My 2020 Blogging from A to Z Challenge revisits my best posts from the 2014 to 2019 Challenges.

L for LOTRO (2018)

How could I not mention the Professor? The Lord of the Rings is one of my favourite books, although I discovered Tolkien the Anglo-Saxon scholar first – via his essay Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics. After reading the trilogy in about 1969 aged 16 – I still have those reread hardbacks – Peter Jackson’s reimagining was my Middle Earth. Then I discovered and played this wonderful game.

On the other hand, exploring the literature and folklore behind this game was one of the reasons I began my investigation into the creative Origins of various On-line Games. I’d been drawn to find Middle Earth for decades – and then I met Frodo.

I will post about other games that were relevant in 2018 and still are meaningful.

Links to my other A to Z posts can be found here: https://rolandclarke.com/blogging-from-a-to-z/blogging-from-a-to-z-challenge-2020/

To visit other participants see The OFFICIAL MASTER LIST: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YphbP47JyH_FuGPIIrFuJfAQiBBzacEkM7iBnq6DGDA/

#IWSG – Language Power

C for Challenge but also for Creator and Captain. As in…

Created  and hosted by the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, theInsecure Writer’s Support Groupmonthly blog post is here again – and so am I.

Except this is not the A to Z month even if I’m still recovering – INSECURE as I have a vast backlog of emails/blog posts (260+), reviews to write, WRiTE CLUB bouts to read, and fog like the Sargasso Sea.

Anyway, on to this month’s question.

May 1 question – What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Reaction 1 – pass. My brain won’t engage.

Response 2 – can I cheat? Latest? During Blogging from A to Z, one of my followers admired my alliteration – I had fun with repetitive use of the letters. And a review led me to buying a copy of Mark Forsyth’s The Elements of Eloquence – so more ‘unforgettable phrases’ to follow.

Rejoinder 3 – when I read J.R.R Tolkien’s work as a teenager. His use of language was phenomenal with deep roots. (Strange synchronicity as I’m sitting her listening to soundtracks from the Lord of the Rings movies). Anyway, I tried to emulate the Professor’s style, but my writing tutor, the late Roger Woddis, accused me of ‘purple prose’ – justified. With his guidance, I learnt to pare my effusive outpourings to create more power.

The awesome co-hosts for the May 1 posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin! 

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

On a parallel track, I must thank all those that made my WEP April 2019 Comments Champion award possible:

The Joint Team at WEP: Denise Covey – Founder/Host; L.G. Keltner – Co-host; Nilanjana Bose – Blurbs; Olga Godim – Badges; at IWSG: Nick Wilford – judge; C. Lee McKenzie – liason IWSG/WEP; Pat Hatt – tweets and promo.

Plus, of course, all the participants without whose wonderfully, inspiring pieces, I wouldn’t have been able to comment. Your creations made my thoughts possible.

L is for Lord Of The Rings


The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper.

[Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]

Game: LOTRO or The Lord of the Rings Online is an engrossing MMORPG set in Middle-earth, the high-fantasy universe based upon J. R. R. Tolkien‘s writings.

Release Date: April 24, 2007

Developer: Turbine

Genre/gameplay mechanics: MMORPG mechanics with special features such as traits, deeds and reputation; PVE and PvMP (Player vs Monster Player); avatar selected from six races and ten classes; evolving/learnable skills; questing through virtual game-world; six-player Fellowships (groups); Kinships (clans); crafting; housing; musical instruments, festivals.

Setting: 25 distinct and semi-realistic regions of Middle Earth during the time period of The Lord of the Rings (LOTR). Each Region of Middle-earth is represented as being permanently “frozen” at a certain point in time. For example, it is always September of the Year 3018 of the Third Age in the Shire, December 3018 in Rivendell, February 3019 in Lothlórien, etc.

Storytelling: The player starts simultaneously with Frodo and company leaving The Shire and their actions on the Epic Quest Line (main storyline) are helping the Ringbearer on his task, while combating the forces of evil. These are extra events created by the makers of the game but based on LOTR lore. Throughout, the player interacts with characters from The LOTR at key moments. Standard side-quests are new stories.

The game’s milieu is based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. However, the developers do not have rights to any other works in Tolkien’s legendarium, such as The Silmarillion, but intend to develop their interpretation of the Middle Earth world.

Releases + Expansions: In addition to regular free updates, six expansion packs have been released:

– Mines of Moria: 2008 – this expansion featured the underground world of Dwarrowdwelf.

– Siege of Mirkwood: 2009 – introduced Mirkwood region and the skirmish system.

– Rise of Isengard: 2011 – introduced Dunland region and new instances in Isengard.

– Riders of Rohan: 2012 – featured mounted combat and introduced East Rohan.

– Helm’s Deep: 2013 – introduced “epic battles” and a new region in Rohan (West Rohan).

– Mordor: – 2017 after three years of minor free updates. It introduced Plateau of Gorgoroth region and new instances in Mordor.

Formats: Microsoft Windows and OS X

Origins (Chronological) – :

  1. Published in three volumes over the course of a year from 29 July 1954 to 20 October 1955, J. R. R. Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings is one of the best-selling novels ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.  Although a major work in itself, the story was only the last movement of a larger epic Tolkien had worked on since 1917, in a process he described as mythopoeia. In 2003, it was named Britain’s best-loved novel of all time in the BBC’s The Big Read.
  2. 1937 – The Lord of the Rings started as a sequel to J. R. R. Tolkien’s work The Hobbit, published by George Allen & Unwin.
  3. 1936 – “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” was a 1936 lecture given by J. R. R. Tolkien on literary criticism on the Old English heroic epic poem Beowulf. Tolkien also revealed how highly he regarded the poem: “Beowulf is among my most valued sources”, and this influence may be seen throughout his Middle-earth legendarium Plus, reading the lecture in my teens was my first encounter with the Professor.
  4. 1920-1959 – LOTRencompasses many influences, including religious and mythological sources from Tolkien’s academic studies and from personal experiences.
  5. The Völsunga saga is a legendary saga, a late 13th-century Icelandic prose rendition of the origin and decline of the Völsung clan featuring, in particular, a magical golden ring and a broken sword re-forged.
  6. 1220 – The Prose Edda, also known as the Younger EddaSnorri’s Edda often assumed to have been written, or at least compiled, by the Icelandic scholar, lawspeaker and historian Snorri Sturluson. Tolkien’s Elves and Dwarves are by and large based on these and related sagas.
  7. 9th-11th century – The influence of the Welsh language, which Tolkien had learned, is summarized in his essay English and Welsh: “If I may once more refer to my work. The Lord of the Rings, in evidence: the names of persons and places in this story were mainly composed on patterns deliberately modelled on those of Welsh (closely similar but not identical). This element in the tale has given perhaps more pleasure to more readers than anything else in it.”
  8. 10th century – Beowulf one of the most important works of Old English literature. A date of composition is a matter of contention among scholars; the only certain dating pertains to the manuscript, which was produced between 975 and 1025. Tolkien was a Professor of Old English/Anglo-Saxon and Middle English language and literature, and this literature, particularly Beowulf, influenced his own writings.
  9. A final question: was Tolkien creating a new mythology or building on others? See – Simon J Cook’s J R R Tolkien’s Lost English Mythology.

Adaptations set in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ universe – (Middle-earth would be too numerous):

  1. FILMS – Three film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings have been made. The first was The Lord of the Rings (1978), by animator Ralph Bakshi, the first part of what was originally intended to be a two-part adaptation of the story. The second, The Return of the King (1980), was a television special by Rankin-Bass. The third was director Peter Jackson‘s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, released in three instalments as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).
  2. TELEVISION – there has been a Swedish TV series and a Finnish one. Amazon is reputed to be developing an adaptation with Warner Bros. Television and the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien.
  3. STAGE – several adaptations have been made including musicals.
  4. AUDIO – over a dozen recordings and radio plays have been made, notably the BBC broadcast dramatisation in 26 half-hour instalments. It starred Ian Holm as Frodo Baggins, the protagonist; he would play Bilbo Baggins, his character’s cousin/uncle, in the Peter Jackson films.
  5. VIDEO GAMES – over two dozen games have been produced including The Lord of the Rings Online. The two most recent are: 2011 – Lord of the Rings: War in the North is an action RPG that takes place in Northern Middle-earth; 2014 – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is an action RPG – with a sequel, titled Middle-earth: Shadow of War in 2017.


Recommendation: The Lord of the Rings Online received wide universal acclaim on release, and positive reviews continued to appear after the game’s release. For instance, GameDaily awarded the game 9/10, praising its rich, fantasy-themed universe, well-integrated trait and title system, and a story that remains true to the works of Tolkien. Metacritic gave the game 86% (40 reviews). See also: MMORPG.com, and MMOS.com.

However, the release in July 2017 of the Mordor expansion received largely negative reviews, and there are signs in its eleventh year of operation of burn-out.  But the game has a staunch core following and Middle Earth is still populated. This interesting in-depth 2017 analysis at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j22DC4axaQ gives the pros and cons.

4.7 Stars: My partner and I have played The Lord of the Rings Online since 2011, for a time in an active kinship and more recently on-and-off, especially for festivals. Great soundtrack and setting make it enjoyable. Classes and races give enough variety. For me, this is the nearest I can come to being in Middle-earth – interacting with Frodo and Elrond were highlights. Lore is very true to Tolkien with acceptable developments within the restrictions of rights. There’s a huge world to explore and we have yet to visit everywhere. Nor have we tackled the end-game grind that we have been warned about.

  1. Setting: 4.75*
  2. Storyline: 5*
  3. Gameplay: 4*
  4. Entertainment: 4.75*
  5. Genesis: 5*

Alternative ‘L’ thoughts:

L is also for Lagaan, a superb Hindi movie that I highly recommend, even if it’s very long at 225 minutes – drama, romance, cricket and so much more.


Enter this portal to reach other Worlds in my A2ZMMORPG

Hela da



The Very Inspiring Blogger Award


I’m beginning to catch up after a hectic month attempting to address all the comments on “Storms Compass” that I got back from my brave beta readers. I tried to address all the points, even if some didn’t feel right – until I gave them proper consideration and explored them fully. Today I passed this first Book in the Gossamer Flames saga to my editor friend Sue Barnard.

Now it’s time to address the nomination that I received a few weeks ago for Very Inspiring Blogger Award, from talented Italian friend, Sarah Zama.

Sarah is a wonderful jeweller and a budding writer so I recommend visiting her blog, The Old Shelter, which has a fascinating collection of articles, stories and links. I liked her jewellery so much that I bought a steampunk pendant for my wife.

Steampunk Heart from JazzFeathers

Steampunk Heart from JazzFeathers

Anyway, on to today’s task. In order to accept the award, I have to do a few things:

Display the award on your blog.

Link back to the person who nominated you.

State 7 things about yourself.

Nominate 15 bloggers, link to them, and notify them about their nominations.

7 Things about me

Having been interviewed a few times, these are the more obscure facts.

1. Although I sound English, was born in England and most of the time went to school in England, I am actually a quarter Chilean. My mother was born in Chile to a Chilean mother and an English father. Although my grandmother lived near us and spoke Spanish with my mother, I didn’t learn the language from them. But I had an ear for it, so with the right encouragement I learnt enough to survive.

2. The only time that I didn’t go to school in England, was when I was in Canada. For two years I did my GCSE A levels at Bransons, a school in the Laurentians, north of Montreal. Think I spent as much time skiing as I did studying. Suspect that my French – learnt at school in England – didn’t improve as Quebecois felt like a different language; in fact it evolved from Breton French.  I also spent a further year living in Toronto, the city that I vowed never to visit. Never make rash statements. I was intending to train as a journalist, but the Canadian system didn’t recognise my A levels. So I spent a year doing a General Studies course that was a step back in some respects. But it turned me green and into a vegetarian.

3. While in Canada, I went on a white-water expedition. The Beaver River trip took a few weeks and entailed the first navigation of this river from The Yukon to British Columbia – by white skins. Don’t ask how many times I tipped the rubber raft over.

4. I may live in Wales now, with a view of the mountains and the sea, but I have no Welsh blood – just second cousins that grew up here. I can claim a touch of Celtic blood though, as some of my ancestors were from Scotland, and proudly wore the Grant tartan. But I speak more words of Welsh than Gaelic.


5. [Thanks to Sara for this one] “I was a Tolkien fan way before the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy came out.”

In fact, “Lord of the Rings” is the book that influenced me most as a writer, and I re-read it when I can. It has always headed my list of favourite books and has always inspired me whether I need to escape into another world or in my writing. Is that the same thing? And I have been able to see my vision of Middle Earth on screen plus been there in a gaming world. I also have the hardback set that I read in my late teens back in the late 1970’s. Strange fact is that it was not the first Tolkien piece of writing that I devoured – that was his lecture paper “”Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”, followed by “Tree and Leaf”, which contains the essay ‘On Fairy Stories’, which Sara Zama says, “any writer should read…Tolkien says it takes a lot more than dragons and magic to make a fantasy story. Magic has to be part of that world, it has to be woven in its very fabric to the point you can’t imagine that world without that kind of magic. And that world with that magic has to have the intimate consistency of reality.”

6. I hate roller-coasters to the point that I once bit my ex-wife on the shoulder because I was terrified on some runaway train at Disneyland. No that wasn’t why she left me for a better man. I also tried to throw myself out of a rickety big wheel that had nothing holding us in – except a useless bar. Is there a murder mystery there? Funfair Fiasco?

7. I worked for a few years in the TV/film industry, losing a lot of money trying to make a movie in Malta. During that time, I worked with a few amazing people ranging from Doctor Who actors like Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, to musicians like Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) and my best friend Steve Hackett (Genesis).

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And now comes the hardest part, choosing the fifteen blogs to nominate. Apologies if you have been nominated, don’t accept nominations, got missed out, or even wonder if I actually know anybody.
















Next port of call/task on the To Do list is a new page on this site, called ‘Snowdon Shadows’ and those book reviews that have never got written. Oh and there’s A to Z, IWSG, and so much more.