The other day i decided to read The Silmarillion again. It’s my favorite of the legendarium (yes, I realize this makes me a freak) so I know it well; so, rather than go through it sequentially, I decided to start with “Akallabeth.” For the unititated, this isTolkien’s version of the myth of Atlantis, relating the history of Aragorn’s people, the Numenorians, and telliing how their island nation was destroyed due to the manipulations of Sauron.
I like this tale. I really do. But it’s always bugged me that Sauron’s army rolled over so easily for Ar-Pharazon’s forces. I mean, Sauron’s a freaking fallen angel. He’s got orcs that breed like flies, and fell beasts of many sorts, and magic rings, and has been known to outsource the really nasty stuff to Balrogs & dragons. I’ve always thought it would have made more sense if Sauron had been described as deliberately taking a dive. His armies could have only been feigning desertion when, in fact, he left them in the command of the Witch-King (or whichever Nazgul was next in line) because ole Gorthaur decided he’d rather try to corrupt the Numernoreans to the service of Morgoth, or because he’d rather manipulate them into provoking their own destruction by the Valar rather than waste his own forces even though his army would have won anyway.
Which brings us to the thread question. Given a time machine and fifteen minutes of Professor Tolkien’s time, what changes would you suggest be made to the chronicles of Middle-Earth? Anything is eligible: expansions, contractions, better explanations, et cetera.
(Other than clearing up the Balrog-wing thing. Everybody knows the truth about that.)
Considering his works are not only still being read after half a century, but being made into major motion pictures, while I have yet to sell a single short story, I’d be reluctant to give him too much advice.
I haven’t read much of the stuff that was cobbled together from his notes. I understand his legendarium was pretty much a work in progress, so who knows what it would like in it’s final form if he had lived to produce such a thing.
I have read that he kept futzing with Galadriel’s back story to make her less of a renegade, and I think that’s unfortunate. The idea of one of the Wise being a black sheep has a lot of appeal.
I would like to know what happened to Radagast. Yeah, he kind of screwed up but he seemed like a decent sort. But why was he nowhere to be seen during the final conflict?
If I were his editor, I’m sure I would have suggested trimming the Old Forest chapters. By all means, keep Tom Bombadil and the barrow-downs, but don’t devote so many pages to them. The journey has barely started and it comes to a screeching halt.
I would have asked him to cut the part of the Hobbit appendix in ROTK where he mentions that their names were different in hobbit-language. You don’t go around for over 1000 pages calling them by one name and then getting all linguistic-y and saying those weren’t their names at all. Yes. They. Were.
Yoo Hoo Professor - Please write more about Radagast and the other wizards. and more about Faramir ruling in Ithilien; and Gimli and the Glittering Caves; and more about the Ents. and more about the Southrons and the other folk who had fallen under Sauron’s sway; more about Ghan Buri ghan (I know this is misspelled, sorry), and more about the people of Bree, and about Goldberry…and well, you get the idea. Just - more.
Well…almost. I can’t think of anything major plot or character changes I’d make (my Sauron-took-a-dive-for-Ar-Pharazon thing is more of a backstory change); but I’m with you in wanting hair more detail. F’instance, if the good Professor had finished the talk from,uh, Unfinished Tales in which Gandalf explained just how manipulative he was being with Thorin & Co., and included that in the indices, that would be nice.
No more Arwen, though. I can’t think of any way to include her that doesn’t involve reducing Eowyn, and it’s HER I want to see.
Aragorn was a moron, by the way. And Faramir was a wise man. And I thought that long before I ever saw Miranda Otto. Who’s a hottie. But that has nothing to do with anything.
It needs an enormous edit to avoid the appalling structuring. It takes 120 pages to get the Hobbits’ arses out of the Shire alone, and yet only 4 to throw the Ring into Mount Doom, fly back to Gondor and get brought back from the brink of death. 120 pages in which Nothing! Much! Happens!: “Two or three weeks pased” and “Gandalf stayed in the Shire for over two months” is just plain sloppy writing.
It’s another 120 pages to get to Rivendell, half-heartedly pursued by the frankly rubbish Black Riders, who will supposedly stop at nothing to recover the Ring and yet can’t be bothered to dismount to look for Hobbits hiding just off the path, and are stymied by the old “pillows in the bed” trick: the bloody Nazgul might have sacrificed their mortal souls for earthly power, but they couldn’t find a bass drum in a telephone booth, to quote P. G. Wodehouse. They conspicuously suffer from Plot Stupidity, in which pivotal characters are dumb and ineffectual at critical times only in order to allow the story to proced.