City on the Hill: Living in Minas Tirith


So, by now, you’ve all seen the trending topic on Facebook/Twitter/ Basically, a Lord of the Rings fanatic cum architectural profession has, along with a bevy of colleagues/friends, started an Indiegogo fundraiser titled “Realise Minas Tirith“. Their goal – to build a living, working real-live version of the fantasy city from Tolkien’s epic trilogy.

I’m sure this has raised some questions amidst the neophytes and non-architecturally inclined. Fortunately, as the Recorder’s resident Tolkien scholar (insert grain of salt here), I can provide answers to these questions.

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Alex and Travis Talk Tolkien – The Sequel (Part Two): The Appeal of the Medieval

Being the third part of a conversation that started months ago. The original, wherein we talk about The Hobbit can be found here and the first half of our Fellowship talk can be seen here.

Alex’s Response:

Heh. I can’t lie, most of the reason I roped you into this conversation was because I knew you would be spitting mad about my reaction in some way. To keep my response short: I get why the appeal of Tolkien is in the scope, why the characterization is archaic, and I did read it with an open mind. Like I said, I did enjoy Fellowship quite a bit. Just not without reservations.

But I do think the pleasures of Fellowship outweigh the reservations. Like I mentioned in the first half of this piece, one thing I particularly enjoyed were the touches of the medieval. Chris and Andrew had a pretty great discussion about this when they wrote about Hild last month, but the Medieval period we see in pop culture is very rarely anything but a mess in terms of accuracy and spirit. I won’t dive too deep into complaining about it, suffice to say reading history books about the actual events of that period in European history has been really eye-opening over the past few years.

Raedwald was a guy who knew how to party.

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Alex and Travis Talk Tolkien – The Sequel (Part One): The Blandness of the Ring

How do you like that clunker of a title, everyone? Travis and I will be continuing this talk soon, but there’s enough here to merit its own post. Also, clunky titles are appropriate for the material! – Alex 

Okay, so it has been three months and I have successfully read a book! Actually, I’ve read about a half-dozen books in the past three months. But only one of them is relevant to this article (for now): The Fellowship of the Ring. Thus the long-awaited second installment of “Alex, Travis, and Tolkien Step Into a Bar…” Wait, did we really call it that? Must have been Polar Vortex Madness. Anyway!

Since this is my journey back through the Tolkien I read as a youth, I suppose the burden is on me to start things off this time. As just a blanket opening statement Fellowship was…good. I want to be clear of that, I did like this novel and expect to enjoy its sequels to a similar degree. However, this is still a novel that it took me about three months to read, which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. Especially since I set it down several times to read such light fare as The Fall of the Roman Empire, 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West, and Lonesome Dove (OHMYGOD, THAT NOVEL). Those three tomes put together are longer than all of The Lord of the Rings, and I devoured them in a fraction of the time it took me to wade through Fellowship. In the novel’s defense, perhaps I just wanted to wait so that our next entry would synch up with the Blu-Ray release of The Hobbit Part Deux. But, uh, that theory would hinge upon me having long-term planning skills. So, it’s probably more likely that Fellowship just never really took a hold of me. [Read more…]