J.R.R Tolkien was a man who set out to create a mythology for Britain and inadvertently created Star Wars, World of Warcraft, D&D, Orlando Bloom and every fantasy cliché ever.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien Was born in South Africa but left as a baby in order to have a miserable life as an orphan in England because that's just how these things go. Raised in poverty by a Catholic priest he escaped, not into comics and girly mags like most young boys but into aincient etymology. By the time he left school he spoke nine obscure dead languages and had begun to make up his own.
Here he is speaking Elvish... Or is it English? we can't really tell.
Already a little strange before World War One, a stint in the trenches pushed him straight over the edge and into Middle earth. He Started writing 'The Silmarillion' whilst cowering in a hole, getting fired on by Gerry.
WWI as seen by J.R.R. Tolkien
'The Silmarillion' Starts with the not at all portentous line;
'In the beginning there was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Iluvatar'.
Before you could say 'L. Ron Hubbard' Tolkien was adrift in a psuedo historical world of Elves,Angels and gods...For the next fifty years.
It is essentially an alternative version of Genesis, telling of the creation and beginning of the world from the point of view of a now extinct race. It is so much cooler than the Bible in every respect that it's miraculous it hasn't been used as the basis for a celebrity cult yet. In our poxy version Adam and Eve are cast out of Eden for gaining knowlege... The Elves are banished from paradise for committing genocide against their own people.
That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a badass fall from grace.
So what was it that catapulted Tolkien to fame? Was it his genius as a philologist? His tireless work as a professor at Oxford? His valuable translation of ancient texts, or his half insane self made mythology?
None of the above. It was something much more twee.
Here he is explaining how boredom drove him out of his mind and down a Hobbit hole.
A Hobbit , as it turns out, is a little man with furry feet who lives in an idealised pre - industrial England. Bilbo Baggins proved a hit with the kids and , to the derisive snorts of Tolkiens fellow oxford dons, He laughed all the way to the bank.
An Artist's Impression of Tolkien after the publication of 'the Hobbit'
The publishers asked for a sequel. Tolkien sent them The Silmarillion. Unfortunatley for him, the deluded ravings of a madman weren't quite what the people of Milfin pubishing house were looking for, and his magnum opus remained unpublished untill after his death.
The pubishers wanted Hobbits, Tolkien wanted epic mythology. He compromised by novelising the last three pages of 'The Silmarillion and adding Hobbits. Granted it doesn't work in theory, but somthing about that combination struck a chord with...Well everyone... Except the critics.
How can we put this sensitively? Critics hate Tolkien. They hate him with an intense passion usually reserved for Keanu Reeves. They have called him everything from naive to racist. Citing bad writing, sentimentality and a stubborn refusal to admit to the use of political allegory as some of the reasons for their distain.
The real reason is, of course, that while their painstakingly researched historical novel about the Russian revolution is rotting away in their desk drawer some whacko's story about fucking Hobbits has sold 150 million copies. Fuck that.
Hippies on the other hand were the first Tolkien geeks. supposedly for the ecological and political messages in LOTR. We suspect the the real reason is that the identified with small hairy people who smoked a lot of 'pipe weed.'
Sauron the Dark Lord... Who is so fucking evil that he cant physically manifest on earth except as a massive flaming eye:
Careful he might...look at you!
Creates a ring of power that will turn anyone who wears it into an evil minion. The catch is that the more powerful and ballsy you are the quicker you will be turned by the ring. Humans are , of course, the first to be corrupted.
Must...not...stick it in....
It falls to mild mannered Hobbit Frodo Baggins, arguably the least ballsy character in history , to take the ring to the black land of Mordor and destroy it in a volcano.
He is accompanied by one of each of the following...
The unbearable awsomeness of being an Elf
Tall, beautiful , Immortal, and good at everything The elves are the Swedish of Middle Earth... Except they speak Finnish. They tend to get a little Emo about their immortality and live in Middle Earth only because they were banished from paradise after pissing off the Gods ... Like the Swedish did when they stopped raping and Pillaging and created ABBA.
Elves were built to last, which meant the turnover wasn't high enough for God so he created a crappy second generation with built in obsolescence...Us. In Middle earth humans are a deeply flawed, troubled bunch with a huge inferiority complex. Well you would wouldn't you?
There are various different Races of Men in Middle Earth, all of them douchebags .The most prominent being Numinorians....aka the Douchbags who sank Atlantis. The Rohirrim, like Vikings exept with Horses and Woses...like bushmen exept hunted to extinction by The Rohirrim.
They dig dig dig the whole day through... No seriously they do. Rocks are pretty much all Dwarves care about. The Aggressive, truculent assholes of Middle Earth they speak something that sounds like Yiddish and have a weird Germanic sense of humour that no one gets. Not much is known about Dwarves because they ain't telling. We do know, however, that male Dwarves vastly outnumber female Dwarves, who look a lot like dudes. That might help explain why they're so grumpy all the time.
The Megan Fox of the Dwarf World.
A sleeping Ent
Ents are sentient trees...Yup.
There are no female Ents, they left the forest to become agriculturalists ...Are you beginning to see a theme here?
Tom Fucking Bombadil
Tom Bombadil : The most powerful being on earth..
It was a subject of major geek rage that This character was left out of Peter Jackson's adaptation of Fellowship. The reasons for his exclusion are legion but the most obvious one is that he's an annoying bastard. The other reason was best explained by Tolkien himself when he said :
''Tom Bombadil is not an important person - to the narrative.''
So why then? For the love of God, write him into the narrative in the first place? See. this is why critics hate Tolkien.
Frodo and Co. meet him in the woods about half way through the first book. He is , apparently, some kind of anthropomorphic manifestation of the forest. A really, really retarded forest if the whole dancing around with water lilies and rhyming nonsensically thing is anything to go by. He is, of course, immensely popular with hippies, due to the fact that , by renouncing all worldly things and giving up all possessions, he has become the most powerful being on Earth. Unfortunately, much like the hippies , he is also less than useless when it comes to actually making a difference to the world because he doesn't give a shit about anything. A bit like Dr, Manhattan...Only a million times lamer.
On the other hand he does have a sexy water nymph wife named Goldberry. If she had been in the film it would have upped the female character count... To four.
Angels? You're fucking kidding me!
Wizards are earthbound angelic spirits who were sent to fight the forces of evil by inspiring the hearts and minds of Men (and Elves and Dwarves and Ents and Hobbits.)
Suck it Harry Potter.
So no redeeming features at all then?
Sauron's horribly inept army is mainly comprised of these guys. Orcs are what happens when you take an Elf and put it in abu graib fro a few thousand years. We suppose that should make us feel sorry for them but it just doesn't. The levels of brutality in Orc culture make the Aztecs look like vegan bunny huggers. Their language is called 'The Black Speech' and if you think that sounds a teensy bit racist that's because it is.
A genectically modified Orc/Human hybrid bred by corrupt wizard Saruman to suppliment the crappy Orc armies of Mordor. They improve on regular Orcs in the following ways.
1. They can walk around in the sun (thats a big plus if you're fighting in the day time.)
2. They can shoot straight ( ish)
3 They can operate as a team for more than five seconds without killing one another
Scarier than Dementors but not quite as terrifying as that other back robed menace, Death. Their main weapon is fear and their main drawback is that they don't really exist on the physical plane, making them kind of useless in combat situations. Their leader was taken out by a girl.