Tag: J.R.R.Tolkien

Amazon ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Series Setting Revealed

Remember the montage at the beginning of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring? We were introduced to the world of Middle Earth, the forging of the rings, and the then embodied dark lord, Sauron kicking everyone’s ass before being de-fingered by Isildur. What followed were three hours, forty-three minutes and thirty seconds of malnourished Middle Earth magic. The release of the subsequent sequels fulfilled the cinematic dreams of all Tolkienites everywhere; no more subpar animations…



When Peter Jackson trolled us by ending The Return of the King multiple times within the same movie our exhaustion gave way to satisfaction. We never thought we would see Middle Earth of the screen again, or at least for quite some time…kidding, of course, those movies made way too much money. The Hobbit’s charming little tale was turned into a colossal trilogy and now Amazon is adapting the best-selling novels by J.R.R. Tolkien into an online series; a deal that includes the potential for any additional spinoff series hobbit enthusiasts may desire($). It is being produced in-house at Amazon Studios with the help of the Tolkien Estate, and New Line Cinema. JD Payne and Patrick McKay are developing the series—-a somewhat unknown writing duo that has previously been attached to an upcoming Star Trek film (which is probably not happening now due to negotiation issues with Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth). In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the pair expressed their excitement for the series.

“The rich world that J.R.R. Tolkien created is filled with majesty and heart, wisdom and complexity,” longtime friends and writing partners Payne and McKay said in a joint statement. “We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Amazon to bring it to life anew. We feel like Frodo, setting out from the Shire, with a great responsibility in our care — it is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime.”


The pending series twitter account has dropped hints to the show’s setting in the last month via maps and quotes from its source material:

The Twitter account’s focus on the Second Age and the opening minutes of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring lead the logic police to deduce the setting of Amazon’s upcoming series (or at least the first season). The Second Age/Timeline of Arda spans 3441 years and ends with the downfall of Sauron’s army. The people involved with the show’s development have spent hours talking to Tolkien’s son and are fully prepared to embrace the mythology of the world Sr. has created. One can only hope the show’s storyline will be fresh and rich with the kind of detail we expect from master worldbuilders—for which Tolkien set the standard. I for one hope the show includes more of the impulsive songs/singing/poems from the novel that has been overlooked in previous adaptations. For example, this lyrical nugget from The Fellowship of the Ring Book 1:


Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I go
To heal my heart and drown my woe.
Rain may fall and wind may blow,
And many miles be still to go,
But under a tall tree, I will lie,
And let the clouds go sailing by.


Production begins this year and we can hope to see Middle Earth once again by 2021. The future looks very bing-able.


Featured Image Via Ign.com

'Lord of the Rings' Middle Earth Illustration

There’s a New University Just For Sci-Fi & Fantasy Studies

Students no longer have to travel to a galaxy far, far away to learn all there is to know about science-fiction literature. Instead, they can do it from the comfort of their living room (more specifically, the comfort of their pajamas). Signum University isn’t just an online college: it’s a university entirely dedicated to the study of genre fiction from a literary, historical, and philosophical perspective. Talk about the ultimate fantasy—which, of course, is also a subject. So, congratulations, genre nerds! (Of course, I say that with the utmost affection.) You can now put “majored in Tolkien” in your Tinder bio and mean it.


Signum University

Signum University

Yes, Signum University’s logo looks like it should be adorning the cover of a Hunger Games novel. Signum University’s specializations include Tolkien Studies; Imaginative Literature; Classic, Medieval, and Renaissance Literature; and Germanic Philology (the study of Germanic languages). Each of these programs falls under the M.A. in Language & Literature, a program of graduate study. While the degree takes two to seven years to complete depending on the number of credits per semester—which can vary due to work or financial reasons-students are welcome to audit single classes for drastically reduced costs. You may not be able to major in Star Wars, but you can take an academic course on it.


'Star Wars' characters

Image Via Time Magazine

Other courses of note include Sherlock, Science, and Ratiocination; Literary Copernicus: The Cosmic Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft; The Potter Saga; and Tolkien’s World of Middle-earth. Though degree credits are more expensive, individual, twelve-week courses can cost as little as $95—for some, that’s a small price to pay for a world of information (or several, as the case may be). Cory Olsen, the university’s founder, said that the ideal students are working professionals who want to take the courses for “personal enrichment.” That enrichment, it seems, isn’t about getting rich—there probably aren’t a lot of entry-level jobs in Tolkien Studies. But you can study the Harry Potter franchise and make your coursework magical.


Signum University course catalogue

Image Via Signum University


Though early in its certification process, Signum University‘s New Hampshire approval is its first step to national official recognition, which would allow the institution to begin conferring master’s degrees nationwide. Let’s hope this degree program also moves out of this country—that would only make sense when it’s already out of this world!


Featured Image Via Financial Times

Nicholas Hoult as J.R.R. Tolkien in 'Tolkien'

New Trailer for J.R.R. Tolkien Biopic ‘Tolkien’

Since 2013, a Tolkien biopic has been dubiously ‘in the works,’ a phrase fans both love and love to dread. For years, fans didn’t know much about the film. As a result, many speculated on the film’s tone and style: many felt it could be similar to Goodbye Christopher Robin, an A.A. Milne biopic including darker aspects of Milne’s military service. Fortunately, the biopic is officially free from development purgatory—and we no longer have to speculate. It may have been in the works for nearly six years, but, by May 2019, it’ll be on our screens.


Nicholas Hoult as J.R.R. Tolkien in 'Tolkien'

Image Via JoBlo Movie Network

Exploring Tolkien’s formative years, the author’s upcoming biopic examines the influence of love and tragedy on the young writer’s art. Take a look at the official synopsis:


Tolkien explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the “Fellowship” apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-earth novels.


The film will be directed by Dome Karukoski, and it will be written by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford. Among its cast are accomplished stars Nicholas Hoult as Tolkien himself and Lily Collins as Edith Bratt, Tolkien’s longtime lover and eventual wife. Bratt served as an inspiration for many of Tolkien’s beloved characters, making her a significant figure in the story of both Tolkien’s life and creative work. Craig Roberts will play Sam, who served with Tolkien in World War I.

Yesterday, Fox released the official trailer, available below. Ready for a film that’ll surely have fans screaming “my precious?”



Image Via MovieWeb

"Charles Dickens invented the word boredom"

The Fascinating Origins of 7 Invented Words

Any 90s kid—sorry, 90s adult—will remember Andrew ClementsFrindle, the classic middle grade tale of a defiant boy who invents a word just to spite his by-the-book English teacher. (The word, naturally, is Frindle.) Since this is obviously silly, made-up nonsense, the school intervenes to reinforce the notion that only the dictionary determines the proper use of language. But wait, you say, aren’t all words invented? Well, that’s exactly what we’re getting at. Here are just a few of the many words that authors had the good sense to make up.

1. Nerd


Dr. Seuss - Nerd

Image Via Eldacur.com


Theodor Giesel, code name Dr. Seuss, is known for being hyper intelligent, politically astute, and child friendly. It is then especially surprising that Seuss would invent the number one insult for too-smart kids, the bane of the middle-school hallway—nerd. One of the original spellings of nerd is knurd, a word for someone who doesn’t like fun and also ‘drunk’ spelled backwards. Those young If I Ran the Zoo readers might not be sure what to make of this—you’re a nerd if you’re ever sober? Probably not.

2. Bedazzled


Badazzler Machine

Image Via Neweasy.com


We all know Shakespeare invented between four and five hundred words—and that’s only counting terms still in use today. Without his strong knowledge of Latin roots and his literary mind, we would have Twilight without ‘bloodsucking,’ Divergent without ‘dauntless,’ Gossip Girl without ‘gossip.’ (An alternate title might have been Rich People Lying to Each Other.)  Shakespeare’s coinage of the word bedazzled, first appearing in The Taming of the Shrew, is an excellent case study of the way language evolves over time. While initially referring to sunlight striking particularly vibrant eyes, the word now calls to mind badly-rhinestoned jeans—arguably, the only way to rhinestone jeans.

3. Blurb


Belinda Blurb

Image Via Booktryst.com


You may not have heard of Gelett Burgess, but you’ve definitely heard the word ‘blurb,’ the most common term to describe the text snippets on a book jacket. The word has a surprising origin—the name of a sexy lady. In 1907, Burgess created the character Belinda Blurb, an alluring woman whose spot on the book cover was supposed to boost its sales. While there’s nothing particularly funny about the word itself, it is amusing to imagine that Belinda Blurb was the most titillating name Burgess could invent for his fictional woman. (Since it was 1907, perhaps we’re just lucky her name wasn’t more like Ermengarde.)

4. Boredom


Charles Dickens Boredom Quote

Image Via Quotefancy.com


The word ‘boredom’ first appeared in Charles Dickens‘ Bleak House, which sounds like the exact sort of dismal spot where boredom might take place. Before Dickens, the word ‘bore’ already existed as a verb, but there was no noun for the specific condition of being bored. Since boredom is such a commonplace human experience, one has to wonder what they called it before the invention of the word. Early philosophers sometimes dubbed it ‘the noonday demon,’ a term that’s simultaneously more ominous and more accurate. Now all you high school students out there can say Dickens literally invented boredom and get away with it.

5. Chortle


Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'

Gif Via Wifflegif.com


Lewis Carroll, author of the notoriously weird Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, was no novice at inventing words. His poem “Jabberwocky” opens: “twas brillig and the slithy toves / did gyre and gimble in the wabe.” You might not remember the last time you yourself gyred or gimbled, if such a thing is even possible. The reason is simple—all words are inventions, but not all inventions catch on. (Take, for example, the goldfish walker or shoe umbrella.) The word ‘chortle,’ an amalgam of the words ‘chuckle’ and ‘snort,’ is one of Carroll’s more popular creations. We’re all probably grateful he didn’t go with snuckle.

6. Utopia


Fruitopia, 90s Coca-Cola Beverage

Image Via Flickr.com


Sir Thomas Moore entitled his most impactful work Utopia, a word with an exciting dual meaning: either ‘good place’ or ‘no place,’ depending on the translation. Considering the popular definition—a perfect society—this confusion seems both reasonable and appropriate. The irony comes in when you realize that Coca Cola’s 1990s beverage Fruitopia is a clear play on Moore’s word. Most likely, Moore’s utopia didn’t include a sugary beverage empire.

7. Tween


Frodo holds out the one ring

Image Via Interviewmagazine.com


Though this word now describes children between early childhood and the full-on teenage years, ‘tween‘ once implied a very different age range. Invented by J.R.R. Tolkien, the word initially described hobbits in their twenties (given that hobbits come of age around thirty-three). It’s worth noting that many human twenty-somethings have also not yet reached full maturity. Another example of how language evolves beyond its original context, tween conjures more images of braces and shopping malls than it does chucking rings into volcanoes.


Featured Image Via Englishlanguagefaqs.com

Viggo Mortenson

Viggo Mortensen Almost Died During the Filming of ‘Return of the King’

Most people know that filming for the Lord of the Rings franchise took place in New Zealand, widely known for its pristine natural landscape that seems almost closer to fantasy than reality. People even pay for Lord of the Rings tourism to see for themselves. So yes… everyone knows about the mountains. Fewer people know about the un-detonated explosives. Viggo Mortensen definitely didn’t when he rode his horse straight into them.-


Viggo Mortensen on horseback

Image via Vulture.com


The Return of the King definitely has its life-and-death moments, but one of them was a lot realer than anyone would have liked. Shooting for Aragon’s impassioned speech outside the Black Gates of Mordor took place in the Rangipo desert… where New Zealand had once conducted military training. Since the area was riddled with un-detonated explosives, directors established a ‘safe location’ away from the bombs. Sounds safe, right? It was— until an improvising Mortensen rode into the minefield during the famous scene.


Watch it again for extra stress (as if you needed more).



Director Peter Jackson, apparently, thought for sure that Mortensen would die. Ian Nathan writes in his upcoming book Anything You Can Imagine: Peter Jackson and the Making of Middle Earth: “Having found their perfect Aragorn, they were going to watch him get blown up by an unexploded New Zealand bomb.”



Featured image via maxim.com