The sudden death of Saruman. #PtBiB

The epic tale, and epic blogging, comes to an end, although not quite(the reading part), as I am still reading the appendices. I forgot about these, but as I read them, I realized that I most certainly read them before. They fill in a lot of blanks, especially filling in the history of Gondor and Rohan that seemed glaringly missing in the story. I’m enjoying them and will be finally reading ‘The Simalrillion’ soon. That is, I’ll start reading it soon, it’s gonna take a while. 😉

I’ve very belatedly decided that rather than try to go over all the events, I’ll just pick one.

What stuck out for me most for me at the end was the quick, violent death of Saruman. I found it pretty shocking. Saruman is a bad guy, obviously, but Tolkien really, really doesn’t like him, it seems. His portrayal is quite broad and cartoony. He really comes off as childish and petulant, ridiculous and foolish. It is hard for me to believe that this character was ever considered wise, and had accomplished the many, many horrible things that he had. He is held in such obvious contempt by the author himself, that I wonder if he was based on an actual person Tolkien knew. It seems so… personal. He really, really wants to get across that Saruman has not one microscopic shred of decency in him. And then Grima, Saruman’s even sorrier companion, having had enough abuse, slits his throat. I was not prepared for that.  There is plenty of death and violence in this tale, but that is the single most violent moment in the entire book. It’s just kind of blipped over in a couple of lines, I suppose that’s why I forgot it, but …Jeez. Really? I think that if I could discuss one thing with Tolkien, at this point in time, it would be this event.

I theorize that Tolkien really wanted this character dead, but none of  his good characters were up to such a deed. Destroying the Shire was the last straw, I guess, and Saruman just had to go. Outside of this specific event, I find myself doubting that all these things could have possibly happened in the Shire in a years time. I mean, it was a long year for everyone in middle-earth, but it’s still just a year, right?

All in all, I found this a very satisfying read, and the Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog event an interesting way to go about it. With the exception of my brief attendance of a college course and watching a couple of the movies in the theater with friends, this tale has been exclusively in my head, and this is the most I’ve been exposed to other peoples opinions and takes on the story. I think more highly of these books than I did before, and I always though highly of them.:)

Here is a page with links to everyone who participated in this project.

Snobbery

Kate of Mind

DavidJFuller

 

 

 

The Ring is escorted out of existence. #PtBiB

I was hoping after doing these for a while, I could come up with some sort of approach to blogging about these books, but it never quite panned out. I tend to be stuck between going over the major events and my own new insights into the book. I had decided to write my own entries before reading the others, but it would have made much more sense to do the opposite, as I lack the proper blogging chops, and am really more in the intermediate(at best) stage of knowledge when it comes to  these books and middle-earth lore. It’s been a learning experience in several different ways, the best kind!

I’ve been increasingly seeing Frodo as a mere figurehead, almost an object rather than a character, as it’s clear that Sam is the hero here in the surprisingly sudden end to the quest, brief capture by the orcs aside. And Gollum, of course, performing the actual coup de grace that my next door neighbor Brian informed me of all those years ago(I have still never watched the RotK cartoon, although I have no real excuse now).

Sam rescues and then drags and then carries Frodo to their very much final destination, to have Frodo refuse to destroy the Ring right on the precipice. If Sam had not decided to spare Gollum, we would have a very difficult ending indeed, as Sam would have had no choice but to try and take the Ring from Frodo himself. Fittingly Gollum, who brought the ring back into the world from the bottom of a lake, personally escorts it back to its origins in gruesome finger-chomping fashion, severing it from its owner much like it was from Sauron to begin with. The hobbits are done for, no rewards at the end of this quest, but the Eagles, once again with impeccable timing, sweep them away.

With their tasteful, soft rock stylings.

This whole section has a dreamlike quality, which is underscored by Sam waking up in comfort, thinking it was all a dream himself.

After a rather long wait, this episode happens rather fast, I’ve generally found the speed of things has been increasing since ‘Fellowship'(although the movie TT was somehow ponderous, despite that book being full of action, the extended scenes did not help that one out.) Perhaps this is of purposeful design, or maybe it was just a realization of how mammothly long this would become if it continued at the pace of the first books. I kind of got used to things taking a long time to happen, and it felt strange in parts where it didn’t. I suppose I haven’t really been in much of a hurry for this tale to end, having taken a very purposeful, relaxed approach to getting back in to regular reading. There isn’t really a comparable activity to sitting down and quietly reading a book.:)

Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog:

Kate of Mind

Snobbery

David J Fuller

A tale(and the summer) approaches the end. Lord of the Rings: Book V. #PtBiB

I’ve grown increasingly interested in the perception of time, and this summer Tolkien fest has stood a bit outside of it, moving at a different pace than the rest of life. Even though I read every weekday when I get home from work, the end has somehow snuck up on me. The tale itself has accelerated, while the summer has seemed to slow down(although I already knew from experience, it turns out that time seems to go slower the higher one’s body temperature is).

I have, miraculously, only missed a couple of installments, on the weekends, oddly, when I have way more time to compose a blog to begin with.

The biggest singular event in Book V is the slaying of the only (partly) corporeal representation of the Big Bad, the head Nazgul, the only one with a fancy name, ‘The Witch King of Angmar.’ The tag team of (surprise!) Eowyn and Meriadoc the hobbit bring him down, much to his chagrin I imagine, and at great cost to themselves (Kate Sherrod blogs about it as a guest on Snobbery here). A new thing here that I found interesting; Merry uses the dagger he acquired during his adventures with Tom Bombadil in the Old Forest, and the fact that it is from the same time and place as the Witch King himself causes a wound which would have otherwise been impossible. I thought that was a nice literary touch there, that adventure seeming like a long,long time ago now, and seemingly isolated from the rest of the story. Not so!

I read the complete trilogy for the first time over the summer, a long time ago, in a similar way, I’d say, probably reading before I went to sleep. It is clear to me now that I have probably only read “Return of the King” twice, maybe three times, as it is the least clear in my memory, and the parts not involving Frodo and Sam are especially hazy. At any rate, I last read it in another lifetime.

That’s great, actually, to have this element of newness in a tale I thought I knew already, and I have enjoyed Gondor’s Last Stand. Unlike the Helm’s Deep battle, I have now spent enough time with the humans in the story to feel how desperate their situation is, and it is quite desperate. Aragorn’s kingly magic and ghostly allies helped turn the tide of the first great battle, but it soon becomes apparent that Sauron doesn’t even need to possess the Ring to win this war, and the armies of Gondor march out to their pretty much certain doom, hoping to distract Mordor enough to allow the two hobbits to perform their impossible task. Book V ends with the good guys engaged in a battle they can’t possibly win, very fittingly with Pippin being knocked unconscious or worse, the best non-Ring cliffhanger in the books.

Although it doesn’t really matter much now, being an adult, the waning of Summer still has a distinctive feel to it, the feel of transition, and it dovetails with The Lord of the Rings itself, being about a transition from one world to another.

Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog:

Snobbery

Kate of Mind

DavidJFuller

 

Another sudden ending??!! Lord of the Rings Book IV: Ch. 5-10 #PtBiB

Sam and Frodo’s visit with Faramir and the rangers gets a little tricky when they discover Gollum and Frodo has to save him from certain death. It awkwardly works out in the end, and with some shiny new walking sticks, Sam, Frodo, and Gollum continue into Mordor.

This section is pure gold, and I enjoyed it more than anything I’ve read so far. I thought I remembered this section pretty well, and I certainly remembered it better than the first half of the book, but I forgot about how intense this was. Just about everything one could expect in an entire story is in these few chapters.

Tolkien’s penchant for description, first of all, gives this section a lot of heft, as he puts you right there. Sam and Frodo both begin to realize in an immediate way that they probably aren’t going to survive this. Things get meta, and they start a discussion about themselves as characters in a tale, and how they’ll be remembered. This is heady stuff.

Sam’s dedication to Frodo is… well it’s rather sweet really. There they are, almost literally at death’s door, and Frodo is napping on Sam’s lap. It’s so sweet that even Gollum is overwhelmed, but get’s caught by Sam, though he’s innocent, for once.

Up into the stench-filled cave they go. They can see absolutely nothing. Despite being unable to actually see anything, these are excellent descriptive passages ( If I was that good at describing things, I’d do it a lot, I imagine).  Gollum abandons them in the dark. Sam remembers the phial from Galadriel, and Frodo holds it up, just in time to see a horrific giant spider(is there any other kind?), otherwise known as Shelob. A bit more than just a big spider though, Shelob seems to be some sort of intense evil embodied in spider form. Quite a nasty disposition.

Gollum’s plan is coming to fruition. He get’s a little overzealous when attacking Sam(a fantastic moment when Gollum reaches out of the blackness and seizes him, as Shelob attacks Frodo.)  is unsuccessful and flees. Sam,  whose is just bursting at the seams with heroism at this point, brandishes Sting, and between it and the phial wins the confrontation with Shelob, and she crawls away. Sting, of course, got it’s nickname whilst Bilbo was fighting…giant spiders! How fitting.*

He is too late, and Frodo seems to be dead. In what may be the single most heroic thing anyone in the books has done so far, he takes the Ring and vows to complete the quest himself. Orcs soon complicate the situation and he has to use the Ring. I don’t know how I could have forgotten about that, but I did. We find out that Frodo is not dead(whew), but he is captured, and the invisible Sam is mistaken for a great warrior based on the evidence of his deeds. And then it ends, suddenly, right there.

I’ve been reading this on the kindle as just one book, so I didn’t realize I was coming to the end of ‘The Two Towers’. It’s really no mystery as to why I was far more concerned with this part of the tale, back then.  🙂

 

*I found this intense even though I knew the outcome. In fact, I knew, at least generally, the outcome before I read this book the first time. What if I didn’t? As a kid, I didn’t really think about things like that, but this whole section goes to another level of intensity if you don’t know what happens.

Puttin’ the Blog in Balroggers:

Kate of Mind

Snobbery

David J Fuller