Posted in Adventures in The Primortus Zone

Would You Rather…be an Elf or a Hobbit?

The eponymous Fellowship from left to right: (...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consider this…

Rivendell or Hobbiton?

Elven Bread or Po-ta-toes?

Immortality or Longevity?

Tall or Vertically Challenged?

Pointy Ears or Hairy Feet?

My twitter profile says I’m an elf in a hobbit body (no, I don’t have hairy feet…I’m short) and to tell the truth, deep down I feel a kinship with those fun loving hobbits. So, here’s a little diddy about one of the most famous hobbits of all. The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins by none other than Leonard Nimoy.

 

Posted in Adventures in The Primortus Zone

Five Things You Might Not Know About New Zealand

 

Image

 

1.  The Maori name for N.Z. is ‘Aotearoa’

It means “the land of the long white cloud”

IMG_3651c
IMG_3651c (Photo credit: mollydot)

2. In 1893, New Zealand became the first Country to give women the right to vote

new zealand traffic jam 1
new zealand traffic jam 1 (Photo credit: kidicarus222)

3. New Zealanders are outnumbered by sheep

In fact, there are around 5 sheep per person 

22 Jun - My bookshop Beattie & Forbes
22 Jun – My bookshop Beattie & Forbes (Photo credit: catspyjamasnz)

4. There are more book stores per person than any other country about one for every 7500 people.

Gandalf
Gandalf (Photo credit: San Diego Shooter)

5. New Zealand is more than Middle Earth

“That was the big effect Lord of the Rings had on me. It was discovering New Zealand.  And even more precious were the people not all like the Australians.”- Ian Mckellen

The following is an excerpt from Eleventh Elementum, Book One of the Primortus Chronicles. 

Skylee set down her suitcase, dropped her backpack onto the bed and threw herself back against the soft pillows.  She was happy to finally be in New Zealand.  The flight had been exhausting, not the plane-ride itself, but the seventeen-plus hours of listening to Chrism complaining, whereas Skylee only had one complaint.  The fact that she had to share her Luck-E-Chocs with everyone and now she was down to two pieces.  However, her sister had enough grievances to create a list, which included the seating, the food, the ‘stupid’ movie choices and the poor service.

At one point during their flight Skylee had pretended to be asleep, which only gave Chrism several hours to flirt with Will.  She had read to him endlessly from her V-phone about New Zealand’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie locations.  Will sat attentively smiling and nodding at her the whole time.  During the unfortunate episode, Skylee found herself becoming increasingly annoyed with her new stepsister.

She didn’t know why.  It couldn’t be jealousy, not over Will.  What was there to be jealous about?  At least that’s what she told herself.

Now Skylee was alone for the first time in days, and it felt nice.  Her mind immediately turned to the book, which she had carefully concealed inside her backpack.  Luckily Chrism hadn’t noticed when she cut the lining to create a secret hiding place.  A couple of times she had even snuck a look at the book, but she couldn’t find the privacy to really examine it as she wished.  She knew it was pointless to fish it out now since Chrism would arrive at any moment.  Exhaling loudly she relaxed into the fluffy pillows, picking up a brochure from the bedside table.  She read.

Visit Ancient Maori Village

Long ago, the land was covered by rainforests…

the calls of the laughing owl and the giant Mao filled the air…

the Maori people knew no fear   Step back in time…

You’ll fall in love with New Zealand. 

            She studied the glossy pamphlet and three words seemed to jump out at her.  Fall in love. Surely they don’t think you can fall in love with a place.  Or do they? she pondered.  She didn’t think so.  She wasn’t sure she even believed in falling in love.

 

 

Posted in Adventures in The Primortus Zone

Power of Fandom

“I am looking for someone to share in an adven...

Those of you who have been living under a rock might ask…What is a fandom?

The following short video explains it in the words of the fans themselves.

 

It’s every author’s dream to have a host of fans that are willing to step up and fight for your book character.  That’s what happened last week when little Bilbo Baggins found himself in an epic battle with none other than Snow White.  The two characters were nominated for the award of Best Hero by MTV.  For a while it looked like Snow would win.  Then a real battle broke out between the “Ringers” and the “Twihards”, otherwise known as LOTR’s and Twilight fans.

 

So who won MTV’s Best Hero Award?  Bilbo Baggins…let the party begin!   We can’t help but wonder if J.R.R. Tolkien is doing a hobbit dance somewhere up there.

 

 

Posted in Adventures in The Primortus Zone, Nature Facts

World’s Largest Creepy Crawler

 

WETA BUG

 

Cook Strait Giant Weta

Why are we talking about Weta bugs?  Because in Book One of The Primortus Chronicles we encounter one of these amazing insects.  So let’s find out a “little” more about a “big” bug.    

The following is from AsianScientist:Source Animal Planet (Dec. 7, 2011) – An American researcher at the Smithsonian Institution says he has found the world’s biggest bug on New Zealand’s Little Barrier Island.

The insect has a wing span of around 18 centimeters (7 inches) and weighs three times as much as a mouse. It was thought to be extinct after European settlers brought rats to New Zealand.

The giant weta bug was found by 53-year-old entomologist and photojournalist Mark Moffett, who has been called the Indiana Jones of Entomology by the National Geographic Society.

“Three of us walked the trails of this small island for two nights scanning the vegetation for a giant weta. We spent many hours with no luck finding any at all, before we saw her up in a tree,” he said.

However, Moffett did what a responsible explorer would do – he returned the bug right where he found it.

Did you know that Weta Digital (visual effects studio for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit films) is named after these creatures? 

2008-11-09, Wellington The Weta Shop sells boo...
2008-11-09, Wellington The Weta Shop sells books and collectable items just next to the Weta Digital studio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Warning this part is totally disgusting!!!

Don’t worry there are about 70 species of bug that go by the name weta.  And I’m told Bear didn’t eat one of the endangered types. Well, let’s hope so!!

The following is an excerpt from Eleventh Elemetum: 

            Chrism let out a loud gasp, pointed at Will and yelled, “BUG!”

            Everyone froze.  There, sitting on his shoulder, was the largest bug Skylee had seen in her entire life. The brown creature resembled a giant cricket with long hairy looking legs.  It was so big in fact, that if Skylee could have mustered up the courage to pick it up it would have barely fit on her palm.  Usually Skylee wasn’t afraid of insects but she found herself taking a small step back as chill bumps rushed over her arms.

            Will slowly craned his neck around and was eye to eye with the enormous insect.  He closed his eyes for a split second and when he reopened them, they were as wide as saucers.  He looked straight ahead and didn’t dare move an inch.

            “KILL IT!  KILL IT!” screeched Chrism.

            “NO, don’t!  Don’t hurt it,” ordered Nika, holding her hands up.

            “Maybe it will jump off,” Skylee quickly said as she considered how she might use the power of the Elementum to control the huge creature.  

            “What should I do?” whispered Will trying not to disturb it.

            “Hold still mate,” said Airon with a bewildered look on his face. “Crikey, what is the bloody thing?”

            “It’s a weta bug.  I haven’t seen one in years,” said Hera in a hushed voice.  “They—they almost went extinct after The Day.  So, we should try not to harm it.”

            “Weta-bug?  Well, do they bite?” asked Airon curiously.

            “I don’t think so, unless they’re feeling threatened,” said Heather.  “Stay still.  Let’s think, what can we do to keep from harming it?”

            “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?  SOMEBODY, JUST SMACK THAT UGLY THING!” screamed Chrism frantically shaking her hands in front of her.

            “Hey, I’ve read about these,” said Skylee, leaning in for a better look. “There are lots of different species.  They’re flightless so, I don’t think it will jump off.  It must have crawled on your shoulder when we were under the trees.  Oh, do you think it is a tree weta?”

“Possible, yes,” answered Heather.

“They’re nocturnal, normally.  Will, you must have woke him up,” Skylee said smiling at the bug. 

“Hopefully, he’s a good sport about it,” he replied as he glanced at her.

“He seems okay, he hasn’t raised his back legs in defense, so you should be okay.”

She placed her hand over her necklace, hoping she could use her power without having to pull it out for everyone to see.  She might be able to control the weta.  Skylee searched her mind for the right thoughts to concentrate on.

            Almost at the same time, Zane bounded up to Will.  He smiled broadly and bent forward looking closely at the bug.  Then to everyone’s amazement, he calmly picked the gigantic insect up and looked admiringly at it.

            “Well, take a gawk at that!” he exclaimed.  “I thought I’d never see a weta bug again.  Little fella, you better find somewhere else to sit.  I’m afraid you’re not welcome here.” He walked over to a tree and carefully placed the bug on a branch.

            “Little,” gasped Chrism.  “You call that terrible monstrosity little?”

            Zane started to speak but Will reached out and placed his hand on his shoulder.  “Thanks, mate. I wasn’t scarred of it or anything but I just, well I didn‘t…”  

            “Of course,” he said as he patted Will on the back then turned his attention to Chrism.  “Let me clue you in on a secret, little lady.  What you call a terrible monstrosity is a survivor and we should all consider ourselves lucky to have seen it.”

            “That’s right,” said Hera nodding her head.  “It’s a sign…a cause for hope.”

            Chrism’s eyes got big.  “I don’t get it!  You’re saying that awful looking thing is some sort of special sign?”

            “Don’t you see?” said Skylee.  “The weta bug means the natural world is continuing to recover—the planet is healing.”

            Her stepsister rolled her eyes and said, “Okay, okay you don’t have to go all environmentalist wacko on me. I get it, that gross, horrid bug is mankind’s link to utopia, yeah, whatever.

            “No, it’s not like that,” said Skylee, frowning.  “You don’t understand.”

            “Yeah, I do, ” Chrism shot back.  “But what I’m trying to comprehend is why Weta Studios is named after something that hideous.  Go figure.” 

            Before Skylee could respond, Hera and Nika chimed in and tried to get through to her, explaining the significance of protecting the fragile environment.  Skylee’s heart sank for she could see from Chrism’s bored expression that their words fell on deaf ears. 

 

 

Posted in Adventures in The Primortus Zone

Hobbiton

Visiting Hobbiton

Hobbiton
Hobbiton (Photo credit: Jakob Steinschaden)

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats – the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill – The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it – and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

J. R. R. TolkienThe Hobbit

In 2005 I was lucky enough to visit Hobbiton while on a trip to New Zealand.  Departing from Auckland by car, we proceeded south to Matamata and toured the “Lord of The Rings filming location for The Shire.  It turns out that there are hobbits who look amazingly enough like my family. It must be a parallel universe or something. Click this link to see if you agree.

shimHobbits?

Read an excerpt from Eleventh Elementum where the characters visit Hobbiton.

The next morning, Skylee, feeling as if she had just lain down to go to sleep, was awakened by her V-phone.

“Hello,” she groggily said.  “Huh, oh…Mom.  What time is it?”

It was five o’clock in the morning.  Her mother, who was speaking in a very perky voice for such an ungodly hour, was telling her to wake Chrism up so they could get an early start.

“Are you sure?” Skylee said, looking over at the lump in the next bed.  “I don’t think she’s going to like it.”

But she did, because as it turned out Chrism’s attempt at emotional blackmail on the previous evening had actually worked.  Their parents were going to allow a stopover on their way to the farm in a town called Matamata, otherwise known as Hobbiton or the Shire.

A few hours later Skylee, Chrism, their parents, Ann and Will filed off a long hover-shuttle and onto the set from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies.  Skylee felt slightly uncomfortable wearing a fancy white blouse, which Chrism had insisted she borrow.  Apparently none of her own clothes were nice enough to wear to The Shire.  And unfortunately her long, curly hair had been so tangled that morning that all she could do was pull it into a messy ponytail.  At least she had on her favorite, comfy jeans and best fitting tennis shoes.

In contrast, her sister was dressed in a flowing sapphire colored sundress with shiny silver sandals.  And she didn’t have a hair out of place.

“Oh my gosh! It’s the party tree,” squealed Chrism in delight as she pointed at a large oak, which was standing by a small lake.  “I can’t believe it survived The Day and look at those cute little Hobbit holes.  Oh, I think that one over there is Bag End.”

“Wow, it’s gorgeous,” said Skylee, looking across the lake at the lush green hills.

As their parents and Ann followed the tour guide down the path, Chrism grasped Will by the hand and took off toward the Hobbit holes.  For a moment Skylee thought about heading in the opposite direction.  But today, nothing was going to go wrong, even if she did have to watch her stepsister flirt with Will across all of Hobbiton.  It was better than being knifed and falling off a tower.

Most of Skylee’s time at The Shire was spent taking photos of her stepsister.  Chrism peering into a Hobbit hole…Chrism peering out of a Hobbit hole…Chrism hugging the party tree…and of course Chrism holding hands with Will beneath the “Welcome to Hobbit” sign.

The afternoon sun was baking the top of Skylee’s head by the time they walked back to their auto-glider.  She was glad to get into the air-conditioned passengers compartment of their vehicle.  But the journey from Hobbiton to Cook’s Farm in Rotorua was anything but comfortable.

In fact, it had her remembering her studies of the Spanish Inquisition.  As they glided along each relative took a turn and grilled her about what happened at the Sky Tower.  She felt she could relate to those poor people who had been unmercifully questioned by the inquisitors.  Will was the worst of them all, asking the same questions time and time again, mostly about the guide.  When Chrism began loudly reading from her V-phone about Lord of the Rings and Hobbit filming locations their questioning stopped at long last.  Skylee wasn’t sure if Chrism had taken pity on her and purposely distracted them or if she was tired of Skylee getting all the attention, either way she was thankful.

Posted in Book Reviews

The Hobbit, Again.

 

The Hobbit book

5 stars

There and back again…How could I resist returning to Middle Earth for an adventure? Especially since I’ve co-authored a fantasy/adventure set in New Zealand myself. Truth be told. I remember reading (well, sort of skimming) The Hobbit in my childhood and sadly I didn’t appreciate J.R.R. Tolkien‘s flawless storytelling back then. But this time as I followed little Bilbo Baggins on his dangerous journey I was in awe of the author’s rich and imaginative use of words. But I also couldn’t help wondering how this sweet fairytale would’ve been received were it to have been written in 2013.

 
Would today’s reviewers criticize Tolkien about the character of Bard popping up out of nowhere to play such an important part? *No spoilers here*  But it truly gave me pause as I read the “Fire and Water” chapter. Is it just me, or does it seem kind of anticlimactic? Then again, maybe Tolkien’s ability to use a humble hero like Bilbo in a way you might not expect is what makes The Hobbit so brilliant!

So even if you’ve read it before, it’s definitely worth going “there and back again!”

Posted in Adventures in The Primortus Zone

4 AMAZING MYTHICAL WORLDS (you can actually visit)

MIDDLE EARTH

Hobbit hole

When J.R.R. Tolkien created the world of The Shire, Rivendell, Rohan and Mordor he breathed life into an enchanted place. Who wouldn’t want to stroll across those lush green fields and knock on Bilbo Baggins round door? Or maybe go for a adventurous climb over the White Mountains? But in more recent years Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Ring’s and Hobbit films have made Middle Earth an actual place, New Zealand.  And the following quote seems to confirm that Tolkien meant it to be just that…real.

“I am historically minded. Middle-earth is not an imaginary world. The name is the modern form (appearing in the 13th century) of midden-erd>middel-erd, an ancient name for the oikoumene, the abiding place of Men, the objectively real world, in use specifically opposed to imaginary worlds (as Fairyland) or unseen worlds (as Heaven or Hell). The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary. The essentials of that abiding place are all there (at any rate for inhabitants of N.W. Europe), so naturally it feels familiar, even if a little glorified by enchantment of distance in time.  J.R.R.Tolkien

Now you can go for a tour of Hobbiton in Matamata, NZ. and have a mug of ale at The Green Dragon.

http://www.hobbitontours.com/

LAND OF OZ

Emerald City

L. Frank Baum wrote fourteen children’s books and six shorter stories set in his wonderful land of Oz.  It’s a magical place with Munchkin Country, The Yellow Brick Road and The Emerald City.  Of course, with the fresh release of Oz, the Great and Powerful, you can see it all in 3D.  But have you heard of The Land of OZ park at Beech Mountain, NC?  It operated as a small theme park from 1970-1980.  And it’s now available for personal tours, birthday parties and private functions.  The enchanting private garden is perched atop the 5,506 ft. mountain.  So you really can take a trip over the rainbow and follow the yellow brick road right to the doors of Emerald City.

http://www.romanticasheville.com/land_of_oz.htm

CAMELOT

Camelot, an illustration for Idylls of the King

It’s first mention in the poem “Lancelot, The Knight of the Cart” gave no indication that it would become the kingdom of the legendary King Arthur and his queen Guinevere.

Upon a certain Ascension Day King Arthur had come from Caerleon, and had held a very magnificent court at Camelot as was fitting on such a day. 

The word Camelot brings about visions of magnificent castles, misty forests, and the knights of the round table.   But today if brings to mind Merlin, the BBC fantasy-adventure television program filmed in Wales and France.  The castle used in the series is Le Château de Pierrefonds vu depuis le Parc located in Oise, France.

http://pierrefonds.monuments-nationaux.fr/en

HOGSMEADE & HOGWARTS

English: Hogwarts Castle in the Wizarding Worl...

A fantastic village inhabited solely by magical beings.  Just down the road from the Hogwarts school, near the Hogwarts Express train station, it’s a picturesque little town of thatched cottages and shops.

“They make a fuss about Hogsmeade, but I assure you, Harry, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. All right, the sweetshop’s rather good, and Zonko’s Joke Shop’s frankly dangerous, and yes, the Shrieking Shack’s always worth a visit, but really, Harry, apart from that, you’re not missing anything.” 
Percy Weasley

“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” J.K. Rowlings

Now you can stroll down the cobblestone streets, buy a chocolate frog from Honeydukes Candy Shop, drink a butter beer at The Three Broomsticks, and pick up a wand at  Ollivanders Wand Shop at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida.

https://www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/

Can you think of others?

THE PRIMORTUS CHRONICLES ARE SET IN A MYTHICAL WORLD OF THEIR OWN.

A magical mixture of post-apocalypse, futuristic and the real world, well, sort of.  From the shining city of New Washington to the candlelit village of Dunedinshire it’s overflowing with strange delights and mysterious places.  

Posted in Adventures in The Primortus Zone

Adventurous Valentines Day

Sky-Tower Auckland (New Zealand)
Sky-Tower Auckland (New Zealand) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ahh..Falling in Love.  Heart racing, palms sweating, stomach churning, wait!  Sounds more like a death deifying bungee jump than love.  And that’s exactly what some thrill seeking couples do.  Just check out this video if you don’t believe it.

Looking for some adventurous ideas this Valentines Day?  Here’s a few pulse raising ideas.

1. Snow Zorbing for Two.  Head for Manchester, UK and roll down a ski slope in a giant inflatable ball.  Reaching speeds of up to 30mph, you’ll feel 4Gs of pressure hit you as you hurtle down the UK’s longest indoor real snow slope.

http://www.buyagift.co.uk/Adventure/Snow-Zorbing-for-One-Week-round-BR-10119856.aspx

2.  Stay in a Hobbit Hole.  Believe it or not there is an actual Hobbit hole vacation rental in Montana, USA.   Okay, maybe this isn’t as adventurous as some of the other things on our list but if your sweetheart is a LOTR’s and Hobbit fan you’ll score BIG POINTS!

http://hobbithouseofmontana.com/

3.  Zip Line Over Gators.  At the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida you can zip through the treetops with live alligators and crocodiles right under your toes.  Clinging tightly to each other might be romantic?

http://www.alligatorfarm.com/crocodilecrossing.html

4. Couples Surf Lessons.  This year you could trick your sweetheart with a “Surftificate” for the two of you to learn to surf together.  Then head for your favorite beach and hang twenty.

5. Tandem Bungee Jump.  The Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand is a beautiful spot to take the plunge.  And unlike some of the other bungee places the two of you can unhook and go right back up for a romantic dinner in the sky.

http://www.skycityauckland.co.nz/Attractions/Skytower.html

So there you have it, FIVE WAYS TO SPICE THINGS UP!  Did you know that one of the adventures in this list was inspired by  a scene from Eleventh Elementum ?  One of the characters has a hair raising bungee jump from the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand.

J.L. Bond