Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book 7 Part 3: The End of All Things.

I managed to finish The Return of the King in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. I lay down to read at 11:30 Tuesday night and didn’t stop until around 1:30, flying through the 200 pages I had left.

Even though I know the story so well, it stills leaves me with a great feeling of…awe. I love Tolkien’s world, his characters, the language, and the grandeur of what he accomplished in The Lord of the Rings. Even when you think you know the story completely, something surprises you.

During this reading, I particularly paid attention to the poems and songs the characters recall and sing. I remember in my first reading just skimming over them. And while many of them can be long and tedious, they really display the depths of Tolkien’s world.

In particular, I was drawn to this one, sung by Sam when he is drawing up the courage to rescue Frodo from Cirith Ungol:

“In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing.
Or there maybe ‘tis cloudless night
And swaying beeches bear
The Elven-stars as jewels white
Amid their branching hair.

Though here at journey’s end I lie
In darkness buried deep,
Beyond all towers strong and high,
Beyond all mountains steep,
Above all shadows rides the Sun
And Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
Nor bid the stars farewell,” (205).

It is a beautiful reflection of courage in a dark time and something I hope to remember in my own challenges.

Another of my favorite lines is said by Frodo:

“‘I am glad that you are here with me,’ said Frodo, ‘Here at the end of all things, Sam,’” (253).

It is just beautifully poetic and meaningful. I love the relationship between Sam and Frodo. Their friendship is so deep and powerful that Sam is willing, literally, to go to hell and back for Frodo, and carries him the last part of the way.

It really is due to Sam’s faith in Frodo that Frodo makes it, turning Sam as well into a hero in a story filled with heroic journeys.

The only other portion of the story I wanted to touch on was the part after the War of the Ring when the hobbits return to the Shire and Hobbiton to find it being run by Saruman, the wizard Gandalf destroys. That chapter in the novel seems to reflect the notion that home is not always safe and stagnant, that it too can change in the midst of war, even when you don’t expect it too.

I also think that it is one of two things that Peter Jackson left out of his movies that should have been put in (the other being Tom Bombadil).

In all, I loved reading this series again, but truth be told, I am glad to be moving on to new things that I don’t know as well. I think knowing this story so well made this hard on me to read.

No more Book 7. On to number 8!

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