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Kristin Thompson's The Frodo Franchise: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood. University of California Press, August 2007.
List price $30/£18 ($20 on [U.S.])

This is a publication announcement, not a recommendation. The book's not out yet, and I don't know if I'll buy it or not.

From the press:
"[The film's] makers seized a crucial moment in Hollywood--the special effects digital revolution plus the rise of "infotainment" and the internet--to satisfy the trilogy's fans while fostering a huge new international audience.

Two blurbs of note:
Thomas Shippey:
"This is the best all-around view of the Tolkien phenomenon. Thompson understands the books, she understands the movies--she also understands the money and the franchising. Best of all, she understands the people. . ."

Tehanu at
". . . Thompson's account of TORN's beginnings and how it functioned gets it absolutely right--more than that, Thompson captures how it felt to us at the time. . ."

Contents (ch. 6 sounds like a hoot)
1. Prudent Aggression
2. Not Your Father's Tolkien
3. Handcrafting a Blockbuster
4. Flying Billboards and FAQs
5. Click to View Trailer
6. Fans on the Margins, Pervy Hobbit Fanciers, and Partygoers
7. Licenses to Print Money
8. Interactive Middle-earth
9. Fantasy Come True
10. Right in Your Own Backyard

I can't find a page count for the book.
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Elrond symbolizes throughout the ancient wisdom, and his House represents Lore--the preservation in reverent memory of all tradition concerning the good, wise, and beautiful. It is not a scene of action but of reflection. Thus it is a place visited on the way to all deeds, or 'adventures.' It may prove to be on the direct road (as in The Hobbit); but it may be necessary to go from there in a totally unexpected course. So necessarily in The Lord of the Rings, having escaped to Elrond from the imminent pursuit of present evil, the hero departs in a wholly new direction: to go and face it at its source.

p. xxvi, Preface, "From a Letter by J. R. R. Tolkien to Milton Waldman, 1951," making his case for why The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings were inseparable and should both be published.

From my $1 trade paperback copy of The Sil bought at the flea market last week (finally making up for the $1 hardbound copy that I passed up years ago because of resentment towards Christopher Tolkien for publishing his father's rough drafts without the latter's consent).
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In his talk to Peregrin as they rode on Shadowfax from Dol Baran (The Two Towers), Gandalf's immediate object was to give the Hobbit some idea of the history of the palantíri, so that he might begin to realize the ancientry, dignity, and power of things that he had presumed to meddle with. . . . Gandalf's mind was at the same time earnestly busy with the Stones, considering the bearing of the revelation at Dol Baran upon many things that he had observed and pondered: such as the wide knowledge of events far away possessed by Denethor, and his appearance of premature old age, first observable when he was not much above sixty years old, although he belonged to a race and family that still normally had longer lives than other men. more quotes from Unfinished Tales )
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'It might all have gone very differently indeed. The main attack was diverted southwards [to Minas Tirith and the Black Gates], it is true; and yet even so with his far-stretched right hand Sauron could have done terrible harm in the North, while we defended Gondor, if King Brand [of the Dale-men] and King Dáin [of the dwarves of the Lonely Mountain] had not stood in his path. When you think of the great Battle of Pelennor, do not forget the Battle of Dale. Think of what might have been. Dragon-fire and savage swords in Eriador! There might be no Queen in Gondor [had the dwarves and Dale-men not defeated Smaug and the orcs and continued to be a buffer for Rivendell and Lórien]. We might now only hope to return from the victory here to ruin and ash [in the North]. But that has been averted - because I met Thorin Oakinshield one evening on the edge of spring not far from Bree. A chance-meeting, as we say in Middle-earth.'

Gandalf to Frodo, Sam, Pippin, Merry, and Gimli in a house in Minas Tirith, after the coronation of King Elessar

"The Quest of Erebor," p. 326 in Tolkien's Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth
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From the chapter, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"

p. 290:
Nonetheless the alliance of [King] Calimehtar [of Gondor] and Marhwini [of the Northmen who became the Rohirrim] had not been in vain. If the strength of the Wainriders of Rhovanion had not been broken, that assault would have come sooner and in greater force, and the realm of Gondor might have been destroyed. But the greatest effect of the alliance lay far in the future which none could then foresee: the two great rides of the Rohirrim to the salvation of Gondor, the coming of Eorl to the Field of Celebrant, and the horns of King Théoden upon the Pelennor but for which the return of the King would have been in vain.

the Oaths of Eorl and Cirion )


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March 2008



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