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Monday, October 5, 2009

Hobbits: Soft as butter they can be, and yet sometimes as tough as old tree roots.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

Spoiler Alert: Plot Summary
So we've got your basic battle between good and evil. The characters are the Fellowship (4 hobbits, 1 dwarf, 1 elf, 1 wizard, and 2 men) and their quest is to return the ring of Sauron to where it was forged in Mount Doom, thereby destroying Sauron's power and saving Middle Earth from his evil reign of terror. I could say more, but that's the general gist. Oh, and there's a creepy used-to-be-a-man character named Gollum, who used to wear the ring (after he'd murdered his friend and stolen it from him) who plays a pretty central part in the story. And there's also a side-story of Aragorn (one of the men in the Fellowship) who turns out to be a king from the old races of men, and he's the end-all be-all awesome new leader of Middle Earth. Until he dies, at least. And there are elves and the Rohirrim (the horse riders) and Tom Bombadil (Father Nature kind of dude) and Treebeard (who is an Ent, aka a super awesome old-type tree) and lots of other fun things. SO, yeah. There you go.
Spoiler Over: Continue Here

The title is a reference to a line that Gandalf says in the beginning about hobbits. I thought it perfectly summed up the hobbits, and this series.

Thoughts on Fellowship

- Frodo asks an elf this, before setting out on his quest: "But where shall I find courage? That is what I chiefly need." And the elf says, simply, "Courage is found in unlikely places. Be of good hope! Sleep now!" I thought it was very poetic that Frodo says he needs courage more than directions, or help, or a plan. And what helps bring courage more than good hope and sleep? I did NOT sleep well last night (I've been having trouble sleeping on Sunday nights. Don't know what that's about. But I know I have more courage in the face of middle school children on days when I have good sleep under my belt. ;)

Well, that's it for Fellowship. It's really a scene-setting book. Onwards and upwards!

Thoughts on The Two Towers

- Smeagol (aka Gollum, so named because of the sound he makes in his throat) has an amazing argument with himself after he's been "tamed" by Sam and Frodo. He's been following Sam and Frodo (the hobbits bearing the ring into Mordor (land of evil) for those who are new to the whole saga) across abysmal lands to try and get the ring back, and he talks to himself when Sam and Frodo are sleeping. LOTR fans know this scene well, but I had to mention it, as it's such an interesting psychological struggle for Gollum's character.

- Sam watches his first battle of men fighting men fairly late in this book, and I'm so glad Tolkien mentions it. I think I like fantasies because there's always a battle (usually many) and it's so fun to imagine yourself fighting with the good side. But fantasies make war palatable because they feature men (or women, thank you very much) fighting monsters, objects that are clearly evil. Even if the monsters are humans who "went bad", the violence is usually desensitized (like in Harry Potter, where people die from wands and spells, not swords and bloody wounds). I think it's refreshing to read about an author's self-awareness of the troubles that come with battles between humans, evil or no, possessed or no. So thanks, Tolkien. I appreciate it.

- Smeagol (Gollum) gets in trouble for fishing in a secret pool, and when Faramir (the lord of the land) tells him that he can't be fishing there, on pain of death, Smeagol spits out the raw fish carcasses onto the floor and says, "Don't want fish." He cracks me up in his simplicity, and his delicate evil nature.

- Sam takes the ring from Frodo when he thinks Frodo has died. Sam, the servant of a hobbit, Sam, the endearing character who wants nothing more than to marry a hobbit named Rosie and tend a nice garden, this very hobbit carries the ring closer to its destination. Truly, the unassuming can set in motion wonders.

One more book!

Thoughts on Return of the King

- There's a classic Gandalf moment (he's the wizard in the fellowship) in this book. Gandalf has led all the forces of good to the gates of Mordor (land of evil) and he's "parleying" (parler! parler! get it? pirates of the caribbean? okay.) with this evil lieutenant and the lieutenant says that they have Frodo as a prisoner and flashes his clothing and his mail (armor) and everyone's really sad because they all think that Frodo is captured, and the lieutenant says he'll give up the prisoner if the forces of good give up the fight, and he says, "These are our terms, will you take them?" and Gandalf says, "THESE WE WILL TAKE! In remembrance of our friends, but your terms we do not accept!" And he takes the clothing and the mail. You are SO COOL, Gandalf! So cool. I mean, seriously. I nerded out like crazy about this moment to all of my roommates.

- When Frodo is too weak to go on, Sam carries him on his shoulders. Now that's friendship. And commitment to a goal. I love you, Samwise.

- When the war is over, and the ring is destroyed (Oh yeah! I forgot to tell you in the plot summary that good wins!) they decide to celebrate the New Year always on March 25th. That is MY birthday, thank you very much. Yes indeed.

Merry and Pippin are totally incredible, and though they didn't get mentioned in my "thoughts" they totally merit mentioning in this post. They come along because they're really tight buddies of Sam and Frodo, and they perform truly incredible deeds, like saving future Lords (Faramir) and helping to kill the Lord of the Nazgûl (evil ringwraiths). Go, hobbits!

I cried like crazy at the end of the book. I always think it seems completely unfair that Frodo can't go back to the Shire and live a happy, fulfilled life afterwards. I mean, I knew things wouldn't be perfect, but it makes me so sad to think of people going through horrible things in their lives and never really recovering. He goes to the Grey Havens, which is basically heaven, but he leaves ALL HIS FRIENDS BEHIND! Except Bilbo, his awesome relative. So yeah. I cried. And cried. And then I couldn't sleep. Clearly I'm too emotionally involved in this whole reading thing. But that's how I've always been about reading, I guess. (Ahem. Comparative Literature major.)

I leave you with this to remember: Not all who wander are lost.


  1. I love that : not all who wander are lost. You're doing a great job!

  2. thinking about "a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife" reminded me of my Senegalese sisters who were just talking about men yesterday, saying there is no such thing as an ugly man - only a man without money. talk about "a truth universally acknowledged"!
    looking forward to your next post :)