Tag Archives: tolkien

Aragorn tells Eowyn that she can’t come with him on The Paths of the Dead because her people need her and that renown isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be. He’s not wrong, exactly, but he basically tells her it’s her duty to stay behind, something he would never say to her uncle or brother. And she calls him on it. Flat out. She tells him, “All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. But I am of the House of Eorl and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.” Think about that for a moment. Not only is she calling him out for sexism, she lays out why it’s sexist and does a pretty damn fine job of distilling down the lot of women in this culture. To whit: if there aren’t men around, you don’t really matter, and you definitely don’t get to decide for yourself how you live OR die if you’re a lady. That’s very powerful, especially in a series that deals a lot with the trappings of war and glory from a distinctly masculine point of view.

“I am No Man” Doesn’t Cut It: The Story of Eowyn | The Mary Sue (via themarysue)

Except to take all of the blood line of a ruling family into battle is stupid. To lose the entire power structure at once would be catastrophic. It was incredibly selfish and immature of her to do so.

(via skypig357)

I think we can waive that as the guy with the irreplaceable blood of Numenor and last hope of humanity is the one telling her no. If he dies, Gondor is screwed. In setting, Theodin, Eomer, and Eowyn are all replaceable. Aragorn himself? Not so much. This is the pot calling the kettle black. He’s already doing something incredibly stupid, taking her with him isn’t going to make it any worse or make it any worse for Rohan.

If we’re also going by real world rules then while Eomer fighting in the battle is understandable, it’s just as selfish, immature, and stupid.


“Behold! I go forth, and it seems like to be my last riding,” said Theoden. “I have no child. Theodred my son is slain. I name Eomer my sister-son to be my heir. If neither of us return, then choose a new lord as you will. But to some one I must now entrust my people that I leave behind, to rule them in my place. Which of you will stay?”

No man spoke.

“Is there none whom you would name? In whom do my people trust?”

“In the House of Eorl,” answered Hama.

“But Eomer I cannot spare, nor would he stay,” said the king; “and he is the last of that House.”

“I said not Eomer,” answered Hama. “And he is not the last. There is Eowyn, the daughter of Eomund, his sister. She is fearless and high-hearted. All love her. Let her be as lord to the Eorlingas, while we are gone.”

“It shall be so,” said Theoden. “Let the heralds announce to the folk that the Lady Eowen shall lead them.”

1) Theoden does not even remember she exists as a member of his House and viable candidate for leadership until Hama reminds him, even though that’s what she was doing when Theoden was under Wormtongue’s influence.

2) If someone is being stupid, it’s a family trait. Her uncle and her brother are guilty of the same flaw. The only reason she’s not allowed to go is because she is a girl, which Tolkien points out in the quote above.

In the latest Hobbit movie, (keeping this as spoiler-free as possible) an elven sword, clearly not designed for throwing, is thrown some 25 or 30 feet upwards and buries itself in the chest of an orc. The question is: is this even possible given the design of the weapon? (look up Thorin Oakenshield’s sword, Orcrist. The sword in question is similar to that.)


Yes, but see, they weren’t on EARTH-Earth, they’re in Middle-Earth. The physics are completely different.

No, it’s the people. Tolkien was building off of material like Beowulf, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Norse myth (which is why Tolkien named the dwarves after the Norse gods, on “a whim”), and (possibly) Greek mythic heroes. Middle Earth is supposed to be a long forgotten dark age.

As with Beowulf and Gilgamesh, the concept of an alternate world, or at least an alternate earth, isn’t there. It’s an overly dramatized account of (fictional) history. Or, at least, that’s what Tolkien was trying to do. Reading it as an alternate world is, mostly, the result of applying genre conventions to the work that didn’t exist when Tolkien was writing.

It’s not that the physics are different, it’s that the people that inhabit the world are far more than human.

The Elves and Dwarves are very clearly superhuman, but Tolkien’s “Race of Men” is more closely related to, again, characters like Beowulf and Gilgamesh. Everyone, even ostensibly human characters like Boromir, is trending into the superhero range. And, honestly, that’s kind of important for understanding what’s going on with the book.

If you want to get into a discussion on authorial intent, Lord of the Rings is a decent counter-example it. Tolkien was trying to write a kind of modern epic. Instead he co-opted and redefined modern fantasy, replacing authors like Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber.

justyouraverageauthor said:

Can I just say this only happens in Jackson’s adaptation; it did not occur in the original book.

Yeah, you certainly may. I can’t speak to the Hobbit films (I haven’t watched them) but, based on the Lord of the Rings films, Jackson’s adaptations are kind of like having an overexcited eight-year-old trying to relate the book he just read.

The details are kinda messed up, and there’s random tangents that run on, because: awesome. Important plot points get delayed because he forgot; so he has to go back and add those in later.

But, most of it’s there, more or less, and ironically the perceived tone isn’t completely wrong, it’s just not what the author intended in any way shape or form.

fulminata2 said:


I can’t remember if Thorin’s weapon is an Orc-bane, like Glamdring or Sting… but, basically? No.

It’s kind of important to remember that, even in Tolkien’s books, the entire setting is pushing towards a kind of epic of myth. Everyone is capable of feats that are well beyond actual human limits. Whatever issues I have with Jackson’s adaptations, it is a basic concept from the source material he clearly understands.

Given that Tolkien and Robert E. Howard are probably the two most influential writers for modern fantasy, and both of them were prone to that in their own ways, it probably doesn’t matter for your writing.

But, no, throwing a sword with enough force, and accuracy, to impale someone is basically not possible.


Some of the old longsword treatises have sections on sword throwing, specifically Fiore de Liberi.

And thus was born the world’s most gruesome game of lawn darts. It actually doesn’t surprise me much that Italian school fencing would have some throws buried in its history.

That the technique apparently died out says something… I’m just not sure what. Possibly that it didn’t work, or just that disarming yourself on the hope that you’ll kill your opponent in the process is a really dangerous gamble.

It is worth pointing out that, “yes, people did try to do this,” though.


I’m trying to write battle scenes for a piece set in a medieval war, and I’m nervous about portraying it accurately. The main character fights with a longsword that’s seen several generations of battle, and while war is in his blood, he’s still a bit unsure of what to think about it. Any advice for how to stage/describe the battles, or where to look for good visual or historical representations?

Okay, this has been sitting in our inbox since the trip; it, and a few other questions got lost under a bunch of questions, sorry about that. We’ll get those out shortly.

The first thing I’d say is; read Robert E. Howard. Conan has a reputation in pop culture as being simpleminded, but Howard’s work is actually excellent. As a bonus, Conan actually uses a longsword most of the time, so it should give you a lot of ideas for your work.

If you can dig the books up, White Wolf’s Exalted setting has some relatively coherent advice on fantasy warfare. It also has a fixation with superheroes, so you’ll need to filter that out, but there’s some serious consideration to how to maintain an empire, and how to engage in warfare.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but Mount and Blade is a game that’s worth looking at, when you’re trying to get a feel for medieval combat. In your case, I’d recommend Warband.

I’m not completely sure about the viability of actually using the same sword over multiple generations. Most of the surviving blades I’m aware of, either didn’t see much combat, or were buried with their original owner.

Okay, so, random etymology lesson; “in the blood” as a way to talk about heredity dates back to around the thirteenth or fourteenth century. I’m not sure where we ended up with the idea that skills and personality were hereditary, though the modern phrase certainly carries that baggage. This leaves you with a potentially anachronistic situation. The whole idea that you did what your father did because it was somehow passed on to you went by the wayside in Europe someplace during the enlightenment. To a modern reader, the idea that you are destined to do something because it’s what your parents did is a little odd. But, in the timeframe you’re probably talking about, it was perceived as completely reasonable.

Thing is, hereditary careers tend to be perfectly acceptable in post-Tolkien fantasy. I’m not saying all modern fantasy is all crap, just most of it. If you want to go the route of “war is in his blood,” then you’ll be best served by seriously evaluating what that means, and what the implications are, philosophically, before you dig into the story.