Friday, December 7, 2012
Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien
How do you review a book like The Lord of the Rings? Since I feel barely capable, I will just write a few thoughts I had while reading. I didn’t think I liked Return of the King as much as The Fellowship and Two Towers, but later decided it was the most heartwarming of the the three - even with all the battles.
What can equal the tenderness of Sam carrying Frodo when neither of them had any strength left? Or Sam’s courage when all seemed lost?
But even as hope died in Sam, or seemed to die, it was turned to a new strength. Sam’s plain hobbit-face grew stern, almost grim, as the will hardened in him, and he felt through all his limbs a thrill, as if he was turning into some creature of stone and steel that neither despair nor weariness nor endless barren miles could subdue. (p. 259)
Some of the most touching scenes from the book were not in the movie: Aragorn’s actions in the Houses of Healing, Faramir falling love with Eowyn, Merry and Pippin becoming the heroes of the Shire after feeling so small and inadequate in the battles for Middle Earth.
There are powerful scenes too: When Frodo extends grace to Saruman (and receives Saruman’s curses in return), when Gandalf arrives to save the day, and when Aragorn is crowned. His coronation is described in almost biblical language:
But when Aragorn arose all who beheld him gazed in silence, for it seemed to them that he was revealed to them now for the first time. Tall as the sea-kings of old, he stood above all that were near; ancient of days he seemed and yet in the flower of manhood; and wisdom sat upon his brow, and strength and healing were in his hands, and a light was upon him. And then Faramir cried: Behold the King!” (p. 304)
Gandalf has the best quotes in the book, especially when encouraging the men (elves and hobbits too) to fight against impossible odds: “It is not our part to master 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 have is not ours to rule.” (p. 190)
You don’t have to be a believer to enjoy The Lord of the Rings, but the themes of faithfulness and hope in the midst of tribulation enriched my faith.