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“On the first day of Geekmas, my fandoms gave to me…One Ring to rule them all…”

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So I was turned on to this 12 Days of Geekmas thing by the significantly more intelligent and prettier than me Hannah-Jaedia.  In it, the author proposes twelve posts espousing the virtues of geeky fandoms.  And, since I wrote a post about how much I love people loving things, it only makes sense that I would hop on.

Also, it’s easy-to-create regular content.  So it’s a bit of lazy AND a bit of fun.  Which, really, is precisely gaming, isn’t it?  So, let’s get started with Day 1: The Lord of the Rings!

At the risk of wrecking the spirit of this exercise, I have to first admit that I find Tolkien to be incredibly difficult to read through.  He has a very specific way of writing and there is almost no wiggle room for one’s own interpretation of how something should look or sound or feel.  There’s scene-setting, and then there’s that weird level of focus on minutia that brings to mind someone who sets up train sets for a living.

That said, it also has to be mentioned that very few authors build a world like Tolkien.  He did levels of research, creation and world history that absolutely astounds.  He created a full fake language, ferfeksake.  You can’t balk too loudly at that level of detail.  It’s like looking at any number of immense Minecraft projects.

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Humbling, awe-inspiring, terrifying….and damned pretty.

While the books were solid, I will wholly and heartily admit that the movies were even better.  Not only did Peter Jackson really put together the world of Middle-Earth, but he made it feel believable.

…well, when Legolas wasn’t switching on dev mode and one-shotting shit while surfing on a shield WHO THE HELL DOES THAT REALLY?!

In all honesty, though, the movies illustrate one thing that is telling of the fandom of LOTR–they are some of the most creative folks I have come across.  Putting aside Peter Jackson for a moment, there’s also the folks behind LotRO.

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“Diamond in the rough” doesn’t even begin.

This MMO is as solid as they get, and has been constructed with a level of care to the universe that seems to be applied to pretty much everything related to the LOTR world.  Perhaps it’s precisely because Tolkien had very specific instructions…but there is something to be said about the sensation of being able to follow the directions in the book on how to get to Weathertop and actually being able to do it in-game.

The game even managed to make its narrative work well alongside the established story–something which I didn’t even think would have been possible.  You weren’t THE hero, but you were still important.  I suppose it makes sense, though.  In a world where everything is at stake, heroes are capable of rising anywhere.

Hell, they even managed to work in things that never made their way in to the movies or most of the LOTR narrative., which speaks to the devotion of LotRO’s creative team.

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They even included Tom Bombadil’s creepy ass.

The Lord of the Rings series is the most pivotal story in the history of Middle-earth, and it goes without saying that it set the standard for epic fantasy novel writers for years to come.  You can’t walk through any fantasy novel section without seeing another author trying to create an epic multi-part series of their own worlds…for better or for worse.

Tolkien created a universe that was both familiar yet fantastic.  It made a war that was both thrilling yet terrifying.  It created magic that didn’t feel contrived or silly, but palpable.  And it ultimately reminded you that anyone, no matter their birth or station or life, can pull together and set right everything when the stakes are at their highest.

Now, more than ever, it’s good to be reminded of this.  We spend so much time hearing about how awful people can be to each other that it’s nice to be reminded that people can band together in the face of a literally unblinking evil.

Maybe that’s something only a fantasy novel can provide…but I like to think a lot of fans take it to heart beyond the pages.

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