Jonathan Purdy’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (209)

This is one in a series of posts where the content is provided by a guest who has graciously answered five questions about their experience as a Tolkien fan.

To see the idea behind this project, or if you are interested in sharing your own, visit the project homepage. If you enjoy this series, please consider helping us fund the project using the support page.

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his artwork for this project. Prints are available on his website!

Now, on to Jonathan’s responses:


1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I was introduced to Tolkien when I was about 9 and my parents took us to see Fellowship in the cinema. I got home and immediately took my mum’s copy off the shelf and devoured it. Badly, I was picking up bits I’d skimmed over for years to come, which really made rereading all the better.

Tell a lie, it was my headmaster reading “Riddles in the Dark” in assembly when I was even earlier in primary school. I even wrote a poem based on the fall of Esgaroth that won a competition and was published well before FotR came out, but I don’t think I joined the dots between the two for a few years.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

As a whole, it’s the depth of the legendarium that stirs something in me. Lots of fantasy books and series have big histories and ancient characters, but apart from Malazan, none of them feel as real or vast as Tolkien’s work. When I first realised just how old Galadriel is, or that Elrond’s dad became a star in the First Age and Elrond is still just walking around and chatting to people like Sam, it blew my mind.

I think it’s the way that he stubbornly presented it as historical fact, writing as though he were interpreting real events that actually happened to real people that makes it so believable.

Also, the manner in which the man wrote. I adore his prose. The fall of Fingolfin, the ride of the Rohirrim and so many other scenes are presented so sublimely that reading them never feels stale. Excellent horror work as well.

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

I can’t think of a specific experience. Generally speaking, if I’m in the countryside, surrounded by grass and trees and the open air, Tolkien is the only writer it really feels appropriate to read, especially chapters set in the Shire, so I’d say any time I’ve read LotR outside in the shade of a tree. I think he’d appreciate that.

4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?

I honestly don’t think it has, except that I’ve faltered in my attempts to read LotR on a yearly basis (inspired by Sir Christopher Lee) and tend more nowadays towards dipping in and out, just picking it, or The Silmarillion, up and reading favourite passages or chapters for a quick bump of comfort or awe.

5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?

Yes. All the time. Because I want him to continue to be recognised as the titan of literature and worldbuilding that he was for as long as possible, and for other people to find as much happiness in his work as I do. I do, however, realise that it’s not for everyone and that not every reader will find the same connection that I have, but I still want them to try.


You can find more from Jonathan on Twitter!

Colin D. Speirs’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (208)

This is one in a series of posts where the content is provided by a guest who has graciously answered five questions about their experience as a Tolkien fan.

To see the idea behind this project, or if you are interested in sharing your own, visit the project homepage. If you enjoy this series, please consider helping us fund the project using the support page.

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his artwork for this project. Prints are available on his website!

Now, on to Colin’s responses:


1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

On a school trip in 1976, borrowed Bored of the Rings, had to then read the original.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

The hobbits waking up from the wight-dream in LoTR. It shows the tone shift from The Hobbit to LoTR, and is just so evocative

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Coming to grips with Middle-earth, photocopying the map portions, sellotaping them together, mapping out events in the books.

4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?

I used to read LoTR avidly. Now I listen to the audiobook avidly, that means I am, in part, subject to someone else’s interpretation, but it means that I can “read” it with aging eyes.

5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?

Yes, if the person seemed like it might be for them. If not, not, the person would have to be receptive to a Saga like experience with a lot of human emotion, motivation and tragedy.


You can find more writing about Tolkien by Colin on his blog!

David Rowe–Tolkien Experience Project (207)

This is one in a series of posts where the content is provided by a guest who has graciously answered five questions about their experience as a Tolkien fan.

To see the idea behind this project, or if you are interested in sharing your own, visit the project homepage. If you enjoy this series, please consider helping us fund the project using the support page.

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his artwork for this project. Prints are available on his website!

Now, on to David’s responses:


1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

My Dad had Nicol Williamson’s dramatic reading of The Hobbit on record, and the BBC Radio dramatisation of The Lord of the Rings on tape. After listening to those, I read the books. I was 7-8.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

The (apparently endless) depth.

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Maybe having my book published? Or, more practically, having an eye-opening spiritual experience (hearing God speak, etc.) while reading the Council of Elrond, in New Zealand in 2004.

4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?

I rarely read the books from start to finish now – I tend to dip in and out.

5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?

Yes – but in practice I tend not to, because I prefer to discover things for myself, and I presume others are like me.


You can find David Rowe on Twitter as himself or the account for his book!

Mike Moore’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (206)

This is one in a series of posts where the content is provided by a guest who has graciously answered five questions about their experience as a Tolkien fan.

To see the idea behind this project, or if you are interested in sharing your own, visit the project homepage. If you enjoy this series, please consider helping us fund the project using the support page.

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his artwork for this project. Prints are available on his website!

Now, on to Mike’s responses:


1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

One of the smart kids (with hippie parents) in my grade 7 class was boasting that he had read the trilogy, so I decided to read it too. I had read the King James Bible for $20, so I thought “How hard could it be?” Absolutely sucked in headfirst by it. So annoyed about that Shelob cliffhanger needing me to read faster.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

The characters exploring all of the very different settings and never knowing who or what they would find there. The camaraderie between them.

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Staying up extremely late reading long into the night while staying at my grandmother’s, because I needed to make sure Frodo hadn’t been killed by Shelob. I skipped ahead.

4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?

The fact that there are Jackson movies to watch has made me lazy about re-reading the books. I often plan to re-read the entire trilogy, and get bogged down somewhere in the middle, because there are movies, and I’m reading other books too.

5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?

Absolutely. It has a mind boggling depth of imagination and is unprecedented in terms of world building. And there’s something touching and comforting about the unflinching sentimentality and forefronting of nobility, eloquence, friendship, beauty, self sacrifice and decency.


Mike does have a podcast entitled The Wikkid Podcast where he talks about his Christian upbringing and “some very predictable problems” of it.

Diana’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (205)

This is one in a series of posts where the content is provided by a guest who has graciously answered five questions about their experience as a Tolkien fan.

To see the idea behind this project, or if you are interested in sharing your own, visit the project homepage. If you enjoy this series, please consider helping us fund the project using the support page.

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his artwork for this project. Prints are available on his website!

Now, on toDiana’s responses:


1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

My parents read The Hobbit out loud to me and my brother when I was 8. A teacher was doing a children’s adaptation play and asked the students to watch The Hobbit movie by Rankin and Bass. I was cast as Elrond in the children’s play though I was a girl. That play was performed twice. As I discussed with my mom recently she told me the thing she remembered was her having made me a costume when I was in second grade and the school had to provide me a braille book so I could learn my lines; however, I remembered more the second performance the following year when the class was able to watch the animated movie. I remembered the second performance of a public  school’s children’s play of The Hobbit and my mom remembered the first because my mom is a good seamstress and made me the costume while I was in second grade, but there was no music in that performance. The next year when I was in third grade I had to play a flute solo on the tra-la-laly song, and the other music was added for the performance that year. Both times I was Elrond. I remembered the music, and mom remembered the costume. That was over 40 years ago. 

I could not remember everything until I looked up when any film of Tolkien’s works had been made and I had also found my children’s yearbook from the second time I was in the play when I was in third grade. I did not ever forget Elrond. He is my favorite character. I am totally blind. I have a mental health condition that makes me extremely fearful so the classroom teacher wanted me to be the leader who had the safe place. I was 30 years old when Peter Jackson released The Fellowship of the Ring movie. I am 51 years old on the eve of the Rings Of Power TV series on Amazon Prime, but I do not have Amazon Prime and plan to listen to the content of the stories for the series elsewhere such as in audiobooks of The Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth and the music soundtrack composed by Bear McCreary.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

The sections on the elves and Rivendell.

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Reading/listening to the books/watching the movies once every 5 years. Meeting new friends who are also fans of Tolkien’s work. Because I lost my husband to cancer 6 years ago and we can no longer watch the movies, I have sought ways to immerse myself in the books and will do so for as long as I live. I get enchanted every time I read them. I listen to something about Tolkien every day as the highlight of my day.

For the fondest experience I have with Tolkien’s work, it is a very recent one: This year in August 2022 – to listen to the audio play done by Chad Bornholdt’s crew of “The Council of Elrond” wearing headphones and listening to the chapter in Dolby Atmos 3-d sound that they were able to use. I heard it on The Music Of Middle-earth podcast by Jordan Rannells. Oh Yes! That was a blessed hour and 45 minutes!

4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?

 Yes. While I was afraid that I would have to leave Tolkien’s world as a child, I am learning there are more books than The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and I never have to leave. I do not want to leave Middle-earth. By necessity of my health condition I need to “go to Rivendell” by way of practicing guided mindfulness meditation every day through mindfulness apps that give directions on deep breathing and muscle relaxation – and I am then at “Rivendell.”.

5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?

Yes. It is hopeful and encouraging even though much of it is very sad.

Some Thoughts on The Rings of Power Episodes 1 & 2

First, I should clarify that I have had a bit more time to formulate my thoughts than most, as I was fortunate enough to attend a special screening of the first two episodes of The Rings of Power about a week and a half before they were available through Amazon Prime. I delayed this post until others had a chance to watch the show, because I am not really interested in ‘breaking’ or ‘revealing’ anything, but rather reflecting.

Overall, I think that Amazon has created a good tv show. It has drama, action, some light humor, and characters that I am interested to see develop. The production of the show is breathtaking. The sets, the costumes, the practical and visual effects are all very well done. I would recommend this show to other people, but I do have some personal nits to pick, so I thought I would discuss them here.

Overall, the show is beautiful. Personally, though, I get an odd sensation of uncanniness when watching it. I love the aesthetic, and it is very reminiscent of Jackson’s films but slightly different. In a way, the similarities make my mind want to fit the characters into PJ’s mold, but they don’t. This is not to say that there is a shortcoming with the show itself here. I think the creators have done a wise thing in echoing a lot of the Jackson look while striving for something unique as well. But personally, I will need to adjust as the show continues.

As with many early episodes, I feel like these two episodes suffer from over-exposition and trying to establish too much too quickly. I really hope that the story slows down considerably in future episodes, or it will risk feeling like the audience is intended to understand character development through conflict instead of through relationships. That is not my preference when it comes to tv shows. I still have a lot of hope that it will, given the writers who were in the room for the show. They know how to do this.

My least favorite story line so far has been Galadriel/Gil-Galad. I don’t understand some of the decisions that were made here. I think they wanted a way to get Galadriel to Númenor with a man and as an outcast from Lindon. At the same time, I think they wanted to show elves sailing to the West and point to some of the metaphysical things going on in Middle-earth. All of these things could have been achieved by other means. Personally, I think they could have shown Galadriel’s soldiers sailing to the West after being wearied by their travails and then come back and shows Galadriel standing on the shore. They didn’t need to reframe this as a ‘gift’ or ‘reward’ from Gil-Galad, that is very awkward.

There is also some problematic use of dialects in the show so far, with the Harfoots having an Irish accent and the dwarves having Scottish accents (or, accents similar to these in the real world). I understand the need to make dialects reflect something in the real world, but the choice and use of them matters a great deal. As it is so far, the dialects map a little too closely onto prejudices that exist in the UK. They should work to better diversify these dialects in future shows.

There are some other elements that I am watching warily, but these are some of my main hang-ups about the show so far. As I said at the beginning, I think it is a good show, and I think there is a whole lot of potential here. They have some nice nods to Tolkien’s writings about the second age without being so slavishly beholden to them that the show is predictable. It is clearly inspired by and an homage to Tolkien’s work, and I hope it gets even better!

TEP #50 — Panel on Tolkien, Adaptation, and The Rings of Power

This week, we put together another panel to discuss the new Rings of Power series being produced by Amazon a little more! Here we discuss adaptation, the changes that always have to be made, what we think is done well in some adaptations, and where we think some improvements could be made!

Special thanks to Oriana Schwindt, Sara Brown, and Luke Shelton for sharing their time and expertise with us for this exciting event!

The live event was recorded and can be viewed on YouTube!

Links to audio of this interview are below!

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Please consider supporting the Podcast on Patreon!

Comments or questions:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Send us an e-mail from the contact page
  • Email TolkienExperience (at) gmail (dot) com

TEP #48 — Panel on the Music of The Rings of Power

This week, we put together a panel of special guests to discuss the music that has been released for the new Rings of Power series being produced by Amazon!

Special thanks to James Tauber, Will Sherwood, and Sarah Westvik for sharing their time and expertise with us for this exciting event!

The live event was recorded and can be viewed on YouTube!

Links to audio of this interview are below!

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Please consider supporting the Podcast on Patreon!

Comments or questions:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Send us an e-mail from the contact page
  • Email TolkienExperience (at) gmail (dot) com

TEP #47 –Alicia Fox-Lenz

For this episode, our guest is a steward of the Mythopoeic Society and an independent researcher who loves experimenting with new perspectives on Tolkien: Alicia Fox-Lenz!

Alicia is the Social Media Officer of the Mythopoeic Society, as well as a member of their stewardship council.. She is currently editing a scholarly volume on Tolkien and gaming, which should be published by McFarland later this year. She also co-hosts a famous yearly Middle-earth movie marathon with her husband. We were so excited that she could join us!

Unedited video of this interview is available exclusively to our patrons on Patreon! Subscribing at $5/month gets you access to video interviews, behind-the-scenes information, early releases, an exclusive patron-only series, and other bonus content!

Links to audio of this interview are below!

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Please consider supporting the Podcast on Patreon!

Comments or questions:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Send us an e-mail from the contact page
  • Email TolkienExperience (at) gmail (dot) com

TEP #46 — Sonali Chunodkar

For this episode, we have a guest who is an independent researcher who delves into the interaction between Tolkien and readers: Sonali Chunodkar!

Sonali has an MPhil and a PhD, for which both her theses focused on Tolkien’s work. She has recently presented papers at several Tolkien conferences, including a recent Tolkien Society Seminar. We are thrilled that she could join us to talk about her Tolkien experience!

Unedited video of this interview is available exclusively to our patrons on Patreon! Subscribing at $5/month gets you access to video interviews, behind-the-scenes information, early releases, an exclusive patron-only series, and other bonus content!

Links to audio of this interview are below!

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Please consider supporting the Podcast on Patreon!

Comments or questions:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Send us an e-mail from the contact page
  • Email TolkienExperience (at) gmail (dot) com