Friday, January 13, 2012

The King has returned!

It occurred to me last night, as I was up waaaay too late reading, that the last time I read The Lord of the Rings all the way through I was 16 -- which is to say it was ten years ago. Good golly, how is that possible.

But as I am writing now it is more like ten hours since I last read The Lord of the Rings all the way through -- hooray hooray! And not a minute too soon; I was running out of bookmark (I was using a magazine subscription card and tearing bits off it to mark passages to comment on for the blog).

There's really nothing coherent I can say about the story as a whole that would be worthwhile. It's so good, you guys, just breathtaking. So I'll just move on to the random observations.

1. True or false, Peter Jackson cut more fantastic characters out of Return of the King than the other two books. Beregond and Bergil! Ghân-buri-Ghân! Ioreth! But above all, Prince Imrahil. Imrahil, we are told, has a castle, Dol Amroth, in Belfalas. "He was of high blood, and his folk also, tall men and proud with sea-grey eyes." As I mentioned before, I was 16 the last time I read this and I remember thinking something like, "ooo, there are princes in Gondor too? Dreamy!"

Still and all, Imrahil is pretty great. Here he is arriving at Minas Tirith:
And last and proudest, Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, kinsman of the Lord, with gilded banners bearing his token of the Ship and the Silver Swan, and a company of knights in full harness riding grey horses; and behind them seven hundreds of men at arms, tall as lords, grey-eyed, dark-haired, singing as they came.
Imrahil is the one who notices that Éowyn is still alive (thanks, dude!) and is, in general, a great addition to the cast.

2. Could Faramir be any dreamer?
'Then must I leave my own people, man of Gondor?' she said. 'And would you have your proud folk say of you: "There goes a lord who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North! Was there no woman of the race of Númenor to choose?"'
     'I would,' said Faramir. And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many.

3. I think it's hilarious how girly my first two points are. But I am unapologetic! I love all these manly men and their manly deeds, so sue me!

4. It occurred to me, this time around, that Denethor and Éowyn are parallel cases. Denethor wants to be the great man of Minas Tirith, calling the shots and defending the west, and handing his power over to his favorite son Boromir. When all of this goes to ruin, Denethor refuses to go along and declares that if he can't have it his way he will choose to die and bring his other son with him (rather than let Faramir participate in the new order). On the other hand, Éowyn dreams of escaping the stagnancy of Wormtongue-dominated Rohan, and when she sees Aragorn, decides that she wants to be a high-and-mighty queen, elsewhere, with him. When he doesn't return her love, she refuses to remain at Edoras and rather chooses to go with the army and be killed. But Éowyn, of course, eventually lets go and embraces what's being offered to her (Faramir, yum yum).

5. How great are the Rohirrim?!
...there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin's sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.
I got up and danced a little right there, true story. I know Tolkien was really into trees, but I get the feeling he must have loved horses, too. The horse bits always jump out at me, not just because I was a horse-crazy little girl (I was) but because they remind me of my grampa, who died around the time I first got into LOTR. Grampa loved horses and always owned one. He would watch the rodeo on Sunday nights and westerns any other night of the week, and I'm pretty sure he only watched for the horses. "Look what a good horse that is!" "They really trained that horse well to put up with that!" Generally, the best way to get him to watch a movie was the prospect of some kind of good horse scenes, and he would have thoroughly approved of The Two Towers if he had lived to see it. Anyway, whenever Tolkien describes the intelligence of Shadowfax, or how the Rohirrim bury Snowmane, I feel all warm and fuzzy.

6. Speaking of which, the poetry of Rohan -- those alliterative Olde English-y verses -- are the only poems in the book I actually enjoy reading.
Faithful servant yet master's bane,
Lightfoot's foal, swift Snowmane.
7. Here's Gandalf:
'Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.'
It struck me that this, I think, partly explains why Tolkien maybe thought the Scouring of the Shire was so necessary to the story. On the one hand, just to show how the evil had spread and so on; but also, I suppose, to show something of evil in action and being cooperated with.

8. I'm getting tired of this post, so you must be too. So I will end on the following:
'Hullo, Sam!' said Rosie. 'Where've you been? They said you were dead; but I've been expecting you since the Spring. You haven't hurried, have you?'
     'Perhaps not,' said Sam abashed. 'But I'm hurrying now. We're setting about the ruffians, and I've got to get back to Mr. Frodo. But I thought I'd have a look and see how Mrs Cotton was keeping, and you, Rosie.'
     'We're keeping nicely, thank you,' said Mrs Cotton. 'Or should be, if it weren't for these thieving ruffians.'
     'Well, be off with you!' said Rosie. 'If you've been looking after Mr Frodo all this while, what d'you want to leave him for, as soon as things look dangerous?'
 Oh that sassy Rosie Cotton.

Onward to other, shorter books! I'm so glad I had the chance to re-read this. I rarely read things twice, but this was definitely worth it.


  1. I've read Lord of the Rings once and seen the movies a few times, and yet I literally can't remember anything about them, other than the way the world they're set in feels... So, while I'm sad that I basically can't remember the plot AT ALL, I like that I know what being in Middle Earth feels like.

    That may or may not have made sense, I'm pretty tired!


    Also, Faramir/Eowyn: awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

    Good job finishing on time. I'm glad we watched those very very very long movies.

  3. Laura, I am right there with you. I have a terrible memory for anything even approaching a detail... I think Alice could vouch for this, she's always asking me for specifics about things I've read and I just end up guessing more or less.


    1. There really are no words for the dual feelings of satisfaction and sadness one has upon finishing LotR. It's been a few years since my last reading of it, but it is my favorite book in the world. I loved your snippets here: I was in love with the riders of Rohan. Gandalf's words about our duties now and to generations to come leave me with shivers. And yeah, Faramir is totally dreamy.