New Tolkien book

Fans of JRR Tolkien already know that his love of language led him to seek the roots of his native English in Anglo Saxon verse and Norse saga. Many of his scholarly investigations were published. As someone who loves ancient history, works like Tolkien’s ‘Beowulf and the Finnesburg Fragment‘ 1940, and ‘Beowulf: The Monsters and The Critics’, 1939 are of special interest to me. Tolkien was known to be a perfectionist who would constantly tweak and rewrite sections of whatever he was working on (a publishers nightmare), and as a result, a considerable amount of work remained scattered about his office in an unfinished state at the time of his death in 1973.
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The Fight at Finnesburg (Finn’s Citadel)

Better known as ‘The Fragment’, what follows is a translation of all that is left of an (apparently) 5th century anglo-saxon lay that describes a saxon hero, Hengest. This may very well be the same Hengest who led the first Germanic invasion of Britain, and if so probably did so shortly after the events described below. You may be interested to note that this particular translation was made by the infamous Oxford scholar, J.R.R. Tolkien.

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The Return of the King

Sometimes there’s just no way to do something unless you know somebody. Seeing an advance showing of the Lord of the Rings, the Return of the King would have been pretty much a fantasy but for my buddy Seth. Thanks, man! Seth was kind enough to extend his extra tickets to my brother and myself, so we headed in to the city last night to the IMAX theater at Lincoln Center. We met Ned and the Emerald Inn and had a few rounds of Guinness before the show which certainly put us in a hobbity mood. I think it may be the first time I saw as many geeks in one place uptown, the theater was packed with rabid Tolkien fans.

I’m not sure if it is just a residual high from being there at the preview, but I think this movie is my favourite of the three. Action packed, it pays homage to most of the cool elements of the last book. The Battle of Pelennor fields is a true spectacle, the book brought to life like I had never imagined it could be. An awesome CGI sequence with Legolas on the fields is on par with some of the greatest stunts I have ever seen performed on screen. The scenes with Andy Sirkis as Smeagol were brilliant. Ned was afraid they were going to cut Aragorn and the paths of the dead, but thank heavens they didn’t. Tolkien fans will not be disappointed with those sequences, simply awesome. As hinted by Gollum at the end of the Two Towers, "she" helps him and its great!

Let downs:
I was a little disappointed that Eowyn’s character wasn’t portrayed stronger (Seth agreed), although she certainly is no whimp, she seemed less the Shield maiden of Rohan and more the little girl Aragorn groupie. I think we both have the image of Eowyn in the animated version stuck in our heads which is pretty compelling. I also have an Alan Lee? painting of her standing over the fallen body of Theoden with sun on her face, standing proud and unafraid which I think embodies Eowyn. I was really let down that apparently all scenes with Saruman were indeed cut out (as Cathy had read on Slashdot might be the case) but I imagine they will be restored in the DVD by next November. Theres a lot of crying in this one. I would have preferred less crying and to restore Saruman and stage the "scouring of the shire" personally, but theres really been a woman’s touch throughout all three films that just doesn’t exist in the books and I imagine they wanted to make the story palatable to female geeks as well? I dunno.