The Thirteenth Roving Ranger


a warm welcome to this, the thirteenth Roving Ranger newsletter, coinciding with Hobbit Day 2020!


Hobbit Day 2020 is happening today, birthday to both Frodo and Bilbo Baggins: September 22d. Many celebrations have already started over the weekend and will continue during the week – Hobbit Week -, and most of them had to turn ‘online’ due to the global pandemic:‘s Baggins’ Birthday Bash is today, a group of Tolkien-inspired YouTubers is offering a playlist of their material made for this year’s event, the TolkienTribe on Instagram has been offering their annual Hobbit festivities, the Spanish Tolkien Society is doing a three day event starting today etc. etc.

The first ever Oxonmoot Online has happened last weekend to much acclaim; please subscribe to the Tolkien Society’s Youtube channel as they will be uploading the videos in the coming days and weeks.

The Eä Tolkien Society had its TolkienMoot XVI panel “The Rise of Numenor” on Sep 19th, 2020, including guests John Garth, Dr. David Russell Mosley, Sarah Zama & Shawn E. Marchese.

I would highly suggest to you to look up the International Tolkien Fellowship Facebook group for Tolkien-inspired events the world over.

Essays & Scholarship

John D. Rateliff mentions the founding of the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow and says what quite a few fans of earlier generations may have felt during the official launch:

I have to confess found myself wistful, thinking about what might have been had there been an option like this one back in 1981 when I was wrapping up at Fayetteville and looking around for someplace where I cd work on a doctorate while continuing my Tolkien studies. As it turned out, it was like pursuing two courses of research at the same time — which is probably one reason it took me so long.

For all of those of us who were discouraged (to put it mildly) from researching Tolkien, and for those like Verlyn Flieger and Douglass Parker who found a way to teach such courses despite lack of departmental support (and sometimes downright disapproval), this is a great day.

Rob Maslen, co-director to the centre, has published a piece on Lord Dunsany, mentioned by Tolkien in Letters.

The Economist comments on Alex Ross ‘ Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music and Tolkien’s name has to crop up, of course, as there is a Ring of the Nibelungs and a Lord of the Rings. Ah, well. A pity Ross did not read some of excellent titles with Walking Tree Publishers, one of the few specialist academic publishers on Tolkien. [Paywall/ forced registration.]

Entertaining interview with the surviving Hildebrandt, obviously also mentioning their Tolkien art.

Reviews and Book News

Christopher Synder, author of The Making Of Middle Earth: A New Look Inside The World Of J.R.R. Tolkien has published another Tolkien-inspired book, called Hobbit Virtues.

Other Stuff

David Bratman has an entertaining and insightful commentary to Dimitra Fimi’s snap poll on influential fantasy writers with which I mostly agree, the one major difference being I find Terry Pratchett rather funny.

One of the negative (or less often, positive) side-effects of social media is the re-hashing of content which is sometimes years old. A recent tweet mentioning ‘mathematical proof’ of Middle-earth not being flat has seen a rather longish discussion more than five years ago, itself a discussion of the introductory chapter of Steve Weinberg’s Gravitation and cosmology: principles and applications of the general theory of relativity, first published in 1972. Ah, well.

Film franchise, merchandise and Amazon series

If anybody knows more about Hobbitown Lake Side Resorts in Pakistan please do send me an email. The world is a funny place after all.

While Weta Digital is now facing an inquiry into toxic workplace claims the Hobbiton movie set just opened up another premium venue: the Millhouse.

People are starting to build hobbit houses without having read Tolkien or even having seen the films. Well, good luck then. At least the foundation of this hobbit house looks rather like JRRT’s very own illustration of Barad-dûr.

In other news

The Alliance of Arda has made itself known during Oxonmoot Online, an international organization inspired by a love for Tolkien that has devoted [itself] to decolonising, democratising, and defending equity in Tolkien communities ranging from fandom to academia. A newsletter informing you on the upcoming projects is available.

Harry Potter fans with a heart for gaming had another teaser trailer released on Hogwarts: Legacy.

The Emmy Winners‘ list is again proof of the mainstream successes of all things fantastic. File770 has the full update; the list of creative minds lost in the last year is, again, long. For me as a Star Trek fan seeing DC Fontana go certainly marked the end of an era, just to give an example, just as well as Odo of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (René Auberjonois) but even closer to the mark to many Tolkien fans was the passing of Ian Holm.

Game of Thrones fans will get another massive attraction promoting many of the sets used in Northern Ireland; a planning commission has just given the go-ahead. Franchise tourism is playing an ever greater part in revenue, obviously; the company behind this already organised the GoT studio tour.

An in-depth article on The Real Aerial Battles That Inspired Star Wars.

Britain’s dullest man styled himself Lord of the Rings. Yup, something like that is a headline for you, thank you very much. [Link to the Mirror, please don’t click if you don’t like.]
The Blog Roll

These are blogs you really should be following if you’re interested in Tolkien …

Some of these, you may find, are not as active as one would hope; but even if they have not posted anything new for a long time they are repositories of great essays and research on all things Tolkienian and always worth your time. The blog roll – and this very newsletter! – has been inspired by Troels Forchammer’s Parma-kenta and his excellent Tolkien Transactions he did for seven years – they are still sorely missed!

Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond, ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough
Dimitra Fimi, ‘Dr. Dimitra Fimi
Jason Fisher, ‘Lingwë — Musings of a Fish
Douglas A. Anderson, ‘Tolkien and Fantasy’
John D. Rateliff — ‘Sacnoth’s Scriptorium
John Garth, ‘John Garth
David Bratman, ‘Kalimac’s Journal
Jenny Dolfen, ‘Jenny’s Sketchbook
Andrew Higgens, ‘Wotan’s Musings
Anna Smol, ‘A Single Leaf
Edmund Weiner, ‘Philoloblog
Robin Anne Reid, her blog
Annalisa Palmer, her blog
Various, The Mythopoeic Society
Various (Bradford Eden, ed.) Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR)
Various, The Tolkien Society (TS)
Southfarthing Mathom
Various, The Mythopoeic Society, ‘The Horn of Rohan Redux
Sue Bridgwater, ‘Skorn
Tom Hilman, ‘Alas, not me
Michael Martinez, ‘Middle-earth
Bruce Charlton, ‘Tolkien’s The Notion Club Papers
Various, ‘Middle-earth News
Jeffrey R. Hawboldt, ‘Expressions of Substance
Ryszard Viajante Derdzinski, ‘Tolknięty
Stephen C. Winter, ‘Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings
Troels Forchhammer, ‘Parma-kenta
Marcel Aubron-Bülles, ‘The Tolkienist
Jeremy Edmonds, ‘Tolkien Collector’s Guide
Aubrey, ‘Diverse Tolkien
Elyanna, ‘itariilles

Picture credits: Meriadoc Brandybuck and The beginning of an unexpected journey by Guilherme Nascimento. Please visit his Instagram account.

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Marcel R. Bülles

Marcel R. Bülles is the author of, a specialist blog centering on worldwide Tolkien fandom, geekdom and research. He works as a freelance translator, journalist and writer and is the founder of the German Tolkien Society as well as a co-founder to RingCon, Europe's formerly biggest fantasy film convention. You can find him in cafés all over the world sipping an espresso blogging, writing, reading. At one point he was married to an extremely lovely French lady by the nickname of Sauron. Yes, that Sauron. He is also active with the International Tolkien Fellowship on Facebook and the Tolkien Folk on Instagram.