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Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

'LOTR, the Kick Ass Edition' by Todayinah Ed.
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October 6

In 1946, the plot direction of The Lord of the Rings was significantly changed as a result of a radical suggestion made in a letter that the author J. R. R. Tolkien received from his son who was serving in the Royal Air Force in South Africa.

Wizard!
LOTR, the Kick Ass Edition
Christopher identified a critical weakness, observing that the latest draft for the opus failed to deliver a clean break with The Hobbit and ultimately, without such an early plot device, the new trilogy might be judged unfairly alongside the prequel which was after all merely a child's fantasy novel.

His imaginative suggestion was to rewrite the legendarium character of Gandalf the Grey into the meeting at Bree. This seemingly minor change certainly had the desired ripple effect across the fabric of the novel.

Instead of meeting his fate at the hands of the Balrog in the Misty Mountains, the wizard dies in combat with the Ringwraiths at the Battle of the Ford. The horror of this epic fight scene provided an earlier, more resonant climax for the palpable sense of terror that had been building-up from the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring. And his critical absence from the Council of Elrond added a sharper, more vibrant element of uncertainty to the entire Quest. As a result, the plot change was an exit point from the prequel that created a richer fantasy platform for the remaining two and a half chapters of the trilogy.
This article is part of the Wizard thread.



October 9

In 1946, having updated the narrative of Fellowship of the Ring such that Gandalf meets Frodo earlier at Bree (instead of later at Rivendell) and subsequently perishes in the defence of the Hobbit at the Ford of Bruinen, J.R. R. Tolkien set about writing the Wizard out of "The Bridge of Khazad-dum" scene.

Wizard! Part 2
LOTR, the Kick Ass Edition
The fork in the plot had been suggested by his son, Christopher who had identified a critical weakness that the latest draft for the opus failed to deliver a clean break with The Hobbit. The horror of the epic fight scene at the Ford provided an earlier, more resonant climax for the palpable sense of terror that had been building-up from the start. And yet that ripple effect had turned into a wave as dramatic new plot changes emerged.

Terrifying enough was the prospect of the Fellowship confronting the Balrog without the leadership of the Wizard. Because in this updated passage, the Balrog seizes the Ring from Frodo. And instead of the Fellowship mourning the fallen Wizard, they are reunited with Gandalf the White, his resurrected alter-ego in the very next scene.

Based on an idea from Jeff ProvineOf course the previous version had strongly hinted that the Balrog was awoken by the presence of the Ring. Also suggested was that in his supernatural form, he could not wield it. But in the event, Tolkien decided to follow logic of the Orcish sense of evil duty by having the Balrog head south to return its to its master, Sauron.

When he entitling Book 2 "The Ring Goes South", Tolkien had never imagined that Durin's Bane would be carried by anyone (or anything) other than Frodo. Because the game had now changed dramatically. As Gandalf the White explained to his startled companions, the Fellowship must fly upon the Great Eagles and pursue the ring south, or Sauron would surely gain complete control of Middle Earth.
This article is part of the Wizard thread.



October 14

In 1946, on this day the conception of an ingenius plot loop back for the final chapter The Breaking of the Fellowship enabled J.R.R. Tolkien to close out LOTR Volume One on an epic high point, the richer fantasy proposed by his son Christopher.

Wizard! Part 3
LOTR, the Kick Ass Edition
The fork in the plot had begun with Gandalf meeting Frodo earlier at Bree (instead of later at Rivendell). In fact, he never makes it to Rivendell because he perishes at the hands of the Nazgûl in the defence of the Hobbit at the Ford of Bruinen. Without the leadership of the Wizard, the Balrog seizes the Ring from Frodo at The Bridge of Khazad-dum.

And instead of the Fellowship mourning the fallen Wizard, they are reunited with Gandalf the White, his resurrected alter-ego in the very next scene. The Fellowship then fly south upon the Great Eagles to pursue the Balrog before he can return Durin's Bane to its maker. But now the ever seeing eye of the Dark Lord is fully focused on the Fellowship, creating a more palpable sense of danger that was considered absent from the previous edition.

Based on an idea from Jared MyersAt this critical juncture, Tolkien reintroduced the Ringwraiths, the nine Men who succumbed to the Dark Lord's power and attained near-immortality as servants bound to the power of the One Ring (they were once mortal Men, Sauron gave each of them one of nine Rings of Power). But instead of the Nine Riders who fought at the Battle of the Ford, the Ringwraiths are now mounted on hideous flying beasts and are transformed into the Winged Nazgûl.

Accordingly the revised edition of The Breaking of the Fellowship features an epic aerial battle between the Great Eagles and Winged Nazgûl which concludes with Frodo recovering the Ring. But the Hobbit is mortally wounded with the Morgul blade despite the bravery of Boromir who perishes at the hands of the leader of The Nine, the Witch-king of Angmar.
This article is part of the Wizard thread.



November 18

In 1946, having eliminated the Fellowship of the Ring scene where Saruman proposes to Gandalf that the Wizards take the Ring for themselves and challenge Sauron for the mastery of Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien set about introducing a dramatically modified version of the same outcome into The Two Towers.

Wizard! Part 4
LOTR, the Kick Ass Edition
In the original text, Gandalf had failed to meet Frodo en route to Rivendell because he had been imprisoned at Isengard for refusing to reveal the location of Durin's Bane. Disappointed by the slow pace of the trilogy his son Christopher had suggested that the meeting was brought forward to the earlier location in Bree as planned. Because of this fork in the plot, Gandalf is not summoned to Isengard and is thus unaware that his fellow Istari was creating his own army of Orcs and wolves, "in rivalry of Sauron, and not in his service yet" and that the green valley below Orthanc "was now filled with pits and forges".

Based on an idea from Steven FisherIn the modified final chapter of FOTR a dramatic aerial battle ensues between the Nazgûl and Great Eagles during which Frodo recovers the Ring from the Balrog but in so doing is mortally wounded with the Morgul blade by the Witch-king of Angmar. In the confusion, the Fellowship is broken, and Frodo is taken to Isengard where the Ring is seized by Saruman, Gandalf's superior as the head of the White Council.

The context of War of the Ring has now changed dramatically, with open conflict breaking out between The Two Towers of Barad-dÊr and Orthanc. The breath-taking prospect of Uruk-hai versus Mordor Orcs hugely excited Tolkien. And yet this dramatic change in the plot presented a huge challenge of the imagination. Should he persist in the course of events where Gandalf et al. travel to Edoras to try to convince the Riders of Rohan to attack Isengard - but in this case, to rescue Frodo and seize the Ring by force, if that is even possible. Or should they press on to Minas Tirith and reform a great alliance of men and Elves that combats whichever of the masters of the Two Towers that prevails?
This article is part of the Wizard thread.



November 26

In 1946, having already decided that Gandalf et al. must travel to Edoras to try to convince the Riders of Rohan to attack Isengard, J.R.R. Tolkien determined that logically the forces of the Dark Lord must win the Battle of the Pelennor Fields (pictured).

Wizard! Part 5
LOTR, the Kick Ass Edition
Of course the proposition for King Théoden is altogether different because Sarumen possesses the Ring (and Frodo, if he is still alive) and the Rohirrim are unequipped and unsuited for a siege. Therefore the remaining members of the Fellowship must also enlist the assistance of the Ents before striking at Isengard.

Of course there are two theatres in the War in the Ring, and Denethor Lord of Gondor has called for already assistance. Based on an idea from Steven FisherBut Gandalf has decided that the reclaimation of Durin's Bane is the priority, and inevitably while that story arc was unfolding, the unassisted forces of Minas Tirith crash to defeat. Thus The Two Towers concludes on a strategic setback for the forces of good. But in a larger sense, the more palpable sense of horror proposed by Christopher Tolkien has been served, and the updated version a more exciting read for the development of this dramatic fork in the plot.
This article is part of the Wizard thread.



January 30

In 1947, having taken the pivotal decision that Frodo must die and Aragorn (pictured) should become the new Ringbearer, J.R.R. Tolkien began to redraft Return of the King (a title which now assumed a vastly different meaning, recasting Aragorn as the forsaken king who must die so his people may live).

Wizard! Part 6
LOTR, the Kick Ass Edition
The death of Frodo was the bittersweet climax to the Battle of Isengard in which Saruman's army (reinforced with the ten thousand orcs at Helms Deep) is eventually beaten by the heavily outnumbered Rohirrim after the Ent's release the dam. Entering the Wizard's Tower, Gandalf casts down Saruman and retakes the Ring. But after discovering that the dying Frodo has succumbed to a mortal wound inflicted by the Witch-king of Angmar's Morgul blade, Aragorn takes up the Ring, and vows to finish the quest.

Based on an idea from Steven FisherWith the defeat of Saruman, The War of the Ring is reduced to two combatants. Having prevailed at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, the forces of the Dark Lord move into Rohan.

In a desperate race against time to prevent the Fall of Edoras, Aragorn is forced to look for aid from the Elves and the Men of the Mountain. And learns that Faramir might be alive after all. He then travels to Rivendell where Elrond reforges Andúril, the blade that was broken.

He leaves the mustering army to journey through the Path of the Dead under the White Mountains where he uses the reforged sword of Gondor to bind the Dead men of Dunharrow to his service (they were cursed to remain in Middle Earth after they betrayed Isildur in the War of the Last Alliance). With the Sword of Isildur returned to him, he forces the Dead Men to fulfill their oath and find the Dark Lords's forces.

With the Grand Alliance in place, the stage is set for a climatic Great Battle that will decide the very future of Middle Earth (a mirror image of the close-out of the Second Age).
This article is part of the Wizard thread.



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