Today, I bring you the Dwarrow Scholar, a blog run by Roy, also known as Kandral on the Laurelin server. As you will see, Roy is a great lover of dwarves and has spent years exploring and speculating about their largely secret culture.
Viking: First, how did you develop your obvious love for the Dwarvish culture?
Roy: When I was a kid my uncle gave me The Hobbit to read. I instantly fell in love with Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. At a specific point in the book Bilbo and the dwarves arrive in Rivendell and are bullied somewhat by the elves. I remember I was utterly disgusted as a kid by how the elves called Bilbo fat and made fun of the dwarves having beards. I just couldn’t stand (and still can’t) that kind of behavior. Obviously as a kid I overreacted there, but anyhow, at the time I instantly understood why the dwarves didn’t like those elves… and from there the dwarven appreciation began to grow. By the end of the story I was utterly sold. The next week I went to the library and got me The Lord of the Rings. Also the fact that so much about the Dwarves was secret, well that spurred me on even more to get to the heart of it. It happens frequently that I reread the Hobbit or LoTR and something new catches my eye, then I’m off again searching all I can about that detail. Now, a good 20 years on since I first read the Hobbit the covers of many of my Tolkien paperbacks look like they survived an attack by Orcs. But it feels like Thorin, Gimli and many other dwarves survived it with me… true brothers by now.
Viking: You’ve done an amazing job putting together more information about things Dwarvish than I thought possible. What are your sources for all of this?
Roy: Thank you. I’ve tried to post all I have found over the years in separate articles, if that helps anyone to find out more about the dwarves then mission accomplished I guess. The idea behind this blog has always been “let’s try to get an answer to our questions about the dwarves”. The main sources for answers are the works of J.R.R Tolkien and his son Christopher, without a doubt. The appendixes and History of Middle-Earth series provide a wealth of information, amongst others. As secondary sources the films and dozens of articles by Tolkien experts are used to fill in blanks. All depending on the topic, I might use other sources to fill in blanks, if I believe it is relevant and feel that it adds value and is true to what we know so far. My point has always been to give answers, bring forward theories and shed more light, sometimes Tolkien’s word will do perfectly, other times a variety of sources are pulled in, including my own thoughts on the topic.
Viking: I had thought that Khuzdul was a largely undeveloped language but you have lessons posted on your blog. Was this pieced together from various Tolkien sources or has someone been developing the language independently?
Roy: It is correct that Tolkien wrote little Khuzdul, especially when you compare it to Quenya or Sindarin. Based on Tolkien’s work on the language other linguists such as David Salo have done tremendous work to expand the vocabulary of the language true to the style and feel of the language… creating what is referred to as “Neo-Khuzdul”. Using that as a base and incorporating the khuzdul of LOTRO and the theories and writings of various Tolkien sources, I’ve created these lessons, mainly with dwarven RP-ers in mind.
Viking: One of the most interesting posts was the one about the sign language. Where in particular did that come from, and is that form of the language being worked on in some way?
Roy: Thank you. I didn’t come up with Iglishmêk – the dwarven sign language – it is directly from Tolkien’s works in fact. I’ve always wondered about it, as unfortunately Tolkien wrote very little about it, hence the post on it after doing some research. I don’t believe any one has ever developed it further apart from the few signs we know… I might take that on as a little side project one of these weeks or months, but it isn’t on my agenda at the moment.
Viking: Obviously you are a dwarf in LOTRO. How accurate is LOTRO’s portrayal of dwarvish culture?
Roy: Yes, I am. Proud member of Durin’s Folk kin in fact, a fantastic dwarven kin on the Laurelin server. Truly a joy and honor to be amongst such excellent Longbeards. I’ve always found Turbine’s portrayal of what we know about the dwarves to be surprisingly accurate. On more then one occasion I believe they even add to the known culture through their fantastic interpretation of dwarven architecture. Also looking forward to their revamp of Moria coming in the next update. And with that said, I truly hope Turbine will soon reveal their plans to create the Lonely Mountain region – with The Hobbit coming out soon one can only hope and pray.
Viking: And are there any female dwarves in LOTRO?
Roy: Yes, though you only have the option “male” when creating a dwarven character in LOTRO I know of several RP-ers that have created female dwarven characters. Though I must say they are rare and if you didn’t read the biography or RP with them you likely wouldn’t know either.
Viking: And finally, what exactly does crispy batwing taste like?
Roy: Strange you should ask, as I’ve actively been looking to find restaurant that serve these exotic dishes. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any restaurants nearby that serve crispy fried batwing… I assure you I would order it straight away given the chance. One thing I will do soon though is go to a restaurant that serves crickets-on-a-stick – another likely dwarven delight, I’ve found one not too far from where I live in Brussels and just must give that a go. After all, writing about it is one thing, but would rather tell you all what it really tastes like – hope to update you all on that soon.