I’ve taken down “One of a Hundred” because I may be submitting it to some magazines for publication soon. I apologize for all the vanishing content–lord knows the site needs more. I’ll try to fill the space with some other work–perhaps an article, or a review or two.

One of the magazines I’m submitting to is Flashing Swords, an excellent online magazine of sword and sorcery. I highly recommend it to fans. In just two issues they’ve published some great stories, including long-forgotten reprints of stories by early pulp author Harold Lamb.

If you’re a fan of the genre, be sure to check out their anthology of sword and sorcery, Lord of Swords, which includes stories from Tanith Lee and E.E. Knight.

I’m in the midst of re-reading The Hobbit, to be followed by LOTR. It’s been more than three years since I last read them, and I find reading LOTR to be a rejuvenating experience. I always find something new in them; and while Tolkien wasn’t the best writer stylistically, his unlimited imagination and the Zusammenhang of Middle-earth (the way every aspect of it is painstakingly detailed and defined, such as language, geography, history, and even race relations) is endlessly inspiring. Few (if any) fantasy writers have been as talented at (or as obsessed with) world-building as Tolkien. And there are a few great characters in there, particularly Gandalf and Gollum.

When I read the novels, I always use the old Ballantine paperbacks my father bought me when I was in high school. I own nicer, collectible editions, but for reading purposes I find the paperbacks as comfortable as a worn-in pair of shoes.

In high school, I also played Middle-earth: The Wizards, the original collectible card game based on Tolkien’s work. The game had excellent mechanics and challenging gameplay, and it was a lot of fun. I was the undisputed master of it within our group (mostly because I enjoyed it the most and collected a lot of cards, including the One Ring). Best of all, it had beautiful artwork from all the big names in Tolkienian art. Many of those cards informed my mental vision of the people, places, and things in the novel. I’ve still got all my cards, and sometimes I wish I could find someone to play with again.

I remember my favorite trick involved a card called “Sacrifice of Form,” which allowed you to sacrifice your wizard to defeat some terrible threat–usually a Nazgul, though I think I actually used it on the Balrog once or twice. You received a load of marshalling points for beating the monster, then got to revive your wizard on a later turn–and he would be more powerful than before. It’s analogous to the Gandalf the Gray/Gandalf the White transformation from the novel.

Another interesting thing about the game was that it included two wizards not mentioned in the novel, Alatar and Pallando, known as the “Blue Wizards” (and actually mentioned in some of Tolkien’s writings, such as Unfinished Tales). I often used them just for the novelty of it.

Unbelievably, the website that I consulted for information about the game waaaay back in 1996 is still online: Middle Earth: the Wizards Guide.

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