Tolkien’s Medievalism according to Cantor According to Turbine

In Inventing the Middle Ages, Cantor makes a very specific argument concerning just what Tolkien was trying to accomplish, and what he did accomplish, with his series The Lord of the Rings. Specifically, Cantor argues that it “can be read as an argument against the mechanistic state and society that commit evil even when their intentions are good” (230). While this is true of the book, is it true of the game?

I am afraid that my answer may be that it’s too early to tell. So far, I haven’t encountered anything mechanized whatsoever. The main villain, a wily dwarf, seems to be dabbling a lot more in magic than machine, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see him animate some sort of dark contraptions somehow. However, the unintentional evil is there. During the introductory quests, there begin to be rumors of a dwarf doing something that he shouldn’t be. There is a lot of talk of “restoring the old glory” of the dwarves, which is a noble ideal, even one that Tolkien might approve of. However, ultimately this quest to restore glory leads to betrayal, with an evil spirit animating a dwarf corpse and convincing his followers that it is truly the old dwarf come back. So, the dwarf quest for glory ends with the raising of an Anti-Christ figure, just as Frederick II’s story goes in Kantorowicz’s masterpiece.

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