Best place to be a weaver
What's wrong and right so far in the Rings of Power? Are you enjoying the new series? Julia Golding checks in at halfway to discuss what's going on in the programme. What's annoying Tolkien purists? What shout-outs and praise can we give? Setting aside whether or not it sticks to Tolkien, how does it do as a piece of writing? Find out what's going on in the costume department - shoulders and skirts are an issue! Have a listen, see if you agree, and let us know your views. We end with where's the best place to be a weaver.
Visit http://oxfordcentreforfantasy.org for great gift items, event information, and sign up for our newsletter for super surprises!
Welcome to Myth Makers. Myth Makers is the podcast for fantasy fans and fantasy created, brought to you by the Oxford Center for Fantasy. My name is Julia Golden. I'm an author, but also director of the Center. And today I wanted to talk to you about where we reached in the Rings of Power Amazon series. We are sort of halfway through and I thought I'd check back in and see what people were making of it. We had several conversations, um, with other people who are keen on the sma, really, and before it started trying to get exactly what they were going to do, and now I think we are much clearer, those still not completely clear, uh, as to the direction they're taking. But first of all, um, we had somebody else. Why are we spending so much time talking about this? Why don't we just talk about writing and creative points? Perhaps they didn't want to give Amazon the publicity, which, you know, I don't think our little podcast would've made any difference to that. But the answer to that is this is the biggest talking creative event that's happening at the moment. And we at the center are really interested in what this generation of creatives are making of their raw material. So first of all, let's have a look at the direction that they have taken, what we got wrong in our speculations and what we got, right? So the first thing that they have done, which we were sort of hoping they would do, which is they've included a Hoit point of view, that's with the, the harit. Um, we began to see that at the end of the preparation period with the trailers. But the hobbits do provide a comedy humanizing, smaller person stature point of view, but there are problems with it, which I will return to. Um, also something I got wrong was I thought the tree that appeared in the initial trailer was the tree in New Manor. Uh, in fact, they got for quite a small tree in Newman. The one we see in the, um, the still that there was, the very first thing they issued is actually from the flashback to valor Cs, um, youth. So, got that wrong. Oh, well, hand up. Got it wrong,. But there we go. Um, we weren't gonna get everything right. And what we still don't know is whether or not, um, the mysterious stranger is gand off or sour on or somebody else. I mean, the hints are that it scanned off the way he talked to the glow worms, the fact that he looks like a young gand off the gray, all of that. There's lots of red herrings there. If they go in another direction with that. The question is how is that, um, character going to develop? Because he's not in their material. He doesn't take a big role in the second age according to the appendices, to, uh, the return of the king, which is the material they're working out of mainly. Okay. So that's, you know, quick check list. Um, we were guess in the dark. We are no longer in the dark. We have stepped into the light and now we can talk about what they're doing with the material. Okay. So I've seen a lot of criticisms from a purist standpoint. And if I was going to approach this as what they're not doing, what, what, what talking and things are going against, um, I could make a list of them. Um, so for example, things like, uh, the way goad has suddenly become this, in a way, a lesser person because she's now under Gil Gall's, um, command. She has that abortive sailing West, all those elements, making her this sort of very driven warrior. All of that, uh, doesn't seem to be following what talking was suggesting for goad. Uh, unfortunately his version of goad in this age is she spends a lot of time, um, out of the picture. So you can see where they've gone with that. They want a strong female character and Gladio was available. Other little things, which, there's quite a lot of them. Um, but when they do invent things which aren't in talking like the backstory for myth, uh, that that's just a bit annoying for those of us who think why? Um, you seem a bit weak. Uh, and also the, the origins of the sort of elron going to du finding, he's there to get the myth reel. All of that felt, um, it didn't, the motives just seem weird. So they need this myth reel, the L so they don't fade. That is entirely outside any kind of talking imagining of why the elves are fading. It felt to me as though that was somebody sitting in the writer's room saying, Okay, we need to make some urgency for the elves. What are we and something that's gonna be a problem with thewas. What can we come up with? Ah, ri let's go with that. It feels a weak story. Move to tick some boxes about motives and pacing. But I am actually not sitting here as talking purist. I'm sitting here looking at it as a writer who understands the pressures people are in, in a writing room to come up with, uh, you know, a good storyline spinning from very slight stuff, which is what they're trying to do at the moment. Another thing in the, um, what the talking purists might not like is the whole of sort of dog leg in the story about go later going to Luminor. Ah, also the fleet that they're putting together at the moment. They've got three ships does it. If, if this is the expedition that persuaded sa um, not to take over that part of middle, the southern part of Middle Earth, then hmm, doesn't seem very spectacular. I was imagining a vast fleet, but maybe I'm preem maybe that's later on season three or something. Uh, at the moment it seems to be a little odd, some of those moments. So let's talk about what I like about the series. Um, I've enjoyed the casting now I think that morph, uh, Clark as collateral is great. She looks great, she moves well. Um, I enjoy her scenes. I like the sort of twinkling in the eye that Elrond has, uh, Robert ao. So some more shoutouts for performance. I very much enjoyed the wars. I liked the way Cat was realized. I liked the fact that they were growing, um, that you could see the agriculture underground with the reflected light. That was all lovely. I loved the thinking through what that vast mt place that we saw in Lord of the Rings might have been like as a working city. I really enjoyed that and I enjoy the married couple Desa who's played by Shi Vek. Hope I've got your name correctly, and du um, Owen aa. Um, they seem to have pitch perfect tone with each other. The sense of a family also managing to get in a bit of the majesty of the drawers with the idea of de being, um, someone who can sort of sing to the, the stones and make them resonate. Really enjoyed that. I also like the, um, the humor between Elron and, um, during a real sense of friendship and the sort of rivalry there. And that's where they get the tone appropriate for talking. I think it, it has a sort of humor which sometimes is lacking in other fantasy adaptations. So that's a big shout out. I think that I, I enjoying the performance of, uh, Daniel Wayman as the Stranger, though I, um, would like to find out who you are, Daniel, but I'm sure lots of people do. I do like, uh, Aron, the Aon Dear the Elf, uh, that's Ishmail Cruz Cordova. Um, I, I like his power, I think. I think there's a problem I have, I'm going to talk about this a bit later on. I have a problem with the storyline, but I don't have a problem with him as an elf. I think he looks, he looks great. He's got a sense of urge, you know, he sort of feels powerful, has a sense of, um, you know, it's good to see, uh, an el of color as well. Of course. Uh, I think Bronwin is very convincing in the sort of mother leader role, though, please, costume department. Why is she the only one who's wearing sort of barely anything every time she comes on, everyone else is all wrapped up and she's got these bare shoulders. I imagine it's to give her a, a unique silhouette, but I, she just, I just think put some more clothes on. You look cold. Cause it doesn't look like the warmest place on earth. Um, so I find that distracting. Uh, just a little side note on the costumes. Most of them are absolutely wonderful. Um, and they all, all distinctive looking. So Goad has never had a poor scene, though. She did spend, I think a couple of episodes wearing basically a, a night dress, a wet night dress, poor thing. But I loved the dresses and the armor. Very regal, majestic, particularly like, um, the way they've thought about the new Menor clothing, Muriel with her sort of scaled armor, very strong look, um, the elves and the drawers are all very good. The hobbits. Um, I liked how they are, uh, able to disappear into the natural world, but are, they seem to be just wearing a lot of bulk. And I'm not convinced that a nomadic people would wear quite so many layers of skirts. It seems to be getting in the way a lot. So costume department, I'd go for a slim or silhouette for, for your hobbits. They all seem to be wearing skirts, even the men. And I thought that the, the Hobbits in Lord of the Rings were just the best clothes, Those three quarter length trousers, waist coat, and shirt. I'd have found something closer to that as a, a kind of earlier vernacular anyway. So I, every time they come on, I get a bit annoyed that they were dragging around so much material. Um, but on the whole, the costume department have done a fabulous job. I could keep going. In fact, it's probably quicker to say those people I don't enjoy so much. Um, and I think that is the older elves. Um, so I'm having in mind here, um, Gil Gallad and Keller Brior, um, both played by great actors. So Charles Edwards' Keller Brior last seen in the Crown. Oh yeah. And Gil Gallard is Benjamin Walker. What I, problem I have with them is they're so clearly older, it's not this, they're clearly older people and actually Gola is of the same age as them, or you know, she's an old or too, uh, in fact she's older, she's a previous generation. So that mismatch, it kind of sends the wrong signal. So if you're coming to this from the outside, you think, oh, here is a younger woman trying to make these older men see sense and they're plotting about her behind the scenes. Um, so the visual, the visuals here are sending the wrong signals cuz actually collateral is probably senior elf, one of the senior elfs at this stage. Um, and so it sort of sets up an odd, misleading sort of power structure. And what's wrong with this, it, it just makes the story go slant wise. So you've got the younger generation trying to make the older generation of leaders see sense. The danger is coming back, Sarah's coming back, says collateral, and then she's sent away. We don't find out or she doesn't find out, but we find out later that, um, Gil Gallad is responding to a, a kind of prophecy understanding that if she stays, that is one of the things that will bring the evil. Uh, he doesn't explain this to her. So it, it just means for me that I don't enjoy the political machinations there. It doesn't work for me and there's something wrong with the writing there. I think. Um, it doesn't mean everyone had to be young who was caste, but when you think back to, um, when they casted Elron before they had that young old look, and possibly that would've been a better way to go. Funnily enough, um, Orrin who's played by Joseph Morley or more, um, who's like the bad guy, um, who's just emerged, he kind of looks like a young old elf even though he is a bad guy. So perhaps something like that might have worked rather than these character actors with character faces. That's why, I dunno, if you agree with me, that's a problem, but I find that a problem. The other thing that, uh, I like and enjoy very much is the tone. So I am pleased that they have struck a tone, which feels, shall we say, it feels sort of talking. So you've got a warm sense of warmth in the half foot sense of family. Um, you also have a sort of scope and I think and sense of history. And so they've layered it, which is also very talking. So when you go to New Manor for once, we finally saw a fantasy city that looked big enough to be a proper city rather than just a made up castle with a few houses. Uh, it, it made me think of something like, uh, ancient Rome. It struck the right notes. I'm less convinced by Lindon and Gil Gall's, uh, empire because it seems very sketchy. They're mainly walking in trees or in that way that el seems to have no walls. Um, there's a sort of unfinishedness to that kingdom. Uh, I would've preferred a more attention given to the architectural vocabulary in a way and sense of how this works as a place because it is the big kingdom in middle Earth at this time. So that was a bit disappointing. The port looks good. No, no, I haven't got a, I thought the port was very good. That was building on the Gray Havens idea. But the actual, how the capital city works seems to me not thought about. Whereas Lumino, the sense of this island, I think is building nicely. And I like that. I like this the guild system, different classes. Um, the idea that there are factions within the politics. Yeah, they've built that up quite well and established it quickly. So let's talk about what they're doing with the half. It's the, basically the hobbits. Now, if you look at the prologue to Lord of the Rings, Toki mentions three kinds of proto hos. The Harts who are close to the Ds. They have a relationship with Ds, the stores who are associated with river banks and rivers. And in fact the, these are the ancestors, the where Gollum comes from and the fallow hides who are taller and fairer and like trees. It seems to me as though they are mixing all of those things in the harit, they've probably thought three different kinds of hos, three too many. So we stick with one because these kind of harit don't have any, uh, association with dwarfs at all and seem to be much more the sort of natural world. Hobbits, that's, that's fine, but I'm mentioning that cause it shows you which story, um, ends. They've nipped off the story of the Hobbits. Um, looking after The Stranger is a very touching one. And I like the way it's developing with the sort of culture of, uh, prophecy within the traveling band. Uh, you know, I like Lenny Henry with his book and his weird hair. Everyone's got weird hair that's all fun and the way they hide in the landscape and then emerge. There are some odd things though within this culture, which seem a bit inexplicable. One is why they don't help each other more. So you've got poor Poppy pulling a cart on her own and then there's this moving scene where they um, they remember those left behind and you soon you realize actually they, they left them behind. You know, they broken leg, you get left behind. So there's some elements of, um, odd oddness when you think that some simple shifting around to the burden between members of the group could solve some of those problems. Like, you know, Poppy could join, uh, No's family for example and help push that car anyway. So there's a sort of, I suppose it might be survival of the fittest isquietly bubbling along in the half it, which I found a bit worrying. Um, anyway, they are obviously showing their good side by looking after the stranger and that's one of the strongest storylines for me. The one where they're moving fr it's quite slow moving, quite slow burn. But I do like the way that, uh, Norie is, Norie is the one who brings this stranger into the family group. And gradually in the last episode we see the stranger, um, saving others in the group. So he's sort of gaining favor amongst the hobbits. And if, if this is all a setup for, uh, Gander that would fit with the idea that Gander was friendly with the Hobbits from earlier, it'd be a bit odd. Now if that character did turn out to be just another random person in in Middle Earth, I think that all roads seemed to be leading to Gander. But we'll check back in at the end of the season to find out if they did surprise us. But my problem with the Hoit story is that it doesn't connect. And actually from a writing perspective, this is my problem with the rings of power. I'm not gonna knock it for not following talking and the random odd, odd things that happen like goad jumping off a boat. Cause he doesn't want to go to Valor without a way back. You know, there's some really odd little things that happen. You think what, you know, um, they have picked something like five storylines. So you've got goad, that's one really strong thread. You've got the Hobbits, that's another really strong thread. You've got Elron, he sort of, he straddles too. So Elrond with, um, Gil Gallard and the sort of Elvin politics. And then you've got Elrond with his friend during and the mining of Ri and those, those two sort of go together. And then you've got, down in the south, you've got the story of Bronwyn, Aron Deer and the AKs who are sort of taking over the villages down there. That is quite a lot of, that's depending how you count that. That's either four or five storylines. If you think of how Lord the Rings works, it goes from one story to multiple stories. So it starts with photo, well, Billbo and Prodo. And then when the fellowship breaks, it then goes to Pippin and Mary Aor Legless and Gimley Prodo and Sam. So you, you do split, but it's, you've, you've been together to start with. They've taken the approach of starting split. So none of the stories actually touch each other except for a brief moment when Gala and Elrond right near the beginning when they're together. Um, but it's only a very a glancing moment. And so what you've got is storylines that seem to be on their own trajectory, but, and I imagine what, I mean, I guess what they're doing is they're actually gonna braid them all together at the end unless they decide to leave one story separate. So you could decide to leave the, the Hobbit story kind of separate its own thing, which would be odd, but you could see them doing that from the point of view that the Hobbits don't have an influence on the big events. But anyway, we started with five, and I think it's been a bit uneven as to which stories you like. I've had a problem caring about the Bronwin Aron Deere setup. There are other people I've talked to have actually like that. Um, it's just because I, I've got a limited amount of attention for people who I want to root for, and that's not one where I feel, um, invested as yet. So the danger is when that storyline comes on, you think, Oh, come on, let's get back to the real story. And the real story seems to be G So rewriting it, as you know, as a creative, you're spend all your time rewriting. I think I would have bra I would've connected them earlier on so that you see how they're, how they touch. You could have done something like, um, is it, is it Hal brand? Hal brand? The the man who Gallad meets on the raft could have come from the South where bro will and co are. So you could have made connections when the hobbits are going through the landscape. You could see the elron riding by you and you would then start to see, oh yes, they are inhabiting the same world. That for me, would've made it easier for me to care about all the storylines I may find by the end of the series that actually it's great and they very cleverly woven it all together. But at the moment I'm a little bit frustrated by it because it doesn't seem to hang together as a piece. What do you think? I mean, you, I may have picked on the very thing that you, like, I've talked to people who don't know much about talking and they all seem to be kind of okay with it. I haven't found someone who says, Yes, this is the best thing I've ever watched as a piece of television. Um, there's quite a lot of people who think, Oh yeah, that's fine, but I'm watching House of the Dragon and I really like that. So it hasn't risen above the, um, the huge numbers of fantasy television series that are out there at the moment. But I think I'd say it's not doing too bad. I do look forward to Fridays and watching it. I just wish they would weave the stories together a little bit more satisfactorily. So that's a check-in at halfway and we will come back for a fuller, more expert look at the whole of the series once it's completed. We always have a section where we think about where in all in all the fantasy worlds is the best place for something. And this time, because I've mentioned weaving and braiding numerous times, I thought I would have a think about where is the best place to be a weaver? Because the whole art of the loom and weaving is of course one of those, um, story like tropes that come up time and time again. You've got plenty sitting at home waiting for Aus to return, weaving her story threads, and you've got, uh, and then cutting it up to start again. Um, so that it's never complete. And you've got the fate weaving, uh, so that, um, you know, your, your, your future is sort of in, in, in the tapestry. So where is the best place to be a weaver? Well, there is one story, which if you're going to allow me, it's kind of straddling the, um, the fantasy realist novelPlace, and that's George Elliot's novel, Silas Manna. Now George Elliot is known to write books, which are the sort of, uh, realistic novel, you know, middle March, uh, in depth study of a provincial town. So you don't tend to think of her as fantasy, but this particular story, it's shorter than her other novels. And it has the, uh, architecture of a fairy tale. So a weaver, hence the weaver who is wrongly accused of stealing because he suffers from a putal, you know, has fits where he loses consciousness. Um, he's exiled in disgrace from his urban religious community and he sets up as a misery figure in a village. And again, his, um, money is stolen from him and in its place in a sense is left this little girl. And a story then becomes the fairy t It's like the gold turned into a little girl. It has a real world version, but the actual happily ever after, um, thread of the story of transformation feels very fairy tale. So it's the closest George Elliot comes to writing something which feels like a fantasies. So that's my pick, Silas Man by George Elliott. Uh, so if you have any ideas for where you think you'd like to be a weaver, do let us know. Thank you very much for listening. Thanks For listening to Mythmakers podcast, brought to you by the Oxford Center for Fantasy. Visit Oxford Center for fantasy.org to join in the fun. Find out about our online courses in person stays in Oxford. Plus, visit our shop for great gifts, Tell a friend and subscribe wherever you find your favorite podcasts worldwide.