Literary Miscellanea, Tolkien, J.R.R.

Literary Miscellanea: Samwise Gamgee On The Greatest Stories

This conversation between Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee comes from Two Towers (the second book of The Lord of the Rings). An abridged and paraphrased version of the dialogue was included in the film adaptation, and you can watch it here.

‘I don’t like anything here at all,’ said Frodo, ‘step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid. ‘

‘Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. ‘And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were the things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have just been landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about these as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?’

‘I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.’

 

Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Read-Along, Tolkien, J.R.R.

Review of The Fellowship of the Ring

The FellowshipI read The Fellowship of the Ring for a Lord of the Rings read-along hosted by Robert @ 101 Books. I plan on reading Two Towers and The Return of the King by the end of August. My review for the first book of the trilogy is below.

What was it about?

The story starts with Bilbo Baggins preparing for his eleventy-first birthday celebration. Decades have passed since he returned from his adventure to the Lonely Mountain, but even at this advanced age, Bilbo, to the dismay of the Sackville-Bagginses, still hasn’t shown any sign that he intends on quitting Bag End. (Bilbo’s adventure is recounted in The Hobbit. I reviewed the book last month). Bilbo and the Sackville-Bagginses never did get on. Still, he knows that with or without an invitation the onerous family will be present at his party.

The hobbits love food, drink, and good cheer, and Bilbo’s party seems to far surpass their expectations – that is, until suddenly, while in the middle of giving a speech to his guests, Bilbo vanishes.

Back in Bag End, Bilbo removes the ring from his finger and prepares to leave the Shire. Gandalf, who had arrived for the birthday celebration and knows about the invisibility ring, convinces his friend to leave the ring to his nephew, Frodo.

On Frodo’s fiftieth birthday, Gandalf returns to Bag End with a strong sense that something is just not right.  Although Bilbo had not physically aged since his return from the East, he had confided to Gandalf that he was tired and in need of a long holiday. Bilbo’s behavior had reminded the great wizard of a creature who, for the past so many years, he had been pursuing all over Middle-Earth: Gollum. As it turns out, the ring is not just a magical toy. The evil Sauron of Mordor created this ring to rule over Middle-Earth. In recent years, Sauron has become increasingly aware of the presence of the ring, and if he repossess it, Gandalf knows that he will be unstoppable. Unless the ring is destroyed in Mount Doom, all of Middle-Earth will come under Sauron’s dominion. Reluctantly, Frodo and his friend Samwise Gamgee agree to take the treacherous journey to Mordor.

What did I think of it?

The Fellowship of the Ring is a a fantastic beginning to the trilogy. Frodo, like his uncle Bilbo, meets many strange and powerful creatures, but unlike The Hobbit, the characters in The Fellowship of the Ring are described in great detail. While there is a lot of traveling and fighting in the story, the emphasis is on the characters themselves. The ring is very powerful, and anyone (except maybe Tom Bombadil) could potentially come under its influence. There are many paths to Mordor, but not every path should be followed. Choice is a very important theme in the novel. Should they go home or should they go to Mordor? Should the ring be destroyed or used? Is the journey even worth it?

This was my fourth time reading The Fellowship of the Ring. When I was younger, I had great difficulty getting through the book. Tolkien describes Middle-Earth in painstaking detail and his narrative style is dense. Except for Frodo’s meeting with Tom Bombadil which I still feel is needlessly drawn out, I now think that most of the descriptions are essential to the story. During my latest reread, I was struck by the many similarities between the creatures living in Middle-Earth and ourselves. The characters react very realistically to the situations they find themselves in. As in our world, it is often hard to discern between good and evil.

I would like, once again, to turn your attention to this fantastic interactive map of Middle-Earth. It has helped me understand the world a lot more than I could from the books alone. If you choose to read The Lord of the Rings, I recommend you take advantage of this great resource.

Favorite Quote

[Frodo]: “[Gollum] deserves death.”

[Gandalf]: “Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”