J.R.R. Tolkien fans in the Czech Republic don’t limit themselves to reading about the great battles of Middle Earth: They live them. ABC News reports that last weekend, hundreds of fans of the classic fantasy author descended on a Czech forest outside of Doksy to reenact the Battle of Five Armies from Tolkien’s 1937 novel The Hobbit.

According to The Telegraph, a few dozen Tolkien fans began the annual Battle of Five Armies reenactment around two decades ago. Now, it attracts nearly 1000 participants each year. Though victory went to the forces of good in Tolkien’s novel, the reenacted Battle of Five Armies doesn’t have a predetermined winner. Instead, organizers declare a new victor each year based on accumulated small victories or the completion of different tasks (for instance "securing strategically important ford”).

Dressed as goblins, wargs, elves, dwarves, and the men of Dale, this year’s competitors formed alliances, hurled insults, and engaged in real skirmishes with homemade foam-tipped weapons. Warriors spent weeks building their weapons and designing their costumes, producing shining armor, swords, and goblin prosthetics to rival those in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films. Check out a few of our favorites below.








[h/t ABC News]

All Images: Getty Images