The SFFaudio Podcast #337 – READALONG: The Lord Of The Rings (Book 5 of 6) by J.R.R. Tolkien


TheSFFaudioPodcast600The SFFaudio Podcast #337 – Jesse, Julie Davis, Seth, and Maissa talk about The Lord of the Rings Book V (“The War Of The Ring”) by J.R.R. Tolkien (aka the first half of The Return Of The King).

Talked about on today’s show:
Published 60 years ago; research is Jesse’s “security blanket”; The Black Stone by Robert E. Howard; stone of Erech has parallels to the Kaaba in Mecca; Moses’s ill-fated water-rock in Old Testament; the Stone of Scone; palantíri; War? What is it good for? We aren’t fans of all the battles; Éomer’s poetic “all is lost” moment; The Last Samurai and heroic fatalism; World War I; Faramir’s dislike of war; the movies’ over-reliance on spectacle; the power of words; the Lord of the Nazgûl; Éowyn’s badassery; Houses of Lamentation vs. Houses of Healing; the strength of the weakest; parallels between Merry and Pippin; the flaws of film versions of Éowyn–and Faramir; great deeds vs. duty; Éowyn as Old Norse valkyrie archetype; the twisting of the Nazgûl; debating the corporeality of Sauron; Sauron and Denethor use others for their dirty work; Ghân-buri-Ghân and other marginalized figures; woodwoses; no authorized Lord of the Rings fan fiction; Jesse wants public domain story following Gimil and Legolas on postwar adventures; Fifty Shades of Grey as Twilight fanfiction; Tolkien’s scholarly inside jokes; we don’t know our Greek numbers; on foils, parallels, and the integrity of Tolkien’s work; Théoden and Denethor; Gandalf’s healing power, “see the light”; Denethor’s false wisdom; Denethor passages have quality of a Greek tragedy; modern society, like Denethor, can’t see the whole picture; film portrayal of Gandalf whacking Denethor is not canon; Christ parallels and the resurrection of hope; the layering of symbolism; barrow wights and Théoden’s barrow; Korean harvest festival Chuseok; the aggression of the Tolkien estate; the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings animated movies of yore; “the hands of the king are the hands of a healer”; athelas (kings foil) to the rescue!; the king’s power to call the wounded back from the dead; the title of lore master; the last big distraction and self-sacrifice at the Black Gate; on the division of Lord of the Rings into books and volumes; on the pleasures of slow reading; more discourse on Denethor; Pippin and Merry are interchangeable (!?); even Sauron is just one evil power, parallels cyclical historical events in our world (cf. resurgence of Russia under Putin); no spoilers for Maissa!; the Mouth of Sauron’s terms, and what if Gandalf had surrendered?; Hitler, appeasement, and Alexander the Great; envisioning flamethrower guitarist from Mad Max: Fury Road at the Battle of the Black Gate;

Draggy The Dragon with THE RETURN OF THE KING by J.R.R. Tolkien

Eowyn And The Lord Of The Nazgul - illustration by Jim Reid

Ballantine Books - The Return Of The King by J.R.R. Tolkien

Methuen - The Return Of The King by J.R.R. Tolkien

UNICORN - The Return Of The King by J.R.R. Tolkien

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip

SFFaudio Review

Od Magic by Patricia McKillipOd Magic
By Patricia A. McKillip; Read by Gabrielle de Cuir
10 CDs – 11.7 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781433223983
Themes: / Fantasy / Wizard School / Monarchy / Herbalism /

I had a hard time, at first, getting into this book. I didn’t relate to Brenden Vetch, who lost his parents, then his brother and girlfriend left him because he spent hours and days in the wilderness listening to and talking to plants.

Then he encounters Od, a giantess, who invites him to go to Kelior the capital city where the King lives, and become the gardener at the school of magic.

Brenden goes to Kelior, and for me, this is where the story starts to get interesting. He meets the teachers and students and keeps to himself a lot. Brenden, I’m afraid, is boring.

Fortunately, it is also here that we are introduced to the secondary characters. Valoren, the King’s wizard and a nobleman, Yar, one of the wizard teachers, Lady Thiel, cousin to Valoren and amour of Yar. Sulis, the King’s daughter, Arnath, Quarter Warden over the Twilight Quarter and Mistral, daughter of Tiriman, a magician who is visiting the Twilight Quarter.

King Galin keeps a very tight control over how and when magic is used in his kingdom. You have to be trained in the school of magic and you can only use magic the way you are taught. Everything else is forbidden. You can see the problem and where the story is going.

Tiriman, a traveling magician, enters the Twilight Quarter and everyone begins to wonder if he is using real magic, or if he’s simply using tricks. Arnath is sent in to determine if Tiriman is a threat to the King or not. The King’s daughter slips into the Quarter to see Tiriman as she has been told of him by her great grandmother, Ditany.

The story gets more complex as Brenden is found to have magic (no surprise).

By the time the story gets to chapter 5, I can hardly wait to hear what happens next. And how everything gets resolved. The King’s daughter is betrothed and Arnath falls for Mistral, Tiriman’s daughter, as he tries to meet the illusive magician.

The story builds, the characters get themselves in trouble and I’m looking forward to a great resolution… and then it’s over. But things are not all neatly wrapped up. Some things are clearly resolved. There’s a moral, but I don’t mind it. To me, the ending feels too abrupt. Too sudden. I would like a little more… resolution.

Do I recommend the story? Yes, with reservations. I love the secondary characters and their stories. I really didn’t care about Od or Brenden. I still don’t. I think part of the ending is a bit too contrived. There were NO hints to look back on and say, “Oh! Now I get it.” I felt blindsided. That being said, if there were a sequel, I’d buy it just to see what happens next. There really needs to be a next.

If this had been the first part of a series, I’d be happier with the ending. As a stand-alone, I give it a 6 out of 10. Good, but not great. No RIddlemaster of Hed here. Alas. Her latest book is a sequel to “Tam Lin.” I’m going to go out and buy it.

*Disclaimer: I listened to the audiobook. I never read the book. So, if I misspelled any of the character names, I apologize.

Posted by Charlene C. Harmon