditations. They have seven in all posted.
pegkerr: (Telperion and Laurelin)
Wow.

Bag End bonsai

Read about how this Bag End bonsai was created (and see more pictures) here.
pegkerr: (Deal with it and keep walking)
It's Hobbit Day tomorrow. Barnes & Noble's Free on Fridays is offering a book that might be of interest for Tolkien fans:
Today we’re also highlighting a special free offer for Tolkien fans. As many of you know, tomorrow is Hobbit Day—Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday in the classic book series. As you gear up for the December release of The Hobbit movie, dig into the realm of Middle-earth with this free Reader and Educator Guide to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. At over 200 pages, and offering a deeper look at the events and lives of the characters from these epic tales, this is a must-have resource for every Tolkien fan.
pegkerr: (Default)
One thing I have REALLY been enjoying about my Nook is that I've learned how to download fanfics to a Word file, convert them to .epub files (using this very handy dandy free site) and put them on my Nook. I love reading long works, and now I'm not tied to my computer to read them anymore, nor do I have to print them off.

I switch between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings for the most part. This week I'm all about Lord of the Rings, specifically Éomer (why Éomer? I have no idea) and I've been discovering new fics by checking out the Middle Earth Fanfiction Awards finalists (MEFA). Here are some I've added lately:

Untold Tales of the Mark: The Banishment of Éomer by Katzilla. Dark and angsty. And LONG, around 340,000 words.

Otherwise, the fanfic authors I've particularly enjoyed doing Éomer stories are Lady Bluejay and Lialathuveril. Here a couple ones that are great fun:

The Abduction of Éomer, King of Rohan by Lialathuveril (a fun, somewhat screwball comedy. Think "'It Happened One Night' While Rowing Down the Anduin")

On the Wings of the Storm by Lialathuveril. An interesting premise: what if the year before the Ring War, Princess Lothiriel of Dol Amroth is sent to Rohan by her father to seek shelter from the war brewing in Mordor (and runs afoul of Wormtongue).

Of Falcons and Mûmakil by Lialathuveril

Bound By Duty by Lady Bluejay

I Can Only Manage One by Lady Bluejay.

Also good: The Sell-Sword and the Prince, by Lady Bluejay, about Lothiriel's father, Imrahil of Dol Amroth, and his encounter when he was young with Aragorn (known to him as Thorongil). The story starts as a high adventure with a daring raid on Umbar pirates and ends as a light-hearted romance between Imrahil and his future wife.
pegkerr: (Tree of Gondor II)
Poor Mark has learned the awful fate of Boromir, son of Denethor and is totally broken up over it:
How can you do this to Boromir??!??! I THOUGHT SAM AND FRODO ESCAPED ON A BOAT??? WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ALL OF MY EMOTIONS, YOU HEARTLESS TELLER OF LIES? YOU’RE LYING TO ME, RIGHT? THIS IS THE ONLY CANON THAT I CAN ACCEPT.
‘You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!’

Boromir smiled.

‘Which way did they go? Was Frodo there?’ said Aragorn.

But Boromir did not speak again.
I just can’t. I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS HAPPENS ON LIKE THE SECOND GODDAMN PAGE. Oh, was breaking up the Fellowship not enough for all of us? Nope. Tolkien had to tease us with a chapter title that I thought referred to Boromir breaking off from the group to go be awesome in Minas Tirith ['The Departure of Boromir']. BUT NO. TOLKIEN KILLS HIM OFF.

fuck. FUCK!!!!!! I AM SERIOUSLY SO UPSET! I know y’all know this by now, but I love morally ambiguous or questionable characters like white people love The Help and THIS IS HURTING ME! I WANT MORE BOROMIR. Also, I am realizing that I am essentially yelling into an empty room because not a word of this is going to change or affect a single thing anywhere. Well, that just made me a whole lot sadder.
He knelt for a while, bent with weeping, still clasping Boromir’s hand.
Done. I’m done. Just bury me right here on the Internet with my laptop and my LEGO sets and just be done with it. Don’t even have a funeral. Just stack some rocks and make my headstone say, “Dear J.R.R. Tolkien, You killed me and I will haunt you in the afterlife even if it’s not possible, you deserve everything awful (only you don’t because oh my god i love you so much but it’s that “hateful” kind of love), and may you be seated on a bed of thumbtacks or something moderately irritating.” Yes, that.
This really made me laugh: someone else in the comments pointed to a Tumblr, saying: "From the inimitable GingerHaze on Tumblr, specifically here: 'After Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, I want to write a medieval fantasy for Sean Bean where he has a nice day and things go well.'" With art:



pegkerr: (All that I have done today has gone amis)
Mark has reached the end of The Fellowship of the Ring and thinks that all would not have ended in disaster if the Fellowship had the benefit of the advice from a sassy gay friend.

Poor Mark. He still has no idea yet that Boromir is toast.

Edited to add: Here are his predictions for The Two Towers
pegkerr: (Tree of Gondor II)
Mark Oshira of Mark Reads has finished The Hobbit (sse his review, chapter by chapter, here) and he is beginning to read The Lord of the Rings:
In the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo Baggins arranges the most spectacular party imaginable in order to pass his wealth on to his nephew and heir, Frodo Baggins. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.

Oh, I am truly, truly excited to finally start this project. I had a lot of fun with The Hobbit, so I have less of an expectation to dislike this book. Instead, I’m actually super excited to get a chance to learn why so many millions of people (and all my close personal friends, who are flabbergasted I’ve avoided this for so long) are in love with J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings. The only thing I’ve allowed people to spoil me on is the opinion that this book is better-written and darker than The Hobbit, and I’m perfectly okay knowing this. You know why? Because this is what I’ve managed to retain from pop culture regarding The Lord of the Rings.

WHAT I KNOW ABOUT LORD OF THE RINGS

■You can’t walk into Mordor.
■There are twins?
■One of them likes potatoes a lot? I honestly am so stumped as to why this is a thing at all and what the fuck have you done fandom.
■Gandalf is in it
■There’s a hobbit named Frodo, and Elijah Wood plays him.
■I’ve heard that John Noble, who plays the brilliant Walter Bishop on Fringe, is in one or some of the movies! I don’t know who he plays.
■There’s a character named Legolas and Orlando Bloom plays him and his name was always distracting because I’m a huge LEGO fan and I’m like IS HE MADE OF LEGOS. He’s not and that upsets me.
■You know, I spent time intellectualizing LEGOS a couple weeks ago, especially since I’ve had a resurgence in my obsession (AKA I can actually afford like one set a month), and I realized that because my brain is spatially-challenged, LEGOs allow me to feel like I can build and construct things with my hands. I’ve always had a problem with arranging things in physical space, and I think that’s where my clumsiness comes from. I always feel so accomplished when I complete a model.
■WELL OKAY THAT WAS FUN. Um…Gollum is in this? I think?
■There’s a Shire.
■um
■well
■There’s a ring? And someone is lord of it? Is it the same ring that Bilbo took from Gollum?
■??????
■?????????
■??????????????
This is gonna be fun! Follow along here.
pegkerr: (Peg Kerr Elvish)




Get yours at the Facebook application here.
pegkerr: (Loving books)
Mark Oshiro of "Mark Reads" (of Mark Reads Twilight and Mark Reads Harry Potter fame) is now tackling J.R.R. Tolkien. He is on chapter 5 of the Hobbit and has just met Gollum.

It's hilarious.

You can also follow Mark on Twitter at @MarkDoesStuff.
pegkerr: (All we have to decide is what to do with)
All week, I've been troubled by the news that in attempting to kill Gaddafi, Americans instead killed his son and three of his grandchildren. There seemed to be very little discussion, much less abhorrence, of this fact in the news, just a general impression of, oh yeah, bad guy, let's kill him. If innocents get in the way, hey, that's war.

I kept thinking about the fact that Obama's been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a fact that seems more embarrassing and awful the longer various conflicts drag on.

And then there was last night's news regarding Osama Bin Laden.

A great ethical trap which we have not managed to avoid is the danger of becoming what we oppose. I keep thinking of the exchange in The Lord of the Rings between Gandalf and Frodo:
Frodo: It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him [Gollum] when he had the chance.
Gandalf: Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.
I don't think that America has much pity any more. Osama Bin Laden didn't, of course. He reveled in the deaths of many. But in answering the threat that he presented and in responding to the actions he set in motion, we have followed the path and the role he deliberately manipulated us into assuming: we have done much to present ourselves to the world as pitiless, cruel and oppressive, and consequently, we are loathed through much of the world. We have rivers of innocent blood on our hands, and the blood of the guilty, even those as guilty as Osama Bin Laden does not wash it away.

I am not excusing or minimizing what he did, heaven knows. At the free speech section in the May Day parade yesterday a contingent was marching with signs proclaiming that 9/11 was an inside job of the U.S. government, and I was so angry at such a pack of lies that I left the parade route and didn't watch any further. But I will not gloat or rejoice in Osama Bid Laden's death. I would rather see us turn our efforts to re-finding the country's soul, which we seem to have lost along the way.
pegkerr: (candle)
Here's a fanfic in the Lord of the Rings universe, which is one of the best fictional depictions of depression and what it's like that I've ever seen. Another Way of Leaving. About this story, the author, Jodancingtree, writes:
What if Frodo had not been given the option of going with the Elves? His wounds are not healing, and the desire for the Ring torments him. Is death his only escape? Caution: suicidal depression.
I was so impressed by it that I wrote to her a number of years ago, and she replied, mentioning, if I remember correctly, that she had a relative who committed suicide. She gets it. A wonderful character in the story is Radagast the Brown, a minor character in Tolkien's work, the wizard with dominion over animals and birds. The story isn't long, only a little over 10,000 words or so.

She went on to write a much longer work which recounts the tale of how Frodo goes with Radagast back to Mordor and in doing so, was healed from his despair: Following the other wizard: Journey into Healing. Moving and insightful. (Also notable in that Frodo actually makes friends with orcs, which is something I've not seen before. It's not played for laughs, and she absolutely makes it work. She wrote two more sequels after this, following the story of one of those orcs: The Queen's Orc and The Grey at the End of the World.)

Anyway, I highly recommend the first two stories for anyone who has ever had to deal with mental illness (or loved someone with it), especially depression. If you read them, drop me a comment to respond; I'd really like to hear from you.
pegkerr: (A light in dark places LOTR)
A newly translated Russian novel retells Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings from the perspective of the bad guys. From Laura Miller's column at Salon:
As bad lots go, you can't get much worse than the hordes of Mordor from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Led by an utterly evil disembodied entity who manifests himself as a gigantic, flaming, pitiless eye, and composed of loathsome orcs (or goblins), trolls and foreigners, Mordor's armies are ultimately defeated and wiped out by the virtuous and noble elves, dwarfs, ents and human beings -- aka the "free peoples" -- of Middle-earth. No one sheds a tear over Mordor's downfall, although the hobbit Sam Gamgee does spare a moment to wonder if a dead enemy soldier is truly evil or has simply been misguided or coerced into serving the dark lord Sauron.

Well, there's two sides to every story, or to quote a less banal maxim, history is written by the winners. That's the philosophy behind The Last Ringbearer, a novel set during and after the end of the War of the Ring (the climactic battle at the end of The Lord of the Rings) and told from the point of view of the losers. The novel was written by Kirill Yeskov, a Russian paleontologist, and published to acclaim in his homeland in 1999. Translations of the book have also appeared in other European nations, but fear of the vigilant and litigious Tolkien estate has heretofore prevented its publication in English.

That changed late last year when one Yisroel Markov posted his English translation of The Last Ringbearer as a free download. Less polished translations of brief passages from the book had been posted earlier on other sites, but Markov's is the "official" version, produced with the cooperation and approval of Yeskov himself. Although the new translation's status as a potential infringement of the Tolkien copyright remains ambiguous, it may be less vulnerable to legal action since no one is seeking to profit from it.

The novel still has some rough edges -- most notably, a confused switching back and forth between past and present tense in the early chapters -- and some readers may be put off by Yeskov's (classically Russian) habit of dropping info-dumps of military and political history into the narrative here and there. For the most part, though, "The Last Ringbearer" is a well-written, energetic adventure yarn that offers an intriguing gloss on what some critics have described as the overly simplistic morality of Tolkien's masterpiece.
Read the rest at the Salon link above.
pegkerr: (leaf on white)
I stepped away from my desk for a moment and when I came back, something caught my eye on the floor right below my chair.

I picked it up. It was a Lothlórien leaf, like the one in the icon. Specifically, it was one of my Lothlórien leaf earrings--without its hook. I would have been devastated if I had lost it.

The crazy thing is, I didn't even put that pair of earrings on this morning. I'm wearing an entirely different set of earrings; I haven't worn the Lothlórien leaf earrings in several weeks.

What the heck happened? The only think I can think of is that when I went to get this morning's pair of earrrings out of my jewelry box, perhaps the hook from the leaf earrings somehow snagged on my sweater or something? I've checked my clothing, but no hook. Since I opened my jewelry box, I've walked through the house, gotten into a car and driven to work and walked through my entire office building to get to my desk. Somehow, however that earring got attached to me and then fell, it fell in a place where I spotted it right away--when I didn't even know it was missing.

I mean, what are the odds?

(And I love it that I know Lord of the Rings so well that I can pull up a quote from memory that's the perfect title to this journal post.)
pegkerr: (Default)
Mark Brownlow, from Email Marketing, imagined the inbox's emails from some famous characters.

Elizabeth Bennet's:


Elizabeth Bennet's inbox



Lord Voldemort's:


Voldemort's In box




Sauron's:


Sauron's In box


pegkerr: (Tree of Gondor II)
From [livejournal.com profile] linwesingollo, who got it from elvish.org:

"...A Sindarin text which contains a Quenya poem being the continuation of Galadriel's Lament in The Lord of the Rings. It is intended to be an apocryphal letter from old Samwise Gamgee to King Aragorn of Minas Tirith. Sam tells about about the last moments of Master Frodo and Galadriel in Middle-earth. Galadriel's Quenya poem Altariello Nainië Mistalondessë ('Galadriel's Lament in Grey Haven') should be compared with Galadriel's Lament found in The Fellowship of the Ring."

There's also a link to the Tengwar transcription of the final version of the letter on the same page. Truly beautiful.

Sam's Letter.

A nice idea: The Apocryphal Letters of Samwise, isn't it?

What I did today to make the world a better place )
pegkerr: (Default)
I'm late to the party, but...

[livejournal.com profile] naomikritzer sent me a link to a story a few months back because she knows I'm interested in reading good fanfiction depictions of Neville Longbottom. I didn't get around to reading it until this weekend, but the story sucked me right in. It's a re-telling of Deathly Hallows from Neville's point of view, covering what happened at Hogwarts, with Neville running the D.A. An author's note at the conclusion of the story ended with this:
...This story is not dedicated to my readers, or to a group of fictional, if -- at least to me -- compelling teenagers [i.e., the D.A.]. It is dedicated to the real-life soldiers who gave their time and effort to help me with the psychology of war. Many of these young men and women are as young as eighteen themselves, and they are not fighting with wands and hexes on the grounds of an imaginary wizarding school. They fire real bullets and shed real blood on the very non-fictional battlefields of the Muggle world even as you read this, and their courage, their sacrifice is too often ignored because they do so out of our daily sight...Go ahead and drop me some feedback if you want, but I would also ask that the next time you spot a young man or woman in uniform, take a moment to shake their hand. Their truth is greater than fiction.
That's quite a particularly graceful note, I thought. I remembered that Rowling has said that the series, and particularly the last book, is about recovering from the scars of war. Perhaps this fanfiction writer worked at the Veterans Administration or something?

There was something about that last line that niggled at me, though, something half-remembered. Who was this author, anyway?

I took a look. The author's name was "thanfiction" (on Livejournal as [livejournal.com profile] thanfiction). I sat there for a second and then my eyes widened. Thanfiction? Wait a minute. I spent a couple minutes googling, following up on something I'd noticed fleetingly on my friends list sometime in the last month.

I told you I was late to the party. Well, it was a weird trick of timing, actually. Naomi had sent me the link months ago, before the knowledge hit the internet (she said she's a little embarrassed about doing so, in retrospect), and I didn't look at the author's name until I had finished reading the entire story. But yes, dear reader, I had unknowingly spent the last two days reading and enjoying Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness (the "DAYDverse") a work written by one of the craziest people I've ever encountered on the internet: the notorious Amy Player AKA Victoria Bitter AKA Mr. Frodo AKA Jordan Wood AKA Andrew Blake AKA thanfiction. The dots were connected that thanfiction was the person that [journalfen.net profile] fandom_wank calls "VB," I guess, about a month ago.

Read more )

So what did I really think about the story? And how did my opinion change, once I knew the authorship?

Armchair psychology is so much fun )

Tell me about an author whose works you enjoy, rather against your own inclination, because you find the person doing the writing to be absolutely reprehensible. How do you reconcile that for yourself?

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