Tag Archives: Middle Earth

Misunderstood

And the Dwarf, hearing the names given in his own ancient tongue, looked up and met her eyes; and it seemed to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and saw there love and understanding. (400)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Above all shadows…

In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing.
Or there maybe ’tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
the Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.

Though here at journey’s end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars forever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell. (888)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien

March Book Reviews: “The Princess and the Goblin”

I am going to try to post a book review every Thursday in March.  I’m not ready to get a real schedule going, but I thought I’d try it for a month.  It shouldn’t be too hard, as I love to read and I love to write, and book reviews are a combination of the two!  Once again, I’ll probably fudge a little if I miss a day… or I might skip, ’cause you guys won’t be on cliff-hangers! 🙂

I read this review of The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald and thought it sounded interesting.  I told my mom about it and stated I would like to read it.  She had never read it, but she had heard of it, and said I could check it out from the library.

This book has good morals, but is also humorous and I really liked the beginning.  Somewhere in the middle of it I got pretty “weirded-out” and decided it was not my style.  By the end, though, I had decided I liked it again #inconsistency

To make a long story short: I liked it, but the fact that there was a pretty-much allegorical God-figure without it really being an allegory–And that that figure was a woman–and that she was biological related to Irene, but not to everyone in the story, was hard to get used to.

ANYWAY–This is a story about a princess who was sent to the country to be raised.  She lives in a house in the mountains, and is looked after by her nurse.

“Why, where can you have been, princess?” asked the nurse, taking her in her arms.  “It’s very unkind of you to hide away so long.  I began to be afraid–”  Here she checked herself.  “What were you afraid of, nursie?” asked the princess.  “Never mind,” she answered.  “Perhaps I will tell you another day.  Now tell me where you have been?” (24)

The people bringing her up are forbidden to tell the princess about the existence of the goblins that live in the caverns beneath the mountains.  These goblins only come out at night, when they love to make mischief.  So the people, naturally, stay inside after dark–except a few: some of the miners, who do not fear the goblins because they know what the goblins cannot stand–singing.

At all events, those who were most afraid of them were those who could neither make verses themselves, nor remember the verses that other people made for them; while those who were never afraid were those who could make verses for themselves; for although there were certain old rhymes which were very effectual, yet it was well known that a new rhyme. if of the right sort, was even more distasteful to them, and therefore more effectual in putting them to flight. (48)

Curdie Peterson happens to be one of those who can make up verses on the spot, and truly is never afraid, even when a strange turn of events places him in the kingdom of the goblins themselves (where his songs are less heeded) thanks to another goblin-weakness he discovers.

Princess Irene, in my first quote, happened to be up in the attic where she had gone exploring and gotten lost.  She meets someone who happens to be up there, but I am not going into all that right now… but I will tell you it is the beginning of the princess’s many, many trips to the attic.

Irene and Curdie meet quite by mistake, and that chance meeting is the beginning of several adventures they have together–not always on the best of terms: The princess’s nurse does not approve of Curdie; nor does Curdie approve of Irene’s stories of a thread that she follows that will always lead her to safety, which he himself cannot see or feel.

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I enjoyed this book, though all the ‘magic’ was handled very mysteriously, without the reader ever being given a clear explanation, which bothered me.  It was more of a quiet, innocent story than what I have been reading lately, and both main characters were younger than me.  But there were still some goblin parts that were downright nasty.

They had enough of affection left for each other, to preserve them from being absolutely cruel for cruelty’s sake… (12)

I believe this statement to be contradicted strongly by all goblin-appearances in the rest of the book!

Neither Irene or Curdie had siblings, but I loved their relationships with their parents: Irene did not live with her parents, but her father would come and visit her (I do not think her mother was still alive) and she would go running out and get on his horse with him before he even got off–it was so sweet!!!  Curdie did live with his parents, and their love for each other was amazing!  They were always working for each other and helping each other; and Curdie was very respectful, which is rather hard to find these days.

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In the review I linked to above, Miss Ruth said:

C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien read George MacDonald’s books, and the Chronicles of Narnia and the Hobbit were both influenced by his writings. Thus, however indirectly, many of the fantasy books you read today are influenced by “the Princess and the Goblin”.

So I, of course, began looking for similarities.  I did not think they had a lot in common, but I found three things that reminded me of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work:

1) The goblins in Mr. MacDonald’s book have no toes (weird, weird, I know–bear with me) which might have something to do with the toeless troll in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

2) Shelob and the giant spiders in Mirkwood might have been inspired by this reference to extraordinary, if not large, spiders:

It is spider-webs–of a particular kind.  My pigeons bring it to me from over the great sea.  There is only one forest where the spiders live who make this particular kind–the finest and strongest of any. (78)

3) These quotes do not need much explanation!

“Then you’re leaving the story unfinished, Mr. Author!”  “Not more unfinished than it ought to be, I hope.  If you ever knew a story finished, all I can say is, I  never did.  Somehow, stories won’t finish. (203)

The Princess and the Goblin

‘Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still!  It’s going on.  Don’t the great tales never end?’  ‘No, they never end as tales.’ (697)

The Two Towers

There is still the whole those-were-good-but-these-were-bad problem, but that has little to do with inspiration.

The only that reminded me of C.S. Lewis’s books was the unexplained-magic (^see above^).

Over-all I liked this book, and it was fun to read–which I did in one day! 🙂

“But I must confess that I have sometimes been afraid about my children–sometimes about you, Irene.”  “Oh, I’m so sorry… To-night, I suppose you mean.”  “Yes, a little to-night; but a good deal when you had all but made up your mind that I was a dream. (105)

 

Do you think my book reports are too l-o-n-g???

Happy Thursday!

P.S. If you feel a little out-Middle-Earth-ed by my last two book reviews, so does everybody else whose ever talked to me.  Don’t read my blog if that bothers you.

Prudence

“Then you would have us retreat to Minas Tirith, or Dol Amroth, or to Dunharrow, and there sit like children on sand-castles when the tide is flowing?” said Imrahil.  “That would be no new counsel… But no!  I said this would be prudent.  I do not counsel prudence (860).

-“The Lord of the Ring: The Return of the King” by J.R.R. Tolkien

“To fly would only be to obey the dictates of vulgar prudence.  But we did not come here to be prudent (116).

-“Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne

(emphasis mine both times)

 

Note: “The Lord of the Rings” contains three of my favorite books ever written, but I would not necessarily recommend “Journey to the Center of the Earth”.  It was just alright, and there were a couple reference to evolution.  I honestly enjoyed the movie more, which is rare for me!

See you tomorrow!!!!! 🙂

Beowulf

I told you guys in this post that I was reading a couple of new books; and because I thought I’d tell you all about them–mostly because I need more in my “Book Reviews” tag than this, awesome as that book is.

I am starting with “Beowulf”, translated by J.R.R. Tolkien; who is the author of some of my absolute favorite books!

“Beowulf” is a story that was written in Old English, and has been translated by many people.  It was while I was reading about the Battle of Pelennor Fields in “The Return of the King” that I suddenly thought I want to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s version of “Beowulf”!

(Mama read a picture book version of it to us three “bigs” a long time ago, and I re-read it pretty recently and expressed my interest in reading a longer version.  I wanted to read the original before I found out it was not written in English–well, the English I know! 🙂 )

Well, if any of you who have read “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Hobbit” and are interested in reading this; I certainly won’t stop you, but be forewarned: it’s as bad as Shakespeare!  It was interesting, and I am glad I read it, but I was daunted at first!  Honestly, it was interesting until the action got over and the characters started telling each other stories about people I did not know (or care) much about.  I did get “into” it though, and I actually have a favorite character–which I do not usually when I read Shakespeare plays, as it is harder to grasp how people talk to others.  I would probably recommend reading an abridged version first, like I did–I also did this with “Ivanhoe” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

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If there was a main character in this book, it was (understandably) Beowulf.  I think of the book in three parts, though you could say it was more like two: Beowulf is incredibly strong, and there are three monsters that he kills over the course of the book–two ogres and one dragon.  I usually think of it as the three creatures he fought with; but the ogres were in the same place, so you could also think of it as 1) the fight with Grendel and his mother and then 2) fight with the dragon–or you could just think of it as a good book and not over-analyze anything (which is what I do best–have you noticed?) 🙂

Grendel is the first ogre, who (apparently) was descended from Cain, the first murderer.  I have NO idea what my opinion on that spiritual aspect is.  I might go into that more later.  We will see.

The book the story–there was a lot at the beginning that I considered unnecessary (though I’m not usually on the eliminate-needless-words train)– the story starts with King Hrothgar (please do not ask me how to pronounce any of the names–I have NO idea!) and his people being attacked by Grendel who came to the hall called Heorot at night (never during the day) and carried off people to… eat.  Sorry, it’s fierce.

Beowulf gets news of the monster, and sails to Hrothgar’s country and offers to fight Grendel.  The problem with fighting the ogre is that he has the ability to cast spells over men’s weapons, so they cannot hurt him.  Beowulf is unaffected by these spells, as his greatest weapon is the simple strength of his hands.

He stays in Heorot over night and kills Grendel (read the book if you want details, I am not giving everything away!), and then faces the task of Grendel’s vengeful mother.

Beowulf’s last battle takes place years later, after he has returned to his own country.  He becomes the ruler of that land, before the dragon comes.

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Something that I noticed reading this longer version, which I never thought of before (though it shouldn’t have surprised me) was how much the dragon sequence resembles that in “The Hobbit”… perhaps it served as inspiration!

But seriously, in both of the dragon steals this crazy amount of gold from someone, hides underground with it, hunkers down and sleeps on it for years.  Some innocent, unrelated person stumbles in and steals a golden cup (yes, it’s even a cup in both stories) and takes it to his master/leader.  Granted, in “The Hobbit” Bilbo was on a mission to steal treasure, even calling himself a “burglar”; while the poor man in “Beowulf” simply blundered in and took something to pay off his debts.  In Bilbo’s defense (because I’m biased 🙂 ) he was not in debt (the dragon was, if anyone), he was just doing what he was told, and he knew those whom the dragon had stolen from.  These quotes also reminded me of each other:

Treasure in the ground it is ever his wont to seize, and there wise with many years he guards the heathen gold–no whit doth it profit him ( 79).

-“Beowulf”

Thieves! Fire! Murder!  Such a thing had not happened since first he came to the Mountain!  His rage passes description–the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted (186).

-“The Hobbit”

“Sellic Spell” was also included in my hard-cover edition, which is something J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, and described:

It is only to a limited extent an attempt to reconstruct the Anglo-Saxon that lies behind the folk-tale element in “Beowulf” (355).

And the character Unfriend/Unpeace in it totally reminded me of Wormtongue from “The Lord of the Rings”–though he had a happier ending!  And Heorot reminded me of Edoras (also from “The Lord of the Rings”).

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I really enjoyed reading this, though it went a little slow sometimes!  It was also not as long as it looked at first, because the inch-thick book was mostly introductions and commentaries.

My favorite character is Hrothgar, who is generous and humble.  I also liked Beowulf; though he was very honest about everything, including his accomplishments, which (his accomplishments being impressive) made it sound a little like he was bragging.  I do not think that was his intention though.

…the light of his eyes lit the hall from floor to ceiling like scarlet lightning.  ‘Revenge! …I kill where I wish and none dare resist.  I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today.  Then I was but young and tender.  Now I am old and strong, strong, strong, Thief in the Shadows!’ he gloated (193).

-“The Hobbit”

 

Old Favorite

‘No!’ said Thorin.  ‘There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West.  Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure.  If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world (243).

-“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien

With You

“…It’s so much more friendly with two.”

-Piglet, Winnie the Pooh, by A. A. Milne, page 132

People weren’t made to be by themselves.  They need each other.  Sometimes Life gives you lemons, and we weren’t made to carry so much fruit alone.

Kristoff tried to get out of helping Anna–but she never would have made it without him.

Elsa tried to shut Anna out–but if Anna hadn’t pursued, Elsa would have been killed.

Inigo couldn’t have gotten through the Zoo of Death without Fezzik, and Fezzik couldn’t have made it without Inigo.

And neither of them would have made it into the castle without Westley–but Westley would not have gotten into the castle without them.

The dwarves didn’t want to bring Bilbo at first–but they never would have succeeded without him.

Thorin didn’t want to give Bard gold to help the people of Esgaroth–but Thorin would not have gotten the treasure back without Bard anyway.

Frodo tried to leave Sam–but he never would have made it without him.

Sam almost convinced Frodo not to trust Strider–but they never would have gotten there without him.

First Frodo, then Elrond almost succeeded in sending Merry and Pippin home–but if they hadn’t come Denethor would have killed Faramir and the Witchking would have killed Eowyn.

“Thorin and Co.” would never have gotten inside the Lonely Mountain without Elrond, and the hobbits wouldn’t even have gotten to Bree without Tom Bombadil.

Naomi tried to leave Ruth–but I don’t know how she would have managed without her, and I don’t think Ruth would have gotten so far without Boaz.

Joseph tried to leave Mary–and I don’t think she would have made it alone.

God created Eve the same day he created Adam.  People need people.  We can’t do this alone.  We just can’t.

I need you guys!

Blessings and Stories: “Going on an Adventure!”

Exciting title, huh?  🙂 Things have been crazy around here with China coming up in two days!  (I can’t believe it!)  But there is still a serious lack of packing going on over here.  We are last minute packers for sure!  This post is an entry I made in my notebook this May.  (By the way- all posts that start with “Blessings and Stories” are going to be from that notebook.)

Recently, in our series about the book “Live Ten” by Terry A. Smith, our pastor talked about adventure (I’m not sure if that was his name for it or not).

In “Live Ten”, Mr. Smith said he once knew a pastor who lad a very quiet life, and once actually told Mr. Smith that he had asked God for this peaceful lifestyle: simply saying he wanted to live a quiet life and not suffer too much–and God had given him just that.  Think of what he could have missed!

Pastor Matthew (our pastor) used a story from “The Hobbit”: Bilbo Baggins is sitting outside.  Earlier in the book, you get this description of Bilbo’s family:

“The Bagginses have lived in the neighborhood of the Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him.” (11)

Bilbo was sitting outside, when Gandalf comes by and they strike up a conversation.  Gandalf at last explains that he is looking for someone to take on an adventure and is having trouble finding anybody.  Bilbo’s answer is simple:

“I should think so–in these parts!  We are plain quiet folk and have no need for adventures.  Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things!  Make you late for dinner!  I can’t think what anybody sees in in them.” (14)

After some more conversing, Gandalf right out announces that he is bringing Bilbo.  Bilbo makes it quite clear that he’s not interested and “scuttles” (15) inside.

“Gandalf in the meantime was standing outside the door, and laughing long but quietly.  After a while he stepped up, and with the spike on his staff scratched a queer sign on [Bilbo’s]… beautiful green front-door.  Then he strode away, just away, just about the time when Bilbo was… beginning to think he had escaped adventures very well.” (15)

But anyone who is familiar with the story will already know he had not at all.  And, as Pastor Matthew put it, “We’re glad he went, because it makes a good story.” (Paraphrased)  I mean, think about it: that would be a pretty boring story!

But it’s not easy!  (Though adventures generally aren’t!)  But not one place in the book did I ever find Bilbo say after he got home, “I wish I hadn’t gone.”

The Christian life is hard, but it’s worth it–SO worth it!

Katie Davis, a missionary to Uganda, said in her book “Kisses from Katie”: “I view nothing as a sacrifice in light of eternity with Christ.”

I too, find myself hoping that I can go on living peacefully in the suburbs of Nebraska, and have nothing horrific or tragic happen to me.

BUT–when I really  think about it, I don’t want to be the one in heaven standing next to martyrs and saying:

“I lived a nice quiet life, in a nice quiet neighborhood, and sometimes told my neighbors ‘Jesus loves you’ and only left my country once for a vacation.”

Jesus, I want to give you my ALL!  Take me on an ADVENTURE!!!

“But what was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.   I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”  -Philippians 3:7,8