Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Book 27 of 2013: The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

I've mentioned it enough times now to be obvious that I'm a huge Tolkien fan. I started the year by rerererere(you get the picture)reading The Fellowship of the Ring and made a point of waiting a month between that and my re(etc.)read of The Two Towers. Normally I'd read them closer together but I decided to stagger them this time to draw it out a bit, mainly because I want to read The Hobbit towards the end of the year like I did last year, so it's fresh in my mind for the next film. So anyway, in May this year I got around to reading The Return of the King.

As you're probably aware, The Return of the King is the final installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and sees the divided Fellowship continuing in their various missions through Middle-earth; Sam and Frodo make their way through Mordor towards Mount Doom; Merry goes to battle with the Rohirrim; Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli face the Paths of the Dead; and Gandalf and Pippin find themselves on the frontlines in Minas Tirith. It's pretty much action-packed.

During this reread of the trilogy I've been finding myself loving the hobbits more than ever. With this one I especially enjoyed Merry and Pippin. Considering they're not technically human, they seem to be the closest to the way that many modern humans would be if they were plonked into Middle-earth and the situations they face. I'm sure if I was sent off to battle I'd be thinking about when I'd next get a decent meal. Aragorn, Legolas et al are all used to battle and trained for it, but the hobbits aren't and so they stand out against everyone else.

Even though I've read this so many times before and know the story back to front and inside out, I still can't help but feel a little bit on edge as I read Frodo's journey. It's highly unlikely that it will have changed in some way since the last time I read it, but I still get to the bit at Mount Doom and wonder whether or not Frodo will make it. I love that it can still make me feel like that even after all this time.

I once managed to read the whole second half of this book in about five hours (on New Year's Eve when I didn't want to end the year with an unfinished book). This time I read the first half of the book quite quickly, slowed down for the middle and then sped up as the end drew near. It took me a little bit longer than it has in the past but not too bad considering I had to do OU assignments and things as well.

I also felt like I took more away from the appendices this time. In the past I've sort of skim read them, glossing over the lists of names and paying more attention to the blocks of text, this time I read them all a little more equally. It was kind of cool to see some chunks that had been lifted virtually whole from the appendices and transplanted into the first Hobbit film. I'll be keeping my eyes open for more of that in the next one.

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