It's that time of year again: J.R.R. Tolkien's birthday. I really wanted to get a Barbarians article done, but as you may have noticed, I've been a bit preoccupied. So instead, I'll point you to some of my favourite Tolkien links.
First, the Encyclopedia of Arda. This was my inspiration for the Encyclopaedia Hyboriana, in that it would be "like that, but for the Hyborian Age." It's the only Tolkien resource I really trust: Yavanna's blessings on the Tolkien Gateway and myriad Tolkien Wikis out there, but you never know what weird fanboy musings will end up contaminating a perfectly good wiki.
Second, Lalaith's Middle-earth Science Pages. This is another site in the vein of the EoA, except it takes it a step further, and presents scholarly theories on Middle-earth ethnology, natural history and geography. It's pretty much the Hyborian Age Gazetteer for Middle-earth.
My last link isn't to a site, but an essay. I'm delighted to discover that Steve Tompkins' award-winning masterpiece, "The Shortest Distance Between Two Towers," is now online and freely available for anyone to read. In my mind, this is the Tolkien-Howard essay. In just under 9,000 words, Tompkins details exactly why, although both authors are very different in many ways, they absolutely deserve to be considered on equal footing with each other. Too often you get the snooty Lord of the Rings fanboys who decry Howard's work as little more than Puerile Adolescent Wish Fulfillment, but just as wrong to me are the Conan fanboys who consider Tolkien's work as nothing but Childish Mollycoddling Fairytale. Tompkins also puts forward why he considers Tolkien and Howard both as Sword-and-Sorcery (and, contrarian that I am, I have taken to it myself), as well as some brilliantly insightful comparisons of the two authors' work and lives.
I know it must get grating for me to constantly harp on about Tompkins' genius, but honestly, it speaks for itself. I might disagree with one or two things, but they're vastly outnumbered by the agreements.