Where the Stars are Strange
What, exactly, lies east of Rhûn? Saruman was said to have gone east, waaaay east, but then chose to return. The Blue Wizards went east and never returned. Most of the players in the Ring War went as far as the Sea of Rhûn, but never further. So what lies east of Rhûn?
This doesn't need to be epic. In fact, it might be more exciting to give us just a short vignette - a glimpse into this uncharted territory. Something to tantalize us and make us wonder. (Because, as I've always said, Tolkien's genius lies in hinting at much larger, grander things, at making us wonder about all that is unknown.)
Here are some things to get your creative juices buzzing:
*There are some theories that LOTR is an allegory for World War II. Although Tolkien always denied this, it's interesting to consider the inspirations for his cultures - the Shire as pastoral England, Harad as a North African, perhaps Indian environment. If we continued in that vein, that would mean these unknown eastern cultures resembled Asia.
*It was said that Sauron held great sway over the "Men of the East." But how far east did his power go? Does this mean just the Wild Men around Rhûn, the so-called Easterlings, or beyond? As you travel further east, did people even know about the happenings in Middle-earth?
*Geographical. Just how big is the continent Middle-earth rests on? Is there a body of water seperating our charted territories from perhaps a much larger landmass (an undiscovered "America")?
*Why was there so little contact between the western realms and the east? Was there some sort of limitation to travel or communication? Perhaps, as mentioned above, a body of water, or a desert?
*Assuming there was at least some contact, perhaps news of the Ring War and other Epic Events eventually reached these far-off lands. How did the tales change with time and travel? How would these distant realms have interpreted the events? Would they even have believed these stories? Would they have fashioned them into their own moral, folk tales?
*Type of cultures. Perhaps there was one dominant culture, such as a powerful realm like Gondor, or perhaps it was a mix of sophisticated cultures and more rural, maybe even aboriginal, societies. It could go either way.
*Elves, dwarves, hobbits. Did they go east?
So yeah. Tell me about the Far East of Middle-earth.
Courtesy of Aeneid.
Challenge closes November 30, 2005.
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- Entry Date: 18 Jul 06