March 20th, 2012

tolkien

March Books 4) The War of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien

More in-depth analysis of the story of how The Lord of the Rings was written. We start at Helm's Deep, and follow through the end of Book III and Book IV (ie most of The Two Towers and then all of Book V (first half of The Return of the King). Tolkien's biggest problem was getting the chronology to work between four separated groups of protagonists so that they would eventually end up in the same place at the same time; placing the Paths of the Dead smoothly in the narrative was a challenge as well - it's probably the longest single flashback sequence in a book that generally avoids them.

The process of typing up the Helm's Deep / Isengard chapters of The Two Towers seems to have lost a few sentences from Tolkien's manuscript - none crucial but it seems to me that a "definitive" edition of LotR should be published which would at least include them in footnotes.

Finally, I was amused to see that the last person mentioned in the preface by Christopher Tolkien, thanking him for explaining an English folk-song reference, is one Mr. Neil Gaiman.
politics

Links I found interesting for 20-03-2012

tardis

March Books 5) The Plotters, by Gareth Roberts

I had given this First Doctor story a try once before, and thoroughly bounced off it, but for the sake of completeness I thought I should give it another go. It's not quite as bad as I thought first time round - in particular, I retract the accusation that the book itself is anti-Catholic - but the number of historical and linguistic solecisms is still far too great for me to appreciate what I will admit is a reasonably well-constructed plot, with quite a nice twist at the end about Guy Fawkes. (Among other irritations: several characters reminisce about the King's father, who had in reality been assassinated almost forty years earlier in another country; the Lord chamberlain of the day was actually the naval hero and aristocrat the Earl of Suffolk, not the buffoonish and anonymous bureaucrat here; and the portrayal of priests, monks and nuns is utterly anachronistic.) Readers less burdened with knowledge of the period than I am may well enjoy it more than I did.