Less the heroes of our stories than the villains of some other bastard’s

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Christine Kelley

Christine Kelley writes about speculative fiction and radical politics from a queer revolutionary perspective. Currently her main project is Nowhere and Back Again, a psychogeography of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. Her first project was the now semi-retired blog Dreams of Orgonon, a song-by-song study of Kate Bush. Support Christine on Patreon.


  1. Robin Taylor
    June 4, 2021 @ 8:39 am

    “Elendil and Gil-galad, Kings of Elves and Men respectively”

    You’ve got them switched around.


    • Christine Kelley
      June 4, 2021 @ 11:02 pm

      Fixed. Thanks!


  2. Christopher Brown
    June 6, 2021 @ 11:52 pm

    Really enjoying this series; if/when I read the books someday, I can imagine I’ll find it an essential guide.

    The last paragraph made me think of Mad Max: Fury Road and the alleged negative environmental impact on the Namibian Desert by the production; a great work (one of my favorites, at least) with its heart in the right place, but perpetuating the very cycles it serves as a statement against. I’ve grappled with how I feel about that for some years now, and your recounting of the impact on Tongariro does a good job of putting that in perspective.


  3. Scurra
    June 8, 2021 @ 3:08 pm

    (as opposed to Tolkien’s frankly baffling decision to do the Rohan/Gondor plots and Frodo and Sam’s journey as discrete blocks)

    Well I guess it depends upon whether you look at it as one single work or a six book series? Each volume is clearly a discrete block – and, barring the last, they each have a cracking cliffhanger too! It’s just that we are so used to seeing them in the “trilogy” form (which may actually do the structural design of the story a serious disservice!) that this doesn’t necessarily register as strongly as it perhaps should. You certainly lose a lot of the literary stylistic fun as Tolkien shifts his genres around for each separate “book”.

    And consider how much less effective the ending of Book IV would be if we hadn’t spent the last 200 pages trudging through the swamps with Frodo and Sam, and how fantastic the end of Book V is when we have absolutely no idea what has been going on in Mordor.
    Sure, the Jackson version couldn’t completely do that – they broke a lot of rules but even I don’t think they could have gotten away with following that model, especially whilst the whole project was still such a gamble during preproduction. And yet they give it a decent shot even so.
    But I don’t think Tolkien’s decision is remotely baffling; it seems to make perfect structural and narrative sense.

    (Still loving this series and appreciating your slant.)


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