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Memoirs of Composer Chance Thomas

Chapter 15 - Sneak Peek Excerpt


A loud knock at the door startled me. I was reviewing a newly mastered soundtrack album, lost in a dance of sonic colors, oblivious to the world around me. Shaken from my reverie, I pushed the pause button and opened the door, welcoming Daniel James into my studio. Daniel was a new hire at Sierra Online, where I worked as Senior Music Producer. He had been brought onboard to assist with the design of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth Online (MEO), the company’s top secret new online game.  

First impressions are unfiltered, and with a glance I liked Daniel already. He was a lanky Brit with mischievous eyes and a crooked smile, topped with a messy mop of brown ringlets, scraggled in every possible direction. Cradled in his left arm was a pile of books.  

He plopped the books on my desk. “Your summer reading material,” he announced. 

Unevenly stacked from top to bottom were five thick paperbacks from Ballentine Publishing: The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, and The Silmarillion. It was a formidable stack.

Daniel announced his intention to make MEO into a truly spectacular game. He raved about the source material in the books, unrivaled in all the world of fantasy. "Besides," he explained, "Sierra’s video game license is based exclusively on J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings, so everyone on the game team needs to be thoroughly versed in this literature." I had been appointed to tackle MEO as my next project. It was a dream come true, an appointment I had lobbied for vigorously.   

Daniel and I spent the better part of an hour discussing his vision for the game, and as we concluded, I said I looked forward to receiving my marching orders. He pointed an eager finger toward the pile of books on my desk and said, “Orders received!” 


This was the summer of 1998 and I will admit, at almost 37 years old, I had never read The Lord of the Rings. Of course, The Hobbit was familiar from my seventh grade English class. But most of its details had long faded from memory. This embarking would take me through mostly virgin territory, an unpredisposed journey to the final chapters. I fanned the five books across the desk and instinctively drew The Fellowship of the Ring towards my chest. “Yes,” I thought. “This is where I will begin my exploration.” I turned back the cover, and thumbed through the first few pages. They felt crisp with newness between my fingers. I settled on page seven, where the following words were printed in italics: 

     Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, 
     Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, 
     Nine for Mortal Men, doomed to die, 
     One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne 
     In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. 
     One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, 
     One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. 
     In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

My LOTR journey had begun.