Essays by Steuard Jensen|
(Bombadil, Canonical texts, Magic, etc.)
Essays by Conrad Dunkerson|
(Balrogs, Elf Ears)
Tolkien Essays by Steuard Jensen
- "What is Tom Bombadil?": A comprehensive essay discussing the various theories about the nature and identity of Tom Bombadil.
- "Tolkien's Parish: The Canonical Middle-earth": My thoughts on the definition (and importance) of "canonical" texts.
Less polished or of more limited interest
- My history reading Tolkien, which may or may not be of interest to anyone.
- "A History of Thrain(s) in The Hobbit": A painfully detailed (and well-polished) analysis of the known textual history of the characters named "Thrain" in The Hobbit. This essay may be of limited interest as it centers on the obscure question of when Tolkien first imagined King Thrain I (who founded Erebor), but I figure it's worth demonstrating that I occasionally put effort into story-external debates, too.
- An essay (posted to r.a.b.t in response to a question by Michael
Martinez) on the nature of magic
As a word of warning, I wrote this essay before reading Morgoth's Ring, which contains a lot of crucial information on this topic. Thus, I hope to rewrite this essay eventually, but it may be a while.
- My Fellowship of
the Ring movie review, posted the night after I first
saw it and revised three days before the opening
of The Two Towers.
(Also, a text outline of what might be my own ideal cut of Peter Jackson's Fellowship.)
- My The Two Towers movie review, posted a few days after my first viewing (and revised shortly before watching RotK).
- My first thoughts on the Return of the King movie, a text file posted shortly after I saw the movie the first time. (I never managed to write a more complete review, for one reason or another).
- My review of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey movie, posted about a week after I saw it.
- Other projects that might one day appear include essays on the nature and operation of the Rings of Power and on the use of physical bodies by the Ainur.
A very incomplete list of good but less formal writings from Usenet posts, some mildly outdated
- 12 Jun 1998: Re: Ringlords Aplenty: A discussion of the "technology" of the Rings of Power, with an analogy to computers that (despite Michael's objections) works reasonably well. [A snippet of this post was even quoted in a New York Times editorial, though without attribution and in a rather odd context.]
- 08 Sep 1998: Re: The Invisibility of the Ringwraiths: My thoughts on how the invisibility caused by the Ring may have operated (not the mechanism, but the behavior).
- 28 July 1999: Druedain and the Watchers: exploring the idea of a connection between the "animated" statues of the Druedain and the Two Watchers of Cirith Ungol.
- 15 May 2000: Ring Scent: a discussion of the way in which the Nazgul may have sensed the Ring (the behavior, not the mechanism).
- 10 Jan 2002: Gothmog as a Human: an overview of why I believe Gothmog (the Lieutenant of Morgul) was a normal human (rather than a Nazgul).
- 10 Jan 2002: How much did the conspiracy know about the Ring?: a discussion of what exactly Sam shared with the other conspirators after he was caught. (Busy day!)
- 25 Jan 2002: Minas Morgul's Chain of Command: A discussion of various possible command structures for Minas Morgul, intended in large part to gather evidence for the "What race was Gothmog?" debate. (At least one variation not listed here was suggested by John Brock later in the thread, in which all the Nazgul were "floating" commanders ranking between Sauron and his top commanders.)
- 31 Oct 2003: What if Balrogs had wings?: A fairly recent discussion about Balrog wings, featuring my ASCII-art renditions of two different perspectives on the Balrog. (For anyone confused by that, my followup post might address some questions and concerns.)
Tolkien Essays by Conrad Dunkerson
- The Truth About Balrogs: Frequently
Unanswered Questions. This is the introductory page for a series of
essays exploring many questions about these much-debated creatures.
For convenience, links to the individual essays are provided
- Could Balrogs speak? And why would we even ASK such a question?
- How many Balrogs were there?
- What IS a Balrog? [unrevised]
- Was the Balrog of Moria under Sauron's command? [unrevised]
- Can Balrogs change their shapes? [unrevised]
- Do Balrogs have wings, and can they fly? [unrevised]
- Appendix: Minor issues and the author's own views. [unrevised]
- An overview of the much-debated question, "Do the Elves in Tolkien's stories have pointed ears?"
Webmaster's note: Conrad Dunkerson's "Truth About Balrogs" essays are intended to be unbiased presentations of all sides of those questions, and it is my opinion that they do an admirable job of it. However, a perfectly unbiased treatment is impossible, so it is worth reading their Appendix to make yourself aware of his potential prejudices.
Moreover, because the question of Balrog wings is so very contentious, it may be worth reading some other discussions of that topic for balance. My Tolkien Newsgroups FAQ includes a consensus statement and a short summary of the debate. Michael Martinez has written a firmly pro-wing essay. And the Encyclopedia of Arda includes a balanced but somewhat anti-wing discussion. Finally, it may be interesting to search the Google Groups archive for the discussions that these essays inspired; you can find those threads in this list of search results (in reverse chronological order).