Will Sherwood’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (71)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Will and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Will Sherwood’s responses:


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

My parents bought me the BBC audio tapes of The Hobbit when I was five. It was the one where the narrator is joined by Bilbo’s first-hand interpolations. There was music, sound effects, a Gandalf that I did not find amiable (until Ian McKellen rode onto the big screen) and a setting of the Dwarves song that I remember more fondly than the one that didn’t live beyond ‘An Unexpected Journey’ (a major shame!) It must have been for Christmas because we had our open fire roaring. I remember being curled up on the sofa with the first tape playing, and as Bilbo was listening to the dwarves singing, he was staring into his fire, just as I was staring into my own, starting to drift off into sleep. The enchantment and awakening of Bilbo’s Tookish genes coincided with my own thirst for adventure. Twenty-two years later, I’m about to hand in an MbyRes thesis on Tolkien.

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

The vast wealth and interconnectedness of it all. Although you can read The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit as a stand-alone text, I find that my reading is strengthened by voraciously consuming as much as I can. From The Silmarillion, to the Unfinished Tales, The Histories of Middle-earth, the various translations of texts (Beowulf, Gawain and the Green Knight), to smaller works like Father Christmas Letters etc etc etc. My appreciation and eternal love lies in the depth of Tolkien’s art.

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

Standing on top of Mount Sunday where Peter Jackson and his team shot Edoras. It felt like the completion of a pilgrimage. But I suppose that’s more related to the adaptions of Tolkien. Perhaps my fondest experience of Tolkien’s words would be a more collective appreciation of his ecological descriptions. He has an uncanny ability to make you FEEL what he is describing. Whether it be a warming scent passing or the green and gold sunlight. I think Sam’s first sensory experience after waking in ‘The Fields of Cormallen’ most suitably exemplifies my point.

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

Yes and no. I continue to delve deeper and deeper into his works, finding new and exciting bits of information in The Histories of Middle-earth. I think one’s approach changes with one’s maturity and outlook on the world. The more you learn and experience, the more you can apply to and extract from his work. But I never relinquish the enjoyment one gains from just reading the stories. My copy of The Hobbit is close to disintegrating because of how many times I’ve read it! I feel like I can switch from scholar to reader quite easily.

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

I would and would not. My friends can easily be split into those who try to outmatch my love for Tolkien (and fail epically) and those who cannot stand the Oxford don. A lot of jokes have been made for the past twenty years to new people I have met: ‘be careful, he’s a Tolkien nut; don’t tell him you don’t like The Lord of the Rings or he’ll never speak to you!’ It’s a shame that such superficially hyperbolic and inherently wrong judgements are passed to people whose names I have only just learnt. If someone was interested in reading something new I would most certainly recommend Tolkien, if someone wished to start with Tolkien but didn’t know where, I’d eagerly help them. But I would never forsake friendship for an elitist perspective on what my friends should consider art or be reading in their spare time. I also think Tolkien would back this perspective as friendship is, after all, the foundation of The Lord of the Rings.


If you would like to follow Will Sherwood for more thoughts on Tolkien, you can find him on Facebook and Twitter!

Snippety Giblets’ Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (70)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Snippety Giblets and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Snippety Giblets’ responses:


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

My mum read The Hobbit and The Father Christmas Letters to me when I was small. I liked them well enough, but not as much as say the Anne of Green Gables books. Then she told me about The Lord of the Rings. I think it was my ninth birthday. I had money to spend at the bookshop, and was already an enthusiastic reader. My mum suggested getting the big paperback omnibus. She read it aloud to me and I was absolutely bowled over by it. I was obsessed with it for a good eighteen months to the exclusion of everything else. I read it ceaselessly. I was so desperate to be Gandalf or Aragorn. I lived and breathed it, and found out all about Norse mythology because I was told that was part of Tolkien’s inspiration. It was just magical.

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

The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. I love the stories about the elves and the men of Númenor. Tolkien wrote so well about natural and spiritual beauty so any part of it that conveys those thoughts are my favourite.

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

Probably as a young kid. I’ve always liked having kind of private pleasures. Before the films, and before I was on line I didn’t know anyone else who liked it. It felt like it was just for me, and I thought about it all the time. Although I’ve re-read it many times as an adult it’s never quite the same. Also introducing my husband to it, and then endlessly discussing it with him; inviting him into my private enjoyment.

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

A little with an adult understanding of his religious life and his experience of war. It’s still very special.

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

Only to people I really love. It’s like sharing a part of oneself. I tried to share it with my son, but he wasn’t that keen! He prefers the films which is maybe understandable. It’s up on the list with David Bowie and John Crowley – for kindred spirits only 🙂

Arne G’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (69)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Arne and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Arne G’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

Back when I was six years old, my mother visited a friend of hers whose son was one year older than me and had just gotten a brand new DVD of the Fellowship of the Ring, which we watched together. Sauron, Durin’s Bane and the Uruk-hai disturbed my dreams for weeks, but also started my interest in fantasy literature. It was only six years later at a common friend’s party that I decided at last to continue my journey through Middle Earth. The next day, I spent all my pocket money for one copy each of both The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.

What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

There are so many awesome things, I don’t even really know where to begin. My favorite chapter in any of Tolkien’s books is ‘Of Aulë and Yavanna’. The compassion Aulë has for both his works and his wife always makes me emotional. But more than straight up reading a specific book, I love to just open a random page in the HoME and muse over the different versions of the text presented. Last, but not least, the last paragraph of the ‘Siege of Gondor’ chapter gives me massive goosebumps every time, what a fine piece of writing!

What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Due to being exposed to Tolkien so early in my life, every piece and adaptation of his works, but especially The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy always give me a nostalgic feeling and makes me think back to my elementary school days.
Talking about specific events, there are two. Once, I offered my help and discussion for Tolkien fanfiction writers, one of those authors later became my longterm girlfriend. The second happened two years later. We went to an all-six-movies-back-to-back cinema event when the third hobbit movie was released. After 21 hours of unfiltered Middle-earth experience, the real world actually felt less real than Arda, a very bizarre yet incredible feeling.

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

Several times, I think. From ‘whoa, what a scary, but awesome movie’, to ‘so that’s how things worked out’, to ‘wait, there is even more stuff, and it’s even better!’, to ‘Tolkien has become a big part of my life and so much more than just a fandom.’

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

No matter if movie, book or music, I only ever recommend stuff to people when I think they have a general liking for that genre. And everybody who already is into fantasy knows of Tolkien. At most, I may give them a nudge, if they are hesitant in regards to reading The Silmarillion.

Michaela Hausmann’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (68)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Michaela and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Michaela Hausmann’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

My sister told me about The Lord of the Rings when I was twelve years old. She promised to go and see the film with me but I wanted to read the book first. I did and became enchanted. I still am. And I shall be forever grateful to my sister.

What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

My favourite chapter in LotR is the chapter “Farewell to Lórien” as it poignantly portrays the tragedy of the Elves and of Galadriel, who also happens to be my favourite character. I still think that this chapter is one of the most important passages in Tolkien’s legendarium as it makes a crucial statement about the necessity and pain of loss but also about the beauty and importance of hope.

What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

My first Tolkien Society Seminar in 2015. In German academia, fantasy literature is sometimes still not taken seriously. To meet so many like-minded Tolkien enthusiasts at the seminar made me ridiculously happy and encouraged me to continue my work.

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

It has. Of course, reading The Silmarillion is an altogether different experience than reading LotR. For many years, I preferred The Silmarillion with its creation myth, the epic wars between Morgoth and the Elves, and the touching stories of the fall of Gondolin or the love of Beren and Lúthien. The Silmarillion fascinates me because it oscillates between the bigger picture and the portrayal of individuals. However, after learning more about narrative techniques and Tolkien’s works in general, I began to appreciate the unique narrative style of LotR more than the necessarily fragmented stories of The Silmarillion. And finally, writing my PhD thesis on the poems in LotR required a more detached view and analysis of Tolkien’s works. This was an important and necessary experience. The enchantment continues but it has changed, and that is a good thing.

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

YES! Because they take you to a beautifully written world full of wonder, tragedy, good & evil deeds, and fascinating stories. Yet they also take you back to “recover” your own world, as Tolkien called it, to see your own world in a new light. And, what is more, Tolkien’s hopes came true. His works indeed left “scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama” (Letters, 145). Even people who are not voracious readers can take the road to Tolkien’s Faërie – through music, pictures, films, games, cosplay, etc. Tolkien’s works have, in many ways, become a shared experience.


For more from Michaela, you can follow her on Twitter!

Lo’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (67)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Lo and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Lo’s responses:


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

I was, sadly, introduced to Tolkien through Peter Jackson’s movies. I tried reading The Hobbit when I was younger, around 11, but I admit to not having made it past the tedious beginning with the genealogy and things. At that time, I stuck mostly to nonfiction. I had discovered paganism after starting middle school, and devoured any book on nature religions and the occult that I could find. Of course, when I did finally see the movie a year later, I was VERY ready to absorb the values, characters, and story given to me by the saga. I read the trilogy, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, as well the Lost and Unfinished Tales, and even part of Lays not long after.

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

My favorite part of Tolkien’s work is his philosophy. Of crafting “sub-creations”, of myth-making, of living fully and peacefully, of his skepticism of industry and money, and, even though I am still pagan, of his religious devotion. He endeared me in a most profound way to the art of slowness, deep listening, and conviviality. He shaped my deep interest in environmental matters, and my respect for honest labor of the soil. He helped to form the basis of my understanding of the world and of the importance of story. Small things no longer elude me, and I know that wonder is often found in the humblest of places.

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

If I ignore the fun times I had with friends in high school who would get together to watch all 3 films in one day every year, or dress up with them as characters for Halloween, my fondest moments were probably over the course of reading The Silmarillion. Certain scenes, lines of dialogue, images, would stick out to me, and I would have to put down the book to process what had happened. Invariably I would sit for a while, or here and there over several days, and ponder things like Feanor burning the ships, or the men and elves arguing about the pain of death and the pain of immortality, or the sinking of Beleriand and the idea that a world could truly be changed for ever.

I was also wholly enamored with the act of “sub-creating” itself, and dove head-first into designing otherworldly alphabetic ciphers when I was younger. My affinity for writing and storytelling eventually combined with alphabets to pull me towards hobbyist language creation in high school, which I didn’t have much of a gift for in the end. Fortunately, my artistic talents prevailed, and in college I started a graphic novel that owes a great deal of its narrative, philosophical, and world-building sensibilities to Tolkien’s influence. And though I’ve since shifted focus away from linguistics and genealogies, I hope that I’ve successfully conveyed in my own work the same sense of deep history as well as the wonder and vastness of nature that so moved me when reading about Middle-earth.

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

Absolutely. When I was younger, I was drawn to the idealism underpinning the stories of many of Middle-earth’s heroes. From Aragorn to Glorfindel, I was most receptive to scenes of bravery and beauty, as well as the aesthetics of a world that values such things highly. But in the past 5 years or so, I’ve since come to better understand the plight of our own world, and that it will, in my lifetime, also be changed forever. I’ve since come to see many of Tolkien’s tales to be tales of collapse, of peoples navigating a shrinking, increasingly hostile world, and the end of days in a most literal way. But maybe the most valuable lesson to be had with that reading is that the years will always march on, no matter how old you feel, no matter the tragedies you’ve witnessed, and that the best thing to do is to surround yourself with good food, good pipe-weed, and good company. And to remember that all things will pass.

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

I have and I do recommend Tolkien’s work for the simple reason that it is one of the bedrocks of my life and that knowing at least part of his corpus is one of the quickest ways to understand me, as well as the kind of humility and values I strive to represent.


To see Lo’s work, you can visit aquapunk.co!

Thomas G’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (66)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Thomas G. and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Thomas G’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

My dad read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to me as bedtime stories when I was a child. I was introduced to The Silmarillion when I was looking for an audiobook to listen to on a family road trip and saw an audio version of a Tolkien book I hadn’t read.

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

The world building. That was what inspired me to become a writer. My earliest attempts at original fiction were very focused on the world building as a result. I have sought out all of The History of Middle Earth, because seeing how Tolkien progressed through various iterations of his stories is something I find incredibly fascinating. The (relatively) newly released Fall of Gondolin is a particular favorite of mine.

I have also really loved the characters, especially the elves (Legolas was an early favorite). I realized recently that the reason that I got so attached to the elves was that my ideal gender presentation very easily falls into they way elves are depicted. The long haired, beautiful masculinity, particularly of the Noldorin elves of The Silmarillion, is something that I find very appealing. Jenny Dolfen’s depictions of Fingon are absolutely gorgeous.

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

Being able to create my own meaning from a huge body of work. There are so many ways that working with HoME and the various iterations of the stories that can make for a number of incredible and varied interpretations of the work, both academic and fannish.

There is also something I find quite special about sitting down to watch the extended cuts of the LotR films. They are among a very small number of movies that I can just get completely lost in watching.

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

Tolkien was my first foray into fanfiction before I knew what fanfiction even was. I was eight or nine and I’d just seen the Fellowship of the Ring movie for the first time, and I decided, “I like these characters, I’m going to write a story with them,” and I’ve been writing Tolkien based fanfiction pretty much ever since.

My early interaction with Tolkien’s work was primarily with the LoTR and The Hobbit, however, the more I got into The Silmarillion, they more I wanted to learn about all the specifics and the differences that emerged in the earlier drafts that make up HoME (Such as the scrapped LotR storyline where Legolas and Gimli get captured by Saruman). As I’ve gotten older and fallen in love with academic research, my interest in Tolkien has gotten more academic as well.

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

Yes. Not to everyone of course, but if someone is interested in the high fantasy genre, but hasn’t read The Hobbit or LotR, I think suggesting those as future reading would be fitting. I’d feel the same way for someone maybe just trying to dip their toes into that genre for the first time.

If someone already likes Tolkien and is interested in reading more, I would absolutely recommend The Silmarillion. I find it’s a more challenging read than The Hobbit or LotR so I probably would not recommend The Silmarillion to someone who hasn’t read any Tolkien before and the same would apply to HoME.


For more Tolkien talk from Thomas G, you can follow him on Twitter or his blog!

Elyanna C’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (65)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Elyanna C. and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Elyanna C’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I was first introduced when I was about 9/10 to the LOTR movies via my dad, but I don’t remember having any lasting impressions from that first exposure. The real moment I got thoroughly invested was when I was studying The Hobbit as a part of my ELA (English Language Arts) class in Hong Kong in 2012 when The Hobbit films were coming out. That’s when I really started to participate in a “fandom” like setting online on Tumblr and joined a Tolkien roleplay community where I was introduced to The Silmarillion in around 2014. From there I began to branch out to The Histories of Middle-earth. I then moved back to the UK in 2015 when I started being exposed to the Tolkien Society, and after attending a few events I’ve recently joined as a member and am due to present at Tolkien 2019 in August. I am currently 19 so I’ve only just fallen out of the young readers category.

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

Probably the nuances and dualities of pretty much everything in his work. There’s always the theme of hope and triumph, but also cynicism and price of victory in Frodo’s success. There’s the equal capability for all races in Tolkien’s works to both enrich and destroy cultures and one another, but there’s also the moral grey and the debates that can be made about the nature of evil in Tolkien’s world — if the orcs are considered by Tolkien to be entirely irredeemably evil and so separate from the sentient “good” races, then how are they capable of creating and speaking language in the form of Black Speech? (Personally, I’m a big fan of the “it’s a perversion of the Valarin language spoken by the Valar and Maia” theory due to their similar sounding harsh consonants, and how perfectly it fits into the whole evil is a perversion of good idea in Tolkien).

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

Probably my discovery of The Silmarillion and its special place in my life — it felt like I had picked up an anthology of myths and histories from a world I didn’t feel as alienated from as opposed to Ancient Greek/Roman mythologies. Those were the stories that stuck with me the most — one of the reasons why I’ve applied for Medical School to become a doctor in the first place is because I was so moved by Fingon’s rescue of Maedhros! Even while on work experience in A&E I was subconsciously picturing myself as a Fingon-like figure, and I really didn’t mind offering my help to the nurses and other staff present whether it was requesting photocopies of paperwork, or cleaning up bodily fluids. The other influence was Eowyn’s decision to transition to a life of healing after experiencing and fighting in war, so in that my career aspirations are very personally linked to Tolkien and the influence his works have had on my life. I’ve also made several close friends, some of whom I’ve known for the better half of a decade now through the online Tolkien fandom space who I still speak to on a regular basis.

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

I think as a result of my first lasting impactful exposure to Tolkien’s works being in an academic setting, I’ve tended to read Tolkien in more or less an academic light from the very beginning, and analyses done by other fans online in “meta” posts have definitely influenced the way I read certain characters with a lot more nuance than I might have in my original readings of the text. Who knew the fanbase could be so divided on Fëanor? There’s also the matter of me being a POC (Chinese-British) fan in a fanbase which I would argue has few to no visible POC fan communities which has shaped my interactions within in the fanbases both online and in real life. There’s also the matter of some of the contents of Tolkien’s letters which would be considered rather ignorant today regarding his attitudes towards certain people groups which I would say actually did hurt me quite a bit as a young fan. Why should I continue enjoying a man’s work when he described the features of the only evil irredeemable race as “Mongoloid” when I instead interpreted the majority of Elves to look similar to me in that we both share a similar physical description of fair skin and dark hair? While I definitely still think there are problematic attitudes hidden within even more well-known and documented instances of real-life people groups (*cough*Easterlings*cough*) being given problematic treatment in both the films and the original texts, I’d like to think that he was more enlightened than the average person of his time and as such his particular views on race and ethnicity are a product of his time. And with that, I can safely continue enjoying and consuming Tolkien content to my heart’s desire with a sound mind so long as I take those small problematic details when they pop up with a generous sprinkling of salt.

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

Definitely! There’s a piece of Tolkien’s work everyone can appreciate, embrace and participate in whether it’s the “not all those who wander are lost” fridge magnet quote, the Peter Jackson movies, the Hobbit and LOTR books, or The Silmarillion and other posthumous works. Personally, I’ve been able to take the most out of the Silmarillion as my go-to work which I guess warrants a label of being a little pretentious, but I don’t mind. That’s just my personal experience and everyone else is entitled to their own just as I am to mine.


For more Tolkien talk from Elyanna C., you can follow her on Twitter!

Jean ‘Druidsfire’ Prior’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (64)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to ‘Druidsfire’ and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Druidsfire’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

When I was in single digits, we were assigned The Hobbit in Literature/English class. After reading it and falling in love with the dear old Hobbit and his love of maps, I found that there was a sequel trilogy, and was delighted that my favorite author Peter S. Beagle had done the foreword for it. Because Beagle’s own work was so influential in my life at the time, his ‘vouching’ for Lord of the Rings ensured I’d read it. And I never looked back.

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

“Elves, sir!” It’s Tolkien’s fault that any time I play a game where Elves are a playable race, my main is always an elf. The worldbuilding and the history is second to none.

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

I’ve been a 12-year player of Lord of the Rings Online, so my fondest experience is getting to actually play in Middle-earth and inhabit this world I love so much on a daily basis. A couple of years ago, the game progressed in the story to the end of the Ring, and some months previous to that expansion’s release, I had the opportunity to interview some of the developers from Standing Stone Games, the studio that makes LotRO. I’d asked their primary story designer Jeff ‘MadeofLions’ Libby how they would handle that iconic and singular moment. One of the game’s features is called ‘session play’, where the player steps outside their own character to play through a short sequence as another character that their own couldn’t be present. They’d used this for things like players getting to witness the taking of the Oath with Isildur at the Stone of Erech, the first meeting of Gandalf and Aragorn, and even the breaking of the Fellowship and the fall of Boromir.

I’d surmised that they would turn the end of the Ring sequence on its head and let the players go through the event as Gollum instead of Frodo or Sam… and I was right. They of course wouldn’t answer at the time so as not to spoil the surprise, but when I got to the event after the expansion was released months later, I had the privilege of being the first streamer to play through it on the game’s Twitch channel. And yes, I yelled, ‘I called it! I called it!’ After my stream, I contacted Libby through the game’s forums and enthused about how they handled that scene and having guessed their plan so long ago. He admitted that he’d actually been miffed that I’d called it way back then, but then said it meant that they’d made the correct choice when they designed that piece of iconic content. Being a part of that has meant so much to me, and it’s one of my favorite LotRO stories to tell.

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

Yes indeed! Before, I was merely a passive reader or viewer of the various animated and movie adaptations. Now I play in LotRO, I support Professor Corey Olsen’s Twitch streams by moderating and archiving, and I’ve even played in a couple of tabletop games. I’ve grown beyond the little girl who was always sad to hear the name Gondolin into a middle-aged woman who knows the various histories of the lost city and feels even more sorrow at Maeglin’s betrayal, and yet hope, because there are works of the First Age which still survived until the end of the Third that even the malice of Morgoth and his armies couldn’t destroy.

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

Absolutely! Sure, some folks might feel The Silmarillion is a bit dry compared to the other works, it’s still worthy to read at least once. And if one liked the Middle-earth works, they might be interested in trying some of the others.


For more Tolkien talk from Jean ‘Druidsfire’ Prior, follow her on Twitter or view her website!

Xavier Accart’s Experience –Tolkien Experience Project (63)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Xavier and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Xavier Accart’s responses:


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

In primary school, in 1981. I was a ten year old boy and our teacher proposed us to read The Hobbit.

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

The Lord of the Rings

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

The reading of The Lord of the Rings in the years 1983-1984.

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

Yes. I appreciated The Silmarillion at 15 or 16 years old. But now I can no longer read it. Perhaps because I know the real christian metaphysic.

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

Yes, because it opens your mind and heart to very ancient and permanent truth. There is the invisible lamp of christian faith which shines inside, and also the light of an Universal Truth, and more precisely the Tradition of our European forefathers.


If you want to follow Xavier Accart, you can find him on Twitter!

Brad M’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (62)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Brad and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Brad M’s responses:


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

I was first introduced to J.R.R. Tolkien unknowingly as a very young child via the Rankin and Bass animated movies, though I must confess it made little if any impact. I found as an adult a children’s book that was an old book of the “turn the page at the tone.” Read-along books with an LP stuffed in a collection of my children’s books.

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

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

My first real introduction was in 6th-7th grade. I had absolutely worn out my paperback copies of Chronicles of Narnia, and my mother took me to a small bookstore in my hometown to get a new book. The old gentleman behind the desk suggested The Hobbit. I spent the next three days eagerly devouring that and Rapidly followed with Lord of the rings. Silmarillion was next as I was desperate for anything written by The Professor.

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

I read Lord of the Rings about once a year.

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

I recommend The Professor to any student of Sci-fi/ Fantasy.