Built in 1758, Perrott’s Folly, Edgbaston, Birmingham towers 96 ft or 29 metres. Photo credit: Dominic Tooze.

I began my latest reread of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in April this year and got to ‘The Breaking of the Fellowship’ at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring in July, when I decided to have a bit of a pause for the summer.

Along the way I used the tag Talking Tolkien in several posts whenever I felt constrained to discuss aspects of Tolkien’s writing or themes that struck me strongly as I read, or featured reviews of Tolkien-related titles.

In September I intend to pick up the journey again with The Two Towers, the middle section of the ‘trilogy’ (in fairness not a description that the author favoured) and I hope you will again join me, if not with the reading then at least with comments on my reviews and discussions.

Horsemen (warriors of Rohan?) and a dragon on a reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo helmet © C A Lovegrove

On the hobbits’ journey from the Shire to Rivendell they passed through Buckland and Crickhollow, and it has been surmised that Tolkien may have drawn aspects of these locations from Bwlch and Crickhowell in a part of Powys in Wales which he possibly visited in childhood. One of the tall edifices referred to in The Two Towers might be Saruman’s Orthanc, and fans like to speculate that Tolkien might’ve been partly inspired by another of his childhood haunts — Perrott’s Folly in Edgbaston, Birmingham (for the photo of the folly I’m grateful to Dominic Tooze, one of my former students).

This recently-restored 18th-century tower was built by local landowner John Perrott nearly three centuries ago, and is a distinctive landmark which Tolkien would definitely have known and seen, but whether he ever envisaged it as Saruman the White’s retreat is now impossible to say.

Another landmark now: as August rushes towards its end you may be interested to know that for my modest 15 Books of Summer reading goal I’ve now actually completed a grand total of twenty-two books over the three months. I thought I probably would reach the landmark twenty, Cathy’s highest option for her 20 Books of Summer meme but, eh, ‘aim low and achieve high’ often works for me…

Glancing through my Goodreads Reading Challenge over that period I see I’ve read general novels, some essays and studies, literary criticism and verse, lots of crime fiction, Gothic romance, magic realism and fantasy, speculative fiction, and short story collections including some in Italian with parallel translations.

Anyway, thanks to Cathy of for again providing this incentive to read — as if we really needed an excuse to enjoy books!

12 thoughts on “Landmarks

  1. Akylina

    Congratulations on completing your 15 Books of Summer, Chris! I absolutely agree, it’s better to aim low and achieve high rather than the opposite 😀 Looking forward to more of your LotR posts coming September 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Akilina, though I’m sure that only hell and high water would have stopped me reading anyway (as I’m certain would’ve been the case for you too)! As for LotR, I’m hoping to reread and review a couple of essay collections alongside The Two Towers, and I’m especially keen to examine in more detail the interlace structure that really kicks in after the breaking of the Fellowship.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I rather think you’d have surpassed me in numbers over this period, Mallika! But I’m pleased to have given these books my focused attention for the time I was reading them, especially as I tend to have a few titles on the go simultaneously. Just now I’m concurrently reading a novel in the vein of classic boarding school stories by Blyton or Brent-Dyer, along with extracts from a geopolitical work by the 9th-century Arab writer Al-Mas’udi.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been doing the opposite and reading one at a time, mostly because my mind seems like a sieve at the moment and I can’t seem to be able to hold too many details.

        Both your current reads sound interesting. I’ve been reading a NetGalley title called Wuhan–set in the 1930s and featuring real life characters including Peter Fleming and Lao Tse alongside fictional ones. So far it seems ok though a little graphic in describing violence, and language bordering on crass in places. Let’s see how it goes.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think we all have to find our own way through the anxieties that beset us at the moment, and if reading one book at a time is what’s manageable then so be it. Look forward to your review on Wuhan!


  2. Well done with all the reading – what an achievement! I haven’t joined in, but I read 32 books over the summer so that’s nice (I would never have stuck to a list!) As for Tolkien’s Two Towers, I’ve heard Birmingham’s ‘Old Joe’ cited as an influence – look forward to your journey through the book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’d seen that suggestion too about Old Joe ( and it’s certainly more imposing than Perrott’s Folly, but given that Orthanc is described as black, and the rock gleamed as if it were wet I suppose neither exactly fits the bill!

      As for Cathy’s meme, I sneakily didn’t specify all the books I eventually did read so really I knew I was going to easily fulfil the quota set. And I’m also unsurprised, from following your reviews, that you’ve completed 32 books — I expected no less! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on surpassing your reading goal! I’ve also read more than 20 books this summer, but unfortunately not the same ones that were on my original list!


  4. I’ve always thought he got the eye from Old Joe (currently without hands as he’s being done up!) and then the gothicness from Perrott’s Folly and mixed them all around. But what do I know!

    I managed to read 43 books in June-August including just making it to my 20 Books of Summer yesterday – that’s because of my self-imposed limitations (no e-books, no review books, no year challenges to be included) – so I’m quite pleased with that! Well done on completing your aims, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If Tolkien borrowed the clockface of Old Joe for the Eye of Sauron then I suppose that would make it more Barad-dûr than Orthanc. But then any tall tower (Perrott’s Folly was about 30m and Old Joe 100m, just taller than Big Ben) would likely furnish inspiration for both Middle-earth edifices. But what do I know either! 🙂

      Anyway, congrats on your own achievement, especially with your self-imposed linitations! And I’m just finishing Daisy May Johnson’s How to be Brave so I’ll now have notched up 23 books before the month is out, yay!


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