Thursday, January 3, 2013


Tolkien was born this day in 1892. He did so much that was amazing - invented an entire world, for example, along with maps, languages and mythology that went with it. His books are The Classics of his genre (which he also pretty much invented!) and his characters live and breathe as much today as when he invented them.

I first read Tolkien when I was eight. I found an old copy of The Hobbit somewhere and picked it up. After that, I was lost in a world of songs, adventure, and underground caves where a creature had lived for years, looking for one Precious item.

I loved Smaug's treasure and how the Hobbit - Bilbo Baggins - evolved from a peace-loving elderly gentleman into a first-rate burglar. I loved the names - Oin and Gloin especially. And let's not forget Gandalf - a character so real, so amazing, that he has reappeared under different names in many different fantasy series and books.

It took much longer to get into Lord of the Rings. It was so solemn after the riotous Hobbit, and Tom Bombadil nearly finished me off. Plus, there was the constant lack of food ... it seemed the only thing that Sam and Frodo ever had on them was tobacco. Reading LOTR invariably made me hungry.

Plus, the lack of female characters made me itchy. Sure, there was Goldberry and Galadriel, but what did they do besides dispense high-brow wisdom and look lovely? It wasn't until the movies came out and I saw that Eowyn was a character to take my breath away that I went back and finally read the trilogy. 
Maps - glorious maps

But that was a product of the times, and Tolkien's writing is amazing. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends."

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 

“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.
But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now
mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.” 

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” 

“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.” 


Connie J Jasperson said...

JRR got me into fantasy when I first read The Hobbit at the age of 12. I have reread all four of his middle-earth books every year since then.

Alison DeLuca said...

He is incredible. Have you read his Letters from Father Christmas? So cool!

Unknown said...

Almost my first memory of anything to do with books was of my uncle reading the opening of The Hobbit to a bunch of us cousins on a beach in California. I never really got over that moment. Thankfully. :-)