Tolkien Was a Genius

2284704I recently finished Daily Life in the Byzantine Empire, by Marcus Rautman. While reading about military life, I came across this passage:

Leo the Mathematician, a leading court scholar and inventor of the ninth century, established a chain of hilltop signal towards stretching from the palace in Constantinople to the Taurus mountains in southeast Asia Minor. Nine beacons spaced at intervals of 30 to 65 miles relayed a messages over a total distance of some 450 miles in only an hour’s time.

I read that and thought, “Hey, that’s like the beacons that Pippin lights in Return of the King when Gondor calls for aid!”

I love that scene. We see Pippin stepping up. The music and cinematography are lovely, and we end with Theoden stepping up too.

Want another Tolkien-history connection? Read about the 1529 Siege of Vienna, and then watch the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers.

History is so cool.

History hidden in a fantasy novel/movie is so fun.

Sometimes I’m asked to give writing advice, so here it is:  It doesn’t matter what genre you write. Reading about history will make you a better storyteller.




  1. Thanks for the tip. My dad is a history buff since he taught it all his life, but I’ve tended to only like history in novels (historical fiction). I’m a painfully slow non-fiction reader, but I’ll have to take your advice and push myself to read more histories instead of shying away from them

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could recommend a few good ones. And then you might want to check them out at the library so if you don’t like the style you can stop. Like fiction, some nonfiction is much more readable than others.


    2. Going through my goodreads lists and most of my recommendations are WWI/WWII (no surprise there, right?) Maybe something by Alex Kershaw or James D. Hornfisher? Some other good ones: We Die Alone by David Howarth, Combat Crew by James Comer, Flying Fury by James McCudden, A Higher Call by Adam Makos, No Parachute by Arthur Stanley Gould Lee, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz. It might help if you say you’ll read a chapter or two a day and still save time for fiction.


    3. Yeah, the chapter a day thing works best for me. I loved The Hiding Place. Thanks for all the suggestions. I will write those down. I also just got The LIghtless Sky in the mail about a refugee’s journey to England. I’m excited to read that. Also My Stroke of Insight I have on my list since my mom just had a stroke and I want to learn more about that. Thanks again. I’m going to try to do better at getting more nonfiction thrown into my lists each year.


  2. I read history nf/f to help create some of my RPG campaigns with friends. Just
    “Playing” out a military campaign with inspiration from history is a trip. Currently writing a resistance based game that includes a few industrial sabatoge missions, has given me the utmost respect for the people who carried them out in real life.

    Liked by 1 person

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