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The Lord of the Rings
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Lord of the Rings > Group Read for Jan-March 2013: The Lord of the Rings

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Michael | 342 comments Mod
Our J.R.R. Tolkien Group Read for January to March 2013 is The Lord of the Rings.

Whether you read it in a single volume or as the three separate books is fine.

Spoilers are allowed, as otherwise we can't really discuss the work fully, however please do use spoiler tags like this or a nice big ***SPOILER ALERT*** so that those coming to the book for a first time can avoid such posts.


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Bev Diaz (bwdiaz) | 4 comments Looking forward to joining the group here.


Michael | 342 comments Mod
I'm glad you're on board, Bev. I'm starting on this today, too, so we're off!


Adam Tyler | 9 comments Decided to read it in an edition I hadn't read before. About a year and a half ago, I purchased the nice box set of the three volumes illustrated by Alan Lee. I'm enjoying curling up by the fire and reading in my armchair!

Frodo & Co. just left Farmer Maggot's land. Any thoughts on Farmer Maggot? I remember reading somewhere that he was more important than might otherwise be considered from the text itself. Any thoughts?


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Maci (MaciJ) | 2 comments I am on chapter 10 of the fellowship right now! a
Also while wearing the one ring ;)


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Elisa (elisajimenezro) | 2 comments Good! Luckily, I already read The Fellowship of the Ring over the Christmas break, and I'm halfway through The Two Towers. So I have a great advantage there :) I just finished reading today The Two Towers' chapter "Flotsam and Jetsam"


Reno (Falling Letters) (fallingletters) | 20 comments Hooray, I can't wait to start this again! Last year marked the first time I finally read the trilogy from start to finish...I'm looking forward to picking up on more this time around. I will be reading the 50th anniversary edition, as well as a set of paperbacks that are easier to transport ;P

I'm also going to read concurrently The Lord of the Rings A Reader's Companion, is anyone else doing/interested in doing the same?


Adam Tyler | 9 comments I, too, am reading "A Reader's Companion" while I read LOTR.


Christa - Ron Paul 2016 (Christa-RonPaul2012) Adam wrote: "Decided to read it in an edition I hadn't read before. About a year and a half ago, I purchased the nice box set of the three volumes illustrated by Alan Lee. I'm enjoying curling up by the fire ..."

I love Farmer Maggot. Later Tom Bombadil references him as one of the wisest Hobbits, and Maggot used to go outside the Shire for a while. I think there is more about him than is said, but we never really get to find out what. He is one of those people Tolkien added that has a history but we never find out what it is.


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Annelies | 2 comments I'm almost done reading The Fellowship of the Ring. I can't wait to read the rest of them!


Michael | 342 comments Mod
It's interesting that Tom Bombadil, who Tolkien deliberately left as a mysterious figure, should be the one to give us this glimpse of Farmer Maggot's hidden depths. I wonder exactly what he was up to out there in the Marish, fraternising with The Oldest and giving Ringwraiths short shrift?


Christa - Ron Paul 2016 (Christa-RonPaul2012) Just got the book from the library today. It is kind of pathetic, when my sister moved she took her set with her and I still have not gotten myself the trilogy. I really just need to buck up and get a cheep set from the thrift store until I can afford the illustrated ones by Alan Lee.


The Peregrine Shepherd | 8 comments There's an incredible reading of The Fellowship of the Ring on youtube and I think the next part is in the making.


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Joanne | 78 comments Saw the Hobbit last week and enjoyed it so much. Bilbo is a delight, I wanted to go on an adventure with him too! Gollum also seemed---can you believe it, I just misspelled Gollum and my spellcheck corrected me!


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Joanne | 78 comments oh, Gollum seemed more filled out in character, more dimensions to him.


D.M. Andrews (author) Andrews (DMAndrews) | 8 comments The Hobbit movie was good (despite lots of deviation from the book), though I found the HFR hard to get used to. The non-HFR, non-3D version was much better.

I - like Christopher Lee - read The Lord of the Rings every so often (not every year, though), so I've read it a few times in my life.

I'm actually re-reading The Hobbit at the moment.

Best of luck to everyone - LotR is a great great book.

Peregrine - that is an incredible reading. Voice acting is very difficult. I tried some myself for the Fourth Age dev diary narration - not as good a job as the person in your link ;)


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Misty Karen (mistykaren) | 2 comments Adam wrote: "Decided to read it in an edition I hadn't read before. About a year and a half ago, I purchased the nice box set of the three volumes illustrated by Alan Lee. I'm enjoying curling up by the fire ..."

I have the same edition. Looking forward to read it by this month or next. :D


Christa - Ron Paul 2016 (Christa-RonPaul2012) The Peregrine Shepherd wrote: "There's an incredible reading of The Fellowship of the Ring on youtube and I think the next part is in the making."

I must say, I rather like the one by Rob Ingalls who read the book for Books on CD's people, forget their name right now. But perhaps that might be I have been listening to his voice since I was seven and have grown rather attached to it. But the addition of music is brilliant, and it must have been a lot of work.


Richard Sutton (RichardSutton) | 62 comments I was blown away by the Hobbit movie in 3D/HFR. It actually motivated me finally, to open up LOTR for my third full read. Last time more than ten years ago. I finished Book One (in the one-volume 1991 edition, last evening (up to Frodo waking up in Rivendell), then put on my copy of Jackson's movie of Fellowship. With Tolkien's words still fresh in my ears, I couldn't imagine why I sat through the film when it came out. Jackson's decision to kill all the very effective character/cultural/intro narrative and the very important timeline of Frodo's following Bilbo by many years, reduced it to a silly excursion action pic. I shut it down before the boys ferried over the Brandywine.

For those who have not read this before, Tolkien's gift has only grown in my estimation from the reading. The film and Cate Blanchett's monotone voice-over as a beginning was so lame by comparison, that I'm glad I own the hardbound copy!


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Sean (Carcosa) | 16 comments Currently reading the 50th anniversary edition, and just finished the Fellowship of the Ring. I really enjoyed the amount of material he put in up to Rivendell which was really not included in the movies. Haven't read this in over 20 years so it is a treat.


D.M. Andrews (author) Andrews (DMAndrews) | 8 comments 3D is a gimmick and I'm not keen on it. I didn't like the HFR either because it felt like I was watching a play or documentary, and the sets seemed like sets rather than atmospheric/immersive, though I did get partially used to it by about half way through the movie.


Hyarrowen | 43 comments I've just finished FotR, and am amazed all over again at how good the book is. This time around I appreciated the full weight of the Old Forest and Tom Bombadil chapters; it's become traditional to remove them in adaptations but I now think they play an important part in setting the atmosphere. A great feeling of strangeness just on the borders of what Dunsany calls 'the fields we know' and it sets the scene for increasing menace from then on.

I was surprised to find names I knew from the older stories – Rumil, Tol Brandir – would love there to be a backstory for those, similar to Glorfindel's! And finally, it makes a huge difference to read the book in the three-volume hardback edition. Paperbacks are just too densely printed to be easily legible, but this edition, which I got for Christmas mumble-mumble years ago, makes reading a real pleasure.


Michael | 342 comments Mod
I've been stuck into another book, so not made much headway with Fellowship yet. However, having finished up the other, I'm back with Frodo, Sam and Pippin as they set off from Bag End on their walk to Buckland and Frodo's ostensible new home at Crickhollow.

I like this very early part of the hobbits' journey: the lights of Hobbiton and Bywater through the evening mists; Frodo soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of the land that he does not expect to see again (I wonder how much of this is informed by Professor Tolkien's leaving for the trenches of WWI?); the autumnal countryside of the Shire, so clearly described. Knowing what is to come makes these bucolic scenes the more poignant.

I'm looking forward to reading again Sam's reaction at his first sight of Elves!


Michael | 342 comments Mod
Harryowen, The Old Forest, Tom Bomdabil and the Barrow-Downs is probably my favourite section of the book (until somebody reminds of another scene, that is!). Your mention of Lord Dunsany is apposite as there is an otherworldy feeling to this part of Middle-earth that is quite Dunsanian and rather different to the rest of Tolkien's story (though not jarringly so).


Richard Sutton (RichardSutton) | 62 comments I just completed a marathon read of LOTR, and my copy is the 1995 hardbound single volume. In those preface notes, Toklkien rejects the whole allegory for European war thing more than once, yet he also reminds us that in 1914 he'd lost four of five close friends to the earlier conflict. Clearly, generations at war in Europe since the "fall" of the Roman Peace informed Tolkien's desire to write and to find history in myth. I think he wanted us to finally learn from our past, but so far, it hasn't happened.

I also agree that the leaving and the OldForest/Tom Bombadil/Goldberry parts of the books are my favorites. I especially have always been quite moved by his deft overlaying ages of past wars, ancient woods and the perception of where threat comes from, even close to home. Tolkien began the Bombadil tales in The Travels of Tom Bombadil, and I plan to read it as well, when I can.

MY other favorite section is the last chapter, The Scouring of the Shire, which I thought was a terrible oversight when Peter Jackson made the films. The last spoken line of the books is "Well, I'm back." which really (IMHO) is the ultimate expression of the entire adventure which at its core is about the Hobbits' tale.


Christa - Ron Paul 2016 (Christa-RonPaul2012) I have always been in awe of Tolkien for many many many reasons. But this one always interests me and even though I have reread it many times I cannot fathom how he did it. And that was changing the story from Frodo to Sam. How very slyly and slowly so that you don't even notice it while it is happening is how it goes to Sams view about Frodo. I didn't even realize it did this till my second time through, when I got to the end and it was Sam who said "Well, I'm back.". Incredible.


Michael | 342 comments Mod
I know Tolkien vehemently opposed any interpretation of LoTR as allegory of WWII, and no doubt the same would go for WWI. But I can see him using his experience to inform the emotional state of a character, although I can't say that he definitely did that in the instance I mentioned - just wondering.

I know what you mean about the Scouring of the Shire not being in the films, but people I know who aren't Tolkienites already think that after the destruction of the ring the film went on too long. I would have liked to have seen the hobbit "militia" tackling Sharkey!


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Tanya-Marie | 4 comments I just picked up The Hobbit on Sunday and it was so great I dived right into Fellowship. So far so good.
Then I found this group and this read for the next three months. Fantastic stuff!!!


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Bev Diaz (bwdiaz) | 4 comments I'm in Rivendell right now enjoying the bardic strivings of Bilbo. I definitely enjoy Hobbit verse more than some others even from one as educated as Bilbo, just out of sheer relate-ability. :)


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Karel | 6 comments I´ve just finished re-reading the Hobbit and TLotR and it was and amazing journey, truly. Everytime I read this books (this is my 3rd time) I notice something new and awesome. I have to go, but will comment more later. =D


message 31: by Catherine (last edited Jan 29, 2013 06:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Catherine (yarnmama10) I am a bit late getting started since I was finishing up The Brothers Karamazov before starting this read.

This is my 4th time (I think) reading the books. I am going back and forth between my ebooks and audiobooks and I have to say the new unabridged release of the LotR at Audible is fantastic. My only complaint so far was that when I went to start The Fellowship a couple nights ago I found that it didn't start with The Prologue: Concerning Hobbits. Now I personally don't consider that section as optional and so read it on my Nook. I was rather annoyed that an UNABRIDGED version would leave out the opening chapter.

I started with The Hobbit, which only took me about 4-5 days to read, and it was delightful as usual. I am one of those who prefer to always read it before the LotR. I am now a little more than a quarter of the way into The Fellowship, at the point where Sam, Frodo and Pippin have just arrived at Crickhollow.


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Joel | 2 comments I just joined this group but i just finished Return of the King after reading all three books over the last 2 months. Looks like I was with with you all in spirit :) So amazing. I want to read them again already.


Catherine (yarnmama10) Joel wrote: "I just joined this group but i just finished Return of the King after reading all three books over the last 2 months. Looks like I was with with you all in spirit :) So amazing. I want to read them..."

I think I enjoy them more with every re-read. :-) I read them every 3-4 years.


Stephanie (Bahnree) | 7 comments I finished rereading FotR: I love it so much. I really love having the whole Fellowship together, but looking forward to Two Towers!

Having recently reread The Hobbit, I was noticing the connections between the two and references to Bilbo's journey a lot more this time around. eg Legolas and Gimli, finding out what happened to some of the dwarves (in Moria), the mithril coat, etc etc...Really cool!


Michael | 342 comments Mod
I've just finished one of my favourite sections (possibly the favourite section) of the trilogy: The Old Forest, In the House of Tom Bombadil and Fog on the Barrow-Downs. These three chapters are redolent of eldritch mystery, black wells of time and earthy magic.

Tom Bombadil is one of the most magnetic characters Tolkien created, even though (or perhaps because) he appears so briefly. Added to Tom's puckish presence are the malice of Old Man Willow, slumberous yet watchful and the evil of the Barrow Wight, cold and hateful. But a character I often overlook, until I'm actually reading the book is Goldberry.

I think that she's unusual in Middle-earth: the only being I can think of that appears to be a direct personification of a natural feature, the Withywindle: she's the "River-woman's daughter (suggesting a lineage of such beings), or more simply the "River-daughter". She seems to be a species of Naiad or Rhine-maiden.

I don't think the Ents compare in the same way. They aren't personifications of the forest spirit, nor even spirits inhabiting trees, like dryads: they're creatures unto themselves, despite being treeish. And the mountain Caradhras, while seemingly capable of intent (of a malicious cast) is still actually a mountain, not a personification of one.

Can anybody think of another character that compares with Goldberry in this respect?


Richard Sutton (RichardSutton) | 62 comments Michael, I read a recent book by Mike Romeling called the Tale of the Taconic Mountains that contains characters that seem to be a female race of "forest protectors" Maybe Entwives? But, for the most part, I agree with you that both Tom and Goldberry are unique characters in literature. They seem more than just naturally occurring expressions of anthropomorphic representation of the life they protect. Tom resembles the Celtic Green Man in some ways as Goldberry represents Bridgit, the goddess, (before the saint). They are among my very favorites in the Tolkien tales.


Laurel Rockefeller (laurelarockefeller) | 30 comments A friend of mine just found LOTR as streaming audio: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=.... Since I have trouble reading over visual disability, I think this will let me take part in the reading challenge after all! Anyone know where I can stream the BBC Radio version? I definitely prefer that one! Iam Holm is a terrific Frodo!


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Fran (narflet) | 4 comments I've only just started, as I was bogged down with Anna Karenina in January (I haven't actually finished it yet, I've just put it on indefinite hold!). I don't think it'll take me too long to get through though. I don't know how many times I've read it over the years, but I certainly haven't done a full read for quite a while now. It's also my first time contributing to a discussion in this group (though I did read The Father Christmas Letters in Dec), so I'm looking forward to that.

I've just arrived at Crickhollow and the conspiracy has been unmasked. And, like lots of people here also seem to, I really like the opening chapters in the Shire. Passages like: 'Away eastward the sun was rising red out of the mists that lay thick on the world. Touched with gold and red the autumn trees seemed to be sailing rootless in a shadowy sea', remind me why, and just how much, I absolutely love this book (and that it's been too long since I last read it). I always 'see' what I'm reading in my head, and the richer the text the more complete the world is. I've go the whole of Middle-earth up in my noggin, quite complete.

Also, I too am dipping in and out of the Reader's Companion along side the main text. I thought this observation, from Wayne G. Hammond, was well put:
If Tolkien had hurried Frodo and his companions into adventure...we would not appreciate so well the arcadia that Frodo is willing to give up for the sake of his people....Proceeding at the authors deliberately casual pace, we grow to love the Shire as we never loved Bag End in The Hobbit (though we found it a desirable residence), having visited there so briefly before Bilbo was hurried away.

I'm not a big fan of the films, but I did get caught up in the hype machine when they came out and saw Fellowship quite a few times (the other two less so). I realised what an effect that films have had on altering my memory of book knowledge, because when Gandalf actually picks up the ring in chapter 2 I was momentarily confused, until I remembered that's a film thing. Although, it is an interesting point for discussion, as Gandalf does go on to stress how, and why, he cannot take the ring and not to tempt him with it.


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Reno (Falling Letters) (fallingletters) | 20 comments Fran wrote: "Also, I too am dipping in and out of the Reader's Companion along side the main text. I thought this observation, from Wayne G. Hammond, was well put:
If Tolkien had hurried Frodo and his companions into adventure...we would not appreciate so well the arcadia that Frodo is willing to give up for the sake of his people....Proceeding at the authors deliberately casual pace, we grow to love the Shire as we never loved Bag End in The Hobbit (though we found it a desirable residence), having visited there so briefly before Bilbo was hurried away."


I'm glad you mentioned this point! This is something that took me a long time to appreciate. I tried reading The Fellowship of the Ring many times when I was a lot younger but I found the beginning too long and dry and I wondered 'when the story would start'. When I finally read the entire trilogy for the first time last year, I really came to value the early part of the story for just this reason. This second time around I am savouring it more.


Laurel Rockefeller (laurelarockefeller) | 30 comments Reno wrote: "Fran wrote: "Also, I too am dipping in and out of the Reader's Companion along side the main text. I thought this observation, from Wayne G. Hammond, was well put:
If Tolkien had hurried Frodo and ..."


I think this is one reason that Peter Jackson had such a hard time with "the scouring of the shire" that he never filmed ANY of it. Scouring bookends those early, quiet chapters in the Shire. Jackson rushes through them so much (even in special edition), that you never get the sense that a great deal of time passes between Bilbo's birthday party and when Frodo and the other Hobbits flee the Shire, really beginning the quest. But without those years in the beginning, it is hard to fully understand just how quietly hidden the ring really was and how dramatically all the lives of our principle Hobbits changed once the nazgul came to the Shire to take the ring.


Richard Sutton (RichardSutton) | 62 comments I was disappointed that Jackson didn't shoot the Scouring of the Shire and the Grey Havens. That was where Tolkien made all of the foregoing story accessible to the rest of us and led it into our age of the world. The last line in the book(s), spoken by Sam is the one that seemed to reveal the most of any, to me: "Well, I'm back." It brought it all full circle and finally showed us what, of all the power and the mighty strivings, was the most important to Tolkien. There is as much love for the simple life of the English countryside in those final chapters as in the first chapters, but the ugly intrusion of "the modern world" with Saruman's henchmen, into the Shire, needed to be written. If Tolkien had lived until the present day, he'd be very disappointed that little has really been learned despite insistent warnings. There. That's my sermon for today.


Laurel Rockefeller (laurelarockefeller) | 30 comments Richard wrote: "I was disappointed that Jackson didn't shoot the Scouring of the Shire and the Grey Havens. That was where Tolkien made all of the foregoing story accessible to the rest of us and led it into our a..."

Jackson DOES have that final line of "I'm back" and he does have a LITTLE bit of the Grey Havens (though scaled back -- movie goers don't know that Gandalf had Cirden's ring), but is all minimally done. I was furious watching the theatrical release with the whole long journey home skipped over.

Heck in favor of his bloated battle scenes, Jackson skipped the entire Eowyn/Faramir love story in theatrical and only put in a one minute montage in special edition!

Really ironic when you see what pains he makes to completely change the whole Elrond/Arwen appearances in the trilogy and to gloss over the war reaching other parts of Middle Earth. The Eowyn/Faramir romance was one of the best parts of the whole series! Very poignant story too about finding love and hope when all seems lost. Of course Jackson completely mangled Faramir who is one of my favorite characters.

I like the movies, but I love the books! When we really get into the books, it's easy to see just how much great material Jackson completely mangled!


Richard Sutton (RichardSutton) | 62 comments Agreed. I only hope the movies bring some newcomers to the books. Are we ever going to herald the arrival of Tolkien's heir, though? At one time, I thought GRRM might take up Papa Tolkien's mantle, but.... nope.


Stephanie (Bahnree) | 7 comments *SPOILER WARNING MAYBE FOR TWO TOWERS????*



I just finished the "Treebeard" chapter in TTT. I haven't read these books in a while and I forgot how AWESOME the Ents are. I enjoy the movies but the movie!Ents are like horrible caricatures of these amazing creatures. I noticed especially how kind Treebeard (and Quickbeam) are to the hobbits, and how Treebeard is already determined to do something about Saruman (how hasty!) but he has to go through proper channels first. The Ents' song on the way to Isengard always gives me chills!


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Tanya-Marie | 4 comments The Ents, Gandalf and Sam are my favourite characters in the whole thing.
The Ents are the soul of the story. I feel here that Tolkien was certainly sending us a message about caring for the environment.
Gandalf is funny, warm, and while powerful, very humble. We know from The Hobbit as well that he loves the Shire and it's inhabitants. He's a real person who happens to be a wizard. I love that Tolkien gave us this character to look up to. Literally and figuratively.
And Sam. What a guy. I love and adore him so much. He grew on me very quickly. He's clever and brave and just the absolute best friend anyone could have. I also love his love of gardening and taters. He reminds me of me. :)


Richard Sutton (RichardSutton) | 62 comments Christa - Ron Paul 2016 wrote: "I have always been in awe of Tolkien for many many many reasons. But this one always interests me and even though I have reread it many times I cannot fathom how he did it. And that was changing th..." I just figured out what that meant, at least to me. The deft switching of the MC from Frodo to Sam was Tolkien reflecting upon how all the ring-bearers (including Gandalf) belonged to an earlier age, and the new age was typified by Sam (and us!) The Age of men. Thanks for that insight!


Laurel Rockefeller (laurelarockefeller) | 30 comments Tanya wrote: "The Ents, Gandalf and Sam are my favourite characters in the whole thing.
The Ents are the soul of the story. I feel here that Tolkien was certainly sending us a message about caring for the envir..."


*tries to remember Simarillion" Aren't the Istari more than "just wizards" in the D&D sense? Wasn't that a bit of the point with Gandalf and Hobbits? He was much more than he appeared to be.

Someone remind me how the Maier and Istari are different.

The more I try to remember who is who and what is what with 1st age folks (isn't Galadriel a Noldor?), the more I get confused! Except that I remember that Aragorn is in some way descendent of Elrond's brother Elros.... And Elrond's wife, Cerebrian?, is Galadriel's daughter. right? Hence the line from Galadriel that she cannot give a greater gift than Aragorn has already received in the love of Arwen....?

Or am I completely lost and messed up?


Michael | 342 comments Mod
The Istari were beings sent to Middle-earth by the Valar to oppose Sauron, but who were forbidden to do so by seeking to become as powerful as Sauron in order to overthrow him, hence Gandalf's machinations to unite the peoples of Middle-earth in opposition to the Dark Lord.

Tolkien said that they were a sort of Valar, and one of Gandalf's names is Olórin, which is also the name of one of the Maiar, so the Istari might have been a species of Maia.


Laurel Rockefeller (laurelarockefeller) | 30 comments Michael wrote: "The Istari were beings sent to Middle-earth by the Valar to oppose Sauron, but who were forbidden to do so by seeking to become as powerful as Sauron in order to overthrow him, hence Gandalf's mach..."

Thank you! What is Galadriel's connection to the Maia? Is Lorien and Lothlorien the same place? Which one is the daughter/granddaughter of a Maia? Or was that Luthien?


Michael | 342 comments Mod
Lúthien is the daughter of the Maia, Melian and the Elf, Thingol.

Galadriel is not descended from the Maiar, but was one of the Calaquendi, those elves who dwelt in Eldamar in Valinor and had seen the light of the Two Trees.

Lórien and Lothlórien are variant names for the realm of Galadriel in Middle-earth - they are the same place, with Lothlórien, I think, being the older form.


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The Lord of the Rings (other topics)
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