We have a new splash screen, according to which Book 8: Scourge of Khazad-dum is nearly upon us - and very good news that is, too. But I am made more than a little uneasy by this chap, who figures mightily in the splash screen and, is, presumably, the Scourge personified. Now, I definitely don't want to sound negative before Book 8, upon which so much rests, is actually released; also, I remember an old Hawaian (I think) proverb which says, roughly, that if you're rude about your own coconut tree, it will drop coconuts on your head.
But - and I don't know how to put this diplomatically - dear old Scourge does not look very... Tolkienesque. Particularly not the blue neon highlights, of course, but also the fact that I'm prepared to eat my boots if he doesn't turn out to be half the size of a mallorn tree. Now as I've remarked before, I'm not a lore fanatic. LOTRO's designers have come up with a number of monsters perhaps undreamed of by Tolkien which are nevertheless perfectly convincing in terms of the mythos, or which at least fit in more-or-less comfortably; Gaunt Men, Morroval, Rogmul, Doom-singers are all both imaginative and appropriate.
The rot set in with Mines of Moria (where have I heard that comment before?), and specifically with the dreadful Foundations of Stone, whose shameless steals from "Alien" are not only contemptibly lazy, but also wildly out of place in Middle-earth. I sincerely hope that Book 8 isn't going to continue that trend, but Scourge here looks as though he belongs firmly in World of Warcraft. There's nothing wrong with WoW, in it's own place, but (and we really have to be firm, here), LOTRO is not WoW, and the last thing it needs is WoW's cartooney design. I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it.