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"Books have a way of making you homesick for a place you've never been."

I cannot find the originator of this quote, but it so perfectly expresses my feelings regarding Middle-earth and The Shire.

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First Reading of The Children of Hurin: Poor Turin. Poor, poor Turn.

Second Reading of The Children of Hurin: If only Turin had been a bit more cautious, a bit less proud.

Third Reading of The Children of Hurin: Wow, Turin's a jerk!

(Turin Prepares To Take His Life, by Ted Nasmith)
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Beruthiel, Queen of Gondor in the early days of the Third Age. Cold, manipulative, and ruthless. She's also one of my favorite characters in Tolkien's work. Here's what Tolkien Gateway said about her - and I couldn't sum it up any better.

Berúthiel was a Black Númenórean[, a race that was often at war with the Dúnedain of Gondor. Most of the Black Númenóreans lived to the south of Gondor in the Umbar and other colonies. Presumably, Berúthiel was born in one of these southern areas.

Due to the hostility between the two races, Falastur's reason for marrying her is unclear, but he brought her to live with him in his house by the Sea near Pelargir. She hated Pelargir (loathing the smell of the sea, and fish, and the gulls), however, and dwelt in the King's House in Osgiliath instead. There she decorated the courtyard with strange and disturbing sculptures but kept the inside of the house mostly bare. She herself wore dark, drab clothing and "hated all making, all colors and elaborate adornments".

Berúthiel loathed cats, but they became attracted to her for precisely that reason. They followed her around, and eventually she took advantage of their company by enslaving and torturing them. In total she had ten cats, nine black and one white. Berúthiel set the black cats to spy on the Men of Gondor and the white cat to spy on the black ones. She managed to learn many dark secrets about the realm and its people by conversing with them and "reading their memories". These cats were infamous among the Gondorians, but they dared not touch them; however, Men would curse whenever they saw one pass by them.

Eventually, Tarannon exiled Berúthiel from Gondor due to her deeds and erased her name from the Book of the Kings. He sent her and her cats back to her southern homeland on a ship that "was last seen flying past Umbar with a cat at the masthead and another as a figurehead on the prow"
https://tednasmith.bandcamp.com/track/beruthiel
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Years ago, I had a Tolkien focused blog. Well, I'm back.
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He named the nameless hills and dells
He drank from yet untasted wells...

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My memory is failing me. Is it ever told what became of Aeglos (the spear of Gil-Galad) after the Battle of Dagorlad?
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One of the great and beautiful things about the work of Tolkien is how his words will strike me as a bolt from the blue. As if from nowhere, there power and majesty will move me with as suddenly and strongly as divinity itself.

"Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!

These staves he spoke, yet he laughed as he said them. For once more lust of battle was on him; and he was still unscathed, and he was young, and he was king: the lord of a fell people. And lo! even as he laughed at despair he looked out again on the black ships, and he lifted up his sword to defy them.

And then wonder took him, and great joy; and he cast his sword up and sand as he caught it. All eyes followed his gaze, and behold! upon the foremost ship a standard broke, and the wind displayed it as she turned towards the Harlond. There flowered the White Tree, and that was for Gondor; but Seven Stars were about it, and a high crown above it, the signs of Elendil that no lord had borne for years beyond count. And the stars flamed in the sunlight, for they were wrought of gems by Arwen daughter of Elrond; and the crown was bright in the morning, for it was wrought of mithril and gold.

Thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elessar, Isildur’s heir, out of the Paths of the Dead, borne upon a wind from the Sea to the kingdom of Gondor; and the mirth of the Rohirrim was a torrent of laughter and a flashing of swords, and the joy and wonder of the City was a music of trumpets and a ringing of bells. But the hosts of Mordor were seized with bewilderment, and a great wizardry it seemed to them that their own ships should be filled with their foes; and a black dread fell on them, knowing that the tides of fate had turned against them and their doom was at hand."
-The Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, Chapter 4: The Battle of The Pelennor Fields.
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So, this caught my eye for two reasons. The first and most obvious is Because Tolkien. Second, +jon hodgson's art is always a draw. And it's got a very low price point. I have to say that the game is definitely minimalist on components (5 dice, a pad of tear-away game sheets, and instructions), but after reading it and fiddling with the mechanics for a bit it really is a heckuva lot of fun and the light Middle-earth thematic element is a nice touch. I'd definitely recommend it to a casual gamer who is a Tolkien fan - or if you're sitting around with your gamer buddies and just want to BS.

https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/the-lord-of-the-rings-journey-to-mordor/products/lord-rings-journey-mordor/
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In our first session of The One Ring, run by the fantastic +Rhys Miller, a good time was had by all. As seems to be TOR tradition, we played The Bell Marsh adventure in the back of the core book.

Highlights include:
Arguing over whether to take a boat down the River Running, and whether or not we could fit the Man of Rohan's horse on there - which we could not.

Trying to convince the hobbits NOT to teach the 12-year-old Rohirrim boy the proper art of pipe smoking.

The Ranger accidentally offending the hobbit scholar/cook of the party, by taking the treat of jam and honey and giving it to the Wood elf when he thought Mr. Burrows wasn't watching.

The ensuing "soup incident" in which the ranger was forbidden from ever having any of the hobbit's soup ever again after a long argument and many hurled insults in the Dunedain's direction.

Awkward encounters with former elvish butlers that involve much apologizing and butt-kissing.

Keeping the hobbit scholar's grubby hands off the shadow-tainted gem.

Being ambushed by a 16' tall stone troll who promptly knocked the Rohirrim boy from his tree with a swing of its MASSIVE club. The ranger then invoked Lordly trait and Royalty Revealed virtue. Drawing his sword and standing fearlessly before the terrible creature, it cowered and fled into the shadows of Mirkwood as sunlight broke through and threatened to turn it to stone.

Man, it was awesome.
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