“The Return of the King” by J.R.R. Tolkien

My journey through middle earth is complete – Frodo has destroyed the ring with the help of Smeagol and Samwise… all is now well in the world.

Some thoughts:

1) The books had a lot more detail in them then I recall… for some reason, I remembered a lot more action / journeying and less poems and history. This may have been because I skipped/skimmed those parts before…something I really couldn’t do while listening to the audio version.

2) Along those lines, I have come to the conclusion that the poems and songs of Tolkien were not meant to be read silently. No, they were meant to be read aloud with heart. To this end, I HIGHLY recommend listening to the audio book as Rob Inglis does an amazing job bring these parts to life! 🙂

3) Through out the series, Tolkien continued to highlight the strength of hope – hope that one day all will be set right; hope that darkness will be overcome; hope that rescue would come; hope that the grief experienced now would be worth it…

4) The other big theme in the series was the question, “What will you do with the cards given?”  Basically, while we may wish we could live like our fathers and our fathers’ father, sometimes life calls on us to live a different life – one full of pain and sorrow. In Frodo’s case, he had to destroy the ring even though he wished he could have lived a life of peace back home.

5) Of course, this also begs the question of whether or not we will answer the call…for we all have a choice. We could hide away in our nice homes, thinking that everything is ok….we could try to give the task to someone else….or we could step up to the plate regardless of our wishes. The choice is ours…

6) Today I listened to a professor talk about how the epic stories of the Homer’s Iliad helped shape the mindset of the ancient Greek people. As I listened, I couldn’t help but think about how Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (plus the Hobbit) has shaped my life. The dedication of Samwise to Frodo through all kinds of troubles and sorrows….the hidden kingliness of Aragorn, training and protecting others from harm while staying the shadows until the ‘right’ time….the unlikely friendship between Legolas and Gimli….and the respect for the wise council of Gandalf… all elements that have enriched and shaped my life…

Thoughts on the other books can be found here (The Hobbit) and here (The Fellowship of the Ring) and here (The Two Towers)