Tag Archives: The Lord of the Rings

A! Elbereth Gilthoniel!

So we stood on the quay with Sam and Merry and Pippen and watched Frodo and Bilbo sail away with Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel, at the end of The Return of the King. For my son’s second time and my thirteenth or fourteenth.

And when I reached the last sentence and the trilogy we’d been using for bedtime stories for most of his seventh year was over, Mr. B. said he wanted to start all over again with The Hobbit. I said I needed a break of a day or two. Much as I love Tolkien’s melodic prose, particularly his descriptions of the landscape in the turn of the seasons, reading him aloud takes some work.

But there’s a definite payoff. I finally got the names down to where I could pronounce them as J. R. R. intended. And it’s undeniable that Mr. B.  got a certain far-away dreamy look listening to these adventures that he didn’t even with Narnia and Treasure Island. Then there is the reward of his admission, a few days ago, that despite enjoying the LoTR movies, which he had watched over and over again, he’d decided that he really preferred the books.

The Deathy Hallows

I’m still reading the final Potter book to Mr. Boy, and we’re not far along. But I couldn’t resist reading it when he was asleep, and once when he wasn’t and caught me at it. He didn’t seem to mind too much. So I’ve finished it, and even read several reviews and discussions online, including this 25-page one at Slate. I thought it was a wonderful finish to a fascinating tale that I began reading before Mr. B. was born. As tiresome as some of the teenage angst was to wade through, in the earlier books and the last one, I knew if I kept reading I’d be rewarded in the end, even if only by Dumbledore wrapping it all up for me. This time his spirit’s explanation was more ambiguous than I expected. Had to reread it again to be sure I hadn’t missed anything. I was sorry he didn’t return, Gandalf style, but I’d come to realize that Harry’s universe was not, actually, as magical as Frodo’s. I was more sorry that Snape didn’t die fighting, as I had always felt he was more an active good guy than a bad one, but his final gift to Harry was more than sufficient. I didn’t even mind the (as some complain) goody-two-shoes epilogue. I thought it was appropriate, straddling the worlds of adult and child readers. What I did not think was appropriate were the very few swear words which surprised me when they appeared (I particularly dislike the coarse use of "effing" in a child’s book) but I reminded myself that Rowling’s main readers, who began when they were nine or ten, are now adults in the eyes of the law, and so could be expected to "want" something like that, for whatever reason. As for Mr. B., well, I will simply skip over them (or find appropriate euphemisms) in reading the book to him. Later, when he’s older and reading the books for himself, I suppose they will not be too jarring for him, even if he’s only ten or eleven, but merely seem naughty. The books, afterall, are now available in their entirety and needn’t be put off for a year or so in between. All in all, a satisfying conclusion, and open-ended enough to allow imaginative speculation about the future of all the survivors. I still prefer the Lord of the Rings, with Frodo’s final departure to the Grey Havens rather than to suburban bliss, but, then, I’m 63 years old.