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Old 12-08-2002, 04:24 PM   #1
Mattius
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Sting Lord of the Rings- what a crappy title!

I was just thinking about this the other day. What exactly does 'The Lord of the Rings' mean and I thought for a bit and then decided, Sauron it must mean Sauron. Then I thought, why the hell would you title the greatest novel Sauron, especially with the fact that Sauron hardly appears in it. It would be like calling the Silmarillion "Morgoth". Now, I do admit that 'The Lord of the Rings' does have a, well, ring to it but I just wondered what other people thought. Maybe a better title (I can hear the sudden intake of air as I challenge something Tolkein has written) would have been "The War of the Ring" or something.

Anyone?
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Old 12-08-2002, 04:30 PM   #2
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Sting

For some reason, when thinking about who (or what) the "Lord of the Rings" are, I always end with the same character.
The One Ring. The Masterring, The "Lord" of the Rings.
It was above all other rings in Middle Earth and could be used to control a great deal of those.

And I would say that it is a main character in the book. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

[ December 08, 2002: Message edited by: Maikadilwen ]
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Old 12-08-2002, 04:41 PM   #3
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Didn't Tolkien have in mind another title? Perhaps someone could enlighten us.

I like the title for its ambiguity. Is it Sauron? I don't think that's the only way it could be taken. For example, as said above, it could be about attempting to master the power of the ring. Perhaps, its irony in that no one ultimately was the lord of the rings, not even Sauron, obviously, because in the end he was a big loser. I really don’t care for “The War of the Ring” because it lacks that hint of ambiguity, and makes it sound like a history lesson.

No matter what, it does have a pleasant ring (great pun, btw, Mattius!).
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Old 12-08-2002, 04:55 PM   #4
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Tolkien

I don't mind it. I don't think I ever took it to mean just Sauron, but I never thought about it much. Just say it out loud: The Lord of the Rings. If you say it right, doesn't it send a tingle up your spine? I've had it happen before [img]smilies/eek.gif[/img] Anyway, I think it was the perfect title and I'm not about to second guess Tolkien and think of a better one.
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Old 12-08-2002, 06:22 PM   #5
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Tolkien

Tolkien considered many titles for the six books that comprise "Lord of the Rings", and also different choices for the three parts that it was eventually divided up into. But I believe that "Lord of the Rings" was always the main title. He referred to it as "The Hobbit sequel" in his early letters about it, but I don't recall anything else.

As far as the meaning of "The Lord of the Rings", I think it's definitely Sauron (not the Ring itself, though that's an excellent idea) because of this passage from FotR:

Quote:
"Hurray!" cried Pippin, springing up. "Here is our noble cousin! Make way for Frodo, Lord of the Ring!"

"Hush!" said Gandalf from the shadows at the back of the porch. "Evil things do not come into this valley; but all the same we should not name them. The Lord of the Ring is not Frodo, but the Master of the Dark Tower of Mordor, whose power is again stretching out over the world! We are sitting in a fortress. Outside it is getting dark."

"Gandalf has been saying many cheerful things like that," said Pippin.
Granted, the title is plural and in this passage it isn't, but it's the only place (that I can recall) in which the phrase is uttered in any form.

As to whether I like it or not, I do. Even though it is not descriptive of the main characters, it is fitting because though Sauron never makes a physical appearance, he is constantly thought about and referred to. But mainly it sounds just plain cool, and makes you take notice.

Another ambiguous book title that I like is "To Kill a Mockingbird". Its meaning is not readily apparent, and it's only mentioned once in the actual book. But it is far catchier and poetic sounding than "The Memories of Scout" or something like that.

So don't overthink it...it's art. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

[ December 08, 2002: Message edited by: Diamond18 ]
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Old 12-08-2002, 11:22 PM   #6
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I'm pretty sure it's Sauron, mostly from the passage that Diamond already cited. (Especially since in the book Gandalf speaks of the Ring wanting to return to its master - if the Ring is the Lord of the Rings, then what on earth would its master be?)

"The Lord of the Rings" is actually a really good all-encompassing title, because that's where the germ of the story is. Think of Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca" (Last night I dreamt I went to Lorien again...oh, wait). The title character is someone who is dead before the book opens, but the only reason the story exists is because of things that she did and events that she set in motion; she's the kernel of the plot. Same with the Lord of the Rings; everything that happens in the story happens because he existed and because he made the Ring. Every single event. What other title could have included everything so thoroughly?
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Old 12-08-2002, 11:36 PM   #7
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The Lord of the Ring is not Frodo, but the Master of the Dark Tower of Mordor
Yes, Sauron is Lord of THE RING, but the ring is "Lord" of the RINGS.

Sauron had power over the One ring, but only through the ring was he able to control the other rings.
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Old 12-09-2002, 06:45 AM   #8
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So don't overthink it...it's art.
Truer words were never spoken, Diamond.

It's a lovely, all-incompassing title, and seems to have lured more than a few folk to pick up the book, which is what a good title is supposed to do.

Also, while technically correct, "The Lord of The Ring just doesn't "scan". Say it out loud, and you'll see that it doesn't have the same flow on the tongue as "The Lord of The Rings". There is an art to stringing words together, like jewels on a thread. The first example ends with a thud. The second example rolls off the tongue. Your mind almost wants to add that final "S".

And BTW: Tolkien did get it "right" on the title of the first book. It is "The Fellowship of The Ring".
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Old 12-09-2002, 07:22 AM   #9
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Sting

I actually don't like books with too obvious titels. In a good name, there is something that you don't quite understand until you've read the whole book. "The Lord of the Rings" is almost too easy for my taste! But still, you've got to love it. As Birdland pointed out, it really flows.In finnish it isn't half as beautiful : "Taru sormusten herrasta" (="The legend of the Lord of the Rings")Well, that's only our fault, for having a weird language. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]
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Old 12-09-2002, 10:59 AM   #10
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I went to a lecture on campus concerning Christianity and The Lord of the Rings, and the speaker mentioned that she believes the title actually refers to Eru, the true master of all, including the Rings of Power. I believe she also said that the choice of the plural word "Rings" rather than the singular "Ring" in the title supports her claim because it goes beyond the One Ring that receives most of the attention in the novel. The three Elvish rings were not under the control of Sauron in the book, and the keepers of these Rings certainly did not control the others. Many of the lesser rings had been lost. Who is left to be lord of them all, when no one entity seems to control them? It also fits well with the theme with a great, good, sovereign Power (Eru) doing His will ("Behind that there was something else at work, beyond the design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought." "Even the very wise cannot see all ends...My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill..."). Personally, I rather like this theory. (By the way, the speaker is a professor at a college and teaches a class on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. If only A&M students were so fortunate...)

[ December 09, 2002: Message edited by: ElanorGamgee ]
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Old 12-09-2002, 11:37 AM   #11
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Sting

The beauty of the title is that it scans in several ways, all relevant. It could mean Sauron, it could mean the Ring -- great idea, ! The basic plot turns on the question 'who will be the Lord of the Rings' ' i.e. who will end the book by either possessing the ring to wield it OR determining the ring's fate by destroying it, helping to destroy it, stumbling into destroying it, or organizing a fellowship that ultimately brings about its destruction. In other words, 'who will be lord of the Ring's fate?' A constant theme, especially in Boromir's fate and Galadriel's, Aragorn's and Frodo's temptations is 'what does it mean to be the Lord of the Rings?' -- would claiming that title only make the claimant into an imitation of Sauron?
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Old 12-09-2002, 11:40 AM   #12
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Sting

The book being titled 'Lord of the Rings' isn't really that out of place I suppose...there are a few rings in the story, Narya, Nenya, the One Ring...and other than that, it just....flows. Lord of the Ring just doesn't seem right.

But as Diamond18 said, don't overthink it.
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Old 12-09-2002, 07:13 PM   #13
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Thumbs up

Quote:
i.e. who will end the book by either possessing the ring to wield it OR determining the ring's fate by destroying it, helping to destroy it, stumbling into destroying it, or organizing a fellowship that ultimately brings about its destruction. In other words, 'who will be lord of the Ring's fate?'
Aha! I knew itthe title is referring to Gollum, the real Lord of the Ring. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] [img]smilies/tongue.gif[/img]
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Old 12-09-2002, 08:52 PM   #14
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In the council of Elond, Glorfindel says 'And even if we could, soon or late the Lord of the Rings would learn of its hiding place and would bend all his power toward it.' He is certainly talking about Sauron. He is the main character, if not for him there would be no one ring.
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Old 12-09-2002, 09:34 PM   #15
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Sting

My brother says the book(s) should have been called The Ringbearer. I think The One Ring, or perhaps merely The Fellowship of the Ring would have done. But I think it has to do with each person's struggle to overcome the desire to become the Lord of the Ring. Like Gandalf said "There is only one Lord of the Ring; only one who can bend it to his power. And He does not share power." But Frodo thought himself the Lord of the Ring in the end, as did Sam imagine himself to be for a brief time; Aragorn battled the desire, Boromir caved to it for a time. I think that's the design of the title. But it DOES seem like the guy who played Sauron in the movie should get more $$$ since the title seems to refer to him! [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]
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Old 12-10-2002, 12:54 AM   #16
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1420!

Just to be slightly picky (about the earlier point that Sauron can't technically be said to be the Lord of the Elven-Rings) isn't it implied early on - and no, I haven't got the book to hand, alas - that the Elves were rather overreaching themselves by making the Three? Not that the three were inherently bad the way the One was, but that they were getting a little too much hubris by doing this - and that the end result was that they ended up giving the store away to Sauron. Sorry, it's a bit late and I'm not thinking terribly clearly, but you could say that if that were the case, Sauron could be considered the Lord of the Rings because it was by his plotting and the hubris of the Elves that the Three fell under the One's domination. Or something along those lines.
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Old 12-10-2002, 09:30 AM   #17
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Sauron it must mean Sauron. Then I thought, why the hell would you title the greatest novel Sauron, especially with the fact that Sauron hardly appears in it. It would be like calling the Silmarillion "Morgoth".
Yes well i think that this passage sums it up sort of, it just wouldn't have worked any other way The Lord of the Rings just is fatefully perfect [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]

and yes Mortal Elf i know exactly what you mean it just makes ya shiver [img]smilies/eek.gif[/img]

[ December 10, 2002: Message edited by: Lady_Bin ]
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Old 12-10-2002, 12:45 PM   #18
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Sting

I think either the title refers to the One Ring, or everybody. Everybody who for a while held the Ring, or even just desired it, could be the Lord of the Rings. Sauron, Frodo, Galadriel, Sam, anybody. It's definately not Sauron alone. It's a fight to get that title, and until the One is destroyed, anybody can win. If the winner was clear from the beginning, the title should be different.
To shorten down, I believe the "Lord of the Rings" is referring to anybody.

[ December 10, 2002: Message edited by: Melephelwen ]
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Old 12-10-2002, 01:22 PM   #19
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I think either the title refers to the One Ring, or everybody. Everybody who for a while held the Ring, or even just desired it, could be the Lord of the Rings. Sauron, Frodo, Galadriel, Sam, anybody. It's definately not Sauron alone.
I must disagree with this, though I see the point being made.

Never, in the book(s) is anyone, other than Sauron, the master (if he is the master...i will get back to this later) of the Ring. From Isildur, to Gollum, to Bilbo, to Frodo, whoever wore/used the Ring, they were never the master of it. The Ring was merely allowing itself to be used. Now granted, it is said that the Ring did not intend for Bilbo or Frodo to be the bearer of it, but even then, they did not control the Ring. They had to resist being controlled by it

"The Ring answers to Sauron alone. It has no other master." --- Aragorn, son of Arathorn

To master something, you have complete control over it's movement, it's doings, and it's will. The bearers were able to control (to a point) when they put on the Ring, but they did not control the will of the Ring itself, ever.

Now, this is just an interesting thought I had:

is Sauron the master? Does the Ring have a master? The Ring corrupts, right? Well, Sauron came first, so he created the Ring and "poured in his malice, his cruelty, and his will to dominate." So the Ring has these traits. And how many stories and examples are there of the creation dominating the creator? I can think of several. The Ring corrupts the one who carries it. Sauron carried it, but he was already corrupted. He is the definition of corruption. So instead of being a master and a servant, you could more say they were a team. Or, as Gandalf said when talking to Frodo in Bag End: "They are One."

And about the book title: I think it is a very good title. It covers everything. Everyone was tempted and affected by the Ring, so it is not solely about one person. It is about the Ring, because none of this would have happened if the Ring had not come to be. It could mean Sauron, it could mean the Ring, and it could be referring to any one of the Fellowship/Ringbearers. It works. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 12-10-2002, 02:20 PM   #20
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It could mean Sauron, it could mean the Ring, and it could be referring to any one of the Fellowship/Ringbearers.
Actually, that was what I meant, though I didn't put it that clear. I'll go strait up editing my post, and try to put it better [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]
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Old 12-11-2002, 03:29 PM   #21
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The notion that the Lord of the Rings is the One Ring is inherently flawed for one reason.

The ring and Sauron are parts of each other. Sauron could not control the other rings with out the One Ring and the One Ring could not control the other rings with out Sauron. Since the 3 rings of the Elves were being used even while the One Ring still existed apart from Sauron. Galadriel had Nenya on with the One Ring a person away and she still resisted.

So the title I believe refers to Sauron with his Ring is the Lord of the Rings.

[ December 11, 2002: Message edited by: GreyIstar ]
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Old 12-11-2002, 05:53 PM   #22
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Sauron is the ring's master. It's stated in the books I believe. It wants to get back to him because it is a part of him. He put some of his former self into the ring.

And I think its a great title, Lord of the Rings, it has a certain ring to it and just yells to me: GLORIOUS EPIC AND ADVENTURE!!!

Hard to say why, though maybe becaues it's such a great book. I bet if it was called "A Hole in the Ground" I would then say the title was great because the book was great.
[img]smilies/rolleyes.gif[/img]

[ December 11, 2002: Message edited by: -Imrahil- ]
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Old 12-19-2002, 03:51 AM   #23
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he he...you set me thinking about the title...and well the Lord of the ring literally refers to Sauron but figuratively speaking refers to Frodo...(in my opinion) just being a small hobbit unknown to the world he managed to hold the ring in his safe grip during a journey full of adventures!!! What do you think?? [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 12-22-2002, 01:21 AM   #24
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Sting

Gah, I was going to say what Diamond18 said, but she beat me to it. I was thinking that it should have been named the Red Book as it was presummably actually named at the end of Return of the King.
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Old 12-22-2002, 01:54 AM   #25
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As somebody said earlier "War of the Ring" sounds kinda like a history leeson.But I think Lord of the Rings suits it reffering to Sauron,but also everything that happens to eventuate the downfall of Sauron.
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Old 12-26-2002, 09:44 PM   #26
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The War of the Ring is a pretty boring title. More suited to the historical book that Frodo and Bilbo write. The Lord of the Rings has an air of mystery about it, precisely because it's about someone elusive, that we don't really see anything of in the book. If all books were titled by what happens in them, then we'd have classics like "Ahab Hunts a Whale", or "The Adventures of Jesus". Great.
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Old 12-28-2002, 12:16 AM   #27
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I like the full title as it appeared in Frodo's book: The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King.

A bit of a mouthfull, though. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] Imagine us trying to type that over and over: tDotLotRatRotK.
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Old 12-28-2002, 02:38 AM   #28
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Hmmmm i think its an excellent title! i mean in the end its all about the rings isnt it? and the lord (obviosuly sauron) [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 02-24-2008, 11:10 AM   #29
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Reviving a thread- though maybe not one with a good title!

I think people 5 years later might have some different ideas.

But it is an amazing title. It just fits really welll, and the words ring (no pun intended) nicely. It might refer to the struggle of who is the lord of the ring, or who wants it, and tries to get, which is what I thought until I read this.

BUT

I like ElanorGamgee's idea, as this could also refer to "Morgoth's Ring" and maybe even, far more obscurely, "the circles of the world". Obviously it has endless suggestios if you look at it as referring to Eru.
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Old 02-24-2008, 12:20 PM   #30
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Yes, but... what can I say? It is very obvious indeed from the text that the "Lord of the Rings" is not Eru. Remember, the "full" title is The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King.

Would Eru like to be referred to as the "The master of the Dark Tower of Mordor"? Are the Ringwraiths on his payroll?:

Quote:
"...for the Black Riders are the Ringwraiths, the Nine Servants of the Lord of the Rings."
–Gandalf in Many Meetings.

If the Ring were sent into Tom Bombadil's keeping, would Eru react thus?:

Quote:
"...soon or late the Lord of the Rings would learn of its hiding place and would bend all his power towards it? I think not. I think that in the end, if all else is conquered, Bombadil will fall, Last as he was First; and then Night will come."
–Glorfindel in The Council of Elrond.

I mean, the idea cited by ElanorGamgee is all very pretty and ingenious– until you look for evidence. Then your only way out is to decide that Tolkien was secretly writing a "God is Evil" story.

Or you could decide to shave with Occam's Razor, in which case:

–The title refers to the main villain, who despite never making a direct appearance, is absolutely vital to the plot; it's very much a bad guy-driven story. I mean, think about it: without Sauron, nothing in the story would have happened!

–It may, as you (Eönwë) say, also have the secondary meaning of "the struggle of who is the lord of the ring, or who wants it".

I think the confusion about the meaning of the title– of which there seemed to be a great deal when the movies first came out– arose because some of the new fans were perhaps fairly unsophisticated. Note the initial poster's shock at the idea of naming a story after the villain, which is actually not that unusual.
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Old 02-24-2008, 01:54 PM   #31
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The problem with a lot of the alternate titles posed is that they almost lead to confusion with existing titles. The Ringbearer sound a bit too much like it shold be a volume of the Neibelung cycle. The War of the Rings does sound a bit too much like a history lesson (maybe becuse it is so like the War of the Roses) The Quest of the Ring (mine)or The Journey of of the Ring (mine again) don't sound terrible but seem to suggest that the jorny was to obtain the Ring not destroy it. The Ring of Doom or The Ring of Darkness ((another one of mine) sound a bit to much like a trashy novel or B-movie. Tolkein own The Red Book of Westmarch just sounds dull. Maybe LOTR is a story so epic that no imaginalbe title is adequate.
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Old 02-24-2008, 02:27 PM   #32
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TThe Ring of Darkness [/I]((another one of mine) sound a bit to much like a trashy novel or B-movie.
How about Crack of Doom?
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Old 02-24-2008, 02:42 PM   #33
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How about Crack of Doom?
What can anyone say to that
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Old 02-24-2008, 02:51 PM   #34
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Or maybe...

The Life and Times of Frodo Baggins: The epic tale that chronicles the journey of pain, torture, and suffering of a tiny hobbit in pursuit of destroying Sauron; the Dark Lord who represents all that is soul-less and wrong.

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Old 02-24-2008, 02:58 PM   #35
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Or maybe just write the whole book as the title.

edit: Kind of fits in with Alfirin's:

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Maybe LOTR is a story so epic that no imaginalbe title is adequate.
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