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Posts Tagged ‘Bilbo Baggins’

Busy today tidying up (though in truth I can only make a small dent in the tidying that needs doing). As I slide books back into their slots on my bookshelves, I noticed the great number of stories that have swords or blades in them.

My favorite swords are the lightsabers of the Jedi knights of Star War’s fame, King Arthur’s Excalibur, and the famed sword/s of The Lord of the Rings. There is always the debate whether Arthur had one or two swords. One pulled from the stone and a different blade given to him by the Lady of the Lake seems to indicate two different swords, but there are other takes on these mythical events.

As for The Lord of the Rings’ sword/s, I refer to Narsil, the blade broken into shards during battle. Isildur, son of the king, used the hilt-shard to slice the finger with the One Ring from the hand of Sauron. The Ring takes quite a journey, eventually ending up in the spindly hands of Golem, then in the pocket of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. From there, the Ring is placed in the care of Frodo, and finally is destroyed in the lava of Mount Doom. Now, back to the Shards of Narsil. These broken bits of sword, are re-formed into a new blade which is renamed, Anduril – The Flame of the West, and given to Aragorn to use. And yes, JRR Tolkien geek that I am, I didn’t need to research these names!

I found an interesting list of 15 Legendary Swords which not only includes my favorites, but a dozen more. By the way, I find the inclusion of William Wallace’s sword a novel idea. I wonder if it would have been on the list prior to Mel Gibson’s movie?

Skean copy In my fantasy novel, The Enchanted Skean, the blade mentioned in the title is a boot knife, though I do have Beck use a fighting blade, too. As I work on the sequel, I’m toying with the idea of introducing a magical sword — but I worry it’s a cliché’. What do you think?

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I write this to you as I prepare to board a plane back to the USA after spending 2 weeks in Scotland. Truly, this lovely country feels like it’s the home of hobbits, wizards, goblins, and more.

But even as I leave the island that gave us J.R.R. Tolkien, I cannot help but wish all I see a Happy Hobbit Day – celebrated on September 22, birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

For all you Tolkien fans, take a look at my Hobbits Day post from 2011, and enjoy breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper in honor of hobbits on this most wonderful day!

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Animals and Nature are usually woven into my stories, poems, non-fiction, and art. I think my interest in Nature and all her creatures started when I was young. My Granny, who lived on property that joined my parent’s backyard, gardened in the early morning and was kind to the neighborhood strays and neglected animals. As a child, I could usually be found tagging along with her.

My family vacationed for a week each summer from the time I was 5 in a cabin in the West Virginia mountains. Deer, raccoons, opossums, snakes, bears, crayfish, minnows, salamanders, bats, and birds were plentiful and often encountered. Unfortunately, so were mice – but that’s a different tale!

I’ve always enjoyed growing flowers, vegetables, and berries. I’ve always loved watching wild animals and having pets. In fact, since I’m short, have never been thin, and quite enjoy a well-prepared meal, I think I’d have made a rather good (though tall at 5’2”) hobbit!

In the beginning of The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien describes the day Gandalf stopped by Bilbo’s home to warn of the coming dwarves thus: “one morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green, and the hobbits were still numerous…” More green – that sounds lovely to me.

In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien writes that hobbits are fond of gardening. I especially like the picture painted by this quote from The Fellowship of the Ring (and I can close my eyes and see the image filmed by Peter Jackson for the movie):

Inside Bag End, Bilbo and Gandalf were sitting at the open window of a small room looking out west on to the garden. The late afternoon was bright and peaceful. The flowers glowed red and golden: snap-dragons and sunflowers, and nasturtians trailing all over the turf walls and peeping in at the round windows.

‘How bright your garden looks!’ said Gandalf.

‘Yes,’ said Bilbo. ‘I am very fond indeed of it, and of all the dear old Shire…’”

 I gaze out my window at flowers red and golden: roses, snapdragons, and butterfly weed, and at nasturtiums trailing over a brick wall, and scratch my dog behind her ear. I know I am very fond indeed of Nature, all her creatures, and of living at Wood’s Edge. In both of my short story collections, Owl Light and The Greener Forest, as well as my young adult novel, The Enchanted Skean, animals and plants play important roles. And I suspect, they will always have a special place in my creative work.

For those who’d like to listen to an excerpt from “On a Midwinter’s Eve,” the 1st tale in Owl Light, it’s the reading that begins about 14 minutes into the September 2012 “Nature and Animals” Broad Pod from Broad Universe: http://broadpod.posterous.com/september-2012-animals-and-nature In the excerpt, an owl, wolf, and the winter woods play a role. The complete story has even more animals in it.

So as Bilbo’s much anticipated Birthday Party approaches, I urge you to celebrate Nature and read (or listen to) a story featuring some of her creatures.

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There’s more than meets the eye (and ear) in names. When naming their children (or pets) people often look through baby-naming books or on-line listings of names for their meanings. Some writers use those same naming guides, some pick the names for their characters and places based on sound, and some select names based on the images those names conjure up when read.

In the work of JRR Tolkien, we know that characters named Samwise, Merry, and Pippin will be likable. And when we hear Grima Wormtongue or Sauron the Great, Eye of the Dark Tower we expect evil. Who wouldn’t like to visit such pleasant sounding venues as Rivendell and The Shire? But when we hear the names Mirkwood and Mount Doom, we expect them to be dangerous places.

I sometimes use those baby-naming books for characters and places. The meanings and country (or people) where the name originated are important. I also use names from various myths and legends. Archaic words from a thesaurus or an old dictionary are another fabulous source for original sounding names. One of my favorite ways of gathering names is to jot down unusually named roads, towns, points of interest, etc. as I travel.

For my upcoming high fantasy Young Adult novel, Enchanted Skean – Book I of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir, in addition to my usual name sources, I combined bits and pieces of the names of family members and friends. For example, Stacy and Jason became Stason (one of the Hunters), John and Karen became the Joren Canyon, Wendy and Bob became the Wenbo River, and another Hunter was named Kelto (from Kelly and Tom). I even re-arranged the letters of some family members’ names to come up with places. Example: Timothy became the Mothyti River. And, one of my favorites, a type of goblin that runs in packs whose description might make my friend Denise (Dee) laugh – became the Grindee.

I’m not sure readers care where the names of characters and places come from. I suspect the source of naming is less important than creating believable, breathing, three-dimensional characters and places that can be almost seen, heard, smelled, and touched. But writers have their quirks – and meaningful naming is mine!

Today’s Tolkien trivia is based on names. 1- What was the creature Gollum’s original name? Yes, that’s an easy one. Here’s something a bit more challenging. 2- What was author JRR Tolkien’s full name? Tolkien buffs got that quickly, too. So, let’s try a more challenging question. 3- What are the names of Bilbo Baggins’ parents?

Answers to Tolkien trivia:

1- Smeagol.

2- John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. As a child, he went by his 1st middle name, Ronald.

3- If you look at the Baggins of Hobbiton family chart in Appendix C – Family Trees of The Lord of the Rings, you’ll see Bilbo’s parents were Bungo Baggins and Belladonna Took. [The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994, p. 1074].

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 It’s the day after JRR Tolkien’s birthday. Yesternight, though the wind whooshed through skeletal rather than fully-leafed trees in the nearby woods, I thought of Bilbo’s birthday party tree: “There was an especially large pavilion, so big that the tree that grew in the field was right inside it, and stood proudly near one end… Lanterns were hung on all its branches” (LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring, p26). For on the evening of January 3, 2011 at my home, Wood’s Edge, stars twinkled between the tree branches and the forest seemed alight with distant lanterns. And I thought about the debt I owed Tolkien.

I was a girl when first I read: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle…This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins…I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us” (The Hobbit, p11-12). And I quite understood the need for further explanation, since I had to often explain the various little folks I spotted while hiding beneath droopy pines and sprawling forsythias.

A few of the elderly adults with whom I shared my stories and sketches of these creatures, smiled a knowing smile and whispered, “Do what you love.” Most grown-ups discouraged such foolishness, and suggested I find more realistic and practical subject matter for my artistic endeavors. “No one will pay to read such crazy stuff” and “Medical illustration, now there’s something you can make money at” were oftentimes what I’d be told by well-meaning relations. Thus, it has taken me a lifetime to feel comfortable in my skin. And I quite admire those lucky writers and illustrators who’ve managed to embrace from the beginning their fantastical leanings.

So yester-evening as twilight crept from the shadowy places beneath the maples, I raised a mug of spiced tea to Tolkien. “Happy Birthday, to a man of great imagination who opened the doors to Middle-earth for us all,” I said.

The Greener Forest 300 dpi cover From childhood, Tolkien and his fellow fantasy writers encouraged my imagination’s wanderings, and for that, I owe them a great debt. Tolkien wrote,“Not all those who wander are lost,” and finally as silver hairs twine amongst the brown, I not only understand Tolkien’s words, but have the courage to embrace my own worlds and the creatures who inhabit them.

And so I invite you, dear readers, to sample a few of those tales in my books: The Greener Forest and Owl Light. And for you in the UK, here’s the link.

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