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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Back to earth now - Middle-Earth, that is.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Maybe you were one of the throngs of fans who packed into theaters to watch the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy about a decade ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LORD OF THE RINGS")

VIGGO MORTENSEN: (as Aragon) Hold your ground. Hold your ground.

MARTIN: The climactic battle sequences and the speeches that roused the warrior dwarf in all of us.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LORD OF THE RINGS")

MORTENSEN: (as Aragon) By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, men of the West.

MARTIN: But here's a question: how many men were there in the West and were they cousins, brothers, neighbors? Maybe friends. Even if those weren't the questions troubling you as you left the theater, they were on the mind of Emil Johansson. He's a university student in Gothenburg, Sweden. And he has spent the past several years creating a comprehensive census and family tree of all the characters J.R.R. Tolkien created for "The Lord of the Rings." There are over 900, by the way. And he joins us now from Sweden. Welcome to the program.

EMIL JOHANSSON: Thank you.

MARTIN: So, Emil, what in the world inspired you to start an undertaking like this?

JOHANSSON: Well, that is a very good question. It began when I was a child and I used to read a lot of books. I think one day my mother said that "The Lord of the Rings" was probably a little bit too difficult for me to read. And, of course, that inspired me to read...

MARTIN: That made you want to read it more, sure.

JOHANSSON: Right. Exactly. But, you know, Middle-Earth is such a vast world, so just to keep my head straight, I started doodling on a piece of paper the various relationships. And a few months later - and I had two large pieces of paper with what I believed to be a complete genealogy.

MARTIN: You didn't do just a standard family tree. Over time, you've included longevity charts, race and sex demographics. Is that right?

JOHANSSON: Yes, yes. For example, my statistics say that there are only 19 percent female characters.

MARTIN: Because these stories are about war, world domination. These are largely male pursuits.

(LAUGHTER)

JOHANSSON: Exactly.

MARTIN: I have to ask, Emil, what do your friends and family think of this particular hobby of yours?

JOHANSSON: Well, that's an interesting question. But I do have a girlfriend.

(LAUGHTER)

JOHANSSON: I bet you were...

MARTIN: Not that I would have doubted that.

JOHANSSON: I happen to be at a conference just the other day and the moderator of this event, he was rather surprised actually to find that I had a girlfriend with this kind of hobby.

MARTIN: Emil Johansson. He is a university student in Gothenburg, Sweden. And he has chronicled the genealogy of all the peoples of Middle-Earth. Thanks so much for talking with us, Emil.

JOHANSSON: It was my pleasure.

MARTIN: This is NPR News.

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