Speaking of George R.R. Martin.. I was watching a video where he said the biggest issue he had with LOTR was Gandalf coming back. His point was that the death of Gandalf was a massive moment where a key character surprisingly dies and this is somewhat nullified by just bringing him back, and the tension of 'oh man.. how will they deal without the person who has a lot of the answers?' So.. for a NY topic..
1. Should Gandalf have remained dead
2. If so how would things have panned out?
Happy New Year all
The video for reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mPkqEqx3Gg
Well, Gandalf didn't really die in the first place - only his physical form was destroyed. I think its a bigger problem - due to plot hole it creates - to not bring him back. He was sent by the Valar to do a specific job. He is doing that job really well - even to the point of getting into a battle against a valaraukar that will destroy his physical form. He wins - at the expense of his physical form - and returns to the Valar - making excellent progress but job still not done. Given that Sauron can apparently restore the forms of the Ring Wraiths, and given that the Valar did restore Glorfindel, it would be difficult to imagine the Valar as being unable to recreate Gandalf's physical form. Why in heck then would they not do it?
Sure, from that point of view I guess so, but from a pure storytelling point of view it was braver to kill off a key character early on and then consider how it may have panned out regardless.
There'd be a greater issue with Rohan, but Aragorn may have decided to give up on Theoden and seek out Eomer himself and still defeated Saruman's army, at which point Saruman's hold on Theoden would have gone anyway. Merry and Pippin still met the Ents and may well have still convinced them to go to war. I suppose the key thing Gandalf did would be to gain the aid of the Eagles but, still, I don't think it was crucial to bring him back.
It's harder for me to remember the impact of Gandalf going down with the Balrog on my first reading, it was long ago enough and with the films I just know the story to well to remember the first time - I'd guess it was similar to Rob Stark at the Red Wedding.
I think it's an interesting enough thought point.
still better than the one from 1977
It has been a long time since I have seen the 1977 film, and I have a difficult time separating it in my memory from the animated LOTR film - much to the horror of Ralph Bakshi (director of the LOTR animated film and no fan of The Hobbit film - thanks Wikipedia for refreshing my memory a little bit).
I read the hobbit and saw the movie as a child. As a teen, I read LOTR. To me, the Hobbit is, and should be, a children's story, and the LOTR is an epic tale. I love the LOTR films because they portray the story as I believe it should be portrayed. And I dislike the Hobbit movies because they tell the story of the Hobbit exactly in the same way as the LOTR movies. One the one hand, The Hobbit is part of the world created by JRRT, so it makes sense that the Hobbit movies should be framed in much the same way as the LOTR movies - the stories are integrally connected after all. But I don't like it. It is taking a cherished childhood memory of mine and changing it.
But that's me. Others may feel very differently and that is fine.
I am unsure if that can be considered as a deus ex machina moment, although that can be up for debate as well.
In the movies it was definitely portrayed in a more cheesy (and really visually confusing) way that I didn't particularly like, but the movies had to fit the storyline in a number of minutes limit so I was lenient with that.
As for the book, if you had prior knowledge of other works (like The Silmarillion) you would have known that Gandalf was Maia / Istari but on my first LOTR book read the backstory of Gandalf definitely felt a bit confusing. I also found the story of the fight between Gandalf and the Balrog quite convoluted and a bit too cheesy (in contrast with the rest of the same book but definitely not with other works, ie. .. to fall in some bottomless pit then end up in a lake then fight in the lake until they reach the Endless Stairs and then end up climbing the stairs while fighting then reaching the mountain peaks again to end up fighting for a whole week -or more- with no-one else noticing it).
And the possible deus ex machina moment was that, after all that immense fight and the death of Gandalf, Eru's direct intervention ressurrects him. I believe that this was not the first "direct intervention" in the works, but definitely it was the first in the LOTR books (one other was later in the series, with Frodo and the One Ring). But it was definitely earned, since Gandalf proved himself (obvious in the book) and he also was a higher being (less obvious in the book) so he wouldn't just .. die - so I do not see it a cheap trick by the author but rather as a reward for his many contributions - in a world in which such is still in the realm of possibilities.
Anyway I diverge from the topic. Personally, I find that the rest of the party definitely could not have won the fight against the Balrog if it wasn't for Gandalf. So even if the bridge wouldn't have collapsed (or they weren't fighting in that area), I believe that Gandalf would have realised the gravity of the situation and would have ordered the rest of the party to carry on.
Unfortunately, now, the rest of the story diverges from the original, since Gandalf is involved in other areas of Middle Earth after his death. If he was to be dead then there are still some issues with the kingdom of Rohan, the fight at Minas Tirith but, other than the last stand at the battle of Morannon in front of Mount Doom - the other battles didn't really influence or aid Frodo's little quest.
And on the topic of in-theme chat, I was reading a few days ago a humurous post on some webpage. It was a theory regarding the evolution of dwarven beards, written by an username Deluxeloy on tumblr.
"[...] See, dwarves like to dig a lot. They build underground homes, and there’s nothing more rewarding to them than digging up some gems or valuable metals. But chipping away at all that rock and disturbing all that earth kicks up a lot of dust and dirt. If you do that every day without proper breathing protection (which Ancient Dwarves probably didn’t have much access to) all those particles are going to build up in your lungs. It’s a phenomenon we see with real miners too; eventually, they develop a host of respiratory-related problems and even lung cancer.
Now, if only dwarves had some sort of natural protection against all that fine dust. If only they had some sort of filter in front of their mouth an nose… [... and...] through natural selection, dwarves developed more and more dense facial hair as a defense mechanism."
Following was added another snippet, by username Mysral:
"It should be noted that this interpretation also supports the “female dwarves have beards too” line of thought. It makes very little sense for half the population not to have that intrinsic protection, after all…"
What do you consider to be the truth regarding dwarves and the reasons of their beards?
Well I suppose that might raise some questions on the Blue Wizards, either they still lived or they died and were not considered worthy of being brought back, even Tolkien seems unsure..
It is also uncertain whether they failed in their mission, but it seems most likely. In Unfinished Tales Tolkien writes that, "indeed of all the Istari, one only remained faithful," referring to Gandalf. Also in letter 211 ,he said ,"what success they had I do not know; but I fear that they failed, as Saruman did, though doubtless in different ways; I suspect that they were founders or beginners of secret cults and 'magic' traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron".  However, in a text found in The Peoples of Middle-earth, alternate set of names are given, Morinehtar and Rómestámo (or Rome(n)star), "Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper". It is not clear whether these names were intended to be replacements for Alatar and Pallando, or whether they had a second set of names (for instance, their names used in Middle-earth).
I am a bit unsure about that.
Sauron was a Maia and he was able to take form after his "death" on Numenor (although lost the ability to take a fair shape). Only after he "transferred" a lot of his power into the One Ring he was unable to take form again.
This leads the reader to assume that there is no "worthy to be brought back" agenda for the Maia, since Sauron definitely was unworthy yet he came back on at least one occasion (at the fall of Numenor). And it wasn't in part because of the Valar the Maia could be tied to, since that particular Valar was already cast away by the time of the events in Numenor.
This also means (to me) that the Maia are unable to die (their "soul" still remains around), are unable to lose their "shape" unless they purposely give away their powers (or imbue something else with them), and thus are immortal (take for example the Balrog that fought Gandalf, Baldur's Bane, he was around since the creation of Arda); concluding that the Istari definitely remained around Middle Earth and influenced those around them for many, many years to come.
Unless I am overthinking things.
There are some interesting outcomes with having your nations animal be a Rowan Tree - this is from a recent issue:
A legal battle is raging between the Lon Kra Con Department of Life, The Universe, and Environment and Kay Rumble Property Development Group. While surveying for a luxury condominium complex, a rare Rowan Tree subspecies, the two-spotted glow-in-the-dark Rowan Tree, was found traipsing around the proposed build site, potentially holding up construction.
That made me laugh. The trees there were always quite talkative, but as of late, they've certainly had a lot of new growth and seen significant increase in the rise of young saplings :P
Sadly, they've lost a lot of old growth, as well...
That's a a marvellous one! A 23 second video clip with a soothing audio track. It visually features an image of a particular wizard and his pipe next to a fire.
How do you like it thus far?