I love to read. I love to read many different kinds of books, from many different genres. But when I look at the shelf that holds my most-loved books, nearly all of them come from the fantasy genre. Filled with exciting stories of Hobbits, rabbits, and elves, even just glancing at the covers is enough to make me smile and feel excited. The heroes in these stories encourage me on bad days and cause me to be more determined on good ones. If fantasy didn’t exist, I’m sure I would still love to read, but until I started reading these types of books, I didn’t recognize how much impact characters and stories could have on people’s lives, for good or bad. Today, I am going to share the reasons fantasy is my favorite type of story to read.
This week, I delved deeper into Middle-earth history and lore, and read The Silmarillion. I have had this book since Easter, and had read a few chapters of it, but was distracted by other books, and a little intimidated by all the characters and places in it. And there are A LOT of characters. But I realized that even if I couldn’t name all of Fëanor’s sons, I could still enjoy the book, and learning the history that came before the tales of Bilbo and Frodo. In this post, I’m going to give some of my thoughts on it and give some introductions to the main characters.
Two characters I am constantly having to defend from being spoken against are Frodo Baggins and Edmund Pevensie. People will say they don’t like Frodo because Sam had to get him out of some tight spots, or because he wouldn’t throw the Ring into Mt. Doom when he finally arrived. Or they won’t look past Edmund’s attitude and actions at the beginning of his journey. They tend to look at their weak points and decide that these characters aren’t as heroic as their friends, like Peter or Sam. But I believe that ALL of these characters are examples we should follow and that Frodo and Edmund show us something about being a hero the others do not.
“Fairytales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”
– G. K. Chesterton
To some people, books and movies are just books and movies. A way to entertain themselves, maybe use their imaginations for a short time and then go back to normal life. That’s not how it works for me.
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
Nearly a year ago was the first time I read those words and began the discovery of what is now one of my favorite books. More recently, I also had the chance to watch the movies based on the book. Both are amazing adventures in themselves, but one of my favorite things to do with any book or movie is to find things that point to God. The story means so much more when there are eternal things like Love, Hope, and Truth included. Since J. R. R. Tolkien was a believer in Christ, it makes sense that his stories reflect that, even though they aren’t designed to be an allegory. Let’s go on an adventure to find some of the lessons from both the book and the movies. (Don’t forget your pocket handkerchiefs!)
If you’re like me, you’re always looking for more ways to work things related to your fandom(s) into everyday life.
One of the ways to do this is by making crafts! You can make something fandom related by doing pretty much anything, whether it’s painting on something, sewing, or rainbow looming. The possibilities are endless! While I’m not great at crocheting or making origami X-Wings, (
which I did not find out by failing four times earlier today) there are several crafts I have done that turned out how they were supposed to, and allowed me to express my love for these stories and characters. Here are the supplies and directions you’ll need to make some too!
Have you ever watched a movie and then as soon as it was over, listened to the soundtrack of it?
I love listening to soundtracks. They make schoolwork, long car rides, and chores way more fun. You can imagine you’re helping Frodo take the Ring to Mordor, or are battling the Empire, instead of just doing algebra. After I watch a great movie, I love closing my eyes while listening to the music and trying to picture the scene in my head. It brings back all the feelings and memories I had while watching it. The soundtrack of a movie can have a lot more to do with how you experience it than you may think. Some people say they get too into the movie to notice the music, but I believe if it wasn’t there, we would notice right away that something important was missing. The music in a movie plays a huge part in helping us feel empathy for characters, giving scenes certain moods, and helping people understand what’s going on. Each part of a score affects certain things that the music communicates.
Tempo: The speed at which a passage of music is played.
This has a significant part in determining the intensity of a scene. Fast tempo melodies convey frantic energy, or rapid movement. Action scenes or battles are usually accompanied by it. Slow tempo conveys a relaxed pace, or lack of energy. Sad scenes, or serious moments normally have a slower tempo. And while slow tempo songs can be beautiful, I personally prefer fast-paced ones.
Volume: Quantity or power of sound. Degree of loudness.
Volume affects the feeling of a scene by creating a sort of space surrounding it. Think about it like this: If during the Revenge of the Sith battle between Vader and Obi-Wan on Mustafar, soft, quiet music had been playing, would it have felt less exciting? When everyone is saying goodbye to Frodo in The Return of the King, would it have been distracting to have a lot of noise in the music? Loud music seems to shallow characters, making the action more exciting, while soft music creates a more meaningful moment. If the volume starts out quiet, and then gradually grows, it can mirror the growing action, excitement, or conclusion of a scene.
Key: A group of notes based on a particular note and comprising scale.
There are two basic classifications of musical keys: Major and Minor. Major keys sound bright and cheerful, while Minor keys sound darker and sad. It’s easy to see how this would affect what a piece of music makes you picture. Generally, you wouldn’t write the theme for the bad guys in a major key, and you wouldn’t put minor key music in a lighthearted scene.
Different instruments can create the mood of the environment in a scene. They also help establish the setting, which is the place and time the movie is happening in. For instance, you won’t hear many drums or electric guitar riffs in the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, since it takes place in 18th-century England. Those really don’t fit in with that movie setting. At all.
One more thing I want to talk about is called a motif, which is a repeating theme in a score. A leit motif is like a kind of musical label assigned to a character, place, idea, or emotion. Once it what it represents has been established, it can be repeated. Examples of this are the Imperial March, Rey’s theme, the Fellowship theme, and so on. As soon as you hear a few notes of it, you know what’s going on in the scene. One of my favorite times this is used is during the Rey and Kylo mind probe scene in The Force Awakens, and later on in the same movie during their lightsaber battle. You can tell who has the upper hand by listening to whose theme is playing.
Music is an un-removable part of a movie, because it’s the emotional and communication connection from the screen to the audience. While words and pictures deal with specific, concrete things, music deals with responses, values, emotions, and attitudes.
Now, I’m going to talk about some of my favorite pieces of music! By favorite I either mean the ones that bring back the most feelings and make me stare off into space whenever I hear them, or ones I like listening to because they sound exciting.
“Samwise the Brave” (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers)
This is one of my very favorite parts of The Lord of the Rings. It proves that Frodo really did appreciate everything Sam did for him, and that they’re both heroes in this story. If loyalty, humility, and courage were music, this is what they would sound like. Even though this is a pretty bleak part in their journey, this song isn’t sad because they still carry hope that good will win. Or at least Sam does, and he passes that on to Frodo.
“Hera Soars” (Star Wars Rebels season 2 soundtrack)
I always end up smiling when I listen to this one. It makes me picture Hera’s exhilaration at getting to do what she loves best. She’s also getting to test a new fighter for the Rebellion, another thing she cares deeply about. Doing your favorite thing in the world is fun, but watching someone else do what they’re passionate about is almost as exciting. The music in this one is perfect for flying!
“Your Father Would be Proud” (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)
This is one of the ones I always end up stopping whatever I’m doing to listen to. I will confess to tearing up the first few times I listened to it after Rogue One. It’s so sad sounding, yet there’s still a lightness to it. Whenever I hear it, I don’t just see Cassian and Jyn’s sacrifice, I see the whole team’s. Their bravery, teamwork, dedication, and hope are all remembered through it.
“The Battle of Endor II” (Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)
At ten minutes, this is a pretty long track. While I do like the music for the battle at the shield generator, my favorite parts of this take place in the Emperor’s throne room. Vader and Luke fighting, Luke’s choice, and finally, Vader’s redemption. Before I saw Star Wars, I knew many things. I mean, are there really any people over the age of six who don’t know Darth Vader is Luke’s father? I even knew that Vader died, but this I did not expect. I remember being so proud of both Luke and Vader after watching this scene, and the music brings all those memories back.
“The Ways of the Force” (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
I love this battle, and the music that goes with it is terrific. Switching between Kylo’s, Rey’s and the Force’s themes, the music itself seems in conflict. Rey’s theme is more powerful than what was played earlier in the movie, symbolizing her taking the next steps in her journey. This is one of my favorite parts to picture in my head, and I might have pretended to swing a lightsaber around while listening to it more than once.
“It’s Over Now” (Star Wars Rebels season 2 soundtrack)
Another name for this one could be “Attack of Feels”. Kanan’s blind, Maul’s back, Ahsoka’s gone, and Ezra has a Sith holocron in his possession. Because this ending whole montage has no words, the music plays a vital part in driving the emotion of the scene. The vocals and the drums make it feel foreboding and like there’s no going back to how things were.
“Sabine’s Catharsis” (Star Wars Rebels season 3 soundtrack*)
The word catharsis means “The process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.” You can feel that in the music as Sabine confronts her past. It builds and builds until the whole story comes out, then gets quiet at the end, as a spent and broken Sabine questions whether she can go through with this. At the very end, her friends show their confidence in her, and because of that, she finds the confidence to keep going. Sabine’s theme encompasses both the tough Mandalorian side of her, as well as the artist side that knows that the Mandalorian way is not always the best way.
“Concerning Hobbits” (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)
This is the happiest piece of music there is. It’s so beautiful, sometimes I find myself randomly humming it. It represents everything about Hobbits: Their love of everything good, like plants, food, and friends. Their ability to see the bright side of situations. And their courage to do incredible things. It also makes me picture the peaceful Shire, with its green grass, trees to read in, and cute little houses.
“Ahsoka Leaves” (Star Wars: The Clone Wars soundtrack)
I haven’t even seen all of The Clone Wars, but the first time I heard this, it made me stop completely and imagine what Anakin and Ahsoka are feeling in this scene. I’ve never heard the Force Theme sound so sad. Even though Ahsoka believes she made the right choice, that doesn’t make what she has to do any easier. I don’t think anyone who cares about her story can listen to this and not feel a little of her pain.
“Jyn Erso and Hope Suite” (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)
This song has a lot of Jyn’s theme in it, as well as a some parts of “Your Father Would be Proud”. It starts off pretty and sad sounding, which is the part that has been Jyn’s theme throughout the movie. Then it has part of the track “Rebellions are Built on Hope”. At the end, it switches back to Jyn’s theme very quietly, sounding almost like it’s fading away. Basically, it will make you melt into a pool of Rogue One feels. The entire Rogue One soundtrack is amazing, so if you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend it.
“Rey’s Theme” (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
It amazes me how composers are able to create themes for people that suit them so well. Maybe they seem to fit them because our brain has associated them with the particular character ever since they first appeared. There have been so many characters to have their own themes in Star Wars: Luke, Leia, Vader, Yoda, Jyn, the Emperor, Maul, Ezra, Sabine, Ahsoka, Anakin… but I think Rey’s is my favorite because it’s pretty, but not super slow. I love how it progressively changes a little as the movie goes on, just like the character.
“Ahsoka Duels the Inquisitors” (Star Wars Rebels season 2 soundtrack)
This is one of the ones I like because it’s fun to listen to, with lots of drums and vocals. It’s the first time we get to see Ahsoka with her lightsabers in Rebels, and it’s a very dramatic fight. It also makes doing math problems feel way more urgent and exciting.
One other thing I like about soundtracks is how you can sometimes find little bits of themes for things in a scene. Like how they put a few notes of “The Imperial March” into the very end of the credits for Revenge of the Sith, or how Han and Leia’s theme plays for just a moment in “Farewell and The Trip”.
*The Star Wars Rebels season 3 soundtrack has still not be released in its entirety in digital or CD form, however this track, and many others from all four seasons of the show, are available for listening on StarWars.com
This article was written by Audrey L., Staff Blogger for The Elven Padawan, and first appeared on ElvenPadawan.com
What is your favorite movie soundtrack? Do you have a favorite song from it?
A new documentary series, focusing on the lives, careers, and war experiences of two men considered to be the fathers of modern fantasy, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, is in the works!
Middle-earth News and the German Tolkien Society have both reported on the announcement of this new series, which is to be titled, A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War. According to Middle-earth News, the documentary will span a set of five 50-minute long episodes.
The project’s official website had this to say about the project:
The documentary film series, “A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War,” explores how the experience of two world wars shaped the lives and literary imagination of two internationally famous authors and friends, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Based on Joseph Loconte’s New York Times bestseller, the film examines how Tolkien’s combat experience during the First World War—at the Battle of the Somme—launched him on his literary quest. The film reveals how the conflict reinforced Lewis’s youthful atheism—he was injured in combat—but also stirred his spiritual longings. The film traces the careers of both men at Oxford University, and their deepening friendship as they discover a mutual love of medieval, romantic literature. Facing the threat of another world war, Tolkien and Lewis reach back into their earlier experience of war as they compose their epic works of fantasy, The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.
The documentary will be produced by Eastgate Creative, and the Executive Producer is Ralph Winter (known for his work as producer on “The X-Men,” “Fantastic Four,” “I Robot,” and “Planet of the Apes”). Jock Petersen and Ralph Linhardt will also direct and produce, and Joseph Loconte will serve as screenwriter and on-camera narrator.
According the the report by the German Tolkien Society, “
To find out more about this documentary, or to contact creators or help contribute to the project, please see the project’s official webpage here, where you can watch a promising trailer for the series: HobbitWardrobe.com.
You can also check out the official social media pages for the project:
I, for one, am very excited to see this new series when it releases, as Tolkien and Lewis are two of my literary heroes, and as an “imagine-er” and hopefully someday-author myself, I love to dig through their works and read about their individual stories. For me, it was Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia that first introduced me to the world of epic fantasy. It also caused me to develop an early love deep literature, filled with rich imagery and metaphors, and causing me to always dig deeper than the surface value of any story. I’m convinced that these lessons I learned from Narnia are the reason why I’m such a huge Star Wars, and really all-around, geek today.
As Narnia was the first stepping-stone into the world of epic fantasy, it led to a stage of interest in ancient mythologies, many of the tales of which I still remember to this day. This, in turn, caused me to take an deep interest in theology and philosophy in more recent times, and has also contributed to my habit of over-thinking pretty much every fantastical world I encounter.
But inevitably, Narnia also led me to Middle-earth, starting with my first viewing of The Lord of the Rings movies a few year ago and continuing with a love of the many deeper aspects of the world, such as the oft-ignored portions on its creation and early years, as explored in The Silmarillion. And as you have hopefully already gathered by just being on this website, it also led to the creation of The Elven Padawan.
Anyway, all that to once again say: I am excited to see this new series on the background of Tolkien and Lewis, and find out even more about their histories, friendship, and the other conditions that led to their amazing stories.
This article was written by Shay S., Creator, Chief Editor, and Podcast Host for The Elven Padawan, and first appeared on ElvenPadawan.com
Are you interested to watch this new documentary of the lives of Tolkien and Lewis? Do you have a favorite book or story from any of their works? I’d love to hear about it!! Let me know below in the comments; I always love to chat with you guy!
Attention, everyone!! It’s time for some announcements!!
Things are getting ready to change up a bit here at The Elven Padawan. Nothing super major, but I’m very excited for what I’m bringing on next. 😉
First of all, in the coming months you’ll probably see some new additions to the TEP site. I’m always looking to expand and grow TEP, and as I continue to do that, you’ll see some matching changes in the look of this place, too. Since the news of this new Lord of the Rings show from Amazon broke, I finally decided it was time to add a separate section for Tolkien-related things, and although there’s not much out there for it yet, that will most likely be changing very soon.
I HAVE NEW ART!!!
Alright, now you may be thinking I’m a tad over-excited about this. But honestly, I’ve been wanting to update that art for so long, and never could figure out what to do with it. And please, don’t anyone take this as a problem with my original artist! My good friend Audrey drew the original art for the podcast, and I still totally love what she did, but I could never figure out how to arrange it and make a logo for The Elven Padawan that I really liked.
But now, the problem has been solved! And therefor I present to you, my readers, my lovely new podcast album art, created through the combined efforts of Audrey, myself, and Kitten!!
You may remember that Kitten originally drew that awesome logo that is at the top of this site, and is also included in the new podcast art above. She also helped me out by fixing up that cool new word-logo in the lower right of the art (check out the details! My costume “elvensaber”, green vines and leaves, and Ahsoka-style padawan beads!) And that lovely “Erebor to Echo Base” part you’ll recognize as the original art by Audrey, though showcased in a much better fashion than previously!!
You’ll probably be seeing this art some other places, as well, and in other styles, but I’m not totally sure about that aspect yet, so we’ll just have to wait and see where it goes. 😉
And finally, my biggest announcement, and one I’ve been very excitedly waiting to tell you all!!
First, an explanation: as some of you may know, I started high school this year, and I spent the good part of last semester just trying to stay caught up and get used to the new way of things. I had to step back a bit from The Elven Padawan for a while, especially the blogging aspect. In fact, my recent blog post on Kanan’s choices in the mid-season finale of Star Wars: Rebels was the first I’d done in a while. On top of all that, I’ve also recently joined the team over at The Future of the Force, and though I’ve only had one article with them so far, I’m hoping to really get on top of that soon and continue my series on the symbolism in Rebels. And I’ve really been trying to keep things rolling with the podcast, too.
Anyway, all of this has been piling up on me lately, and I thought it was time to bring in some help. Besides, part of the whole point in TEP was to feature fellow fans of my age group, and I’ve not been able to do that a whole lot with the blog. And that brings me to my biggest announcement:
Introducing The Elven Padawan’s newest blogger, my good friend and fellow Star Wars and Middle-earth geek, Audrey!
Many of you have already seen some of Audrey’s writing from our weekly reviews of the fourth and final season of Star Wars Rebels, as well as the guest post she did for me a while back (and we’ve already talked about her artwork for TEP!), but I figured it was time to go ahead and make her a full-on writer for this blog. You’ll be seeing articles from her regularly, and in preparation, I did a quick little interview with her to help you all get to know her better.
1. What first made you into a fangirl?
Audrey: I think Star Wars is the first thing that really turned me into a fangirl. Yes, I had movies I liked before seeing Star Wars, but I didn’t have a “favorite”. When I first heard that my brothers were watching it, I declined, thinking that it was a boy’s movie and would be boring. I was wrong. Really really wrong. I popped into the room while they were in the middle of A New Hope and decided that the story was pretty interesting after all. I tried to hide how much I liked it for a few weeks, but gave up quickly. And I’ve never looked back from there. That was a little more than two years ago, but I didn’t understand what a fangirl was until about a year ago while talking with some friends online. But once I did, I knew I definitely was one.
2. When did you first get into Star Wars? Same for Tolkien?
Audrey: Without my brothers, I don’t know how long it would have been until I wanted to watch Star Wars. I think the first thing that captivated me so much about it was how different it was from any movie I’d ever seen. Star Wars was really only the third or fourth live action movie I had watched, and because of that it immediately felt more real. I loved the characters from the start, especially Leia because she was finally a princess who got to fight. I don’t like admitting this, but I was also curious as to how she was going to marry the guy she’d been yelling at since she’d met him (my mom spoiled some things for us). As the story went on though, I started caring less about that and more about the story as a whole.
As for how I got into Lord of the Rings, you (Shay), and one of my other friends were the first people to talk to me about them. I thought they sounded interesting, so I asked my parents if we had the movies. Yes, I watched the movies first. I know sometimes people don’t like that, but I feel like it made reading the books easier because I could already picture the characters. I liked them right away since they had all the things that make my favorite movies my favorite. Good against evil, strong lessons, adventure and some fighting, with just a bit of romance. I’m not sure I completely count as a fangirl for them, since my knowledge of Middle-earth is very slim, but I’m working on changing that.
3. What characters are your favorites in each series (Star Wars and Lord of the Rings)? Can you give a few reasons why you love them?
Audrey: For Star Wars, Leia, because she goes through so much and is still fighting. Her defiance of evil and courage are inspiring. She was part of what changed my mind about Star Wars.
Second is Han, and I’m not entirely sure why he’s my second favorite. I like how he changes through the story from a selfish smuggler, to someone who takes risks for others and plays a huge part in defeating the Empire. Some of his lines are the ones that have made me laugh the most.
Rey is third, because she’s strong, but soft at the same time, and you don’t see that often. As much as I like Leia, she can be pretty harsh. Rey, even after spending most of her life surrounded by tough, heartless people and aliens as she struggles to survive, doesn’t give up on being kind or on hoping for something better. I think it’s cool that she’s a main girl who will be training in the Force. Her name being half of mine has nothing to do with why I like her. 😉
This list could go on forever though, so I decided on top three.
For Lord of the Rings, my favorite character is Sam. Sam is the best. He’s loyal, brave, enduring, and generous. He doesn’t let anything stop him from continuing on with Frodo, no matter how dark or difficult things get.
Éowyn is really tied with Sam for first. Like Leia and Rey, I like her because she’s a strong girl character and gets to play an important part. It fascinates me how she’s able to balance her duties and her desires so well.
Aragorn is my third favorite because he patiently waits for the time when he would be crowned king, unlike most people who would probably try to take the kingdom that should be theirs and would hate the people related to the current king of it. When everything is going wrong, he doesn’t get discouraged or worry, he just makes up a new crazy plan.
4. Top favorite OTP, and a brief reason why you love them.
Audrey: Kanera (Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla), is my favorite ship, because they don’t have a super dramatic or overly done relationship. They respect and believe in each other, while still teasing each other sometimes.
5. Which would you be: Rebel, Imp, Jedi, Sith, Resistance-woman, or First Order?
Audrey: As cool as it would be to be a Jedi, I don’t have that kind of discipline and don’t think I’d enjoy it very long. So I think I would like the most to be part of the Rebel Alliance, working as either a Fulcrum agent or as a strategist, like planning out the best options for battles and missions. I’d still want to be human.
6. Which would you be: Hobbit, Elf, Dwarf, race of Man, or another (like a Vala, Istari/wizard, Ent, skin-changer, etc.)?
Audrey: Definitely a Hobbit. They live nearly exactly how I would want to, in cozy houses, with lots of books (Bilbo at least had lots of books), growing food in their backyards, and living in a cheery place with grass and trees. And my mom wouldn’t have to keep telling me to put shoes on because no one would wear shoes!
7. Anything else interesting you’d like to say in connection to all this?
Audrey: Sometimes I worry that when I get older I’ll stop being a fangirl. (I doubt that, but it could happen.) But I know that even if I stop counting down the minutes until the next movie or book comes out, or don’t enjoy having long discussions about them, I know that the stories and the lessons will stay with me forever.
This article was written by Shay S., Creator, Chief Editor, and Podcast Host for The Elven Padawan, and first appeared on ElvenPadawan.com
You can catch Audrey’s first blog article with The Elven Padawan next week, when she’ll be giving her insights into what to do while Star Wars Rebels is on break.
And that wraps it up for the announcements this time! I hope you all are looking forward to the things I’ll be doing with The Elven Padawan in the near future as much as I am!
What do you think of the new podcast art? Are you excited to see more coming from Middle-earth? Do you have any suggestions for things you’d like to see added to The Elven Padawan? Please let me know in the comments below!!