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Lord of the Rings: Criticism, Analysis, etc

13

Posts

  • shrykeshryke Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Qingu wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    Why not?

    Rare Blood Disease == Worldbuilding doesn't count now?
    Damn right it doesn't.

    Okay I'm being more than a little sarcastic.

    I will say, based on A Game of Thrones at least, that GRRM's worldbuilding isn't as deep as Tolkien's. It's broader—the plains barbarians are cool and there's nothing like them in LoTR—and it arguably has as "complete" of a history in broad strokes. But the details of the history aren't filled out. Part of this is of course because Tolkien was obsessed with the languages, and as it turns out language is hugely important in terms of fleshing out cultural histories.

    I do think GRRM is better than Tolkien in many ways, based on what I've read so far.

    They are largely filled out though, it's just not brought up in the book itself. The same way you won't know almost anything about the Noldor or Morgoth from just reading LOTR.

    But Westeros (we'll stick with it cause it's the one you know) and the various perephery kingdoms are actually thought out. There's a sense of reality about them. There's trade and internal politics and a realistic-ish feudal system.

    Middle-Earth never has any of this sort of thing. It's deliberately very mythic and heroic and pulled back.

  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    gjaustin wrote: »
    Cheezy wrote: »
    gjaustin wrote: »
    Cheezy wrote: »
    gjaustin wrote: »
    What are you claiming here?

    The ability to be invisible is certainly not related to Bilbo's desires. The only character not affected by the ring is Tom Bombadil, and arguments about that are a completly different topic.

    Let's say you have a knife. It has the power to chop vegetables or cut throats. It's a tool. It's an extension of who and what you are. But the function of a knife is still primarily to deconstruct things, be they vegetables or throats. Get a good person angry enough and they'll see the power of a knife to kill things.

    The same thing applies with the Ring. The Ring has the power to do a fuckton of things, invisibility among them. For a ringbearer to use those powers, they first have to know they exist. If they don't know that they exist, they have to discover them through fumbling. Bilbo discovered the invisibility aspect because he wanted to disappear. Everyone afterward who knew of the Ring (namely Frodo and Sam) knew the Ring had the power of invisibility prior to wearing it.

    Do you have any textual support for that? Because I think that's completely wrong.

    I'm not going to go dig around for it. Sorry.

    Why exactly do you think it's wrong?

    Because even your knife analogy is flawed. Consider an ignorant person who doesn't know that a knife can cut. If that persons stab someone else in the heart, that knife will kill the second person regardless of intent or desire.

    Similarly with the Ring, it is inherently able to turn its user invisible. Bilbo didn't know it would turn him invisible, yet it did anyway.


    Instead the limiting factor on use of the Ring is that the Ring, in a sense, has a will of its own. In the book it is frequently described as having desires itself. It wants to return to Sauron (or perhaps corrupt a Maiar like Gandalf or Saruman - but that's another discussion). The more powerful the bearer, the easier that task is. It deliberately abandoned Gollumn to go to Bilbo.

    The Hobbits were the best choice for four reasons.

    1) Their relative weakness kept the Ring from considering them potential owners.
    2) Their weakness prevented Sauron and his minions from considering them threats.
    3) Their small size and natural ability at hiding was helpful for sneaking into Mordor.
    4) Their simple life style gave them some resistance to the delusions of grandeur that cause people to want to claim ownership of the Ring.


    And even then, at the end, they still failed.

    the ring embodied a majority of sauron's power and some of his personality from when he was a charmer that was welcome among elves. he was known as annatar lord of gifts for giving elves the method to make rings of power. he was sly and beautiful and very persuasive.

    all of that went into the ring.

    A strong enough will such as another maiar or possibly even a high elf could have bent the ring to their will for a time but in the end you were always doing what sauron desired.

  • CheezyCheezy Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    gjaustin wrote: »
    Because even your knife analogy is flawed. Consider an ignorant person who doesn't know that a knife can cut. If that persons stab someone else in the heart, that knife will kill the second person regardless of intent or desire.

    Similarly with the Ring, it is inherently able to turn its user invisible. Bilbo didn't know it would turn him invisible, yet it did anyway.

    And you completely missed my point.

  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I agree with you on the four measures:

    I'd say realism is best called consistency, but other than that, the basic metrics are good.

    The problem is the way you basically ignore all the depth in LotR because of an over-arching concept of good vs evil. That concept by itself is certainly not deep, because it's an essential archetype.

    Your perception of the world of LotR is very unforgiving. You are pulling out a basic archetype and tearing the plot apart around it. There are certainly complex characters with different moralities, motivations, and goals all throughout the three books.

    You can't argue that any of the hobbits (or gollum) embody any essential morality. There are many shades of grey characters, survivalists, idealists who fail, realists, etc.

    I'm certainly not arguing for it to be considered a great work of fine literature: I don't think anyone is. I am merely arguing against your notion that the base archetype of good vs evil somehow makes it childish.

    The problem with saturday morning cartoons depictions of good vs evil is that they go to great extremes over Tolkien. They simply don't have ANY ambiguous characters or non-pure evil/good characters. However the world of Tolkien is full of characters who seem good but would do harm--characters who are evil but willing to work with the "good guys"--and good guys who are basically decent moral folk who have no illusions of greatness or grandeur.

    Frodo isn't setting out because he is a noble hero. The whole quest is a burden, a responsibility, a small trip to settle some business that he's pushed into resolving by his uncle and the nutty guy who does magic tricks at parties.

    There are probably hundreds of pages which reveal a more complex morality than black vs white, but you aren't seeing them, because you are focused like a laser on two characters and some racial overtones that you are comparing to the real world.

  • CheezyCheezy Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    And I'm arguing that criticism of Twilight is a fuckton better than criticism of Lord of the Rings, but you're still passing value judgments on fiction when there are better things to devote brainpower to. Like actual racism and domestic violence.

  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Cheezy wrote: »
    And I'm arguing that criticism of Twilight is a fuckton better than criticism of Lord of the Rings, but you're still passing value judgments on fiction when there are better things to devote brainpower to. Like actual racism and domestic violence.

    The issue isn't so much that you are unhappy with racism in a novel, but that you think that LotR portrays racism as it deals with mythical races created by magic.

    I'm still not saying you can't criticize it! Go ahead. Just that it seems highly unlikely to me that their is any intended OR unintended racism involved in LotR. That's the real issue I take with what you're saying ultimately. You are using your standards of morality to determine Tolkien's intent and thoughts.

  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Cheezy wrote: »
    And I'm arguing that criticism of Twilight is a fuckton better than criticism of Lord of the Rings, but you're still passing value judgments on fiction when there are better things to devote brainpower to. Like actual racism and domestic violence.
    If you think this, one wonders why you are devoting brainpower towards defending LoTR against criticism.

    Streever, I don't think the orcs are a good example of racism.

    I think, as far as racism in LoTR goes, the much more troubling thing is the idea that certain bloodlines of men are more pure, more resistant to evil, than others. This can be mitigated in a variety of ways, but it's still troubling.

    Also, I will note that I gave the book a "7" on depth, not a "0" as you seem to believe as evidenced by your response to me.

  • gjaustingjaustin Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Cheezy wrote: »
    gjaustin wrote: »
    Because even your knife analogy is flawed. Consider an ignorant person who doesn't know that a knife can cut. If that persons stab someone else in the heart, that knife will kill the second person regardless of intent or desire.

    Similarly with the Ring, it is inherently able to turn its user invisible. Bilbo didn't know it would turn him invisible, yet it did anyway.

    And you completely missed my point.

    And your point is?

    Your belief is not required
  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I mean if there was a novel about the Holy Wars, taking the perspective that the europeans rocked and muslims were just evil savages, yes, I'd say that's a fair avenue to criticize the book on. "Why would you want to read a crude book about how great it is to butcher muslims?" Totally fair.

    However to dismiss Tolkien or his work as childish because you make real-world comparisons between orcs & (I don't know what race you intended, but insert here) and then claim that Tolkien had racist overtones & didn't have a nuanced view of morality is just crazy.

    For all you know he was super inclusive and loved shades of grey, but just wanted to create a story around good vs evil.

    e: the idea that certain bloodlines are inherently good has been extensively refuted already. This is an example of you misunderstanding the concepts in the book. Gandalf isn't even a human: he's literally an ANGEL in human form. Elves are a totally different race. Many of the races are "evil" acting because they have been corrupted/affected by evil forces due to geographic proximity. Faramir is able to resist the ring, because he has no delusions of grandeur or greed. Boromir--his brother--is not.

  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    streever wrote: »
    However to dismiss Tolkien or his work as childish because you make real-world comparisons between orcs & (I don't know what race you intended, but insert here) and then claim that Tolkien had racist overtones & didn't have a nuanced view of morality is just crazy.
    I don't know how many times I have to say that I'm not saying the orcs = any given race.
    For all you know he was super inclusive and loved shades of grey, but just wanted to create a story around good vs evil.
    I am fairly certain this is the case, and as I said, the book isn't entirely binary in its conception of evil. Many of the characters are complex. There is a significant amount of black and white morality though, particularly embodied in the orcs and Sauron, and I think it's a flaw.

    Ham Ham brought up an interesting point about the orcs having a discussion about what's good, which I don't remember from the book. So maybe they're supposed to be "broken," like psychopaths. Still, the mindless slaughter of them is very troublesome, even if they are psychopaths.
    e: the idea that certain bloodlines are inherently good has been extensively refuted already. This is an example of you misunderstanding the concepts in the book. Gandalf isn't even a human: he's literally an ANGEL in human form. Elves are a totally different race.
    why do you think I'm talking about wizards and elves when I said bloodlines?
    Many of the races are "evil" acting because they have been corrupted/affected by evil forces due to geographic proximity. Faramir is able to resist the ring, because he has no delusions of grandeur or greed. Boromir--his brother--is not.
    Isn't Faramir able to resist because, as the book says, the blood of Westernesses is stronger in his veins or something?

    Yes, you can whitewash that stuff and say it comes down to cultural differences and individual mentalities. I don't think the general tone of the books supports that, though. The general tone of the books, from what I remember—and it left a strong impression—was straight out of 1950's England and its idea of "good breeding."

    I don't even understand how this is controversial. Tolkien was an English author, writing in the 1930's through 50's. You were angry because I was criticizing the books from a modern, materialist perspective ... and yet it seems that you're the one trying to take Tolkien out of his actual context. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and was written by a duck from the 1950's, why would you assume it's not a duck and that anyone who says it is "misunderstanding" the book?

  • ParadisoParadiso Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    streever wrote: »
    For all you know he was super inclusive and loved shades of grey, but just wanted to create a story around good vs evil.

    I left the rest of your post out because I largely agreed with it. This, however, I do not. If someone spends years of their life crafting something it's a fair to raise the question of how closely it could tie into their tastes and views. If I spend half a decade writing The Cat-Puncher Chronicles (lol hyperbole) I should be prepared for people to question if I personally harbor malice for the felines of this world, or if I just wanted to write a story about a cyborg that pummels kittens.

  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Qingu wrote: »
    streever wrote: »
    However to dismiss Tolkien or his work as childish because you make real-world comparisons between orcs & (I don't know what race you intended, but insert here) and then claim that Tolkien had racist overtones & didn't have a nuanced view of morality is just crazy.
    I don't know how many times I have to say that I'm not saying the orcs = any given race.
    For all you know he was super inclusive and loved shades of grey, but just wanted to create a story around good vs evil.
    I am fairly certain this is the case, and as I said, the book isn't entirely binary in its conception of evil. Many of the characters are complex. There is a significant amount of black and white morality though, particularly embodied in the orcs and Sauron, and I think it's a flaw.

    Ham Ham brought up an interesting point about the orcs having a discussion about what's good, which I don't remember from the book. So maybe they're supposed to be "broken," like psychopaths. Still, the mindless slaughter of them is very troublesome, even if they are psychopaths.
    e: the idea that certain bloodlines are inherently good has been extensively refuted already. This is an example of you misunderstanding the concepts in the book. Gandalf isn't even a human: he's literally an ANGEL in human form. Elves are a totally different race.
    why do you think I'm talking about wizards and elves when I said bloodlines?
    Many of the races are "evil" acting because they have been corrupted/affected by evil forces due to geographic proximity. Faramir is able to resist the ring, because he has no delusions of grandeur or greed. Boromir--his brother--is not.
    Isn't Faramir able to resist because, as the book says, the blood of Westernesses is stronger in his veins or something?

    Yes, you can whitewash that stuff and say it comes down to cultural differences and individual mentalities. I don't think the general tone of the books supports that, though. The general tone of the books, from what I remember—and it left a strong impression—was straight out of 1950's England and its idea of "good breeding."

    I don't even understand how this is controversial. Tolkien was an English author, writing in the 1930's through 50's. You were angry because I was criticizing the books from a modern, materialist perspective ... and yet it seems that you're the one trying to take Tolkien out of his actual context. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and was written by a duck from the 1950's, why would you assume it's not a duck and that anyone who says it is "misunderstanding" the book?

    I think you must have been in an odd place when you read the book.

    You yourself refute your own point with the limed comment. Clearly, the notion of "blood" was not what you are saying it meant. Two brothers have the same ancestry. It's referring to "blood" in a more mystical, less literal sense.

    How does that possibly convey the 1930s notion of "good breeding"? I don't think that the english felt that proper breeding was actually a function of one's genetic bloodline, but rather a way of being raised and instructed. If you are uncertain how it was regarded, I direct you towards Jonathan Swift's Treatise on Good Manners and Breeding

  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    streever wrote: »
    I think you must have been in an odd place when you read the book.

    You yourself refute your own point with the limed comment. Clearly, the notion of "blood" was not what you are saying it meant. Two brothers have the same ancestry. It's referring to "blood" in a more mystical, less literal sense.
    Two brothers can have differently tinged "blood" in a breeding sense. Certain genetic traits are present in some brothers and not in others.

    I think that saying it's "mystical" is a canard. Yes, it's mystical, in the book it's literally magic blood because the Numenoreans' ancestors fucked semi-divine elves. But then, this would mean it's literal. And what I'm more criticizing is the general tone of it in the books, moreso than the mechanics—something which I think the movies seriously improved on.
    How does that possibly convey the 1930s notion of "good breeding"? I don't think that the english felt that proper breeding was actually a function of one's genetic bloodline, but rather a way of being raised and instructed. If you are uncertain how it was regarded, I direct you towards Jonathan Swift's Treatise on Good Manners and Breeding
    I think you are clearly incorrect. Race and culture have always had a complex, intertwined relationship, but I think it's pretty clear from the historical record that the English didn't generally think that "good breeding" was purely cultural. Hell, few people believe this today (nature vs. nurture), we're just more likely than the English were in the 1930's to refute the idea that certain races or bloodlines' natures (or genes) were inherently superior.

    Again: this isn't really controversial. People in the 1950's? Kinda racist. People in the early 1900's? Grossly racist. You should see some of the shit that Lovecraft wrote. Everyone, including Tolkien, is a product of their times. I find it amazing that you are assuming for no reason that the idea of "breeding" in LoTR has no consonance whatsoever with the idea of breeding that was popular in the time it was written.

  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I really think you are bringing some baggage to this. I fail to see anything which remotely suggests a racist overtone to the book.

    Did the english believe that having babies with angels would lead to perfect children?

  • CheezyCheezy Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Qingu wrote: »
    Cheezy wrote: »
    And I'm arguing that criticism of Twilight is a fuckton better than criticism of Lord of the Rings, but you're still passing value judgments on fiction when there are better things to devote brainpower to. Like actual racism and domestic violence.
    If you think this, one wonders why you are devoting brainpower towards defending LoTR against criticism.

    There is a very wide difference between the two that should be obvious.

  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    So just to be clear, Cheezy, you prefer to spend your brainpower attacking

    • modern examples of racism
    • xenophobia
    • people who criticize Lord of the Rings as kinda racist instead of doing the aforementioned

    ?

  • MarsMars Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    This is stupid.

    The bloodline shit is because the Numenoreans were descended from Elves. It's magic. You'll also note that they were the first to fall to Sauron. The Orcs were also descended from Elves, and made the way they are through magic. Considering that the whole theme of the trilogy is that the simplest people are at heart the most noble, this idea about the Numenoreans being some supposed "superior race" is dumb.

    Steam
    Spoiler:
  • CheezyCheezy Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Qingu wrote: »
    So just to be clear, Cheezy, you prefer to spend your brainpower attacking

    • modern examples of racism
    • xenophobia
    • people who criticize Lord of the Rings as kinda racist instead of doing the aforementioned

    ?

    This isn't about Lord of the Rings.

    You're intelligent, affluent, and entitled. You are a minority in the world. You are the culmination of Western Civilization. You are a member of a group that has more potential to change the world than any other on the face of the planet today and you are spending what short amount of time you have on this planet passing value judgments on a minor element of a work of fantasy written when Nazis were still a real threat.

    I'm not defending Lord of the Rings. I'm accusing you of wasting a very precious gift that people would die for.

  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    But it's not the metaphysics of the bloodlines so much as the general tone. It's been a while since I've read the book, so perhaps I am misremembering. but I remember a lot of shit about purity/strength of bloodlines, and lesser men; Aragorn (who is a better example of this than Faramir) is better at resisting evil because of his pure bloodline; he has an almost divine right to be king because of his bloodline.

    It's one thing to compartamentalize this sentiment within the fictional world. GRRM, I don't think anyone would argue, endorses monarchy, capital punishment, or child rape, despite the fact that he portrays these things as normal within his fictional world. And it's clear that when you read ASoIaF (at least from the first one) that, regardless of what these characters think, the reality of the situation doesn't necessarily match up. Another good example is the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which has a main character who casually says the word "n
    " and regrets treating Jim as a human being instead of property, whereas the author clearly thinks otherwise, and the reality described in the book basically says otherwise (since Jim is obviously an intelligent and empathetic human being, regarldess of what Huck originally thinks.)

    LoTR? Not so much. I'm not willing to say that Tolkien is an out-and-out racist. However, I think a lot of this sentiment goes unexamined in LoTR. It's sort of put out there, not from the perspective of the characters in middle-earth thinking this stuff but as the basis for their reality. Tolkien was a pretty cool guy, but it's not like he was this fantastic progressive (he apparently preferred monarchy to democracy). I don't think it makes sense to assume that Tolkien, unlike pretty much all of his contemporaries, was above this sort of low-level racism.

  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Cheezy wrote: »
    This isn't about Lord of the Rings.

    You're intelligent, affluent, and entitled. You are a minority in the world. You are the culmination of Western Civilization. You are a member of a group that has more potential to change the world than any other on the face of the planet today and you are spending what short amount of time you have on this planet passing value judgments on a minor element of a work of fantasy written when Nazis were still a real threat.

    I'm not defending Lord of the Rings. I'm accusing you of wasting a very precious gift that people would die for.
    Okay mom, I'll stop posting on this video game forum and get to work becoming a famous lawyer for Amnesty International.

    Everyone else: get off your asses too. You're wasting your privilege!

  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    am I the only one here that just wants to talk about lord of the rings and how fuckawesome it is?

    yes?

    ok....

  • HamHamJHamHamJ Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Qingu wrote: »
    Ham Ham brought up an interesting point about the orcs having a discussion about what's good, which I don't remember from the book. So maybe they're supposed to be "broken," like psychopaths. Still, the mindless slaughter of them is very troublesome, even if they are psychopaths.

    No, they're just evil. How they came to be evil is not really that important, so much as the fact that they are.

    I'm not seeing anything that is troublesome here.

    The orcs are magical creatures, just like the Ring-wraiths or the elves or the ents.

    While racing light mechs, your Urbanmech comes in second place, but only because it ran out of ammo.
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    All living things were divided in that day, and some of every kind, even of beasts and birds, were found in either host, save the Elves only. They alone were undivided and followed Gil-galad. Of the Dwarves, few fought upon either side; but the kindred of Durin of Moria fought against Sauron.

    which makes the thing about Orcs tricky, since it implies non-always-chaotic-evil Orcs.

    Note that after the destruction of the (undeniably mind-controlling) Ring, Orcish civilization appears to fall apart. How morally independent it might have been is another unknown.

    Steam
    shryke wrote: »
    Talking to ronya is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, that has been shit out and then eaten again by a bulldog.
  • ÆthelredÆthelred Registered User
    edited July 2010
    Pre-modern society was obsessed with bloodlines and LotR dutifully follows on in that vein. I don't really see how that's arguable.

    HamHamJ wrote: »
    Qingu wrote: »
    Ham Ham brought up an interesting point about the orcs having a discussion about what's good, which I don't remember from the book. So maybe they're supposed to be "broken," like psychopaths. Still, the mindless slaughter of them is very troublesome, even if they are psychopaths.

    No, they're just evil. How they came to be evil is not really that important, so much as the fact that they are.

    I'm not seeing anything that is troublesome here.

    The orcs are magical creatures, just like the Ring-wraiths or the elves or the ents.

    You're falling into the common trap of using a story's own internal logic to explain it. Why did Tolkien choose to include a race of pure evil that could be slaughtered at will by the goodies? That's the question.

    pokes: 1505 8032 8399
  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2010
    ronya wrote: »
    All living things were divided in that day, and some of every kind, even of beasts and birds, were found in either host, save the Elves only. They alone were undivided and followed Gil-galad. Of the Dwarves, few fought upon either side; but the kindred of Durin of Moria fought against Sauron.

    which makes the thing about Orcs tricky, since it implies non-always-chaotic-evil Orcs.

    Note that after the destruction of the (undeniably mind-controlling) Ring, Orcish civilization appears to fall apart. How morally independent it might have been is another unknown.

    Given who created them, I'm pretty sure they didn't have much in their heads but magic transceivers.

    For me, the biggest problem for the series was the shear number of people named Ara[phoneme]orn. I had no idea what was happening after the second half of the first book, only getting the hang of who was Sauron and who was Sauruman when the ents got involved and never understanding the politics. I thought the blizzard that caused the fellowship to go into moria was caused by a malicious mountain god.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2010
    Æthelred wrote: »
    Pre-modern society was obsessed with bloodlines and LotR dutifully follows on in that vein. I don't really see how that's arguable.

    HamHamJ wrote: »
    Qingu wrote: »
    Ham Ham brought up an interesting point about the orcs having a discussion about what's good, which I don't remember from the book. So maybe they're supposed to be "broken," like psychopaths. Still, the mindless slaughter of them is very troublesome, even if they are psychopaths.

    No, they're just evil. How they came to be evil is not really that important, so much as the fact that they are.

    I'm not seeing anything that is troublesome here.

    The orcs are magical creatures, just like the Ring-wraiths or the elves or the ents.

    You're falling into the common trap of using a story's own internal logic to explain it. Why did Tolkien choose to include a race of pure evil that could be slaughtered at will by the goodies? That's the question.

    Because that's how it's done in the myths, and all fantasy is is mythology revival.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • BiosysBiosys Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Alrighty, quick question for someone more learned than me to answer:

    Aragorn obtains an army of ghosts.

    How does he get them/why can he get them/who are they?

    Honestly, cannot remember, and the question's been bugging me throughout the thread.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    From here:
    The shades of Men of the White Mountains, who were cursed to remain in Middle-earth by Isildur after they abandoned their oath of aid to him in the War of the Last Alliance. They haunted the caverns beneath the Dwimorberg, and the valley of Harrowdale that lay in its shadow, though they were said to appear in the valley only in times of trouble or death.

    In the War of the Ring, Isildur's Heir, Aragorn, called on the Dead Men to fulfil their oath at last. They followed him through the Gondorian lands south of the Mountains, and at the port of Pelargir they drove away the allies of Sauron in fear. For their aid, Aragorn granted them their freedom, and they vanished at last from the world.

    Note that, unlike the movie, in the book the ghost army helps Aragorn free another (alive) army, and it is the latter that follows Aragorn to the battle at Minas Tirith.

    The oath in question:
    Then Isildur said to their king: "Thou shalt be the last king. And if the West prove mightier than thy Black Master, this curse I lay upon thee and thy folk: to rest never until your oath is fulfilled. For this war will last through years uncounted, and you shall be summoned once again ere the end."

    Steam
    shryke wrote: »
    Talking to ronya is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, that has been shit out and then eaten again by a bulldog.
  • BiosysBiosys Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    ronya wrote: »
    useful information

    Thanks for that, was a little annoying not remembering.

    On the more on-topic subject of criticism, I would find it very hard to even begin criticising LoTR because I grew up reading the books (still have not read the Silmarillion, I'll try to do it soon), and as such, the lovely golden tint of nostalgia has made the series impregnable to any bad impressions.

    Despite this, there were several parts I found detrimental to the reader, like the maaaaaaaaaasssive blocks of description of a area, or person, or race, but then you also have to remember that Tolkien was just trying to build a world, and the books were kind of a accidental offshoot of that.

    The black and white morality of the world was pretty appealing to me as a child, as there wasn't any doubt in my mind as to who the bad guys and who the good guys were. That said, the good guys are constantly being shown as incredibly vulnerable to falling to evil (ie. Gollum, Boromir tries to grab the Ring etc.), but the most noble and best of the good guys are still shown as basically being invulnerable, to both the Ring and evil (Aragorn, Faramir).

  • GalahadGalahad Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    am I the only one here that just wants to talk about lord of the rings and how fuckawesome it is?

    yes?

    ok....

    *pokes head in to thread long enough to raise hand*

    I kind of resent the movies actually, for mainstreaming these books again.

    Not because I hate things that are popular or anything... just,

    I have a completely shit memory. So despite having read the main trilogy something like three times, almost 90% of the time when I see people bitching at each other over some crap in the books I'm like, "I hardly even remember that, bastards." And then I feel all inadequate. I don't think I am capable of taking the books seriously enough to participate in most of the discussion taking place in this thread.

    Also. Tom Bombadil was always my favorite character.

  • gjaustingjaustin Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Scalfin wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    All living things were divided in that day, and some of every kind, even of beasts and birds, were found in either host, save the Elves only. They alone were undivided and followed Gil-galad. Of the Dwarves, few fought upon either side; but the kindred of Durin of Moria fought against Sauron.

    which makes the thing about Orcs tricky, since it implies non-always-chaotic-evil Orcs.

    Note that after the destruction of the (undeniably mind-controlling) Ring, Orcish civilization appears to fall apart. How morally independent it might have been is another unknown.

    Given who created them, I'm pretty sure they didn't have much in their heads but magic transceivers.

    For me, the biggest problem for the series was the shear number of people named Ara[phoneme]orn. I had no idea what was happening after the second half of the first book, only getting the hang of who was Sauron and who was Sauruman when the ents got involved and never understanding the politics. I thought the blizzard that caused the fellowship to go into moria was caused by a malicious mountain god.

    That's not an unreasonable interpretation. It's not like it would be the only object with a will in the story (e.g. The Ring, Old Forest trees)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caradhras

    Your belief is not required
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Qingu wrote: »
    But it's not the metaphysics of the bloodlines so much as the general tone. It's been a while since I've read the book, so perhaps I am misremembering. but I remember a lot of shit about purity/strength of bloodlines, and lesser men; Aragorn (who is a better example of this than Faramir) is better at resisting evil because of his pure bloodline; he has an almost divine right to be king because of his bloodline.

    I noted this too while reading, and found it somewhat unsettling.

    On the other hand, if you poke through the copious appendices and histories the whole thing about bloodlines somewhat diminishes. Gondor had a civil war some 1500 years before LOTR; a pure-blooded usurper rebelled against a the first half-blooded heir. The usurper's rule is characterized as cruel, etc. Eventually the heir returns and kicks him out. I suppose the point of that episode is to illustrate the separation between purity of blood and the, uh, bloodline. Okay maybe this isn't really an improvement.

    I should note that the "almost divine right to be king" may as well be just "divine right to be king", depending how you interpret how the Númenoreans got their apparent blood advantages. This is a world with hobbits, after all. Having an entire race of men who can really do have divinely-granted heritable superpowers may be less surprising given that we have an entire race of men who have heritable hairy feet and being short.

    Steam
    shryke wrote: »
    Talking to ronya is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, that has been shit out and then eaten again by a bulldog.
  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2010
    Biosys wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    useful information

    Thanks for that, was a little annoying not remembering.

    On the more on-topic subject of criticism, I would find it very hard to even begin criticising LoTR because I grew up reading the books (still have not read the Silmarillion, I'll try to do it soon), and as such, the lovely golden tint of nostalgia has made the series impregnable to any bad impressions.

    Despite this, there were several parts I found detrimental to the reader, like the maaaaaaaaaasssive blocks of description of a area, or person, or race, but then you also have to remember that Tolkien was just trying to build a world, and the books were kind of a accidental offshoot of that.

    The black and white morality of the world was pretty appealing to me as a child, as there wasn't any doubt in my mind as to who the bad guys and who the good guys were. That said, the good guys are constantly being shown as incredibly vulnerable to falling to evil (ie. Gollum, Boromir tries to grab the Ring etc.), but the most noble and best of the good guys are still shown as basically being invulnerable, to both the Ring and evil (Aragorn, Faramir).

    You should probably be warned that the Sil was written as a historical treatise, and reads like one. Seriously, here's a section from History of the Peloponnesian War:
    Spoiler:

    It's that, but over a longer period and in a fictional universe.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • MarsMars Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    ronya wrote: »
    I should note that the "almost divine right to be king" may as well be just "divine right to be king", depending how you interpret how the Númenoreans got their apparent blood advantages. This is a world with hobbits, after all. Having an entire race of men who can really do have divinely-granted heritable superpowers may be less surprising given that we have an entire race of men who have heritable hairy feet and being short.

    There's not really much to interpret here. They're ultimately descended from the union of Beren and Luthien(Lorien? what was her name again?), a man and an elf. They literally have magic in them, and a touch of the Valar. Aragorn lives to be nearly 200 years old, he could use the Palantir, he could have used the full extent of the Ring's power. He's literally a tiny bit divine, and as a character he's mostly used as a plot device, a channel for the overall war between Sauron and everything else.

    And with all that, Tolkien still makes an attempt to point out that the Numenoreans still aren't really better than normal people with Isildur, who was one of the greatest of his time.

    Steam
    Spoiler:
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    The Silmarillion's creation story is very well-written and beautiful.

  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2010
    gjaustin wrote: »
    Scalfin wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    All living things were divided in that day, and some of every kind, even of beasts and birds, were found in either host, save the Elves only. They alone were undivided and followed Gil-galad. Of the Dwarves, few fought upon either side; but the kindred of Durin of Moria fought against Sauron.

    which makes the thing about Orcs tricky, since it implies non-always-chaotic-evil Orcs.

    Note that after the destruction of the (undeniably mind-controlling) Ring, Orcish civilization appears to fall apart. How morally independent it might have been is another unknown.

    Given who created them, I'm pretty sure they didn't have much in their heads but magic transceivers.

    For me, the biggest problem for the series was the shear number of people named Ara[phoneme]orn. I had no idea what was happening after the second half of the first book, only getting the hang of who was Sauron and who was Sauruman when the ents got involved and never understanding the politics. I thought the blizzard that caused the fellowship to go into moria was caused by a malicious mountain god.

    That's not an unreasonable interpretation. It's not like it would be the only object with a will in the story (e.g. The Ring, Old Forest trees)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caradhras

    I guess that explains why I didn't recognize Saruman's name: it wasn't there in the book.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • HamHamJHamHamJ Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I think the confusion about "bloodlines" may be a result of taking a narrative created by the characters as literal truth. In other words, it isn't really true that Faramir is the way he is because of blood/genetics/whatever but rather that people speak of Faramir as having the true blood of the West because of the way he is.
    ronya wrote: »
    All living things were divided in that day, and some of every kind, even of beasts and birds, were found in either host, save the Elves only. They alone were undivided and followed Gil-galad. Of the Dwarves, few fought upon either side; but the kindred of Durin of Moria fought against Sauron.

    which makes the thing about Orcs tricky, since it implies non-always-chaotic-evil Orcs.

    Note that after the destruction of the (undeniably mind-controlling) Ring, Orcish civilization appears to fall apart. How morally independent it might have been is another unknown.

    Or orcs should have just been assumed as obviously on Sauran's side, since they don't fall into the normal order of living things anyway, any more than dragons or Balrogs do.
    Æthelred wrote: »
    HamHamJ wrote: »
    Qingu wrote: »
    Ham Ham brought up an interesting point about the orcs having a discussion about what's good, which I don't remember from the book. So maybe they're supposed to be "broken," like psychopaths. Still, the mindless slaughter of them is very troublesome, even if they are psychopaths.

    No, they're just evil. How they came to be evil is not really that important, so much as the fact that they are.

    I'm not seeing anything that is troublesome here.

    The orcs are magical creatures, just like the Ring-wraiths or the elves or the ents.

    You're falling into the common trap of using a story's own internal logic to explain it. Why did Tolkien choose to include a race of pure evil that could be slaughtered at will by the goodies? That's the question.

    Because they need somebody to fight to make the book exciting and the words "orc" and "goblin" need to be explained?

    While racing light mechs, your Urbanmech comes in second place, but only because it ran out of ammo.
  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    orks, dragons, balrogs and even sauron were created/corrupted by Melkor. melkor is the devil that literally caused all the bad shit in LoTR.

    sauron was originally a maiar serving aule.

    gandalf was a maiar serving manwe.

    saruman was also a maiar and I think he was also serving aule but I'd have to reread the unfinished tales.

  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    LoTR? Not so much. I'm not willing to say that Tolkien is an out-and-out racist. However, I think a lot of this sentiment goes unexamined in LoTR. It's sort of put out there, not from the perspective of the characters in middle-earth thinking this stuff but as the basis for their reality. Tolkien was a pretty cool guy, but it's not like he was this fantastic progressive (he apparently preferred monarchy to democracy). I don't think it makes sense to assume that Tolkien, unlike pretty much all of his contemporaries, was above this sort of low-level racism.

    WTF. It's safe to assume that Tolkien loved monarchy and was racist because...? Because he wrote a fantasy novel in the 50s? Sorry, discussion over.

    We're trying to have a civil discussion but you simply refuse. You ignore huge gaping holes in your logic, abandoning entire theories based on one sentence post that irrefutably proves you wrong. You keep falling back on some reservoir of knowledge that only you posses proving that Tolkien views the world in a (by you) childish and simplistic way.

    That's just not how it's done, son, and with that, I'm out.

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