Sidethought LotR

You know something invisible about LotR? You always knew what people were trying to accomplish and why.

Broadly: What was the overarching goal? Throw the ring into Mt Doom.

Specifically: What was Boromir trying to do? Save the Minas Tirith and Gondor.

Niche: What were the three hunters trying to do in Rohan? Save the hobbits, followed by save Rohan, followed by save Gondor.

What was Treebeard trying to do? Nothing when he wasn’t that important a character, and defeat Saruman when he was an important character.

What was Shelob trying to do? Eat people.

And so on and so on. It’s so simple it’s invisible, but you always knew what the characters were trying to do if they mattered.

What was Gimli trying to do? Show up the elf.

And it’s invisible. That’s mastery.


Okay, so on one hand, Disa’s character is trite. Grumpy husband, bubbly wife. Oh look, she gets a scene with hidden strength. She almost kinda threatens Elrond. She fusses at her kids.

That being said, I think she’s great. I like Disa. I liked her fussing at her kids, husband, and Elrond. I liked the singing bit. I like the way Durin plays off her. The contrast works, the development works, and it works organically within the characters.

The source of Durin’s conflict with Elrond worked extremely well for me, and it ground those three in a very mundane, plausible extrapolation of their internal differences. That 20 years isn’t a great thing to an elf and is to a dwarf, themselves a long-linged species, worked so well it seemed out of place in the movie. Disa keeps going with that. Magic materials! Magical races! Elves!

And grumpy husband, bubbly wife.

They really flesh-out the show.

Rings of Power 2

Real talk, it’s 3/5 or 4/5. The first episode was 3/5, but the second got better.

It won’t create a dynasty, though. It’s not itself enough.

The big criticism of Rings of Power that’s reasonable is the way it ignores the lore. I’m not talking about Tom Bombadil being cut from the movies. I’m talking about whole chunks of backstory excised, ignored, or butchered. The writers or producers, perhaps someone else, clearly stomped over a script and ordered the people writing it to hit certain beats. But those beats were hit with no attention to the underlying bones of Middle Earth, its melody. Jeff Bezos is Morgoth.

RoP isn’t Tolkien. It’s good generic fantasy. It’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. It’s fine, and given how little is out there in the fantasy space, honestly it’s pretty good. We should be happy Galadriel isn’t in a battle bikini.

In the first bit of the first ep, Galadriel heads up to the frozen north. She wants to pursue Sauron, her team doesn’t, and eventually, they mutiny and turn back. This moment can be looked upon in two lights.

1) This is a generic movie with no connection to Tolkien’s lore. As such, the meaning of that scene is to show Galadriel’s relentlessness via comparison. It builds the character of Galadriel.

2) This is a garbage Tolkien movie that just dumped on history. Galadriel already took her company across the Grinding Ice. She chased her enemies across the frozen north already, and brought most of her elves through. Why then did her platoon refuse now? Why is this different? No explanation is given because the writer’s don’t care about Tolkien’s backstory.

The writers or the producers who demanded a specific story care so little about Tolkien’s backstory, they don’t understand that people could. When someone complains about the loss of the lore, the dev team doesn’t understand that lore is something people can care about.

There’s a romance between an elf and a human in Harad.

1) It’s forbidden love. Get that romance angle going.

2) Tolkien states that romances between humans and elves don’t work.

This is a bit more plausible from a narrative standpoint, as the elf/haradim romance could exist and just tank. They might go down in flames. She or he dies. That would actually help the forbidden love angle too.

Galadriel and her team sail to Valinor. It’s said they were the first ones offered such a privilege.

1) idk. Why is she swimming?

2) Um, no? Any of the elves could? A whole bunch of them did after the defeat of Morgoth.

2a) Also, Arda is, like, right over there. It’s not displaced from Middle Earth yet. It’s a long sail. It’s a one way trip, but it’s a very doable one. That’s why there’s a city in Linden.

2b) Are we skipping the whole fall of Numenor bit? Before the end, Valinor was just some distance west.

2c) Are we doing the founding of Numenor? Is the dude on the ship Elros Tar-Minyatur?

Anyway, luls, no one cared.

The thing here is that there’s nothing beyond shallow entertainment. The show has no depth, and without depth, it won’t last. There’s nothing in it worth exploring, because the entire history and backstory is cludge, slapped together with wishful thinking and special effects when the action requires it. It doesn’t have depth, because the people who made it didn’t care. The dev team didn’t care at all. They were hitting demographic checkboxes, unwilling to explore anything with care. It’s high budget and low effort.

I guess that’s the big problem. Tolkien’s world was a high-effort making. He put work in, and it showed. This wasn’t. No one involved in the making cared. That’s why nerds like me get so frustrated. What I wanted was something made by people who cared about the world not just the casting. And it isn’t there.

It really isn’t that bad. It’s Valerian. Valerian was fine.

Valerian didn’t spawn any sequels.


Writing fiction makes me feel like an evil chessmaster, sitting in the dark. On publishing day I reveal my plots and stratagems, and either conquer the world (or a few readers) or die trying.

Also, just finished a reread of the Return of the King, capping my reread of Tolkien’s big 4. It’s better than I remember. The parts I remember disliking (trouble in the Shire, slow ending, etc.) are actually fitting. The general mood, one of a world fading, I still passionately disagree with, but the book itself is better than I recalled.


I’m really trying to push some new ground with this one. I’m playing with my verb choice, trying to avoid state-of-being verbs except as tense indicators and use more transitives. I’m also manipulating some ideas. I’ve got a 1 chapter buffer right now, and hopefully that will grow to two or three, as I need a bit of margin to go back and fix plots that don’t pan out. It’s going well, though. I write slow, so this is a real challenge. And I need more challenges.

You can read the Nine here at AO3.