Introducing Mindfaring through Middle-earth

Mindfaring through Middle-earth

Mindfaring through Middle-earth

All year long people have been asking me if I would publish a book this year.  They obviously had their eyes on the last “Hobbit” movie by Peter Jackson.  Every time a PJ movie about Middle-earth is released traffic to whatever Website I use to write about Tolkien and Middle-earth explodes.  And so this month the last, the very last Peter Jackson movie based on the books of J.R.R. Tolkien has been released.

(Of course, someone somewhere could say, “Hey, let’s make more movies based on the appendices” but Philippa Boyens said in a recent interview that Peter Jackson’s team no longer has the rights.)

Will Peter Jackson ever be offered the chance to produce another Middle-earth movie?  I think a lot of people hope so and not.  Count me ambivalent.  I have had my disappointments and joys with the six movies.

Meanwhile, back in fandom, it seems like everyone and his brother has been pushing out some sort of book on Tolkien and Middle-earth.  I certainly cannot read them all and I think I pity the fool who tries to.  So standing out in this legion of pontification is not easy.

Fortunately, I do have a very popular Middle-earth Website on Xenite.Org and I can use that to promote my books.  But maybe people just want to read the blog articles and not dig any further.  That is the conundrum for someone like me.  With too great a Web presence you raise the expectation that everything you will will be ad-supported, and there is no reason for people to buy another book.

Taking that into consideration I finally decided I had to write something new and different.  So unlike Visualizing Middle-earth, Parma Endorion, and Understanding Middle-earth I have elected not to republish what was already published on the Web.  If you want to mindfare through Middle-earth with me you will have to pony up the $3 and buy the eBook.  How shameless of me.

But it turns out that writing an experimental book gave me an opportunity to explore some questions that I feel deserve better answers than I have given elsewhere.  For example, why did Tolkien give the name Rhudaur to the eastern region of Eriador?  You will find various proposed meanings for this word (officially it is supposed to mean “evil forest” or “troll wood”, take your pick).  The Mindfarer’s task is to devise a convincing and plausible reverse-engineering of what the author may have been thinking.

Yes, it’s guesswork, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it.  There are quite a few connections that people seldom make when discussing Rhudaur because … well, I don’t know why we haven’t made all these connections before.

And fans of Gildor Inglorion may be pleasantly surprised.  Of course, it’s hard to tread new territory with Gildor since so little information about him exists; we have plenty of speculation.  So I have tried to arrange the available facts more coherently.  In other words, I went out on a limb with this one.  Come share the risk with me.

One of the key aspects to Middle-earth, of course, is that it represents Tolkien’s attempts to explain Elvish thought and the consequences of the desires and actions of the Elves, whom Christopher Tolkien describes as “[immortal beings who are] nonetheless incarnate and [possess] a body”.  It is this lens through which Tolkien attempts to see Middle-earth, and though I can’t say I have dwelt much on the philosophy itself, it bleeds through into everything.  Why did the Elves settle here, why did they make that, and why did they name something so?

You cannot answer all these questions, much less do so in a short book.  Mindfaring through Middle-earth is a first step on a long journey.  And, not to put too fine a point on it, whether we complete the journey really depends on how many come along.