There’s only one club on campus where students can practice their Lord of the Rings Elvish (more accurately, Quenya): The Last Alliance of the University of Alberta.
Once a small group of friends that started meeting in the Chaplain’s Office in HUB Mall, the J.R.R. Tolkien-centred squad suddenly found the entire office packed during one of their meetings. Now they meet in the Heritage Lounge in Athabasca Hall, discussing lore as old and intricate as the walls that surround them.
The club is made up of diverse folks, including comparative literature, computing science, physics, and math majors.
“I think it’s a bit of a creative outlet,” past president Alex Thompson said. “Some of these people have such specific degrees that the club is the only place where they can do something like read a book that they actually enjoy, not just math.”
The club strives to create a space where students can talk about Tolkien’s works, like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. By creating a community, the club aims to reflect Tolkien’s own philosophy of fellowship.
The members of the club are intensely loyal past president Cara Luken has the insignia of the Last Alliance emblazoned on her upper arm in black ink encircled with Quenya words.
Literary analysis of Tolkien’s work is the foundation of the Last Alliance. The Silmarillion, Tolkien’s poetic encyclopedia of his entire mythological universe, is admittedly complex, however, there’s humour and wit that laces the entirety of his mythos.
“The Silmarilion’s first chapter is basically a rap battle,” club president Sofia Parrila explained. “Basically, one guy tells another guy to stop complaining and being a little bitch.”
As it turns out, that might not be too obvious to someone trying to read Tolkien by themselves. The group book studies are helpful to people trying to comprehend the text.
The club members have overlapping interests beyond Tolkien, including Game of Thrones and Star Wars.
“I’d like people to know, whatever kind of nerd you are – reading, speaking Elvish, or anything else… you’ll find other people who are equally obsessed with these things,” Parilla said. “If you haven’t even read (The Lord of the Rings), and you want to find fun nerds to hang out with, this is the place to be.”