I have done it! I've completed my reading of the Return of the King and therefore the trilogy of the Lord of the Rings.
What a great story. I marvel at Tolkien's creativity. He masterfully created nations of men, elves, dwarfs, hobbits, wizards, orcs and more. He knew the landscape and drew maps to reveal to his readers what he seems to have seen so clearly in his own mind. He gave the different "peoples" languages and history. It was pretty amazing.
I was really concerned entering into this 3rd book, as to how the characters would fare. Tolkien keeps leaving Frodo in such dire situations that I'm never sure what will happen. He works everything out in the end though, and lets us know what happens to all the characters. I'm not left wondering but what about Arwen? Or whatever happened to Galadriel?
I will say that I found it odd that the last 100 pages of so of the Return of the King is just appendixes. I read some of them, like the one about Aragorn and Arwen, but I skipped some too like the calendar of the Shire compared to other calendars. I guess Tolkien wanted to share more of his thoughts that he hadn't been able to put in elsewhere.
In summary, while I was definitely entertained by reading the Lord of the Rings, I was also challenged by it in so many ways some small and some on a much larger scale. I thought I'd share a few of them here.
1 - Community - People in the Shire were involved in each other's lives. They knew each other, even if they didn't like each other. I tend to keep to myself but maybe it's time to change that.
2 - Hospitality - Everywhere people went they were invited in. They were given food and drink and a place to sleep. They were kept safe from harm to the best of the host's abilities. I don't think I've ever had the gift of hospitality, but I would like to work on it!
3 - Self sacrificing for the greater good - I think we do this for those we love, our spouses, our children, our parents or siblings, but what about others? It's time for me to look outside the walls of my own home and see what I can do to help make the world a better place, even if it isn't comfortable for me.
4 - Purity of Purpose - So much of my life is spent going through the motions; doing the same things, day in and day out and that's okay. God blesses the ordinary things in life as well as the extraordinary, but I think I should have another look at what my purpose is. Am I being the person God wants me to be? If I don't know where I'm headed, how will I know when I get there?
5 - Even the small can do great things - I'm just one person. A suburban housewife and mother. I couldn't possibly make a difference in the world. Well, reading this book makes me think otherwise. What am I doing to try to make this world a better place when I leave it?
6 - Evil is insidious - Evil tends to start small and grow until it's taking over. I need to make sure that in my life I'm doing all I can to stop the evil things of this world from thriving. For me, that has to mean prayer. I can't do much about this issue on my own, but I can lift it up to the Lord who can do all things.
7 - Troubles in one nation can spread to another - I tend to ignore the news and politics because I find them depressing. It seems there is so much trouble and sadness in the world that I find it hard to watch. It is much easier to just shut it out. Perhaps it's time to rethink that strategy and start to take an interest in world affairs. What is happening across the globe may eventually affect my country, and my home.
In summary, I have to say that this is not a series I would have read outside of this challenge, and yet I am so glad I read it. I would challenge you to do the same. If you have a list of what books you're going to read, add the Lord of the Rings to it, push through the heavy parts and you won't be sorry. Maybe, like me, you'll learn something! Maybe you'll be the one to change the world!
“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King