i Nili o i Ardanole Newsletter:
Your source for Lord of the Rings News, Updates, Poetry, Art, Parody and Satire.
Issue 18, Volume 1. December 26th, 2003.
Assistant Editor: Xara.
Contributor(s): Ivy Brandybuck.
In this issue: The Return of the King.
Featured Article: The End of an Era by Ivy Brandybuck.
"Wouldn't It Have Been Easier?" by Xara.
Rings Fit for a King by Prongs.
Cousins by Perian.
Evil Giant Flesh-Eating Spider Genealogy by Xara.
In every issue:
Fanfiction: This Fortnight: Lord of the Rings - The Final Exam By Xara.
Letters to the Editor.
The End of an Era
by Ivy Brandybuck.
Most of us have seen it by now. We laughed, we cried, we sat in suspense. All emotions came and went freely. We saw The Return of the King.
This film is truly amazing. Not just because it's The Return of the King, but because it's a part of us, whether we realise it or not. For two years we have waited in anticipation for this film, and finally, here it is. The film we've all been waiting for has finally arrived.
Though it affects us in more ways than one. We have lived and breathed this film and this book for as long as we can remember. As I sat in the darkened theater, I couldnae help but feel a strange sense of foreboding. I didnae realise until the credits were rolling just what it was. The Lord of the Rings was my whole life up until that defining moment. That moment was the moment I realised this: It is over. It is finished. It is done. We've all gone through The Fellowship of the Ring. "It was so amazing! And to think, there's still two more!" We've all gone through The Two Towers. "That's was so great! And there's still another one to go!" And now, most of us have gone through The Return of the King. But what is there to say once this one is over? We cannot say "I cannae believe there's another one!" Why? Because there is no other one. When it finished, I cried. Not because the film was sad, but because it was over. I think that when you see this film, a piece of you will be gone. You'll feel complete, like you've finished a life long task, and you did your best. But a tiny bit of you will be gone. The fanatic in you won't be as... well... fanatic as it used to be. You won't feel that sense of excitement come December, nor the torture of having to wait.
The Fellowship of the Ring will be ended, the saga of The Lord of the Rings will be over. These characters are everything to us, and when they're finally gone, it comes as a hard blow of shock. Though it has come to an end, it will live on forever in us: The Lord of the Rings Fanatics!
"Wouldn't It Have Been Easier?"
Amongst the many criticisms of Lord of the Rings by these unenlightened non-fans perhaps one of the most common or at least less ludicrous is the fact that the Fellowship walked all the way to Mount Doom. A long way to walk they say, which is of course true, and a way much more easily covered by some faster means of transport. At this criticism fans have often been stumped, it being too difficult to explain to these non-believers that it was Elrond himself who proclaimed that they should be walkers and he being one of the wisest people in Middle Earth probably had a very good reason for this. However, on closer study of Lord of the Rings it becomes quite obvious that Frodo and Sam and there companions wouldn't have got very far at all had they not been relying on their own two feet.
Let me be begin with the most obvious alternative means of transport available, horse and pony. Wouldn't it have been easier if they had rode to Mordor? ask some. The answer it no. They did, if you remember, bring a pony with them, Bill, but had to turn him loose when they entered the Mines of Moria as he could not possibly have walked those sightless paths and especially with all the orcs and balrogs and narrow bridges lying around. Imagine the cacophony of trying to bring four ponies and five horses through Moria! Or over Carad-hras or through the Emyn Muil, down the river Anduin, over the Emyn Muil, through the Dead Marshes, Shelob's Lair and the Plains of Gorgoroth. Horses and ponies however swift and sturdy would surely be more of a hindrance than a help on the long road to Mordor.
Alright, what about a bicycle then? They're not live, they wouldn't go wild with fear when faced with orcs and dark tunnels and you don't have to feed them! Well, the answer to this of course apart from the fact that there were no bicylces in Middle Earth is that there is no way even Boromir would have appreciated or been able to lug a bicycle up a snow-storm ridden mountain, fit it comfortably into a boat, get it across the Emyn Muil etcetera, etcetera. The truth is that on such a journey there would be very few opportunities to use the bike, although perhaps if Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli had had some on them they might have caught up with that orc army and challenged it even though they were outnumbered about 100 to 1 and thus of course would now be dead. You see, bicycles aren't such a good idea after all.
Now here comes an interesting argument. Why couldn't Gwaihir and some eagle buddies given them a lift the whole way? Well that's obvious, it's ok for an eagle to carry around the occasional dwarf, hobbit or reborn wizard for an afternoon but it's a long way from Rivendell to Mount Doom and at such a distance even Pippin would start to get heavy. And besides eagles have much better things to do and much more pride than to turn themselves into a taxi service (I know that's a bit contradictory coming from me but it's true and that was pure humour).
Oliphaunts? Don't be ridiculous. Horse and cart? Too cumbersome. Wargs? Not unless the Fellowship was on the quest for the warg's belly. Airplane? Wrong millennium. The Fellowship quite simply couldn't have gone on their quest any other way. It may have been longer, it may have been more tiring, they may have been in desperate need of some Nike's but there was simply no other way it could be done.
Rings Fit for a King
I suppose when one has completed one's final examinations, one does tend to act slightly mad. Call it mad, call it a waste of money, call it pathetic if it pleases you, but my fourteen friends and I had the time of our lives at the Return of the King on Wednesday!
Not having time to dress up in costumes since most of us had just finished our exams an hour prior, we did manage to come up with a proclamitory t-shirt each. Mine -- a pale green sweater -- read "Sam -- the true hero" on the front and "All hail Aragorn" on the back. Dana wore a plain white tank with a "Hotometer" on it -- Pippin being the hobbit to garner the most votes. Rob had on a black tee which announced "Who needs squeaky clean elves, scruffy rangers and cute hobbits -- Sauron rules all!".
Needless to say, we garnered quite a few stares while waiting in line to be let into the theatre but we were not fazed out in the least. When at last we were let in, we made a mad dash to grab the best seats in the house, and had yet more furtive glances thrown our way. Did we waver in our quest to being the happiest bunch in the movie house? Not at all.
With enough candy, popcorn and soda to feed a household of thirty children, we sank comfortably into our seats to watch the movie. I wont say much about the movie, as some of the readers have not yet seen it. All I will say is that I have never heard so many people clap, cheer, sniff and sob during a movie in my entire theatre experience. The audience gasped in unison, the booed in unison, the groaned in unison ... it was like we were all of one mind!
Having watched the movie once, we left our coats, hats and gloves in our seats, went to the washroom to do our business, then promptly returned to watch it again. The second viewing was even better than the first and once more, the audience and the atmosphere was fantastic. At the end, we gathered some more strange looks as we rose simultaneously, joined hands, and sang and swayed along to "Into the West". The entire experience was a whirlwind of excitement, fun and tears and I thank P.J., the cast and the crew for this blessed and wonderful treat!
When it comes to the romance of Tolkien's works, delicate and rich, sacrificing and everlasting, one detail oft' comes up which is none too easy to brush aside: Nearly every individual within a Tolkienesque couple is in some way related to the other. No, I don't mean related in mentality or traits, but in ancestry: Pippin married a Took. Merry became husband to a third cousin, on their mothers' sides; Estella Bolger, sister of Fredegar. Rosie was technically Samwise's sister-in-law by dual sibling marriages. Even Aragorn and Arwen were distant cousins, a fact Aragorn pointed out to Elrond as the half-elf tried to discourage their relationship. Often purist fans will, while blushing profusely with their voices sharp enough to pierce a listener's flesh (leave alone their thoughts), try to explain it away by citing examples of the same in European royalty. This is a very good excuse, and for some time it had this writer as one of its adamant supporters. That is until I discovered we are all related. No, not in Newagespeak. Here is the central concept:
"It is practically impossible to set limits on where any man's family connection may reach upon the habitable earth. And the very prouferation and complexity of his relations is incomprehensible to most of us as, for, even if we assume only two children to a couple (a quote actually two low to permit humanity to survive), everyone on the average must have four first cousins (the children of his uncles and aunts), sixteen second cousins (the grandchildren of his great-uncles and great-aunts), probably sixty-four third cousins, about 250 fourth cousins, roughly 1,000 fifth cousins, and some 1 million relatives as close as tenth cousins..."
-from How Big Is the Family Tree by Guy Murchie, 1980.
Back during the time of Middle-earth, when humanoid species did not intermarry (save in exceptional cases, such as the pairing of Luthien and Beren) and did not travel into different realms except when driven by necessity, that is as far as we need go. In the wide and nigh upon empty European vistas of the Third Age war-depleted populations of various realms were not likely to hold more than a million inhabitants per peoples (Man, Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit, etc.,) living therein. So, if each couple in, say, Gondor, had only two children (which is highly improbable) it is a realm made up entirely of first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth cousins. As a maiden in Minas Tirith you could not marry without pairing with a near cousin. And that is one of the most populated kingdoms. Imagine how it was in Dale or Bree.
Does this apply today? Without a doubt it does. Taking into account the current population of the world we are at furthest relation fiftieth cousins. It may be time to take a leaf out of Melian's book and reintroduce intra-species bonding: All we need is the hobbits or elves ... or dwarves, if you follow the same path as Legolas may have had he been a female ... to do so. Until then, we have a new definition of kissing cousins.
Evil Giant Flesh-Eating Spider Genealogy
Evil Giant Flesh-Eating Spiders, you'd think the title said it all! I mean, what more can there be to say about them except that they're very big, flesh-eating and evil...nothing, right? Wrong. Believe it or not, these spiders which have made important cameo appearances in Tolkien's three most famous and most read books have one of the most interesting family histories I've ever seen. Of course, it is an evil family history, but it's not so giant that it cannot be told in one sitting.
It all began with Ungoliant, the most evil and ancient of all these evil and ancient spiders. Nobody knows exactly where she came from, but it is thought that she was a spirit similar to the ainur, maybe a fallen maia like Sauron was? Ungoliant was Morgoth's ally and a perpetrator in the darkening of Valinor. She could weave shadow around her, and she was ever hungry. She went with Morgoth into Valinor one sunny day and sucked dry the Two Trees of Valinor, Laurelin and Telperion, so that all the land was filled with darkness, and in the confusion under the cover of night Morgoth was then able to steal the Silmarils of Feanor, and we all know how much trouble that caused. After that not much is known of Ungoliant, except that when he refused to give her the Silmaril's (to eat) as promised, she tried to eat him, but he cried out and his servants heard and came and shooed the not-so-itsy-bitsy-spider off. After that it is said that she fled and wove such dark webs as she could, never able to satisfy her hunger until she eventually devoured herself, a commendable feat which had never been accomplished before or since, though many have tried.
Next in line in this most interesting family tree comes the evil Shelob. Ungoliant had many children of course, but Shelob, having attacked the Ring-bearer and his faithful servant, is the only one who ever made it into Tolkien's writings unfortunately. Now Shelob, though she lived on the borders of Mordor, was not in league with Sauron, she had been there long before and would remain long after. Though she did inadvertently prove to be a very useful servant, guarding the tunnel through the Ephel Duath (Mountains of Shadow) better than any orc could. Little is known of Shelob until, around the time of his escape, Gollum had become her servant and worshiped her, and brought her food, before eventually loping off in pursuit of the Ring. Many, many years later though, Gollum returned to her, bringing Frodo and Sam as food offerings, in the hope that, after she had eaten them, he would obtain the Ring. However this didn't go quite as planned when Frodo and Sam broke through her Lair. Shelob came after them and managed to bite and poison Frodo, but then had to contend with Sam who stabbed out her eyes and then her belly. This did not kill her, but badly wounded her and it would be many years before Shelob was fit to hunt again.
All this happened 77 years after Shelob's children, who had taken up abode in Mirkwood, accosted Thorin's company on their journey to the Lonely Mountain and, incidentally, it was with the same sword that Frodo used to break out of Shelob's Lair and Sam used to defeat her that Bilbo fought and killed his own evil giant flesh-eating spider, and many more, when he rescued twelve of his companions from their grasp. Taking into account that hobbits seem to be the only race able to defeat these giant flesh-eating spiders, you might even go so far as to call hobbits Spider's Bane. Now all I need is a hobbit or two to guard all possible entrances to my room, and I'd never be faced with the evil spawn of Ungoliant again!
This Fortnight: Lord of the Rings - The Final Exam
Warning: RotK Spoilers
The mountain rumbled and quivered behind them as Frodo and Sam ran out, Frodo clutching a bloodied stump where his middle finger used to be. Then, puffing and panting, they paused to admire the view of Gorgoroth from the top of the Mountain of Fire, the beauty of which had escaped them on their way up for obvious reasons.
"Mr. Frodo," Said Sam, "Give me your hand. Let me bind your finger for you, we don't want that to keep bleeding the way it is, it's not healthy."
"Leave it Sam. It doesn't matter. Nothing matters anymore. Our quest is over Sam, the Ring is destroyed!! And soon the Mountain will destroy us..." And the Mountain gave a malevolent rumble as if to confirm Frodo's words.
"But still Mr. Frodo I don't like to leave it like that."
"The quest is over Sam," Repeated Frodo.
"Not quite actually." Came a voice from behind. Frodo and Sam both turned in alarm. There standing before them was a woman with hair in a tight bun and spectacles , clutching a pen and clipboard on which she had just been scribbling furiously. "You have completed your practical work excellently, truly excellently and have achieved full marks, but I'm afraid that the practical only accounts for half of your final result, and you still have to complete a written examination."
"But," Cried Frodo, "But, no one told us there was going to be an exam!! I haven't studied, the mountains about to explode I..."
"Oh the mountain will hold off for a couple of hours yet," Replied the woman, in actual fact the Chief Examiner, "And as for not studying I am disappointed in your Frodo Baggins. You've had since your 33rd birthday to study. I will not accept that as an excuse! Now, come on, over here Frodo, sit down here at this desk.."
"Oi! Now just you leave my master alone!" Cried Sam, "You've got no business coming here and ordering him about and giving us exams indeed!"
"Come and sit here Sam we've got one for you too! There we go, over here, now just sit still both of you while we wait for the others," said the Chief Examiner reassuringly, "Ah, here they are!"
Marching behind another examiner came seven battle-stained exhausted figures. Aragorn at the head was using his sword as a walking stick, Legolas behind him was looking sullen and defiant, and behind him were Merry, arm in sling, and Pippin who had only recently been roused into semi-consciousness after being crushed by a troll, and was looking as if he would soon be returning to dying where he left off. Behind the hobbits went Gimli and Gandalf muttering silently under his breath what sounded like revision facts. And last of all came Boromir, several arrow shafts sticking out of his chest.
"Tut, tut," Said the Examiner as Boromir came and sat down at his desk, "You haven't been doing very well so far, trying to take the Ring and getting shot by orcs, you've failed your practical I'm afraid Boromir. But never mind, you still have a chance to make it up in the exam."
"When I'm finished this can I go back to being dead please?" Asked Boromir.
"Of course you can. Right, now I am handing round these papers, don't look at them yet," She looked sharply at Pippin who was in the process of turning his over. "Does everyone have a quill?" There was a unanimous shaking of heads. "You didn't even bring one quill? Really I am disappointed in the disorganisation of you lot. Luckily I have brought spares in case this happened."
When all the Fellowship were seated and had papers and quills the Chief Examiner slammed a post into the ground in front of them and hung a clock from it. "You have two hours to complete the examination. There will be no talking. You may begin."
There was a rustling as papers were turned over and the Nine Companions began to recall scrap of information they had picked up on their travels. Frodo and Sam had particular problems with the question on Palantirs as they had missed that stage, but as for "Describe the effects of the Ring when worn on the boundaries of Mordor" nobody but Sam was able to confidently answer. Poor Boromir got zero on "Explain an effective method in resisting the lure of the Ring" but full marks on the Weaponry Maintenance section along with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli.
The silence of working hobbits, elves, dwarves, men and wizards was frequently punctuated by shuffles and cries of pain as Boromir was having some trouble sitting at his desk with all the arrows sticking out his front, they kept getting caught painfully from underneath the desk. Eventually Sam, who was never one to enjoy the pressure of exams could stand it no longer. "Oi," he whispered to Boromir, "Can't you keep it a bit quieter, I can't hear myself think with all your racket."
"It's not my fault it's these blasted arrows," Hissed Boromir back.
"Not your fault? Ha!" Replied Sam heatedly, "You're the one who tried to take the Ring off my master, I suppose that wasn't your fault either eh? You got what you deserved you thieving..."
But Sam was not allowed to finish his sentence as at that moment Boromir jumped on him and wrestled him to the ground. Within moments the exam was in disarray, with Aragorn and Legolas trying to pull Boromir off and Gimli and Gandalf trying to calm the Examiners down whilst Frodo kicked Boromir incessantly in the back of the knee with the idea of applying his small pressure continually to a weak place. In all the confusion Merry and Pippin were able to successfully cheat off Gandalf's paper who had all but finished and scored very highly indeed. Soon the scuffle was ended, rather abruptly when one of Boromir's arrows snapped painfully and he let go of Sam's neck in reflex.
"Well I think that was a little bit unnecessary," Cried the Examiner, rather flustered. "Come on everyone, back to your seats, there's still twenty minutes to go!"
The exam ended twenty minutes later. Merry and Pippin cheered and danced in a circle while the mountain still rumbled worryingly behind them until Pippin remembered he had been crushed by a troll only two hours earlier and collapsed unconscious once more. Boromir was immediately escorted back to his funeral boat to continue his course down the Anduin. Frodo fainted soon after the exam for blood loss, most of which was now all over his paper, and many questions he had indeed written in his own blood. Gandalf went off to find Gwaihir to carry off the Ringbearer and Sam in glory to the field of Cormallen whilst Gimli, Aragorn and Legolas escorted Merry and carried Pippin back in less honour.
And so it was that the Fellowship of the Ring sat for their exam on the slopes of Mount Doom, which self destructed soon after their departure, and, surprisingly, all passed. The End.
Xara: You are trapped in the dungeons of Barad-dur. What is your escape plan?
Ivy: First of all, I would tempt the orc watching over my cell with a carrot. Or maybe "hobbit" pie. Which would really be salami or something. So once the likkle orc gets near enough, I'd bash him over the head with a conveniently placed rock. Once the poor orcsie is unconscious, I would use a stick made out of eating utensils to grab the keychain and unlock the cell door. From there it gets tricky! I'd find an Elvish cloak they somehow had lying around, and of course, I have the keychain I stole from the poor orc I knocked unconscious, so I can get into literally any room in Mordor! Generally I would run amuck, but seeing as I was obviously in Barad-dur for a reason... ;) So, with my Elven cloak-of-nearly-invisibility, I would make my way out into Mordor, where I would coincidently run across Frodo and Merry making there way to Orodruin. They tell me that Gwaihir is back at the Black Gate (Then the Frodo-muraled gate.) And that he would give me a ride back to Hobbiton! It's a fool-proof plan!
Xara: Due to a freak earthquake in Wellington every copy of Return of the King has been destroyed whilst awaiting world distribution. All save one. How far would you go to get hold of the last copy on earth?
Ivy: *Gapes.* Impossible! Would that ever happen? :| First of all, I would cry over the news. Then I'd get myself together, and call in some favours... The Irish Mafia, who have a convenient branch in NZ, will be sent to protect the final copy from anyone who should try and get at it. People from the plane company in NZ that my father knows would come and pick me up in my city, and fly me directly there. The crowds in Wellington are ENORMOUS. (What can I say, EVERYONE wants that copy!) So, being the stealthy little hobbit-like person I am, I would twist and wind through the crowds, until I reach the shop. Seamus, the leader of the Mafia, is arguing with a groups of girls who are wearing T-shirts that read "FRODO LIVES!" In large gold letters. I slip past him, unnoticed, and go inside the large warehouse building. In the middle of the large, nearly empty room, on a silver pedestal, is the ONLY COPY OF RotK! I stand there in awe for about three hours, until I finally come to my senses. I take the copy off the pedestal, slip it into my jacket, and run out the back to a private jet that "just happened" to be there. The End!
Xara: When walking along the highway one day you happen to spot The One Ring of Power lying by the wayside. What do you do?
Ivy: Probably run away screaming in terror... I KNOW what it did to cousin Frodo! And anyway, if I tried to touch it, Gollum would probably spring out of nowhere and attack me...
Today I was confronted with an insult of the most subtle nature to the human race! I went out with a friend to the shopping centre to watch a movie (Master and Commander with Billy Boyd! Yay!) go shopping and have some lunch. After purchasing our lunch we went to sit down at the food court and found to our very great horror and disgust that all the tables were fitted with screens playing constant advertisements!! Oh the shame that anyone belonging to the same race as myself could think up such a horrid creation! Of course I wrote them a formal letter of complaint insulting and inducing shame using the most sophisticated language I knew how, but I don't feel like it was enough. What do you suggest oh wise hobbit of the advice column?
Oh, but my old gaffer would have a thing or two to say if he could see the way things are now. It's not natural. Well, the folk who put in those monstrous machines are greedy, plain and simple. The more people they learn won't be coming, the more likely they are to give up. Letters help. Protests with pitchforks do, too, but they're harder to organise. Whichever you're up for, so long as you stick to it.
NOTICE OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT: Some readers may recall an article that I wrote some time back titled "Lord of the Rings in Everyday Life". Yes? No? Anyway, this article was accompanied by a photograph. At the time when the article was written I assumed the photographer would not like her name published on the internet and so did not include it in the piece. However, I did not consult her in this matter and for that I apologise, as I discovered today she would be very excited to see her name published in this newsletter as the taker of that particular photograph. Therefore, I would like to acknowledge Miss Judy Cong (pronounced Tchong) as the photographer of the picture which accompanied my article "Lord of the Rings in Everyday Life." Thank you.
WANTED: A ship capable of tracking, overtaking and waylaying grey elven ship recently set out from the Grey Havens. There's this ship carrying my beloved Frodo away forever you see and...yes well, contact email@example.com with details! Thankyou!
wain: (noun of prehistoric Germanic origin) an archaic or literary term for a farm wagon or cart. (Note from Editor: A word of prehistoric origin? Isn't the point of something being prehistoric that there were no words recorded? Puzzle it as you like, I still haven't come to terms with that.)
creed: (noun, from Anglo Saxon creda) a statement of opinions on any subject. Belief without basis.
Letters to the Editor(s).
So I have been pronouncing the name right all this time? Phew! That's a relief! I was delighted to see so much reader participation this week! Though you must have your hands full with the columns! If this keeps up I may be able to stop constantly contributing to them, though you won't be able to stop me writing articles Oh Editor I'm sorry but I just enjoy it too much! I am unfamiliar with the Arthurian Legends but you've inspired me to read up on them so thank you! As always, was well worth waiting for! Oh, I just realised, by the time this is published I shall be in New Zealand! Hurrah!!! Oh and could I kindly have the contact details of that fine person selling the people-smuggling suitcase please? I'm in the market you see. Thank you, 'twill be all! Fare thee well my friends, for a time!
I hope so. If you haven't, then I too am fumbling on the title of our site and newsletter. Reader participation is going up! Joy to the Editors, no? Enjoy New Zealand. We look forward to your long essays and thorough articles directly out of your travel journal. Was that too obvious a hint?
Another fine issue! My congratulations! I have just one request. In light of the fact that you had an exclusive Frodo issue, will we be seeing an exclusive Samwise issue in the coming weeks? Also, thank you for the literal interpretation of the site name -- I realised, much to my dismay, that I had been pronouncing it ADranole instead of ARdanole. My bad. So, what about that Samwise issue?
Superb idea, Prongsie. Consider it done. Issue 22 shall be our first (possibly first annual) Samwise-exclusive issue. I would have it sooner, but nineteen is already devoted to the parody of Sauron and Frodo, and time is needed afterward for articles to be written. I hope to see you contributing again for that issue!