Episode 38
May 2, 2022

The Rings of Power Broker

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Oriana’s choice of topic: initial thoughts on what evil is in Tolkien’s work. The sweeping arc of The Lord of the Rings in particular is understandably thought of – though very often simplistically reduced to – a basic good versus evil clash, a black and white split. But as more and more of Tolkien’s work over the decades has been published over time, up to and including last year’s The Nature of Middle-earth volume, it’s clear that he himself thought that what evil exactly was in his created universe took on many forms and had numerous ways of being perceived. It’s also well worth reflecting on how many of his seemingly stereotypical ‘good’ characters carry out actions, consciously or not, that result in manifold acts of evil playing out in many different forms, from mass slaughter to small acts of domination. What are the differences between Morgoth and his prime servant Sauron in terms of how they view their actions and desires, and how they carry them out? What are the worst horrors carried out in Arda Marred – itself conceived and portrayed as containing an intrinsic, foundational evil that could not be removed without its own destruction – and who is ultimately responsible for them in the moment? How is the pettiness of Ted Sandyman’s laughter and spit in the Scouring of the Shire as much a reflection of evil as Sauron’s ravaging of the Pelennor Fields? And is there evil as such portrayed at all in any of Tolkien’s non-Middle-earth works, or is it more something akin to it?

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Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. Truly tragic and horrific, and that’s all that can be said.

The Folio Society announcement of the newly revised and updated Alan Lee-illustrated Lord of the Rings edition. It really does look great.

The Folio Society’s earlier edition with illustrations by Queen Margrethe is indeed really sharp too.

A report on the Ukok Princess and her tattoos. Truly striking work.

Plenty of stuff to read about Robert Eggers’s film The Northman – enjoy this Smithsonian dive into some of the historical roots. (Bjork’s character is a priestess for this fellow.)

The Tolkien Gateway entry on Arda Marred.

Robert Moses had quite the impact, to put it mildly – as did Robert Caro’s famed biographical study, The Power Broker.

The Kinslaying really is a horrific event to consider.

Our episode on The Nature of Middle-earth.

Generational and inter-generational trauma are heavy burdens.

Our Aldarion and Erendis episode: destructive sorrow without evil as such.

Our Scouring of the Shire episode.

Bulletproof vs. stab-proof vests, should you be so inclined.

The Book of Job is quite a meditation on evil’s existence.

There’s a lot out there regarding modern Disney, Marvel, villainy and so forth. For now, Adam Serwer on Killmonger in Black Panther and a wider meditation and links to other pieces on colonialism and imperialism in Thor: Ragnarok.

Our episodes on Farmer Giles of Ham, Smith of Wootton Major and Leaf By Niggle.

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