The Ultimate Showdown

Tolkien showdown

The Lord of the Rings Versus Game of Thrones

J.R.R. Tolkien and G.R.R. Martin have the most initials of any two fantasy authors in history. They also have millions of devoted followers who swear that one of them is better than the other. I’m a fan of both of these great storytellers, but I believe that Middle-earth will be held up as an exemplar of fantasy (and literature) long after Westeros has faded away (though don’t tell that to the guy who built the entire city of King’s Landing out of Minecraft blocks). In honor of Tolkien’s 122nd birthday, here’s a comparison of the relative merits of the fantasy creations The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones (aka LOTR and GOT) from J.R.R. and G.R.R, IMO.

To read my entire Huffington Post piece click here.

The Quest of the Shandar Wizards

A good smoke

Journey back in time with me and author Ethan Gilsdorf (Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks) as we enter the strange world of the early eighties. We wax on about Dungeons & Dragons, Dune, DYMO label makers and more! (And yes, that is a picture of me smoking a pipe when I was twelve years old.)

My Latest Interview: Sword and Saga Press

Amazing Stories

In this interview with Sword and Saga Press (via Amazing Stories Magazine) I talk about J.R.R. Tolkien, my earliest influences, and my new action/adventure novel Sons of Zeus. Read it here.

Excerpt:

Noble, how did you get started with writing? What was your early inspiration, a moment that you can point to as the starting point?

The first book that I started working on was an epic science fiction/fantasy novel that was a cross between Frank Herbert’sDune and The Lord of the Rings. I was fourteen at the time, and it was quite an ambitious project for someone that age, but it was spectacularly derivative of those two books. But you know what? It got me into the habit of making a daily effort to write. At first I wrote in cursive, then printing, then I got an electric typewriter, and by the time I was in high school I had one of the first home computers. To me writing is physical labor just as much as a mental endeavor. The Medieval manuscript illuminators, hunched over their desks all day, used to call their efforts “plowing the page.” I think that’s a beautiful way to put it. You’re like a farmer standing behind an ox, holding tight to a plow, breaking furrows in the soil of your imagination. It’s a lot of effort, but cool things grow out of that labor.

To read more click here.

The Top 10 Things You May Not Know About Legolas the Elf

Elf Love

Are you obsessed with pictures tagged “Legolas” on Tumblr? Do you feel that Orlando is Bloomalicious? Well, you’re not alone in thinking that this archer from Mirkwood Forest puts the “sin” in Sindarin Elf. Peter Jackson couldn’t get enough of him either. Even though Legolas did not appear in Tolkien’s book The Hobbit, he is featured prominently in the filmThe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. But what do we really know about this legend from Middle-earth besides his intense Elf-on-Dwarf relationship with Gimli? Click here to read my latest piece on The Huffington Post.

Interview With Wisconsin Public Radio

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 4.28.31 PMToday I did an interview with Anne Strainchamps, the host of the show 45 North on Wisconsin Public Radio. We talked about my book The Wisdom of the Shire, and The Desolation of Smaug (which I’d seen at the 12:01 AM showing earlier that morning with a packed house of Tolkien fanatics). We had some great callers, one of whom was a 78-year-old lady who told us that her mother (a librarian) brought home The Hobbit when it first came out and read it out loud to her and her siblings. She cherishes that memory. Listen to the show here.

Must-have Tolkien Books: 14 Holiday Gifts For Any Middle-earth Lover’s Library

Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 1.24.03 PM

I have a new piece on the Huffington Post. It’s a handy little guide for purchasing Tolkien-themed books for your loved ones this Christmas. Now I couldn’t put every book on this list. I left out the obvious ones (like The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion), but I did recommend the new version of The Hobbit (illustrated by Jemima Catlin). Some of the books are classics that I’ve had since I was a kid (like The Father Christmas Letters, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Atlas of Middle-earth). And a couple have been published in the last couple of years (Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks). Whatever the case, they’re all excellent books…but I could have easily added another dozen great Middle-earth tomes to this list. Check it out.

Book Give-away Sponsored by The Tolkien Library

Tolkien Library giveaway

The Tolkienlibrary.com and I have teamed up for a cool give-away! Here is your chance to win one of the following copies of my book The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life: paperback (x2), audiobook (x1), the UK hardcover (x1) and the French version (x1). Click here to enter.

This competition is open to all EU, US and Canadian residents.

Radio New Zealand Interview

Radio New Zealand

Yesterday I did an interview with the wonderful Kiwi broadcaster Jim Mora on his show “Afternoons” on Radio New Zealand. We talked about J.R.R. Tolkien as an example of a terrific father (despite being a writer!); the notion of “Orcery;” the pleasures of baking bread and making mushroom soup; and the significance of Thorin Oakenshield’s deathbed speech (spoiler alert!) Have a listen.

Interview With The Tolkien Library

T Library

This week I was interviewed by Tolkien expert Peter Collier, creator of The Tolkien Library.

Tolkien Library. When people talk about your book the word ‘fun’ is always used in one way or another. Is the book meant to be fun?

Noble. Oh, yes! Definitely. I think that life should be lived with good humor and fun. Hobbits are really fun people. They’re always making jokes, even in the most dire circumstances. Merry and Pippin are a couple of comedians. One of the things I do in my book is encourage people to make their own music—“Sing Like a Hobbit” is one of the chapters.

To read the rest of the interview, click here.

Hobbit Amour

La_Sagesse

The French translation of The Wisdom of the Shire (La Sagesse de la Comté) is now available in France. Here is the introduction that I wrote for the Fleuve Noir edition.

When I found out that my little book about Hobbits was going to be translated into French, I let out a shout of joy! I have such strong emotions associated with France and especially Paris—a city where I lived during a pivotal time in my youth; a magical city I explored with the wide-eyed wonder of a kid who’d grown up in the bleak, culture-starved suburbs of the Pacific Northwest during the seventies and eighties.

I had gone to France at the age of twenty, during the Bicentennial of the French Revolution, to live with my girlfriend, Kendra, who was working there as a fashion model. And I felt like Bilbo leaving the boring Shire for the first time and entering the enchanted world of the Elves in Rivendell.

Kendra and I had met and fallen in love two years before at a funky liberal arts college in Olympia, Washington (Nirvana played one of their first concerts ever in the theatre building on our campus the same month we started dating). Kendra and I instantly bonded over our love of J.R.R. Tolkien. Every night during our freshman year I read to her out loud from The Lord of the Rings.

After getting discovered by a famous New York modeling agency, Kendra dropped out of college and moved to Paris. And soon, lured by the siren song of my beloved as well as the allure of that famous city, I followed after her. I was like some bewitched Man in Middle-earth chasing after an elusive Elf-maid (echoes of the tale of Beren and Lúthien from Tolkien’s The Silmarillion).

In Paris we had a little apartment a block away from Luxembourg Gardens. It was a cozy, cheerful place decorated with nothing more than our stacks of books. We didn’t have a TV, so at night we danced to the music of Prince and the Beatles playing on our cassette deck, or sometimes we simply sat in our room and talked about life, drinking tea. Our one-room apartment was our own little Hobbit-hole on Rue Crébillon.

Nearly every day we walked to the nearby bustling market and bought fresh food and vegetables for our meals. We ate enough delicious baguettes to fill a large bakery, and always covered our bread with liberal amounts of thick French butter (a practice that Bilbo, who shuddered at the notion of “butter scraped over too much bread,” would have greatly approved). At night we went on long strolls, kissing by the Fontaine Saint-Sulpice, or holding hands as we stood on the Pont des Arts, watching the boats go by.

Whenever Kendra had to fly off for runway shows in Milan or magazine shoots in exotic locales in Africa, I stayed in Paris, teaching myself how to be a writer, studying art with a passion, haunting bookstores like Shakespeare and Company, and hanging out in the iconic café La Palette. There, ensconced in the snug wood-paneled room, I fortified myself with strong cups of coffee served to me by an avuncular waiter named Jean, scribbling in my Moleskin notebooks, while occasionally taking breaks for furious bouts of chess with my best friend, Murat; or comparing notes with his sister Elif for the novels we were both fervently writing.

Kendra and I eventually left France and went on to have new adventures. But many of the simple joys of life—things I talk about in The Wisdom of the Shire—we learned during our sojourn in your country. For you French, if you didn’t already know it, are a lot like Hobbits: connoisseurs of fine food and drink; great walkers and lovers of nature; a people who value deep friendship over superficiality and who are intense conversationalists. The kind of people who, like Merry and Pippin, burst into happy song at bars! And just like the Shire-folk you live in a society built upon the majestic principle of egalitarianism.

Bilbo wrote in one of his songs, “The Road goes ever on and on/Down from the door where it began.” Sometimes that great Road of life leads to someplace as magical as France, and those of us who have been lucky enough to have lived there keep that place in our hearts forever.