Thursday, 31 December 2020

An Interesting Christmas Gift

    This Christmas, my wife gave me a wonderful gift. It was a book that I didn't know even existed. I'm reading it... slowly. I'd could say "I'm savoring it", but that'd be a lie. I simply read slowly. Well, that's half a lie; I read slowly and I am savoring the book.

    This book, "Letters From Father Christmas" (authored and illustrated by J.R.R.Tolkien) is a compilation of letter from "Father Christmas" to the Professor's children over that space of almost 30 years. Some of the letter are short while a few are longer. Photos of the letters and illustrations are sprinkled throughout the book. Father Christmas is the main writer, although Polar Bear, Father C's main albeit clumsy assistant, writes some with an alphabet and hand that reminds me of dwarfish runes in The Lord of the Rings. (Could there be a connection? I'll leave it to you, gentle reader to decide.)

   The book is a delight and I think it will be part of my pre-Christmas/Advent-of-sorts reading every year. The illustrations are great and match well with Tolkien's illustrations of The Hobbit and LOTR.

   Many of you probably know about this book already. I just wanted to share my joy in it.

An example of Father Christmas' writing

Polar Bear's writing with commentary from Father Christmas on the bottom

Polar Bear broke the North Pole and damaged Father Christmas' house.
The Man in the Moon, a side character*, looks on.
The whole operation had to move to Cliff House seen in the lower illustration.
(* I haven't finished the book yet, so Man in the Moon might be bigger than I expect.)
Polar Bear spills the presents in the new house.

Father Christmas and Polar Bear explore the goblin tunnels beneath Cliff House.

I wish my tree looked as good!

Monday, 28 December 2020

The Lord of the Rings --- a different version II

I blogged a blog (The sound of that phrase makes me laugh.) on a Ukrainian version of illustrations of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. (I was mistaken in my previous blog and called the illustrator, Sergie Lukhimov Russian. I realize the difference and own my mistake.) There were so many, I decided to make a second blog to show the rest I'd seen. This is not all there are; these are the ones that reminded me of icons. The selections might be out of "chronological" order.

The Three Walkers meet Gandalf in Fangorn

Orcs fighting half-orcs or wild men in Mordor.
Frodo and Sam are in the lower center, in rock-coloured cloaks.

The Battle of Helm's Deep
Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, and the Ents are visible.
Note the "cannon" in the foreground, delivering the "Fire of Orthanc."

Meeting Merry and Pippin in the ruins of Isengard

Gandalf and Théoden confront Saruman at the Tower of Orchanc.
Grima Wormtongue is there too.
Again the Riders of Rohan are in Eastern European armour with
the White Horse heraldry on their shields.


"The Black Gate Opens."

The Dead Marshes

Frodo and Sam at the Watchers of Cirith Ungol

The witch king leads his army out of Minas Morgul


The Siege of Minas Tirith
The Nazgul appear to be shown as riding a great bird and throwing a grenade(?)

The armies of the dead defeat the Corsairs of Umbar

Gandalf confronts the Witch King
note the rooster opposing the Nazgul's flying mount.

"And in that very moment, away behind in some courtyard of the city, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, recking nothing of war nor of wizardry, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.
And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns, in dark Mindolluin's sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the north wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.” 

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

The Death of the Witch King
"I am no man!" - Eowyn, shield maiden of Rohan

Aragorn and Gandalf in the House of Healing


Gandalf and the Lords of the West confront the Mouth of Sauron
"Elf cloak, Dwarf coat, blade of the downfallen West"

Frodo, Sam, and Gollum at the Cracks of Doom

Frodo and Sam in Mordor

The Crowning of Aragorn as King Elessar

The Hobbits return to the Shire and face down the Sheriffs

I'm sure I've missed quite a few of these wonderful illustrations. Personally I'd love to see the Charge of the Rohirrim done, but I could not find any such illustration. I hope these were interesting to you and brought you some joy in the strangest of Christmas holiday I've ever had.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Lord of the Rings -- a different version

 Icons are "images" to be blunt. They are used by Eastern Christians (Orthodox and "Eastern Rite" Catholics as well as the Coptic and Armenian Christian churches) in their worship. Icons often adorn the Churches and are situated on the screen (the Iconostasis) that stands between what we Western Christians would call the "nave" and the "chancel." To look into an icon is to look into heaven through the person depicted. (I am for sure simplifying the theology and I apologize for such.)

An example of the icon screen.

Another example with your humble blogger vested.
(A long, long time ago.)

In roaming the virtual wasteland that can be the Internet, I recently ran into some works by a Russian artist, Sergei Lukhimov. He has illustrated events and characters of J.R.R.Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings in a Russian iconographic style. I'm sure many people might feel this is disrespectful to either Christian icons or to Tolkien's works. I feel it is an interpretation using a well-known style without insult to either the concept of icons or the written work. This my own opinion.

Christian Icons often look "busy" with multiple symbols and even multiple activities depicted.

the Nativity of Jesus Christ
Angels, the star, Jesus born in a cave, terrified shepherds.
Joseph speaking to someone (lower right), someone else playing
the schwam outside the cave... 
There's a lot going on.

Here are a few examples. This may require two blog entries.

Gandalf arrives at the Unexpected Party
(Note the hobbit scamp at the bottom right. Cheeky!)

The fireworks at the Birthday Party.

The Council of Elrond
The names are in English but written in an Elvish style.

The Fellowship leaves Rivendell.
Scale is less important in icons than the message.
They (and these) are works of art that tell a story.

The Bridge at Khazad Dum

Gandalf the Grey battles the Balrog and undergoes a change into Gandalf the White

The death of Boromir

Merry and Pippin are taken away into Fangorn by the Orc
(whose name I can't recall.)

Merry and Pippin drink the Entdraught with Treebeard

The March of the Ents

Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli meet the Rohorrim.
Notice the artist depicts the Riders of Rohan in Russian/Slavic armour.
Tolkien was a scholar of the Anglo-Saxon language and the Rohorrim are often depicted
as Normans or horsed warriors of Western Europe. But why not in Russian kit?

"Stormcrow" meets Theoden King
The major players are all there - Gandalf, Theoden, Wormtongue, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Eowyn

There are more illustrations and I'll continue them in my next blog post.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Christmas 2020


I haven't been blogging much for a number of reasons:

  • Lots of other more pressing things to do.
  • Messing with the pandemic (My immediate family and I are fine. A cousin in the US was in ICU on a ventilator for a brief time and has recovered. However, an old friend lost her life to the effects of the virus.)
  • Attention being elsewhere.
I have been reading a lot of other fellows' blogs and enjoyed them.
So I'm taking a few moments to wish any one who reads this a most merry Christmas and a happy and hopeful new year. May 2021 be a better year. (It would almost have to be!)

So enjoy your gaming, your painting, your family-ing, and all the special things of the season.

Like the Charlie Brown tree at the top, the holiday -as tough as it might be- can be what you make it.

John G.

And now for something completely different...

Naughty? Nice? Don't mess with Claus!

Santa gets a hand from Finnish commandos.

♫ Here comes Santa Claus. here comes Santa Claus! ♫

I mean, really... who knows?