Game of Thrones

Posted: May 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

Like many fans, I was reading George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire for years before the television show came out. I enjoyed the books, which were beautifully told epic fantasy of the kind I’ve always been looking for since I first read The Lord of the Rings as a teenager. My brother in law gave me the first book at Christmas in 2004, and I eagerly devoured it and everything that came after. Martin, I felt, had modernized the genre, and was giving us all a terrific ride with his intrigue filled, sometimes twisted and always unpredictable novels.

When the show came out, I embraced it, as so many millions did. The casting was amazing, the story wonderfully told, faithful to the books, the production values more than any fantasy fan could hope for. I felt as if we’d been given a new episode of Tolkien every Sunday evening, for years. Even when I felt disappointed by certain elements, overall the show was something my wife and I looked forward to every week.

Though I was dismayed when the show passed the events of Martin’s most recent entry in the series, I still enjoyed it all immensely, and was sorry to see it end. What an epic tale! What a journey they took us on! The final episodes were in many ways reminiscent to me of the end of Return of the King. Arya and the Night King was for me Frodo at Mt. Doom. Jon Snow saying farewell to his family felt like the parting at the Grey Havens. Game of Thrones is our era’s Lord of the Rings; if you enjoy epic fantasy, it doesn’t get much better than this.

So, thanks to George for writing this. Thanks to all the showrunners and writers and actors for putting in on TV year after year. It was an inspired, and inspiring run. I cannot wait to see Martin’s final two books in the series, since it is his story, and he is the one who made all this possible.

It makes me want to write things myself, and if that isn’t the greatest compliment of all, I don’t know what is.



Posted: May 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

I recently saw the new Tolkien film, directed by Dome Karukoski, starring Nicholas Hoult in the title role, and Lily Collins as Edith Bratt, who would become Tolkien’s wife. I strongly recommend this movie, whether you’re familiar with Tolkien’s life and work or not. It’s a nice homage to a man whose work has captured the imagination of millions of readers.

Tolkien hits many of the right notes in bringing us through his tragic childhood, the death of his mother, and his early life as a student. Colm Meany plays father Francis Morgan, who was Tolkien’s guardian after his mother died, and the inestimable Derek Jacobi plays Tolkien’s mentor and professor at Oxford. We get a sense of the friendships Tolkien made as a young man, and follow him through his studies, and the outbreak of World War I. The movie of course takes liberties with his biography, as all movies of this kind will, but overall the film does a good job in getting us emotionally invested in Tolkien’s early life.

Edith Bratt was the love of Tolkien’s life, and their budding romance is handled nicely in the film. It is hard not to feel sympathy for these two orphans who would create a family of their own together. There are also scenes of the horror Tolkien experienced in the Somme, and viewers get an idea of how Tolkien was inspired by this to start creating Middle-earth. Hoult shows intensity in Tolkien’s obsession with languages and his devotion to his friends, and to Edith. I found the film very moving, and it left me with a sense of how difficult his formative years were. Yet from this crucible, he created a beloved mythology that will outlast us all.

The Tolkien estate has already criticized this movie, as is their right, but their opposition makes little difference to those who want to see it–they also disliked Peter Jackson’s films, which of course the public hated to the tune of best picture awards, and a worldwide haul that was greater than Smaug’s treasure hoard. I’ve also read complaints that the film is not Catholic enough, or historical enough. No doubt eventually some aggrieved superfan will criticize the absence of elves and dwarves. (I find the Catholic criticisms particularly amusing, as it is leveled every time a Tolkien movie, exhibit or book is released; it seems enraged Catholic critics want the world to see a version of this film that is two hours of Tolkien attending mass, going to confession, and perhaps railing endlessly against secular humanism. Maybe the Church ought to just canonize the man and be done with it.) I think these strong reactions show that everyone feels so close to Tolkien and his work, and would like to claim him as their own, but Tolkien belongs to the world. Ignore the complaints, and decide for yourself. If you are interested in Tolkien, I can say as a lifelong fan that you won’t be disappointed. It might even inspire you to pick up some of his works you haven’t read, or delve into a biography—Humphrey Carpenter’s wonderful book would be a good start.

Here’s a link to my review of this show from last week:

Martin Barre Celebrates 50 Years of Jethro Tull


New York Tolkien Conference

If you’re a Tolkien fan anywhere near New York, you must see the Tolkien: Wqt6YdiNMaker of Middle-earth exhibit now at the Morgan Library and Museum. On display until May 12, this is the largest exhibition of Tolkien’s work ever in the United States.

It’s overwhelming to see these works up close for the first time, especially if you’ve spent as much time as most Tolkien readers have looking at his beautiful illustrations and maps. The famous jacket of The Hobbit, for example, is on display, as well as the watercolors Tolkien painted for that book. There are also numerous maps of Middle-earth, family photos and letters, notes and diagrams of language, paintings and letters of Father Christmas that Tolkien sent to his young children, early sketches and paintings, and even the Oxford don’s commencement robes. There is so much in this mammoth exhibition that it is hard to take it…

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Hullo fair traveler! Our post Tolkien Reading Day news is long overdue! A few notes concerning our March 23rd event, the Lewis and Tolkien play in NYC, a Narnia Inspired poem by author Ryder Miller, and a few tidbits. On Friday March 23rd we gathered at Baruch College, our NYC Tolkien Fellowship meeting hall, to […]

via Concerning Hobbits, Wardrobes and Rings — The New York Tolkien Conference & Fellowship

New York Tolkien Conference

Bilbo by Jef Murray

Hail Fellowship!

One month from tomorrow The New York Tolkien Conference returns with our Tolkien Reading Day/Spring 2018 event. Tolkien Reading Day is celebrated globally on March 25th and has been organized by The Tolkien Society since 2003. As you know The 25th of March is the date of the downfall of the Lord of the Rings (Sauron) and the fall of Barad-dûr. The aim of the event is to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favorite passages.
Visit The Tolkien Society to Read More

The New York Tolkien Conference was originally a single day Conference in 2015 & 2016 and unfortunately was on hiatus for 2017.  For 2018 we have changed the format to have smaller events with a single presenter, Q&A and more community involvement.

For Tolkien Reading Day we are aiming to encourage fans to…

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Essay in Forgotten Leaves

Posted: June 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

I’m happy to have an essay in Forgotten Leaves, a new collection of essays on JRR Tolkien. My essay relates to the different games based in Middle-earth that have been released over the years. There are some wonderful contributors to this book–go to the Myth Ink site to check out the table of contents.


I’ll be talking about my contribution on a panel at the NY Tolkien Conference on June 13 at Baruch College. Registration is currently full, but there is a waiting list if you haven’t registered but are interested in attending.