Sunday, 15 November 2009

Triangulation: Barbarians of Middle-earth & The Rebellion Begins

Well, this was a fun week.

For a while, I'd been planning on contributing more Tolkien posts on The Cimmerian. I'm quite a Tolkien fan, but as with Howard, sometimes I find myself at odds with fans of his work - or rather, the expanded universe, particularly The Lord of the Rings. Be it Yaoi fangirls of Legolas/Aragorn (or Orlando/Viggo) slash fiction, or those who apply their D&D preconceptions to Tolkien's universe, I don't tend to go around Tolkien fansites. My artwork (you can google it if you want, but be warned, it's very old and I tend to squirm at it) is generally considered too "macho" for Tolkien, which is complete anathema to me. I consider Tolkien's stuff at its best to be just as macho as Howard. The death of Echthelion is worthy of Niord, Hialmar or Conan himself.

So leading to the Barbarians of Middle-earth. There are a lot of barbarians running about. There are a few obvious ones - Southrons, Easterlings, Dunlendings - which are allied, coerced or conquered by the forces of darkness, giving the impression that Tolkien considered barbarians to be evil "others." However, there are a few very notable barbarian peoples on the side of good, like the Druedain, and a few that people don't even know, like the Lossoth, Lamedon hillmen, and the Northmen. Most interestingly, there are major peoples who, for some reason, are never considered barbarians despite fitting one definition or another to a tee. The most notable of these are the Rohirrim, the Dunedain, and the Beornings. Theoden, Eomer, Eowyn, Aragorn, Beorn - all are, to an extent, barbarians. Some may disagree, but I hope to persuade others my belief that Middle-earth was chock-full of barbarians.

I had planned for this to be my weekly post, but a lack of sleep and general confusion meant that instead of scheduling it for the wee hours of the morning, I posted it immediately on late Friday. Rather than just making the excuse for this to be a bit early and leaving further posts till next week, I endeavoured to make a new post. Part of what makes the Cimmerian so great a regular Howard source is the fact that its bloggers post regularly without fail, and I didn't want to let the team down for such a minor mishap.

The second post, which I whipped up in something of a hurry, is The Rebellion Begins. I'd love to think Mark's petition had an effect on the direction of the film, but I can't help but be skeptical. Nonetheless, I support it: better to try in the small hope it'll make a difference, than to not bother in the belief that it almost certainly won't.

I encourage everyone to go to the appeal and sign it. It's just a signature, it won't take much time. A few second of your time at least, a few minutes to register at at most. Even if it's unlikely to make a difference, what've you got to lose?


  1. I signed the petition as soon as I saw it-hopefully it will mean something to the script and final product, but as you said even slash marks low on the wall is something.

    I really wonder how much of the Tolkien fan sites are dominated by the Elf lovers and as such the resentment of barbarians would run high there. As much as I love Tolkien I feel more at home in the Conan forum-I would be a Dunedain over an elf-just calling a spade a spade.

  2. Indeed, I've gone around just about everywhere to get the petition signed. Good on yourself!

    I think the biggest problem I have with Tolkien fans is their insistence on making elves far too androgynous & pretty. When I imagine Tolkien's elves, I visualise a primal, powerful race of mighty men and statuesque women, more akin to walking Greek statues than anything else. Tolkien's own description of Legolas sounds uncannily similar to that of a young Conan, oddly enough.

    Considering the madness that can erupt from the Balrog question, though, I guess it's natural that they wouldn't like depictions that challenge their views.

  3. Absolutely I agree with your assessment of elves. One of the strongest things that ever hit me between the eyes when it comes to Tolkien was when I read at least heer in the states BOOK 12: The Peoples of Middle Earth and the section specifically dealing with Glorfindel.
    Glorfindel an elf leading refugees out of the besieged Gondolin and the pass is blocked by a Balrog. Glorfindel slays the Balrog and like both Gandalf and Ecthelion is in turn slain himself.
    Now the kicker to me is Elves don't use name over again (must come with being immortal) so the Glorfindel that meets the Hobbits/Aragorn and sits in on council is the same Glorfindel sent back just like Gandalf. When I starting thinking of the connotations I was blown away. I don't know that I would call him a barbarian but certainly another of the great heroic cloth that we can both appreciate.

  4. Indeed, Glorfindel is probably one of the most badass elves in Middle-earth (and that's really saying something). I'm compiling a list of "Top Ten Badass Tolkien Moments," but with the sheer number of them it might turn into a Top Twenty.