Tag Archives: Lord of the Rings

My Life’s Dream


(This is true.)

Not to sound too much like Donald Trump, but I have the best dreams. They’re fantastic, really. No one has dreams like me. Absolutely no one. Sad, really.

The problem is, I can rarely remember them when I wake up. I wake up knowing that I just had a fantastic dream, no idea what it was about.

However, there is one dream that I have had over and over again. For decades. It is one of the defining features of my life, although almost no one knows about it. Until now, of course. You are really privileged, dear reader. I just hope you realize that.

It’s more of a location than a specific dream, but I keep coming back to it and referencing it in dreams so often that it’s as real to me as, say, New York City. Actually, I’ve been to this place more often than I’ve been to New York City.

It’s a large warehouse or industrial complex, up on a hill with trees around it and reached by a long winding road. Sometimes it’s abandoned, sometimes not, but there are almost never any people there.

I first dreamed of this place when I was a teenager, I think. It was abandoned then, and I sneaked in and started digging in the floor. What I found was a large open space and then more space under that. There were man-made tunnels going out in all directions and further down and further down, it went, maybe forever.

Every dream is slightly different, but it’s always the same kind of place with empty tunnels and dark spaces going down and down out of knowledge. Just a few weeks ago, I dreamed that I was camping with my family and we drove past that place. I saw it up on the hill and knew it was the same place I’d been dreaming about for half my life. I wanted to bring them all up to show them the place, but we didn’t because dreams frustrate you just as much as they enthrall you.

Anyone who has read my (still unpublished) novels will be able to see this love of vast, dark spaces pretty easily. It is a theme that excites and fascinates me and make me feel that heartache longing, redolent of nostalgia and homesickness for a home I’ve never seen. I’m not sure why, but that’s me.

It’s why I love the work of H.P. Lovecraft or House of Leaves or Empire of the Ants. It’s why one of my favorite parts of Lord of the Rings is when they are in the mines of Moria. I am at home in huge, dark spaces. It’s what I dream about when my conscious mind takes a break and I let my subconscious out of its box, to play and plot. To dream.


The House, from House of Leaves (Source)

Gandalf Answers Your Questions

Last Tuesday, I started the series Ask a Fictional Character, starting with Gandalf. I got three questions for him, so here they are, with his answers. Read to the bottom for next week’s fictional character.

Ask Fictional charactersQuestion 1:

Gandalf, what did it feel like to go from being Grey to being White? (submitted by Miles Rost at Music and Fiction)

Good question, Miles. If you have never died and been resurrected, it will be hard to explain, but let me try. Imagine you are standing on a tall mountain, looking out over an overcast landscape. It is before dawn, in that grey time before the sky in the east turns colors. Everything is clear and visible and there is a distinctness to everything, even though the colors are muted and dull.

It stays like this for some time, a middle land between the day and night with the visibility of the day but the colors of night. Then, suddenly, the lights begins to increase. Colors leak into the east and the whole world seems to hold its breath, waiting for that moment of transformation. Then the sun breaks over the hills and the grey sky above glows and turns into the white clouds of day, getting stronger and whiter with every passing moment.

That is how it seemed in retrospect, at least. At the time, I had just finished fighting a balrog for a week, so I was rather overwrought physically. I was also very, very cold (being naked on top of a snowy mountain) so some of the wonder may have been lost on me.

Question 2:

Gandalf, have you ever read “Catcher in the Rye?” Holden Caulfield doesn’t like phonies either? Kidding…real question. What kind of shoes do you wear to do all that walking?
(submitted by Amy Reese at The Bumble Files)

Amy, if you ever make it to the Grey Havens, ask for Galdor the Leathersmith (not Galdor the messenger of Cirdan). He used to make me boots made from the leather of cattle descended from the Kine of Araw. I do not if it was by magic or superior craft but those boots would last me almost a century. My cousin Radagast would save an extra pair for me at Rhosgobel, since I always needed them more than he and he was more for moccasins anyway.

Bosco Proudfoot once made me a pair of boots as a present but they always pinched after a few miles and I gave them to the great-great-grandfather of Barliman Butterbur, who took quite a liking to them, I hear.

In response to your first question, I have never read the book you mentioned but now that my labors are done, I have more time for leisurely reading. I did know a small hamlet called Caulfield where Wood End is now. I once saw a group of Took maidens dancing with a group of elves in a turnip patch one moonlit night. I have never seen such a thing since.

Question 3:

Gandalf, of all the other races you have encountered dwarves, hobbits, elves etc if you had to choose to be one which would you choose to be? (submitted by Paula Acton at paulaacton.com)

I would have to say, Paula, that of all the races I have met and all the peoples I have dealt with, I prefer myself most of all. Not as a wizard as such, since I do not always get along with my own kind. We are a lonely and crafty bunch at times. However, that was not your question.

I would have to choose a hobbit, I think. That is not surprising, perhaps, to those who know me but I like their carefree ways and as someone who has borne a great number of burdens over the years for a great number of different people, the idea of a big problem being getting the harvest in on time seems very relaxing.

It would be a change, especially, to give up my stature, both physically and as a (sometimes) respected personage. I am sure that if I ever were a hobbit, I would keep up my meddling ways and become one of the biggest busybodies in all four farthings! So perhaps it is best that I am just me, comfortable in my own skin. And so it should be.

Great questions guys and a big thank you to Gandalf for taking time to answer them.

For next week, I will be taking relationship questions, whether romantic, platonic or anything else. Our guest fictional character will be Alex, from A Clockwork Orange. Bring on those questions, folks, and let Alex solve all your relationship difficulties!

alex clockwork



Ask a Fictional Character!

I want your questions.

Not for me, though. Every Tuesday, I will open up this blog for one fictional character to answer any questions you have. Write your questions in the comments and I will pick three to have them answer. If you really want someone else’s question answered, click Like on their comment to vote for it.

This is your chance: any questions will do, barring anything that will have government agents coming to my door, of course. It won’t be just me making stuff up either. I will channel these characters in the most literary, non-occult definition of that word.

Ask Fictional characters

Because this is the first time, I wanted to start with someone well known, so next week’s guest character will be Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings. However, for those who might not know him well, here is a quick stats list:

Name: Gandalf (the Grey/White)

Occupation: negotiation and logistics specialist (with magic!)

Age: around 9000 (doesn’t like to tell)

Favorite Color: grey (or white)

Favorite Food: Cherries Jubilee, flambéed

Likes: long walks on any sort of terrain, smoking, short people

Dislikes: fire demons, unspeakable evil, phonies

Write your questions in the comments below and Gandalf will answer, next Tuesday.

7 things you may not know about Lord of the Rings

My favorite novel in the world is Lord of the Rings. I’ve read it at least 20 times, in three languages. To anyone who has seen the movie or read the book, the basic plot is pretty well known. However, with multiple readings I started to notice little cool details which either aren’t emphasized or are easy to overlook. Here’s my list of such things. (By the way, this is about the book, not the movie.)

The One Ring was the only Ring of Power without a gem.

The One Ring was the only Ring of Power without a gem. [*]

1. Even though the movies show the four hobbits as about the same age, this is not the case in the books. At the time of the quest to destroy the ring, Frodo was 50, Sam was 38, Merry was 36 and Pippin was 29. Of course, considering hobbits come of age at 33, Pippin would have been about 16 if he were human.

2. Hobbits aren’t the only ones who look younger than they are: Aragorn was 87 at the time of the Lord of the Rings and Gandalf was over 2000 years old.

3. List of words that appear in Lord of the Rings that sound bad, but really aren’t:

–      faggot (Book 2, Chapter 3: “a bundle of sticks”)

–      niggard (Book 6, Chapter 6 : “a selfish person”)

–      boner (Book 1, Chapter 12: a nonsensical word in a song, rhyming with ‘owner’)

–      bastards (Book 4, Chapter 9: “illegitimate children, used in the context of Shelob’s offspring)

Rivendell, by Ted Nasmith

Rivendell, by Ted Nasmith

4. Sam actually has five siblings but only mentions one of them in the Lord of the Rings: his younger sister Marigold. He mentions her in the chapter “Mount Doom” as someone he would have liked to see again, after he realizes they don’t have enough food to get back home.

copyright John Howe

copyright John Howe [*]

5. The high elves are telepathic and can have conversations with each other without speaking out loud (Book 6, Chapter 6)

6. Gandalf has a telepathic link with Shadowfax and can call him mentally whenever he wants.

7. Nine women have speaking roles in Lord of the Rings. They are very ethnically diverse, although they usually don’t have many lines of dialogue. Here is the list, in order of appearance:

–      Lobelia Sackville-Baggins – hobbit (2 lines)

–      Mrs. Maggot – hobbit (1 line)

–      Goldberry – Maiar (wife of Tom Bombadil) (10 lines)

–      Galadriel – elf (many lines)

–      Eowyn – human/Rohirrim (many lines)

–      Ioreth – human/Gondorian (8 lines)

–      Arwen – half-elf (2 lines)

–      Rosie – hobbit (3 lines)

–      Mrs. Cotton – hobbit (1 line)

There tend to be large gaps between them, however, and at one point, 17 chapters go by between women speaking.

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