Wednesday, October 15, 2014

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Origin Of The Rings DVD

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Origin of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Origin of the Rings
Run time: 63 minutes
Copyright: 2001

The back cover blurb:
Circles & Rings...
Dragons & Kings...
An unauthorized tribute
Perhaps the greatest book of the 20th century, J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" is the epic of epics. This timeless story of good vs. evil. complete with Wizards, warlocks, elves armies of terror and heroes has inspired authors, filmmakers and fans alike.

Join Michael Coren Author of "J.R.R. Tolkien: The man who created The Lord Of The Rings" on an epic journey - take a brief walk through the novels, speckled with biographical info on Tolkien and explore fantasy fiction as a topic in itself.

Lord of the Rings. The story behind the Myth. If you've ever wondered about life in a fantastical place, we beckon you to take a stroll into the magical and wondrous world of J.R.R. Tolkien. Leave your spell books at the door and join the epic adventure behind the myth.
I wasted an hour of my life yesterday on this dvd. That's honestly how I feel about it, which is a pity because it was a gift from someone who knows how much I love Tolkien's books. I'd had my doubts about the dvd from the start, mostly because I don't remember thinking too much of Michael Coren's biography of J.R.R. Tokien. I much prefer the Humphrey Carpenter biography.

My fears were borne out. The basic biographical information about Tolkien was there - in very brief form, although the filmmakers dwelled on a spider bite that JRRT received as a young child far more than was needed, at least in my opinion. However, they left a lot out from his life too, leaving a completely different impression than does the collected volume of Tolkien's own writings.

For example, there is no mention of any of Tolkien's writings pre-dating the Hobbit. It's suggested that all of the detailed back-story and language creation was part of the process of writing the Lord of the Rings. However, the world of Middle-Earth had been evolving well before that point, as had the languages, with the first stages appearing much earlier - the stories we know of as the Book of Lost Tales 1 and 2, thanks to Christopher Tolkien's editing and publishing them as part of the History of Middle-Earth series.

Strike two against the DVD was their "summary" of the Lord of the Rings - it bore no resemblance to the books as I know them. If my memory serves, it suggested that the Ring itself was the cause of all the wars and fighting.

Strike three, and by no means is this the last, is their panel of experts. There's a professor of English Literature from the U of T, the author of the Bone graphic novel series, a children's book author and a few other miscellaneous people. None of whom have any reputation as Tolkien specialists.

The next thing that bugged me about the J.R.R. Tolkien: The Origin of the Ring dvd was that they talked about Tolkien inspired artwork while showing pictures that weren't by the artists being discussed at all, in this case the Brothers Hildebrandt - not my favorites by a long shot, but still... Going in the same vein, was the whole chunk of time they wasted on the DVD discussing the costuming of the actors they used to set the mood for some of the scenes.

Overall, the whole DVD had a very cheap feeling to it - some of which may be accounted for by the fact it was made in 2000/2001, but I don't think so. I think the makers just didn't have much of a budget to work with - but some of that could have been compensated for by better research and being more on topic.

I really can't find anything positive to say about this program, and that honestly disappoints me a lot.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Edition of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil

I just found out that there's a new edition of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil that was released today. It's not just a re-print, but apparently also includes some new material:

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
J.R.R. Tolkien
Release Date: Oct 9, 2014

The product description:
This revised and expanded edition of Tolkien's own Hobbit-inspired poetry includes previously unpublished poems and notes, and is beautifully illustrated by Narnia artist Pauline Baynes. 'Here is something that no devotee of the Hobbit epic can afford to miss, while awaiting a further instalment of the history of these fascinating people - a selection [of verses] offered as an 'interim report' to those interested in Hobbit-lore, and to any others who may find amusement in this mixed bag of old confections.' One of the most intriguing characters in The Lord of the Rings, the amusing and enigmatic Tom Bombadil, also appears in verses said to have been written by Hobbits and preserved in the 'Red Book' with stories of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and their friends. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil collects these and other poems, mainly concerned with legends and jests of the Shire at the end of the Third Age. This special edition has been expanded to include earlier versions of some of Tolkien's poems, a fragment of a prose story with Tom Bombadil, and comprehensive notes by acclaimed Tolkien scholars Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond.
One thing I know with this book: Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull have a very, very good reputation in Tolkien scholarship circles. I know I've eagerly collected quite a number of the books they've either written or edited on various Tolkien-related subjects.

Based on that alone, I'm going to be hunting this book down, even though I've already got at least one edition of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil already. Not that duplicate copies are at all unusual in my collection.

Closer To Home - Mercedes Lackey

Closer To Home - Mercedes Lackey
Closer To Home: Book One of The Herald Spy
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Release Date: October 7, 2014

The product description:
Mags was once an enslaved orphan living a harsh life in the mines, until the King's Own Herald discovered his talent and trained him as a spy. Now a Herald in his own right, at the newly established Heralds' Collegium, Mags has found a supportive family, including his Companion Dallen.

Although normally a Herald in his first year of Whites would be sent off on circuit, Mags is needed close to home for his abilities as a spy and his powerful Mindspeech gift. There is a secret, treacherous plot within the royal court to destroy the Heralds. The situation becomes dire after the life of Mags' mentor, King's Own Nikolas, is imperiled. His daughter Amily is chosen as the new King's Own, a complicated and dangerous job that is made more so by this perilous time. Can Mags and Amily save the court, the Heralds, and the Collegium itself?
This was a great, if short read, but one I found a bit unusual for the first book in a series. Usually, when I've picked up a new series in the world of Valdemar, it feels like a new series - a bit of an introduction to the world of the Heralds, an introduction to the characters, all the things a new reader of any of the Valdemar books would need in order to gather an understanding of the world Mercedes Lackey has created. Not this time. Closer To Home picks up after the ending of Bastion, the final book in the Collegium Chronicles series, and it doesn't feel like a new series at all. Instead, it's a continuation of the previous books. Now, by no means is the above paragraph a complaint!

I loved the book, and I'm looking forward to next year and the next book in the series. It's just that if you're thinking that this, being the first book in a new series, would be a good introduction to the world of Valdemar, you might want to try Foundation instead. That's the book that's going to introduce Mags, Bear and Lena (only mentioned in this one), Amily etc to you.

I do recommend this book and any other of Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books quite highly. None of them to date has been a disappointment to me, and most I've read several times.


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