From Doriath to the Forge of the Lonely Mountain - Tolkien Track at DragonCon: Day Two
Stranger than news from Bree? Maybe not! Day Two for the Tolkien Track at DragonCon 2002 was a day where The Prancing Pony was overrun. Yes, mellyn, I am proud to report that the Pony, (the Tolkien Track room), was filled to capacity on nearly every session; in fact, three sessions had us turning guests away in order to keep the Bree Constables happy.
The day began with a presentation by Ellen Denham and Stephan Laurent, (TORCers Carnimiriel and Alkarion), on their proposed ballet, The Silmaril. This was our first session at 10 AM, (which usually finds the Pony guests still snug in their beds), but we were all pleasantly surprised to find quite a few bright eyed and eager Tolkien fans awaiting us. Ellen and Stephan treated us to the background of how the idea of The Silmaril ballet was conceived which included the fascinating "ins" and "outs" of how any production of this scale is planned and brought to fruition. The Silmaril is still a proposed ballet and has not yet gotten the permission of the Tolkien Estate to venture forth with production, but nonetheless, the vision is a very exciting one that truly celebrates the legendary tale of Beren and Luthien from JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion. We were treated to never-before-heard music from the proposed production which included the song of sleep enchantment which Luthien dances and weaves before Morgoth's Throne in Angband. We also heard the music for when Beren first sees Luthien dancing within the forest of Doriath. Enchanting indeed, mellyn. The Silmaril, Eru and the Tolkien Estate willing, is going to be a fantastic and endearing tribute and celebration of this beloved tale of love and mortality. Ellen and Stephan will present their vision again tomorrow, Sunday, September 1st, at 11:30 AM.
Professor Tom Shippey came by the Pony next with his session on Tolkien as Philologist - Fighting the Long Defeat. I do not jest; this session was absolutely phenomenal. Professor Shippey was an enchantingly delightful speaker; not to mention, thorougly learned in his knowledge of Tolkien's own opinion and dogma concerning Philology. We've all heard about the letter where Professor Tolkien says that Lord of the Rings, at its heart, is about language. Well, this session took you down the road to what Tolkien really meant by that statement. It's not just that he created a few languages and tossed a story around it to give it purpose and meaning; Professor Shippey (very cleverly) showed us how the entire concept of Middle Earth, the cultures and mythological power, are truly anchored in the meaning of words...ANY of the words. ALL of the words. Tolkien made no mistakes when it came to word choice. It was not a matter of what he thought a word might mean in his context; it was what the word MEANT and how the choice of that word added meaning TO the context. If that made absolutely no sense, I apologise. But, I swear to you, after hearing Professor Shippey to day; it makes perfect sense to me. I am VERY much anticipating Professor Shippey's lecture on Sunday onThe Tolkien Phenomenon - Why Does It Go On? at 4 PM.
Universal Interactive came into the room next with an XBox....and....you guessed it: the brand new, spanking, jamming, rocking...Fellowship of the Ring game. Yes, I kid you not, we saw the game. My nephew PLAYED the game. We watched Gandalf shoot flame at Moria orcs, cross bridges, draw out a glowing blue Glamdring, and wield his way through the Mines of Moria. The graphics are INTENSE. Two thumbs up on this game! Wanna know the BEST news? The XBox game will be released in about 3 weeks. Wanna know even better news? Before Christmas arrives, we will have a PC version, a Playstation 2 version, and a GameBoy Advanced version. Truly, if I had more thumbs, I'd give'em ALL to this game. I was truly blown away, as was the entire room, with what Universal Interactive is going to give to us. We had to mop the floor, once everyone left, from all of the drool. I was even MORE impressed to learn that Universal Interactive has the literary license; yes, this means that we'll see Tom Bombadil, (who looks VERY Bombadilish), Barrow Wights, and the Old Forest. It ALSO means that Universal Active can and WILL be making MORE games that sort of "write between the lines" of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. In other words, one day you might be able to play the journey of Boromir as he traveled from Minas Tirith to Rivendell for the Council of Elrond; you may be able to play the Last Alliance as Elrond describes it at his Council; you may be able to fight the Elven battles in Lothlorien during the War of the Ring and play Galadriel as she throws down the walls of Dol Guldur. Here, take this towel and wipe the spittle. We were able to see Gandalf, Frodo, and Aragorn in action in the game, (this is who you can play in the XBox version). While the XBox version has you "solo" as these characters, (the Fellowship members are not necessarily always with you when you fight; not even in Moria), the PC version will allow you to sometimes have a sidekick, (Frodo will sometimes have Gimli with him, for instance.) It's not RPG necessarily, in that you don't "level"; however, you DO gain items that enhance your abilities and give you advantages in your quests. I really am happy to say that the game seems to do justice to the books. Definitely go to www.lordoftherings.com and drool with us.
Elvish 101 thorougly PACKED the Tolkien Room with fans anxious to hear and learn some Elvish. They were not disappointed! After hearing a bit on the various Elvish languages, and even how those languages are connected to Finnish and Welsh, participants were taught, among other things, how to count in Elvish! If you missed this session, or need to have it burned into your brain with a bit more gusto, come back Sunday at 2:30 PM as Elvish 101 will again be presented.
We closed the Tolkien Room doors at this point and rushed out to the Centennial Ballroom to see TheOneRing.net presentation on The Two Towers. There were some spoilers revealed, but it was nothing that will keep most of us from seeing the movie. I admit, I'm still a bit miffed about a few changes; but...I'll be there on opening day. If you don't want to know a few of the SPOILERS, then skip the next indented section. Repeat, If you don't want to know a few of the SPOILERS, then skip the next section. :
Elves at Helm's Deep
Haldir slain at Helm's Deep
Eowyn is at Helm's Deep, not Dunharrow, and her love for Aragorn will be very, VERY apparent
No Shelob, (pushed to ROTK)
We will see Theodred, (son of Theoden), and apparently watch him die (as Eowyn weeps at his bedside) from Grima's slow poisoning of the young man's mind, (apparently Theodred is quite young).
The Tolkien Track ended with lots of swords, helmets, axes, shields, and spears as Joe Piela of The Lonely Mountain Forge gave his first presentation on Arms and Armor in Middle Earth. Again, we had to close the doors and turn folks away for yet another phenomenal session. For bladeheads, this session was better than discovering Elven swords in a troll hoard. Joe is an expert metalsmith and an avid Tolkien fan; his work is based soundly on Tolkien's books and his knowledge of Middle Earth arms and armor is amazing. We saw a truly exquisite rendition of Anduril that made one's heart skip a beat or two. We saw Joe's vision of Anglachel...and yes, the blade was black! Dwarven helmets and Dwarven greaves stared back at you while a rather hideous (in a good way) Orc helmet screamed at you from the front of the room. Even my custom made Elven helmet based on Gondolin Elven Armor was on display and got some OOOOS and AHHHHS! Joe answered LOTS of questions from the captive audience and then accommodated the eager onlookers with the opportunity to don the armor and hold a few of the swords. Missed it? Joe will be speaking again on Sunday at 10 AM.
That's it for today from DragonCon! It's been a very successful and fantastic Tolkien Track thus far! More tomorrow! Namarie!