Build-up to Bree

Friday, October 17, 2008

My first sight of Bree came about whilst I was in closed beta. But I'm getting a head of myself. At that time, there was only the man starter area open. This took place in a little town called Archet, northeast of Bree. The quests here were designed to take you from Archet to Combe, then to Bree, with an optional detour into Staddle, a hobbit town east of Bree.

Being the completionist and quest-a-holic that I am, I took the detour to Staddle first before heading into Bree. You can enter Bree from the Staddle gate or the Combe gate. What's cool about the former is that as you come over the hill from Combe, and enter through the gate, much of Bree is laid out before you. Center in your view is the boar fountain, anchoring a market area.

Now, Bree isn't the most spectacular of locations in Middle-Earth. If you clicked the links in Middle-Earth the Beautiful post you'll see how evident that is. However, Bree has a cozy quality to it. Tight-knit buildings, shoulder to shoulder, pathways that turn in on themselves, a bustling little town.

And of course there's the Prancing Pony, the inn run by Barlimon Butterbur and a defining moment for Frodo and Co as they first meet Aragorn in the guise of Strider. At that time, the town was both a refuge and a danger. Southrons turned by Sauron and Saruman hunted for the hobbits - and a greater menace, the Ringwraiths, scoured the land for Baggins as well. It was a time where you could trust no-one, and who was this mysterious ranger called Strider.

I remember the moment vividly from the books, so to be able to visit this iconic and eventful city gave me great joy. Walking into Bree, seeing the sign of the Prancing Pony hanging on the inn, was the first moment that hit me with the fact that I was truely experiencing Middle-Earth, and not just some generic fantasy world. Bree brought me into Middle-Earth, and from there the majesty of this place opened up for me... Hobbiton in the Shire, Bag-End, Thorin's Hall, Weathertop, the Fords of the Bruinen, Rivendell... it was all there to see and experience. It wasn't about questing or zones or any of that. It was simply about seeing these places. And it all started with the simple town of Bree close to 2 years ago.

1 Responses:

Stephen Says:

Yes! I had the exact same experience. Man, that first time I wandered into Bree in search of the Prancing Poney and Strider, it almost felt like I was making a pilgrimage to a sacred place in Tolkeins works!