Lisa’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (162)

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 Lisa’s responses:


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

My father introduced me to Tolkien. He worked multiple jobs to support our large family and when he was home there was always a book near the loo. (I guess that was the only time he could relax and read in peace for 5 minutes haha.) I asked him about his book one day and that was when I learnt about LOTR.

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

I love the magic interweaved throughout Tolkien’s work. Elves, men, hobbits, dwarves, wizards and mythical beasts all working together. It brought me into a new world when I started reading.

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

My fondest experiences (I have 2 sorry!) First was reading the LOTR trilogy at age 12 whilst on school holidays, I read them in ten days because I could not put down the books. It’s still to this day the most beautiful, immersive story I’ve ever read and I re-read every once in a while now I’m older. Second was reading the books with my son. Seeing a child find the amazement I was lucky enough to experience at a young age is so special.

When the first movie was screening Dad and Mum found the time in-between their crazy work schedules to take me to watch it together at the cinema. I cherish every moment I have with my Dad and LOTR really brought us together, it’s been a special bond ever since.

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

Time has changed my appreciation for Tolkien’s work in the sense that I can see the next generation enjoying the magic of his storytelling that I enjoy so much. My dad probably felt the same when I was young.

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

I always recommend Tolkien’s work to anyone willing to listen, unfortunately people don’t seem to buy/read books much now but the movies are a great start for beginners and hopefully he will keep having an impact on those that choose to read.

Michael Fabrizio’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (161)

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 Michael Fabrizio’s responses:


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

I was but a young child so I can not speak with clarity as to my discovery but I have been reading Tolkien’s works since I was in 1st grade. This love grows yearly since then and each re-read brings discoveries and more understanding than I first had!

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

I have to go with The Two Towers and more specifically The Battle Of Helms Deep. This battle pushed my imagination beyond what was possible and when the Peter Jackson’s adaptation brought it to life that became solidified as my favorite moment from then on.

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

My fondest experience of Tolkien’s work would be my cousin Ben letting me read his copy of the trilogy. I never forgot that little act of kindness from him even if he probably forgets. Being able to remember fondly a family member who I love with the works of my favorite author is a blessing I can’t be more thankful for.

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

My approach to Tolkien would originally just be a yearly reading of the classic trilogy but has evolved with time to cross checking books through every journey into Arda! Between The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings, and Unfinished Tales (plus more in my collection!) I grew from just reading simply to fully delving and immersing myself. I could spiel about my more specific progress and methodical learning style but I think it’s enough to say I am just more thorough as time moves on.

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

I can happily answer I always recommend Tolkien, at best you love him and at worst you gained a new experience with which to think about. Fully drawn out universes tend to attract enjoyment so I lead my recommendation with that.


You can read more from Michael Fabrizio on Twitter!

Rebecca Davis’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (160)

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 Rebecca Davis’s responses:


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

I got the The Hobbit as assigned reading from my homeschool curriculum when I was 8 and didn’t make it through the first chapter before setting it aside- I found the names silly and confusing. I was reintroduced to Tolkien when I did a study abroad in Oxford my junior year of college and that was when I really became a fan.

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

The characters and the richness of the story. There is a reality to his work, as if I’m getting a peak into a world that once was.

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

My first extended edition marathon. 7 pm to 7 am. The jokes got sillier as the night got later- I may have said “Wheeeeeeeee!” when Denethor jumped off of the Pier.

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

Very much. I have found the story richer the older I get. I used to consider Faramir a consolation prize for Eowyn before I really came to understand his character and outlook. I have also been able to have some really great discussions with other fans over different concepts that I wouldn’t have had when I first re-discovered him.

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

I do to all my students 🙂 There is a quality to his stories that more modern fantasy stories lack. Take Beren and Luthien for example- Luthien is a wonderful example of a subversion of the fairytale princess. I also need my students to be able to get my references and jokes, especially when I tell them their paper is as awesome as Fingolfin’s charge to the gates of Morgoth.


You can read more from Rebecca Davis on Twitter!

Elena Davison’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (159)

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 Elena Davison’s responses:


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

The very first time I heard of Tolkien and his work was in a summer camp in around 1998. A couple of people were saying how great The Hobbit is. I thought it was an odd name and didn’t come back to it until the 2001-2003 films were due to come out. After seeing the trailer for FotR, I sought the book out. I got as far as “The King of the Golden Hall” and I gave up. I found it hard to keep up and the language was difficult for the 13-year-old me. Two or three years later I watched all three films, caught the bug and devoured the book.

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

The King of the Golden Hall is now my favourite chapter in TTT. This bit always makes my hair stand on end:

Legolas gazed ahead, shading his eyes from the level shafts of the new-risen sun. ‘I see a white stream that comes down from the snows,’ he said. ‘Where it issues from the shadow of the vale a green hill rises upon the east. A dike and mighty wall and thorny fence encircle it. Within there rise the roofs of houses; and in the midst, set upon a green terrace, there stands aloft a great hall of Men. And it seems to my eyes that it is thatched with gold. The light of it shines far over the land. Golden, too, are the posts of its doors. There men in bright mail stand; but all else within the courts are yet asleep.’

Some of the songs, such as Nimrodel, The Road goes ever on, Beren’s Song, To the Sea, I sang of leaves, The song of Beren and Luthien – they are a delight to sing, hum or recite.

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

There are so many to choose from! Meeting my friends and family at Tolkien Society events probably wins. Singing Tolkien’s songs and reading from his books with friends and family is also very high up on the list.

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

Yes, my association with the Tolkien Society has opened many doors. I’d never have considered the academic approaches not only to the texts but also to the things, people and places within the texts without their influence.

The humour and the running gags between fans are a whole different universe to explore.

Mostly, over time, as I get more familiar with the works, read things I hadn’t read before, listen to people debate things, all of this gives me a sense of belonging to this world and its community.

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

Yes, because his works are varied. There is something for the escapist, something for the scientist, something for the serious person, something for the child.

As the adaptations and media multiply, there will be variations of his works which should be approachable and suitable for many.

Tolkien’s works fulfil a need similar to that of space exploration, even though they may seem very far apart. A need to dream, imagine and discover things, and it’s not all dragons!


You can read more from Elena on Twitter!

Tobias Wilcke’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (158)

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 Tobias Wilcke’s responses:


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

I was first introduced to Tolkien’s work through the films. I don’t remember the first time I watched it, but it was my dad that introduced me to them. I was a fantasy fan since I was little, fascinated in mythology and everything that was set between the times of ancient Greece to the ages of knights. So, it was natural that I would like these films too. Though my dad was made aware of them via a friend who just loves films and he recommended The Lord of the Rings to him because of Peter Jackson. I still remember loving The Two Towers the best, as The Fellowship was very slow for my young age and I hated the Shelob scene! But nothing beats the Charge of the Rohirrim!

From there I found the computer games and learned about the lore behind it, though at the time I didn’t know anything of the books or the lore behind it. Leading me to believe that Tom Bombadil in the game Battle for Middle-earth was just a silly man that talked funny. I thought that it was just a developer having fun.
Only when I was fifteen or so I learned of the books. At the time I was an exchange student in England, as my English skills were horrible, so being interested in learning more about The Lord of the Ring I got all three of the books for a fiver in a secondhand store. I read them and it blew my mind and killed the joy of the movies for a while, but not too long, don’t worry.

When I came back home my parents gifted me The Hobbit in German. I started reading it, but I couldn’t finish it, I never picked it up again and just listened to an audio book for it. I still blame the translation to kill it for me. From that on it was just a stop and go looking up different details of the lore when I stumbled across it or was interested in the word taters.

Now all this is a long way to say that the real introduction to Tolkien’s work I would say started in 2020 at the start of the pandemic. I live on my own and if you spend most of your time on your own, in your flat, in home office, you really want to hear some voices. So, I looked into podcasts and soon stumbled upon The Prancing Pony Podcast and I would say these two good gentlemen have really introduced me to the wonderful world we love so much

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

If you would have asked the young me, I would have blurted out Legolas or Gimli without a doubt. I still use those and other names of The Fellowship to call my computers, phones and other electronic equipment (E.g. my headphones are called Sam, as they never leave my side, wherever I go).

But right now, I would say that I am fascinated by the world creation. I would love to dig deeper in how Tolkien created this world. The reason behind it is I am running a DnD Campaign and created a world and am filling it with lore and populating it with many different characters. This experience made me appreciate what Tolkien has created even more.

If I had to pick a special part of the world building, I would say I love his contextual ruins. Like Weathertop or Galadriel’s gift to Gimli. Each of them has a deeper meaning and an explanation in the lore, but not all of them have. I love to use them in my world building too, though my players always want to learn more on them, leading them on a self-proclaimed mission, which sidetracks them for way too long.

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

I am not sure I have a fondest experience of Tolkien’s work. I spent so many joyful hours with it. It made me laugh and cry at various times. It and The Prancing Pony Podcast did help me through the though times of 2020, though at the cost of my friends’ sanity. I guess you could call it the fondest memory.

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

I guess the answer to this question is clear by now.

Yes, it did change over time. At first, I was focused on the heroism of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. Then it shifted to the friendship between Legolas and Gimli and so on. It slowly shifted from single things to a grander picture of the whole as I slowly discovered more and more layers of the lore. I guess I fear the day when there is no more lore to discover, but I hope by the time that happens an old man with a long grey beard and a pointy grey hat comes by and I greet him: “Good morning.”, and I mean it.

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

It depends. This is how I always start questions like this. As I don’t go out there telling people to read Tolkien. If I think they would like it, if they are into fantasy or that they were put off Tolkien because it is hard to read. I would recommend it to them in a heartbeat. On the other hand, I have quite a lot of friends that are not that much into fantasy and the like, so I do not recommend it to them.

I really enjoy Tolkien! I would love to share that love with anyone, though I also learned not to force it. Last year I might have been talking a bit too much about that good looking bloke that made a ring to Rule them all.

James Roberts’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (156)

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 James Roberts’s responses:


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

I was introduced to Lord of the Rings, the movies, as a child. The moment they were out of theaters, my parents brought home the DVDs, and little 4 or 5 year old me was hooked.

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

My favorite part of Tolkien’s work definitely has to be the books for Lord of the Rings and Hobbit. There has always been a copy of them in my home, even when I moved out on my own.

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

Playing the Lord of the Rings games. From the Two Towers game on the GameCube, to War in the North, to the Lego games, and to LOTR: Online. Being able to interact with the world just draws me in.

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

As I grew older, I’ve been able to experience more and more of Tolkien. When I was a very young kid, I just had the movies. Then the games, then the books. But now that I’m an adult, I’ve branched out past Middle-Earth. I’ve been able to get an appreciation for his writing, his world building, and the general feel of the man that he once was.

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

I’ll recommend Tolkien to my dying breath. No matter what form of media one wants to partake, Tolkien can be found. He has created stories that span generational gaps, and will go down in history as a modern master of his field.

Arthur H’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (155)

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 Arthur H’s responses:


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

When I was 8 or 9 in the mid 60’s I came across a paperback book that one of my brothers had left lying around. The cover was neat, with an exploding volcano and a bunch of dudes flying around on what looked like dragons (in retrospect the original Ballantine paperback edition of Return of the King). So I opened it up and leafed through it and thought “Hmmm…this sounds neat…”Mount Doom.” So that was my introduction to Tolkien (which many would say explains a lot). I have vague memories of reading “The Riders of Rohan” and Eomer saying “we’re not like the Black riders; we’re good guys.”

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

If by favorite part you mean favorite passage, I would have to say the ending of “Leaf by Niggle.” If by favorite part you mean my favorite thing I get out of it it would be the complexity of the world building.

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

The first time I read The Silmarillioin, which was published for the first time more than 10 years after I read LOTR for the first time. Gondolin? Orome the Great? The Valar? All those years we speculated and filled in the gaps (no one had invented the phrase “fanfic” yet) and suddenly to have all the backstory we had been yearning for was an incredible experience. I feel some sadness for those younger than me who never had the opportunity to say “OMG this is NEW TOLKIEN!!!!!”

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

Oh yes. I used to be very fact-based and serious which may surprise many who have come to know me. I have come to the point where I try to look for what’s fun, by which I mean look at it seriously and then say “an argument could be made that Goldberry is really Melkor” or “you know, if Arwen looks so much like Luthien why doesn’t she go to Mordor and say ‘hey bud, remember me? I don’t need the dog to take you down this time. Now scram!’ because that’s so much better than the Eagles dropping the ring into Orodruin at the end of Chapter 2 and wrapping up the book in record time.”

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

I always recommend his works for anyone who is looking for an interesting read (I do tell them to not sweat all the names) especially if I ask them if they are familiar with LOTR and they say “yes, I loved those movies.” I am not sure of any circumstances where I would not recommend this if someone asked me what would be a good thing to read (although I would caveat a lot to leave what they have heard or seen from Jackson movies or D&D because preconceptions can be a big problem). My frequent comment to people who tell me “Lord of the Rings? I mean to get around to watching that someday” is that “It’s not something you watch, it’s something you READ.”

Nate Gordon’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (154)

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 Nate Gordon’s responses:


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

I think it was 2nd or 3rd grade (late 70’s) when my parents turned the channel to the Rankin-Bass Hobbit movie’s TV airing. A few days later, I was in the school library, and a friend said he would check out the book version of it. My reaction was, “There’s a book?” it all followed from that.

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

The gradual elevation in the language throughout LOTR – from the informal Hobbit language in the opening chapters to the high speech of Gondor.

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

A long road trip when I listened to the audiobook FOTR – particularly the joy of hearing Rob Inglis sing the first lines of Tom Bombadil.

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

I look more now to the connections and the subtle aspects hidden behind the main story arcs. Little details, such as a recent realization that the “Lords of the West” who sent the messenger Eagle to Gondor was not a reference to Aragorn or Gandalf.

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

Why wouldn’t I? It would never occur to me not to.


You can see more from Nate Gordon on his Instagram!

Hannah’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (153)

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 Hannah’s responses:


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

My dad read The Hobbit to me as a bedtime story during my childhood

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

For sentimental reasons I love The Hobbit, but I think a lot of my favorite writing is in LotR. Everything there is so rich, multilayered, and well-considered. I like how he can deal with really dark and serious subjects but also have a jolly time without being blasè about the hard stuff.

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

I taught literature, for a season, in Northern Iraq. I was teaching a group of 9th graders LotR around the same time that ISIS was growing in power and heading toward the area I was teaching in. Almost all of my students were Muslim and struggling with how they should react to other Muslims doing things that were so horrible in the name of their shared beliefs.

We were reading through the section where Gandalf is talking with Saruman about what they should do in response to Sauron’s rise to power. Saruman argues that they, being good, should join Sauron in order to influence him away from doing great evil, thus “lessening” the evil that he is inevitably going to do. Gandalf argues that they should stand against Sauron because that is what True Good would do. We had a long and lively class discussion about this and how it related to what they were dealing with in their real lives. It was good for them to see Gandalf disagree and even go against what the wisest and most knowledgeable of his order thought they should do. They felt empowered to be guided by their own moral compass rather than by what strong outside forces suggested.

I loved that Tolkien wrote something so powerful without knowing how far-reaching its messages would go. He wrote it with love and care because he loved and cared about it, not because he wanted to change the world. And yet he did. His writings have changed the world. I’ve seen it.

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

Absolutley! I went from reading for fun, to reading to teach (i.e. doing lots of research into mythology, learning about Tolkien himself, actively seeking out themes) and now I am re-reading them, slowly, for the love of it.

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

I do, frequently, but not to everyone. I don’t recommend it to people who are not interested in fantasy or taking on a long reading project. I might suggest The Hobbit or one of his shorter retellings, but his style is not for everyone. And that’s okay!

Doug Hagler’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (152)

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 Doug Hagler’s responses:


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

There was a passage from The Hobbit in my reading textbook in Middle School (the book also introduced me to A Wizard of Earthsea). I went to the library looking for the book, and found The Two Towers by the same author. I took that home and read it loved it, but was confused because so many characters were introduced without any explanation. Then I realized it was the second book in a trilogy written after The Hobbit. But by then I was already hooked.

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

The depth. Just a brief example – learning that when Bilbo comes home to an auction of his possessions, it is because Tolkien was discussing with other scholars whether the Old English word that is the source of “auction” in English means something like an auction, or if it rather means ‘a mess.’ And so Tolkien ended his story with an auction that was also a mess. Or how the ents march because Tolkien was deeply disappointed with Shakespeare’s ‘march of the trees’, or the multiple layers of archaism in the Council of Elrond and how they are masterfully and intentionally used. Because of his scholarly background, Tolkien had a mastery of the English language, rather than the conventions of fiction, and it shows in so many hidden but extraordinary ways.

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

Hunkering down to read The Fellowship of the Ring on a Friday, not able to sleep because of the Weathertop scenes that night, then reading through the rest of Saturday and moving on to the full trilogy that weekend. My parents occasionally coming in to ask whether I’d like food.

Also, the experience of seeing The Fellowship of the Ring on opening night. Still by far the most powerful experience I’ve had in a movie theater.

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

Definitely. Every time I dig deeper, there is more there. It’s why I think he succeeded in his goal to create a new mythology.

I’ve also changed in my approach, in that I’ve come to understand the problems in his work and the worldview it sometimes represents. I now love it critically, where I used to love it uncritically, but I still love it.

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

Absolutely. I recommend Tolkien’s work to everyone, even though I know his work isn’t necessarily for everyone. But for someone who is interested in a modern mythology for northern Europe, as well as a masterpiece of idiosyncratic fiction that was the labor of love of a scholar’s lifetime, there isn’t even a close second to Tolkien. 


You can read more from Doug Hagler on Twitter or his blog!