A Secondary World
The setting of Tolkien’s legends is generally refered to as Middle-earth, but Middle-earth is only part of the cosmology that Tolkien created. The full physical ‘world’ is called Arda. Unlike Middle-earth which is only a part of the physical earth, Arda is all of physical creation, contained in yet distinct from the Void, including the physical earth (the planet) but also the sun, moon, stars, and (after the destruction of Numenor), the Undying Lands as well. The Silmarillion goes into much more detail about Arda.
I use the word Arda here instead of Middle-earth because the first term includes more aspects of Tolkien’s creation. The realm of Valinor and it’s inhabitants (including the Valar and most Maiar; again see The Silmarillion for an explanation) are not part of Middle-earth. The following essays deal with aspects of the lore set forth in Tolkien’s books and do not include information about any adaptations of the books.
The field of Tolkien studies is a broad one. Professional scholars have approached Tolkien’s works from the perspective of English literature, classical mythology, and folklore. While such analysis of the influences and process of Tolkien’s writing is very interested in its own right, I try to examine the Professor’s world more on its own terms and make sense of it as if studying a real (albeit mythic) history. These essays represent some of my more polished thoughts on the topic.
- Tolkien’s books about Arda
A brief overview of the major books written by J.R.R. Tolkien that are significant to his invented mythology.
- A note on canon
Canon, huh? What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! A look at one of the big meta-questions of Tolkien studies.
- Do Balrogs have wings?
It is an age-old question that has spawned even more flame wars than the movies. My take on one of the classics.
- Why didn’t the Eagles fly the Ring to Mt Doom?
Another classic, deconstructed. You may be surprised that it’s not just because there wouldn’t be a story otherwise.
Please don’t think I’m always serious! There is a long tradition in the Tolkien fandom of geeky in-jokes and writings. Some are written in the form of fanfiction, some as essays, and some are probably in leet-speak. In these essays I attempt to provide a thoughtful alternative perspective that deconstruct so-called ‘popular wisdom’ and widely accepted ‘facts’ about Tolkien’s stories. It’s amazing what we can learn once freed from the shackles of restraint.
- The true identity of Sauron
A comprehensive break-down of the problems with the traditional conception of Middle-earth. You’ll never read The Lord of the Rings the same way again.
- Eating the Onion
Learn the true identity of “halfir” on LotRPlaza.com, for those who know of him. The truth runs deeper than you might suspect.
- The Valafather
The sinister purpose behind the Great March of the Eldar, which was recounted in a much-abridged and falsified form The Silmarillion.
If you are interested in the cinematic adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, you may be interested in some of the following deconstructions of both live-action and animated adaptations of Tolkien’s work.