Tolkien Tag: Wrapping up the Tolkien-Related Fun

I absolutely couldn’t resist getting in one more Tolkien-related post before the end of September! I saw this tag written by Rose Marie @Only a Dream and thought to myself, “Why not?” Because you can never get too much Tolkien, right?

1. How did you first get into Tolkien? You can tell the whole story: was it through the books or movies? Both are perfectly acceptable by the way. What made you become a fan?

As many of you already know, I first got into Tolkien through my dad reading us The Hobbit when I was pretty young. I’m not sure exactly how old I was, but I’m guessing I was 6 or 7 years old. I know he read this to us multiple times before he read us The Lord of the Rings, which might have been when I was about 12. We watched the cartoon version of The Hobbit. The weird mash-up of cartoon/motion-capture-before-motion-capture-was-a-thing called The Lord of the Rings, which, as I recall, ends after the Battle of Helm’s Deep… and they never made the second part.

Then we also watched the Return of the King cartoon… and my brothers and I kind of mocked it mercilessly because all the characters had abnormally large noses, and the songs were a bit… goofy/cheesy… even for us. Ahem. But… we watched it multiple times anyway, because… look… it was all we had, okay?

So you can imagine our excitement when the live-action movies came out! My whole family went to see Fellowship of the Ring SEVEN times in theaters. That’s a record of epic proportions for us. I remember after the first time we saw it, my dad leaned forward, looked at us all with a huge grin on his face and said, “And that was the ‘BORING’ book!!!” (disclaimer: we do not believe Fellowship of the Ring is “boring” this statement was simply an acknowledgement that there is more action in the second and third books)

2. What do you like the most about Tolkien’s work and why? It can be anything from specific books and characters, to themes and particular chapters of the stories to Middle-earth locations. Feel free to tell all about it.

I love the archaic style of writing, the older-feeling language used, the depth of the characters, the complexity of the subplots, the epic scope of the world-building, and the deep moral lessons woven seamlessly throughout the fabric of the story.

3. Who’s your favorite Tolkien character and why? If you’re like me and find it hard to choose just one, you can choose up to three.

Oh goodness. I don’t know if I can limit it to just three!

But if I had to choose… just three…

Samwise, Boromir, Eomer

followed suuuper closely by Eowyn, Aragorn, and Thorin… and Bilbo… and Frodo (I do love Frodo, poor guy often gets left out of my top favorites lists, but I do love him dearly).

4. What’s your favorite Tolkien location and why? Same about characters, you can choose three.


It’s always been Rivendell for me. I love many places in Middle-Earth. I’d love to see the halls of Erebor, hang out under the party tree in the Shire, explore Lothlorien… but my heart yearns most for Rivendell.

5. What Middle-earth race do you feel you would belong to and why? Also, what race is your favorite? They might not be the same.

I love Hobbits and Elves and Dwarves… and Hobbits are probably my favorite, followed closely by elves (though Peter Jackson made me fall in love with the dwarven race when he portrayed them as epic rather than silly and for that I owe him thanks).

But the race I feel I most belong to? Humans. Specifically the Rohirrim.

6. What’s your favorite Peter Jackson Middle-earth movie (including both his trilogies: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) and why? If you happen to have not seen them yet, why is that?

I have to pick just one?

Fellowship of the Ring. It’s the movie that took the least license with the script (even if he did leave out Tom Bombadill) and for me… watching that movie was kind of like the first time Lucy steps through the wardrobe and sees Narnia on the other side of the fur coats. It’s hard to recapture that sense of wonder and brilliance and beauty, no matter how much I love the other five movies… that one is just slightly dearer to my heart. It’s special and irreplaceable.

7. Alternatively, which one is your least favorite and why?

I don’t really have a least favorite. Before the extended editions came out I would have said “Two Towers” because of how badly they messed up Faramir’s character in the theatrical release, but the extended edition helped mollify me a bit. I love them all.

8. Tell us about your Tolkien merch collection. If you have none, tell us about which Tolkien merch you’d like to own (you can do this one even if you do have a merch collection too).

I have a replica One Ring.

A student of mine forged me a replica Sting letter-opener that I love to pieces.

We have a Fellowship silhouette placard my brother and his wife got us for Christmas that we need to hang up in our new house (I’ll get around to decorating one of these days)

I have a clock that looks like the door to Bag End.

We have a key-holder with the silhouette of the Fellowship on it.

And that’s about it… unless you count multiple copies of the books. But we have plans to get more decorations, particularly once the basement is finished….

9. Would you like to learn and be able to speak fluently in one of Tolkien’s languages, like Quenya and Sindarin or even the Black Speech of Mordor?

I’d love to learn how to speak Elvish. I never learned to write in Elvish and I suppose that means I can’t be an official card-carrying Tolkien nerd…

10. What are your thoughts on The Silmarillion?

I love it! It’s high time for a re-read.

11. What’s your favorite battle? Helm’s Deep? Pelennor Fields? Moria? Amon Hen?

Helm’s Deep has always been my favorite. I just love all the nuances of the storyline at that point. I know it’s not the ultimate culmination of the story the way Pelennor Fields is, but there are just SO many moving parts and it’s kind of the turning point of the whole story where despair reigns for a moment and then hope springs forth and men begin to see a glimmer of a chance that perhaps the forces of darkness are not completely unbeatable.

12. What’s the moment (it can be in the books or movies or both) that made you cry the hardest? Or if you don’t cry easily, that was the most heartbreaking or heartwarming or both to you.

Thorin’s death. I cry easily in books and movies in general, usually more for the beautiful moments than the actual sad ones…. but Thorin’s death is both, and it gets me every single time, even though I’ve read the books/watched the movies more times than I can even count at this point.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed all the Tolkien-related fun this month! The Silmaril Hosts and I are already getting some ideas thrown around for next year as it will be the epic FIVE YEAR anniversary of the Silmaril Awards!!! We’ll have to do something special for it, for sure.

If you missed any of the award ceremonies or are wondering who the winners this year were, you can find all the links HERE. And if you’re new to the party and are scratching your head wondering, “What in the deep world are SILMARIL AWARDS?!” You can find all the information about this awesome annual blogging event on OUR OFFICIAL WEBSITE

And now it’s your turn! If you are a fan of Tolkien, consider yourself tagged! You can write your own blog post, or just answer whichever of the questions appeals to you most in the comments below!

And keep an eye out next week, because my Children’s Picture Book is releasing! And while it’s neither Tolkien nor fantasy-related *GASP!!* I am incredibly excited about sharing it with you!

Mae govannen, dear Reader.

~ jenelle

The Influence of Tolkien

I honestly can’t remember if my dad read us The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia first. I’m pretty sure he read us The Hobbit more times… though even that, I’m not sure about. Either way, these were my very first forays into the realm of fantasy fiction, and both Tolkien and Lewis had a major influence on me from a very young age. It may perhaps be cliche at this point to say that The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia are my two most favorite fantasy series… but being cliche makes it no less true.

Bilbo Baggins taught me that even the small and the unskilled may get a chance at greatness, but that in the end, goodness of heart and friendship is more important than any treasure.

Gandalf taught me that sometimes even the very wise feel fear, and sometimes do not know which road to take.

Thorin taught me about perseverance and leadership and the importance of home.

Frodo and Sam taught me about friendship and loyalty and sticking by someone even if it means carrying them through Mordor.

Merry and Pippin taught me that sometimes a tense situation needs a dash of humor.

Boromir taught me about courage and also that the mighty can waver, but that no one is beyond redemption.

Eomer taught me to stay faithful and true even when false accusations are aimed at your heart.

Aragorn taught me about humility and wisdom.

Eowyn taught me that sometimes what we want is not the same as what we need.

Denethor taught me that a pessimistic outlook is about the same as giving up.

Legolas and Gimli taught me that friendship can spring from the unlikeliest of places and does not have to be limited by interests or similarities.

Smaug taught me never to laugh at live dragons.

Whenever I reread to these books, they continue to teach me. When I return to Middle-Earth to adventure with my dear friends, I always feel as though I’m coming home. These stories, these characters, have done much to shape the person I am. But more than that, I must admit that they have shaped the author I am. It has never been my intention to write “Tolkien-esque” fantasy, but I cannot deny that the influence of his stories has trickled through into my own, poor scribblings in a variety of ways:

My love of fantasy and stories set in fantastical realms with magic and dragons and quests and all the trappings that come with the genre.

Characters with mysterious backgrounds.

Characters who are more than they seem.

My firm belief in happy endings.

The propensity to include poems and snatches of rhyming lines in my books.

My enormous casts of characters (even my flash fiction stories tend to explode in character-count, no matter how hard I try to restrict the number… more characters always want to jump into the story)

A fairly obvious line between good and evil.

Characters worth rooting for, who might make mistakes but generally strive to be good and kind to the people they encounter.

Deep themes of redemption, loss, forgiveness, faithfulness, and grief.

My great hope that those who read my stories will not only make new character-friends and go on a fun adventure, but also that they will learn something about themselves, or about the world, or ultimately, about their own Author, our great Creator God.

Of course, there are other books and authors I’ve read that have also influenced my style and my voice, blending together in my heart and mind in order to result in books that are just mine. But the influence of Tolkien is solidly there, reflected in the stories I choose to tell. And this is why I still count it among the highest compliments my writing has ever received that one reader once described my books to someone else as, “Tolkien-lite.”

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And now it’s your turn, dear Reader! What books have influenced you in some lasting way? What stories have taught you lessons that you have carried with you throughout your life? If you are a writer, what stories or authors have left an imprint on your soul and translated into your own tales?

~ jenelle

Tolkien Blog Party Tag

Hello there, dear Reader! Today I am participating in the Tolkien Blog Party hosted by The Edge of the Precipice blog! It’s a whole week of Tolkien-related fun and games, as well as a huge giveaway! If the Silmaril Awards haven’t been quite enough Tolkien-related fun for you, make sure you head over there and see what’s happening!

I might be posting a few more Tolkien-inspired things here throughout the week as we wrap up the Silmaril Awards, so stay tuned for that! And if you would like to write your own post and join the party, there’s a link-up for that on the post I linked to above!

Let’s get started with a fun tag! Tolkien… “would you rather” edition!

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Would You Rather…

1.  …join Thorin’s Company or the Fellowship?

Starting out with a super hard one (I have a feeling all of these are going to be difficult, actually). I love the members of the Fellowship and would happily travel through danger at their sides. But… I honestly think I have far less chance of dying if I stick with Thorin’s Company. Besides, the Fellowship already has a plucky member who uses humor or clumsiness to diffuse difficult/tense situations… but Thorin’s Company could definitely use that. Also, we’re currently reading The Hobbit out loud as a family, and I’m remembering how much I love it. So… Thorin’s Company it is!

2.  …ride Shadowfax or an eagle?

Oof. Flying on the back of an eagle sounds rather fun… but then, the eagles aren’t exactly known for allowing repeat-rides, and I’m somewhat afraid of heights. Actually, this one is pretty easy. Shadowfax all the way. I love horses and horse-back riding and Shadowfax has always been one of my favorite things about the Lord of the Rings.

3.  …travel through Moria or Mirkwood?

Mirkwood. This one isn’t even difficult. Moria has never been one of the places I wanted to visit. But Mirkwood… all through my growing up years and even now… whenever I hike through a forest (or even drive through a reasonably thick lane of trees) I pretend it’s Mirkwood. As ominous and forbidding as it sounds… there’s also something about the idea of it that sends a thrill of excitement through me.

4.  …learn to make elvish rope or mithril chainmail?

… Neither? Is neither an option? I mean, I’d love to HAVE both of them, but learn how to make them? I’m not at all a “crafty” person, and making rope or chain mail sounds exceedingly tedious. I have a feeling I’d grow bored long before I ever finished anything of substance.

But… one of my students once did a demonstration speech on how to make regular chain mail… and that was pretty neat to watch.

I still wouldn’t want to do it myself, though. Not for longer than about twenty minutes, anyway. And rope-twisting doesn’t look like a whole lot more fun.

Yeah… I really can’t decide which one I’d dislike more.

5.  …try to outwit Smaug or Saruman?

Smaug. Hand’s down, Smaug. I mean, besides the fact that he’s a DRAGON, which just makes him infinitely cooler than Saruman, as a character he’s also more interesting and devious and clever and dangerous than Saruman ever was. Also, Smaug at least has a sense of humor.

I don’t do well with people who don’t have a sense of humor.

Thus, Saruman is more likely to succeed in killing me, as I won’t be able to distract him with clever repartees or riddles.

6.  …spend an hour with Grima Wormtongue or Denethor?

Yeesh… neither! But actually, if I had to choose, I’d much prefer to hang out with Denethor than Wormtongue. Denethor would annoy me, but Wormtongue gives me the creeps.

7.  …attend Faramir’s wedding or Samwise’s wedding?

BOTH!!! Both, please! If they are happening on the same day, though… well… as much as Faramir and Eowyn are my all-time favorite fictional love story… I still think I’d rather attend a Hobbit wedding in the Shire. Besides, Sam and Rosie are just adorable.

8.  …have to care for the One Ring or the Arkenstone for a day?

The Arkenstone. The One Ring has far too great a chance of corrupting me and turning me into something I really don’t want to be. The Arkenstone also has the propensity to corrupt people – but its power is more that of just normal greed. It doesn’t come with the whole “bringing Sauron’s attention to you” factor, or have a mind of its own sort of bent on turning its bearer into a servant of evil. So I think… on the whole… the Arkenstone would be the safer of the two charges.

9.  …have tea with Bilbo or Frodo?

I’m… gonna have to go with Bilbo on this one. I love them both dearly, but as much as I love Frodo and admire him for his part in the Lord of the Rings… I always just kind of preferred Bilbo. It’s possible it’s because I fell in love with The Hobbit years before I ever read LOTR. Or maybe it’s just that I liked how Bilbo’s story ended on a far happier note. Or maybe it’s the kinship I feel towards another author and poet… but I just think having tea with Bilbo would be more comfortable and less filled with awkward pauses in which we had nothing to say to each other.

10.  …fight alongside Boromir or Eomer?

I saw this question right away and I’ve been dreading reaching it throughout the entire tag. Boromir and Eomer are two of my favoritest characters ever, and choosing between them is like tearing my heart out and offering it to Smaug on a platter.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post on all the reasons I love Boromir and will defend him forever and ever because the movies did him a great injustice.

And yet.


Faithful, faithful, staunch, trustworthy Eomer.

In the end, I really can’t decide. This is the one question I simply can’t answer.

I’d be safe in the company of either of these strong, brave-hearted, good men. I’d happily fight alongside either of them, though my fighting skills are about as lacking as any hobbit’s.



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And now it’s your turn! I’d love to hear your answers to some or all of these questions! 

Also, if you haven’t yet, make sure you swing through and read the various Silmaril Award Ceremonies posts! We’re over halfway done, but there are still a few Silmarils to hand out before the week is done, and so far, every event has been incredibly fun!

Wisest Counselor

Most Epic Heroine

Most Magnificent Dragon

Most Mischievous Imp

Strangest Character

Least Competent Henchman

Most Nefarious Villain

And make sure to check the following blogs on Wed-Fri to find out who wins in the following categories:

Most Silver Tongue

Most Faithful Friend

Most Epic Hero



~ jenelle

Five Friday Favorites: New To Me

We all have favorites.

Favorite movies, favorite books, favorite ice cream flavors… and there’s little in the world that’s more fun than finding a new favorite, or someone who shares one or more of your favorites.

I’ve encountered a few of the former recently, and thought I’d write a post in which I shared them with you. Some of these things are new, others are just new to me.

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5. Kemp’s Peppermint Bon-Bon Ice Cream – I had never even heard of this before we moved to Wisconsin, but my daughter picked it out one day and we brought it home. Much to my surprise, my husband saw it and started exclaiming that this was his favorite ice cream as a kid (which surprised me because he REALLY doesn’t like mint + chocolate, like… at ALL!) But this is pretty amazing stuff, y’all. It’s a very different flavor profile than mint-chocolate chip. It’s hard to explain, but it’s delicious.

4. Sand and Storm by Stella Dorthwany – This book is every bit as lovely as the cover. A little bit Prince of Persia meets Harry Potter… with some unique things that are all its own. This was a book club read I missed but decided to read this past month and I’m so glad I did!


3. Just Add Magic – we are always looking for fun shows or movies to watch as a family, and we have really been enjoying this truly adorable show about three best friends who discover a magical cookbook and learn how to use magical ingredients as they cook and bake together… hilarity and chaos ensues, as you might expect. The story of friendship is beautiful, and the plot has had a lot more depth than I expected.

2. The Tales of Miraculous Ladybug and Cat Noir – another really fun kids’ show… this one is about two young people who gain superpowers and have to use their newfound abilities to protect Paris from the evil Hawk-Moth who uses his power to “evilize” various people throughout the city in an attempt to gain control of the “miraculouses” that give Ladybug and Cat Noir their powers. It is every bit as zany as it sounds… but somehow, it really works and is super fun!

1.5. Daughter of Sun, Bride of Ice by H.L. Burke – I had planned to do only “five” of these, but then I thought of six, and I couldn’t quite bring myself to cut one of them out. Okay, I probably could have left off the ice cream one. Ahem. Anyway, this one is both “new to me” AND brand new in general! I have been following this author for a while, and while I have loved the books of hers I’ve read in the past, her snippets and teasers about THIS book absolutely captivated me. I bought it as soon as it was available and have already read it TWICE! It is so, so, so beautiful. A tidally-locked planet. A feisty princess anxious to win the right to determine her own fate… but who must also learn to shoulder the weight that comes with the bargain she has made. A land covered in snow and ice. This book stole my heart… and I’m so excited to be diving into book two now that it’s out, as well! I plan to do a dual-review after I’ve finished that one, since they really do belong together almost more as a single book than a duology…

1. The Book Thief – I am ashamed to say that I have OWNED this movie for several years now. My dad bought it for me and I put it on my DVD shelf, and then promptly never found the opportunity to watch it. Earlier this month, I had some time to myself and I finally got around to viewing it and… I wish I hadn’t waited so long. The beauty of this movie is paralleled only by its sadness… and I’ll warn you, it IS sad. But since Death opens the movie as its narrator, you can kind of see it coming. That did not prevent my heart from breaking, though.

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What about you, dear Reader? Are you familiar with any of my new favorites listed above? Have you come across any new favorites of your own lately? I’d love to hear about them!

And speaking of favorites… don’t forget that the Silmaril Award Ceremonies are currently happening throughout the blogosphere! Five Silmarils have already been handed out, and five more will be coming next week! You can find the list of blog posts here at OUR OFFICIAL SILMARIL AWARDS SITE!

~ jenelle