apple pie · The Universe

Giving Thanks and Announcing Sales

Hail and hello, my friends! I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t be back until next month, but today happens to be a very important day. Do you know what today is? It’s Wednesday! Huzzah!

Now, most of you are thinking, “why is Wednesday so exciting? We have it every week, after all.” And you’d be right. But the reason this Wednesday is exciting is because tomorrow is the fourth Thursday in the month of November, which means Thanksgiving.

Ah, Thanksgiving. That most holy and precious of holidays. Where we gather together and give thanks to the Father for all that we have been given this year. Then we promptly stuff ourselves with turkey and pie and mashed potatoes and pie and corn and goose and pie and cookies and, most importantly, pie, like pigs that have been on a week-long diet.

It is truly glorious.

I have many things to be thankful for this year. My author, my brother and sister, my friends, this blog, not being dead, pie… and you guys! You are the very best readers any imaginary blogger could have. So thank you for taking the time to read this! Now before you go, I have two very special guests and an ANNOUNCEMENT. You see, my author volunteered me to help out in a very awesome event: the Indie Christian Books Black Friday Book Sale!

Book Sale

(Isn’t that cool looking?)

It’s that time of year. The time for buying presents, making wish lists, and planning New Year’s Resolutions. If any of those activities involve books for you, Indie Christian Books has a perfect event for you.

From Nov 24th through Nov 30th, a huge selection of independently published Christian books are on sale. You can find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals and more. Even if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping, we have some freebies for you! Need even more of a reason to support indie authors and fill your shelf with good stories? When you purchase a paperback book through indiechristianbooks.com you’ll be eligible to enter an exclusive giveaway including free books and an Amazon gift card! Blog posts have been going up since the 17th and will continue until the 24th, complete with book reviews and cool author interviews, so check out indiechristianbooks.com

You can meet our authors by visiting the Author Database on the website. Want to get to know the authors better AND have the chance to win some fun prizes? We’d love to have you join our week long Facebook party which will feature 39 authors over 7 days.

What awesome reads of 2016 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2017?

A note on the Ebooks Only page. Many of the books are listed as “Sold Out.” This is because we aren’t selling those directly through our site. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.

From November 24th-30th a huge selection of discounted books is available at indiechristianbooks.com. You can also join the Indie Christian Authors for a week long Facebook party during the same dates.”

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good and Kendra E. Ardnek for their work organizing this sale, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

~

And for our guests, allow me to welcome back my Author to the blog! And today, she’s bringing in Suzannah Rowantree, author and Black Friday Sale participator, in as a guest for an interview. For those of you who don’t know Suzannah, she’s graciously provided this introduction:

When Suzannah Rowntree isn’t travelling the world to help out friends in need, she lives in a big house in rural Australia with her awesome parents and siblings, writing historical fantasy fiction informed by a covenantal Christian perspective on history.

If you like the fiction of CS Lewis, GK Chesterton, Stephen Lawhead, or ND Wilson, you’ll probably enjoy her stories too.

Website: suzannahrowntree.site

And now, without further ado…

*Nikken bows out*

Author: When did you decide you wanted to become an author, Suzannah? How long have you been writing?

Suzannah: I started my first story when I was 12, as a birthday present for a friend. It was the latest birthday present ever, because I didn’t finish it until I was 16! It was hard work, and I still remember finishing that story and thinking, “That’s it, I’m never doing this again.” About fifteen minutes later, I’d started another story. After that, I gave up pretending I could give it up.

A: Do you have a favorite genre to read or to write? Who’s your all-time favorite author?

S: I read just about everything, although I most enjoy speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy) as well as historical. As a writer, I have ended up working in the wide field of historical fantasy, which provides me with plenty of inspiration! My all-time favourite author is JRR Tolkien, naturally. I re-read The Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time last year, and realised that without meaning to, I’ve ended up being greatly influenced by him.

A: According to the description, your book Pendragon’s Heir is about a Victorian girl that gets drawn into the Arthurian myths. What was your reason for inventing a story surrounding those tales?

S: So, when I was about 17, a lady at church loaned me a detective novel called The Daughter of Time. In that story, a bedridden detective starts studying the history of Richard III, trying to determine whether he really was a serial murderer and usurper, or whether the truth is something different. I finished the whole book that Sunday afternoon and was just so excited, I had to write a story of my own about exonerating some famous figure of history or legend. My excited teen self very quickly chose Queen Guinevere of Arthurian legend. I’d always been annoyed about her affair with Sir Lancelot. So, I started writing the story that very afternoon, and just like The Daughter of Time, it was about a girl living centuries later who suddenly has to figure out whether Guinevere was honest or not–in my story, because she suddenly finds out that she is Guinevere’s daughter, but there’s doubt about her father.

That was probably the most productive afternoon of my life!

A: What kind of research did you need to conduct when writing Pendragon’s Heir, and how did you acquire that information? What sources were the most interesting or helpful?

S: You know, this is an excellent question. I’m very passionate about the need to conduct proper research when writing historical fiction. However, I actually didn’t do a lot of research for Pendragon’s Heir, except for all the medieval literature I was reading anyway. I’ve always loved medieval literature…from Beowulf to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to the Mabinogion. The most helpful resource I read for Pendragon’s Heir was Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, which was actually incredibly challenging to me. I’d grown up believing the King Arthur legends were about these idealistic, good knights, but in Malory, they are very violent and lustful. It took years of struggling with this book, and a wonderful essay by CS Lewis in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, before I really began to understand what Le Morte D’Arthur was trying to say about the difficulty of sinful men trying to build the kingdom of God on earth. So that also became the main theme of Pendragon’s Heir.

A: What is the strangest or most interesting thing you’ve ever done in the name of story research?

S: For me it often goes the other way around–I’ll do something interesting and then decide I have to write a story about it! One good example is during a trip I took to the South Island of New Zealand a couple of years ago. We were travelling through the mountains in May, which is late autumn here in the southern hemisphere, so there was snow on the mountains each morning. At Lake Wanaka, I was fascinated by the clear glacial waters and declared that I’d like to go for a swim. My hostess got worried about hypothermia, so I just snuck out one day and had a swim without telling anyone. The water was clear as glass and cold. When I got home, I wrote the whole experience into Death Be Not Proud, which is a fairytale retelling set in New Zealand during Prohibition in the 1930s.

A: Do you write by hand, by keyboard, or by some mix between the two? What are your reasons for your writing mode?

S: I pretty much just use keyboard. The only time I’ll write by hand is when I’m doing basic plotting or characterisation planning work. For some reason I find it helps to have pieces of paper spread out around me when I’m trying to do the most basic planning. Something about thinking spatially gets the plot kickstarted.

Using the keyboard, on the other hand, lets me get my thoughts onto the ‘page’ much quicker. I usually am trying to hold four or five thoughts in my head at once when I’m writing, so speed is important–I want to get everything down before I forget it.

A: Do you like to listen to music or snack while you write? If so, what do you enjoy listening to or snacking on the most?

S: I am very strange: I do not listen to music at all while I write. I find it distracts me from the work and takes up parts of my brain that I need for listening to the flow and cadence of the words. I suspect this might be because I’m a musician as well as a writer – music isn’t something I can just have on in the background.

I’m not a great snacker, but I almost always have a cup of tea on my desk. As a confirmed tea snob, it’s usually something pretty fancy–I love oolong, lapsang souchong, and this one particular chai I’ve found that tastes good without milk or honey. (Go Go Goa from T2 Tea, if anyone’s interested!)

A: Do you have a favorite character to write about? Why do you like writing about him/her the most?

S: It’s been years since I wrote him, but honestly, my favourite character of all my characters ever has to be Perceval from Pendragon’s Heir. I love how completely uninhibited he is. He’s the unsocialised homeschooler par excellence and the best part is, that’s pretty much how he was in the original legends. Perceval starts out slightly arrogant and winds up learning a lot about life, but he never, ever loses his zest for life, his curiosity, or his optimism. He was an unending source of fun to write.

A: What’s the hardest part of a story for you to write? Contrariwise, what’s your easiest or favorite part to write?

S: Beginnings are the hardest part for me. Whether it’s the opening scene or the opening chapter, I usually come back to them again and again and alter them significantly throughout the whole writing process. The second hardest part is definitely the ending scene, which is usually difficult for the same reason–you just have to sum up so much in a short space of time, so elegantly.

I’m not sure I would call anything the easiest part. But I’ll tell you what’s my favourite part. My favourite part is when the thing is finished and my beta or review readers are telling me how much they love the story. I write to make people think and to make them feel they can serve the kingdom of God, so hearing from readers who feel inspired, transported, thrilled and encouraged is an incredible sign that I’ve done my job properly.

A: What’s your favorite piece of writing advice that you’ve ever been given?

S: There is no such thing as Christian art or nonChristian art. There is only good art and bad art.

I know, I know, that’s kind of provocative. But hear me out. The fact is that God is the ultimate storyteller, and that all stories are based on God’s True Myth, as CS Lewis called the Gospel. Every story is a salvation story or a fall story, so every story retells redemptive history. After years of reading and watching different stories, I’ve come to the conclusion that every truly great story is great because it retells the gospel in some way. This has really given me the freedom to prioritise telling good stories over trying to tell Christian stories, not because Christian truth isn’t of paramount importance, but because I can have faith that the better my story is, the better it will communicate Christian truth.

A: Thank you for your time. Your answers are very interesting and I enjoyed interviewing you a lot. And thanks, Nikken, for allowing me to borrow your blog for a bit!

Nikken: No problem. My blog es su blog, or however that saying goes. Anyway, thanks to Suzannah for agreeing to be interviewed, and now why don’t you go check out her book, Pendragon’s Heir? I have to go now though–my Author needs her brain back! Until December, everyone!

~Nikken

(P.S. Also, before you go, here’s a quick giveaway. Have fun!)

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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life

A Brief Break

Heiliel, everybody! Today I’m popping in with some news–November is not very conducive to blogging. Why? The answer is very simple:

A dreadful thing by the name of NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is a cruel taskmaster created by a bunch of writers that decided they had nothing better to do than give other writers a Trojan Horse (by which I something horrible disguised as something awesome. Though I’m still uncertain why a giant wooden horse is considered awesome. I mean, what are you supposed to do with one?). NaNoWriMo sings it siren call to writers everywhere, convincing them to try to write 50,000 words in 30 days. And thousands of them fall beneath the crushing weight. And yet they say they enjoy it!

Two of these poor dupes are Jese’s and my authors. And with 90% of their cognitive function directed toward NaNoWriMo, they have neither the time, energy, nor ability to lend us any to post on this blog. So for now, we must bid you farewell until November ends and my author is released from its sugarcoated chains.

So, heiliel! Till we meet again when December comes around~

 

Nikkenel Tale

 

Note: Nikken’s opinions are somewhat biased and do NOT match his author’s opinion and perhaps the truth. However, it is very difficult to shut him up. 

 

 

The Universe

Burning Rose Blog Tour (Huzzah!)

Hello, my friends! As you might have guessed from the header, it is my pleasure to assist the wonderful Hope Ann with her newest book’s introduction to the world. Today’s post comes with a special Behind the Scenes glimpse of Hope Ann’s writing process (excitement! I do love behind the scenes. Behind the scenes is where me and my fellow characters drive my Author to near distraction >:D). Enjoy!

Behind the scenes of Burning Rose: Shadows of the Hersweald song
I enjoy music. I find it hard to write without listening to soft soundtracks, though loud
siblings might have something to do with that. But not only do I enjoy listening to music as I
write, I also love finding songs for my characters. Sometimes I can find them, sometimes I can’t.
Sometimes they are perfect and sometimes they are only close. The song for Hayden, from
Shadows of the Hersweald, is pretty close. It is Set Me Free by Casting Crowns:

Read Haydn’s full story in my new paperback collection, Burning Rose!

The Burning Rose
A war, founded in ancient legends, changes the lives of those it touches forever.
Elissa, a villager from the northern mountains, attempts to save her brother and ends up trapped
in a hidden valley with a strange host and a treacherous enemy.
Evrard, the Wingmaster of the Prince’s army, races against his own weakening powers to
discover the location of his twin and save her from deadly mistbenders.
Haydn, a pardoned rebel from Tauscher’s army, confronts shadows of myth and former
comrades in his struggle to keep his sister safe and find the stolen Stormestone.
BONUS
Before the war, before the legends, before the Separation, there was a man who started it all.
There was a curse, a promise, and a sacrifice. There was the Oathkeeper.
Fairy tales retold as you have never heard them before.
ROSE OF THE OATH: Beauty and the Beast
SONG OF THE SWORD: Rapunzel
SHADOWS OF THE HERSWEALD: Hansel and Gretel
and
ROSE OF THE NIGHT: a Rose of the Oath prequel
Order Burning Rose now!

~~~~

Nikken here again! And I feel obliged to say, that these are some of the most unique fairy-tale retellings either my Author or I have come across. Sadly, my author’s life has been too busy to help me formulate a review at this moment, but hopefully she will manage to get that done and present it to you soon. Or you could just go and get the book, and decide what you think of it for yourself!

Farewell, my friends, until we meet again!

~Love, Nikken

 

(And now for our guest…)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated author. Her time is taken up with
writing, reading, playing with inspirational photos, blogging, helping care for the house and eight
younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads
of America. She is the author of Legends of Light is currently working on several projects
including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about her at
authorhopeann.com

The Universe

A Cover Reveal

Greetings and well met!
Do you remember a few months back, when my author was our honored guest and talked about Hope Ann’s new book, Rose of the Oath. Well, today it is my honor to finally reveal to you the cover her newest release, Burning Rose, a paperback collection of the first three Legends of Light novellas!

Burning Rose header

A war, founded in ancient legends, changes the lives of those it touches forever.

Elissa, a villager from the northern mountains, attempts to save her brother and ends up trapped in a hidden valley with a strange host and a treacherous enemy.

Evrard, the Wingmaster of the Prince’s army, races against his own weakening powers to discover the location of his twin and save her from deadly mistbenders.

Haydn, a pardoned rebel from Tauscher’s army, confronts shadows of myth and former comrades in his struggle to keep his sister safe and find the stolen Stormestone.

BONUS

Before the war, before the legends, before the Separation, there was a man who started it all. There was a curse, a promise, and a sacrifice. There was the Oathkeeper.

Fairy tales retold as you have never heard them before.

ROSE OF THE OATH: Beauty and the Beast

SONG OF THE SWORD: Rapunzel

SHADOWS OF THE HERSWEALD: Hansel and Gretel

and

ROSE OF THE NIGHT: a Rose of the Oath prequel

You can check out each ebook individually here or the Burning Rose page here. The Kindle version is available for preorder, but the paperback won’t be up to buy until the launch on October 3rd. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it then. In the meantime, you can add Burning Rose to your lists on Goodreads.

I suppose you’d like to actually see the cover now? Very well. It is glorious.

The Burning Rose.jpg

Designed by Kate Flournoy

Worth the wait? Because I love it. And it’s less than a month before you can hold a copy of Burning Rose in your own hands! Also, if you want blow by blow updates as well as cool tidbits and a behind-the-scenes look of the launch, you can hop over here to Facebook and join the Readers of Aslaria launch group!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated author. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, playing with inspirational photos, blogging, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She is the author of Legends of Light is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about her at https://authorhopeann.com/

~~~
Isn’t that cover awesome? I especially approve of the image of the flower on fire. I do love me a good fire. Anyway, keep an eye out for more about this collection, but for now I must say farewell. Until we meet again, my friends!

~Nikken

life

Strength in Numbers

Heiliel, everyone!
I want to talk today about something very important: Friendship.
I hope all of you have experienced at least one, though there are some people that sadly never have had a friend in all their life. But I was thinking recently: Why do we have friends? What’s so special about friendships that make us all want to have them?
I have two very close friends: Emr and Meron. Both are very different than me. Meron is brave and bold, with a dry sense of humor and love for wide open spaces. Emr is gruff with most people and grumbles a lot, but he’s loyal and loves to laugh with his friends. They’re about as different from me as you can get, and they are different from each other too. Why would three different people like us become friends? And if we are so different, why would we stay friends?
Honestly, I’m still not sure how we became friends. We just did, I guess. My guess is that my cousin had something to do with it, but I can’t prove anything. But I know why we are still friends.
Sure, we argue. We fight. We throw rotten tomatoes at each other and then summarily run while our target attempts homicide. But we still manage to stay together, and this is why: we stay together because we want to. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, Emr says (though he’s usually talking about breaking into the desert cellar). If we didn’t truly wish to remain friends, we wouldn’t. We would splinter and break apart, like shells smashed against rocks on the shore. But we want to. We want to always be friends, so we work to keep it that way. When something comes that may take us apart, we fight it. We don’t let anything stop us.
Sometimes friendships do end. It’s sad but true. But, unlike what most people say, you can always do stuff to try and stop it. People will move away, but you can fight to keep up your friendship. As long as both of you want it, it will happen. It’s the way life is–when it comes to relationships, there is no ‘there’s nothing I can do’. That’s just being lazy and defeatist.
But sometimes, someone won’t want to be friends anymore. People change, it’s what people do. They may not have moved away physically, but mentally they have. They’re like Susan in that book about the lion and the closet or whatever–at the very end, she couldn’t come back, because she didn’t want to.
When something like that happens, you still shouldn’t give up. Keep pressing on. If you fight, who knows? You may still win the day. But even if it doesn’t succeed, at least no one can say you did not try.
But back to the original question: what makes friendship so important? There are lots of answers, I think.
Friends will always be with you. With a true friend, even if you’re all by yourself, you’re not alone.
Friends will always have your back. When things are hard, they’ll rally to your side and help you win the day, like the army of the Rohirrim except less cool-looking.
Friends will help you stay you. When you mess up or start straying, they’ll be there to push you in the right direction (whether it’s a gentle nudge onto the right path or a shove into a creek to jerk you out of your self-pity).
Friends bring out the best in you. True friends love you for you, and will strengthen those best parts of you and help draw them out into the light where everyone can see them.
Friends defend you. When you can’t go on any further, your friends will step up and push away what’s crushing you long enough for you to breathe and get up again, so you can push on together.
But most of all, friends make us strong. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘strength in numbers’? A bunch of trees, all growing together, won’t be knocked down in a storm. A wall of linked shields can stand against the charging onslaught. Even if they’re not right there with you, their support and strength will always be with you. That’s why friends are so important. Alone, we’re all weak (though don’t tell anyone I said that. I have a reputation to keep). Together, nothing can move us or stop it.
Together we’re strong.

~Your friend,
Nikken

apple pie

The Dessert that I Adore

It has come to my attention, good friends, that I have not yet discussed in full a subject that is near and dear to my heart: Pie.
Pie, if you were to ask my opinion, is one of the most important foods in our culture. There are a great many desserts and food, but what dish is served at every one of your newfangled “United States’” holidays?
Pie.
There are many types of pie. There are meat pies, which are the favorite of the High Prince. Every festival, he’ll steal one or two and sneak off to eat them in secret (this will usually result in him being attacked in a flurry of meat-pie-loving righteous fury by my best friends Emr and Meron). There are fish and seafood pies, which are a favorite in my homeland, especially on the Day of the Ships (our version of your Thanksgiving. Except it’s kinda a few millennia older…). There are even pies made of nuts or sugar or both!
While these can be quite good, there is only one kind that rules them all. The best, the most true, most pure, most import species of pie: Fruit Pies.
(In case you are wondering, I’m not counting pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is an imposter. One simply should not make pies of vegetable skins. It’s just wrong.).
Fruit pie is the epitome of all dessert. Why, do you ask? What about cake, everyone loves cake?
The answer is simple—pie is healthier for you. After all, cake is just flower and sugar and stuff. Pie is made of flower, sugar, stuff and fruit. Fruit, everyone knows, is much healthier for you. So not does it only have the same ingredients as cake, it tops it by one (with a healthy ingredient!)!
Pie: 1
Cake: 0
Also, there are as many possibilities for flavors of pie as there are fruit in the world—apple and berry, pear and cherry, peach and lemon and lime and orange, etc. etc., but how many options do you have for cake? Chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, lemon, coconut… and that’s about it (no one speak to me of carrot cake, for the same reason that I ignore the existence of pumpkin pie).
Pie: 2
Cake: 0
Thirdly, and most importantly… the cake is a lie. Everyone knows that. Who can tell what kind of flavor may be lurking beneath the icing? Who knows what horrors lie within the icing itself? Something that hides its true nature beneath layers of sugar and sweetness just cannot be trusted.
But you can trust pie. A pie won’t lie to you. You can poke a knife in a pie and almost immediately guess what kind it is. A pie won’t have creepy, weird ingredients thrown in just to torture you (like all the innocent looking cookies at weddings and parties that by some strange coincidence are all coconut).
Pie: 3 bazillion
Cake: 0
Besides these obvious advantages, there is another aspect. What use is a cake, except to eat, look pretty, and perhaps (if it’s lucky) to be thrown at someone. But pie has many, varied uses such as:
1. A wake up call: what better smell is there to wake up to than the hot puff of air from a fresh baked apple pie?
2. A peace offering: with cake, it’s easy to run into people who are allergic to chocolate, or nuts, or coconut. But who is allergic to fruit? If you want to give a peace offering to the neighbor you’ve been spatting with or an entire enemy nation, pie is the way to go.
3. Celebrations: if you bake a cake for a friend, you’ll spend ages agonizing over the icing and stuff, trying to make it look nice because we expect our cakes to look all smooth and fancy-shmancy. But a pie? It can be lumpy, smooth, perfectly formed, slightly burned on the very tip, we don’t care. It’s still yummy.
4. Meals: This applies more to meat pies (which, while yummy, are inferior to the fruity breed). Consider: which would you eat for supper—a cake made of meat (frosting and all) or a pie made of meat, with a nice, crispy, buttery crust and tons of gravy on the inside?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
5. Cheering up: A pie fills both your tummy and your heart. Pies are famous as a way of cheering up sad or miserable people. I myself have used pie to help my friends and family out of the blues numerable times (such as a time I dropped a berry pie onto the High Prince. He was so busy chasing us screaming bloody murder he had no time to be sad. It was brilliant).
6. Inspiration: Food powers the brain! Many a time has my author been mulling over a difficult problem and solved it while munching thoughtfully on pie. Of course, one could make this argument for cake, but one must remember point 1 (aka, pie is healthier). Also, pie plates caused the invention of the Frisbee. You can’t say the same about cake plates. Actually, cake plates don’t even exist. So there.
7. Humor: honestly, do I even need to mention this? Clowns and cream pies, people. There is nothing better than watching a pie splatter across someone’s face. Well, except eating it, of course ;).
8. Fighting: This use, I admit, is a little more rare, but a dear friend of mine once used pies to help save an entire kingdom! Smashing a pie with a ceramic plate into someone’s heads is quite effective.
There are, of course, many other examples, but I believe I have made my point. Pie is the greatest dessert of all time, and yet, sadly, it does not get enough credit. But perhaps one day that might change, and we will set pie upon the pedestal it deserves to inhabit.
Alas, now it is time for me to depart—all this talk about pie has been making me hungry, and my Mammami just finished baking my favorite berry pie and I can smell it from here. Farewell, and eat more pie, my friends!

~Nikken

*The views expressed by Nikken are entirely his own and may or may not be shared by his author

The Universe

My Dear People…

Do you know what today is?
If you said the 29th of July, then yes, you’d be right. But it’s also the 63rd birthday of that most epic tale ever to grace the shelves of the fantasy genre.
That’s right, I’m talking about The Lord of the Rings.
Now, you might be thinking: Nikken, why do you have such a high opinion of those books? After all, you’re a fictional character yourself.
That has a very simple answer: if it wasn’t for these books, I wouldn’t exist.
You see, when my Author was a little girl, she loved to make up stories. But she only liked to make up mystery stories. Her favorite books were The Bobbsy Twins and The Happy Hollisters and the like. But when she was six years old, her mother read The Hobbit to her, and it changed her world. The next year, she read The Hobbit all by herself, and it changed her. Middle-Earth touched her in ways she didn’t understand, being only seven years old. Elves and dwarves, goblins and hobbits and dragons… it was unlike anything she’d ever read before. Slowly, she stopped reading mainly mystery stories and began reading fantasies like Redwall and Eragon. Then, when she was eleven years old, her parents said she was old enough to read The Lord of the Rings. She had been waiting for this for years, especially once her older brother read it, and nearly burst from excitement. She read the entire series in five days.
If she loved The Hobbit, she absolutely adored The Lord of the Rings. The world of Middle-Earth, which had so intrigued her in The Hobbit, became so much clear, so much more wonderful than she thought it ever could be. The cheerfulness of the hobbits, the courage of men, the loyalty of the dwarves, the long, long sorrow and steadfastness of the elves… It made her wish that somehow she could be a part of so epic and wonderful a world. Reading the book was like peeking through a window to a world of honor and glory and faith and valor and wonder. A world of good and evil, of weakness triumphing over strength.
Then she had an idea.
She thought, “I can never write as well as Tolkien, but I wish I could write a fantasy story that would make people feel in the tiniest the stuff The Lord of the Rings makes me feel.” So, a few weeks before she turned twelve, she climbed up into her loft bed and began to write a story on six pages of tan-colored lined notebook paper. And eventually, a story took form—the story of how my cousin, my brother, and I set out on a long journey to discover the Father’s Chosen hero that would save our lands.
So that is the main reason I like these books so much—they helped bring me to life.
But there are other reasons too: for one thing, if you think about it, Tolkien is the father of the entire modern fantasy genre. Don’t believe me? Think about it:
1. Orcs—Tolkien invented them. The name is based off the Old English words orc and orcneas, which, roughly, mean ‘demon’. In Middle-Earth, ‘orc’ is the Elvish word for Morgoth’s and Sauron’s servants, who were originally elves that were corrupted by Morgoth. In English, the word ‘orc’ is translated to ‘goblin’, (therefore, Tolkien’s orcs and goblins are one and the same, not separate species, as many people seem to think). The orcs in World of Warcraft and Warhammer? They would not have existed without The Lord of the Rings.
2. Elves—Tolkien, of course, was inspired by the elves of Norse Mythology, but the standard modern version of elves—tall, wise, long hair, incredibly beautiful, archers—were invented by Tolkien and Tolkien alone. Traditional mythological elves do not look anything like the image of elves that is so common in our minds these days. The preeminence of elves in modern fantasy, such as World of Warcraft and Eragon? You can thank Tolkien for them.
3. Dwarves—dwarves in Norse Mythology were greedy little guys that spent all their time underground, and most of them were mean-spirited types, if not out-and-out evil. The image of noble dwarves? This came from the last bit of The Hobbit and Gimli from The Lord of the Rings.
4. Dark Lords—how many Dark Lords are there? Too many to count. When was the first appearance of a Dark Lord in modern literature? I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure it was The Lord of the Rings.
5. Other languages—this isn’t as common, but there are many books that have invented languages for certain races in the books (often Elves). I don’t know if there were any instances of invented languages before The Lord of the Rings, but you and I both know who started that trend—Tolkien.
6. Halflings—again, not as common, but Halflings tend to pop up here and there, especially in board games. The trend of short guys with curly hair and hairy feet that live in holes and eat a lot all began one sunny when Tolkien wrote the words ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit’ on the back of an exam paper.
7. Mithril—mithril was invented by Tolkien. It first appeared in the Hobbit, and it had a prominent position in the story of The Lord of the Rings. All sorts of fantasy games and stories have mithril, and even call it mithril (which is a Sindarin name meaning “grey brilliance”) instead of the English name, truesilver.
8. The fantasy genre in general—There are instances of fantasy stories before the publication of the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings, such as George MacDonald’s excellent stories. But the big boom of fantasy happened after The Lord of the Rings was published in 1954. Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, World of Warcraft, Eragon, you name it—they probably would never had existed if Tolkien hadn’t published a book about hobbits and dwarves and elves and men and then was asked to make a sequel.

These are some of the basics. There is even more evidence out there proving that Tolkien is the father of modern fantasy fiction. It’s sad to think that many people nowadays forget his huge influence on modern culture (My author says it’s even sadder that people watch the movies based off his stories and never even bother to read the actual books. That really annoys her).
Tolkien, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings are doubly responsible for my existence, if you think about it, so I have a lot to thank them for. I think anyone who is a fan of fantasy should celebrate the often-underrated epicness of Tolkien, so that’s why I’m here writing this post. Maybe someday, everyone will remember how Tolkien started it all and appreciate him for the impact he had on our world. But until that happens, at least my author and I will never forget.
Professor Tolkien, I salute you.
So CELEBRATE, everyone! This year marks the 100th year since Tolkien first began to write about the world of Middle-Earth, and today it’s the 63rd Birthday of The Lord of the Rings! Cosplay! Sing songs! Eat Apple Pie (though seriously, you should do that anyway)!
Happy Birthday, Lord of the Rings, and many happy returns!
Namarië! Elen síla lummen’ omentielvo. Namarië!
~Nikken

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