So many things coming! I can’t hardly wait. Business first–new web page on the book blog: The Bibliography. In 2016, I was just learning of The Mythopoeic Society. I made a few promises. First, I would re-read The Lord of the Rings (which is required for Book III: The Last Tale of Legolas Lasgalen) alongside The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull page-by-page and give a review for teachers that teach Tolkien in Schools.
I also said I would provide an annotated edition of The Kingdom of the Woodland Realm Trilogy. I have my first partial bibliography down but I added more books. My story is original but I purposely based it on Tolkien’s Middle-Earth and nothing more. It has become quite intertwined with the History of Middle-Earth. I blocked out the films (including the beloved animated versions of the 20th century) and limited my story to the boundaries of the world Tolkien created. That is easier said than done–especially for those who have read Thranduil’s version of The Battle of the Five Armies. I had to re-read that chapter 10 times as well as use The Atlas of Middle-Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad as a strategic battle guide, so to speak. I also use toy soldiers for putting together battle scenes and some personal choreography (my fencing and stage combat comes in handy). Most readers that have read it tend to return to The Hobbit book to see what they missed. I’ll admit that one of my goals to writing these stories was to get people to read or re-read J.R.R. Tolkien‘s masterpiece.
My book puts back into the story what the films left out or gave different roles other than those in the book. For example, Erestor returned as Elrond’s Chief of the Counsellors. Glorfindel returns as an Elf-Lord of Rivendell (LOTR). Lindir returns as a loremaster or minstrel. Aragorn makes his first appearance in Book II: The Saga of Thranduil with Gollum (as recorded in the Appendix of LOTR) two years before the Fellowship. Azog remains dead as he was killed by Dáin II Ironfoot at Azanulbizar in 2799 T.A. You get the idea. It is fun but a lot of hard work and research is involved.
Imagine collaborating with someone in Italy on different stories that must match each other as well as Tolkien? Finding that special someone was a miracle and a blessing. We do a lot of talking and reading in two languages nearly every single day. In the end, it will all be worth the hard work we put into our books. Lucky for me, she’s the organized one. One story will have the advantage of being in English and Italian.
I have no idea what you call it but I work hard to add nothing unnecessary to the original stories. What is added is the world of the characters at hand and their interactions with canonical characters. Once they run into the canonical, it is told from the P-O-V of the characters. Battles usually take 1-6 months to put together. For as short as the Battle of Dagorlad is in The Saga of Thranduil, it took about six months to study. I also studied the effects of war on soldiers returning home, ancient battles as well as read every version of The War of the Last Alliance that existed–Thranduil’s version is short for a reason (and that will be revealed when Oropher’s life story begins).
Giving life to elusive canonical characters are nearly always based on cues from Tolkien’s works. I think I’ve memorized most of the books I’ve read so far I read so much. I love a challenge but I also love fantasy and Tolkien. His genius of creating a fantasy world that was relatable is extraordinary. I think working on this is almost like taking a lecture from Professor Tolkien; learning from the master for works I encounter later on.
Fortunately, if read closely enough, there are tales between the lines. So many, a bibliography is as much required and needed as the Character Page. There are a lot of Hidden Tolkiens and nods to Tolkien’s brilliance in all the books. I gave Thranduil a “throne” name–Tárisil as a nod to Tolkien’s difficulty trying to give him “The Elvenking” a name to reflect where he lived.
So, hold on! The adventures you thought you knew are returning with greater nuance and excitement. We just give detail to the imagination that is J.R.R. Tolkien. We hope people will read them and get more excited about Tolkien and his wonderful world and seek to read them again. I can promise one thing–no tale is ever told the same way, no matter how much you read them. It’s the magic of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Image of Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom): ©2001-3. Warner Brothers Pictures/New Line Cinema. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. All Rights Reserved.