The Lord of the Rings • The Fellowship of the Ring | Book One

Nothing elaborate or fancy, just some storytelling thoughts on my re-read:

The plot proper — explicit conflict and character makes a choice that changes their situation — doesn’t begin until “Three Is Company” when Frodo, knowing about the Ring (“The Shadow of the Past”), chooses to travel to Rivendell. This is when the Black Riders first appear. 

On that note, the Black Riders serve as the connecting conflict or anatagonism of this part. They exist as a constant source of fear and anxiety which builds into Frodo’s wounding near Weathertop and eventual onslaught at the Ford of Bruinen.

I found it interesting how much set up there was: Bilbo leaving, Frodo inheriting Bag End, even the time between Frodo officially setting out and his decision to leave with Sam. There’s a seventeen years between “A Long-Expected Party” and “The Shadow of the Past” and that fascinates me. It fits the reader into the doings of Hobbiton and, to a lesser extent the Shire, through their gossip and interactions through the lens of Bilbo and his party. 

Additionally, there’s throughline of the Ring, which Bilbo had and passed to Frodo and which serves as the cause of the plot: Frodo’s leaving the Shire seventeen years later. Even more fascinating, is how the rumors about Bilbo are linked to the Ring — he gained both after he returned from his adventures (There and Back Again, if you will.)

While I can still see how Tom Bombadil is something of a detour, I like what his presence (and later mention) show. Namely, that the hobbits are NOT capable of dealing with malevolent forces which bear no influence of Sauron. If not for Tom, the hobbits would not have escaped the Old Forest or the Barrowdowns. It shows how safe(ly guarded) the Shire is. This is emphasized in Bree; the hobbits seem to attract trouble. 

Additionally, at the very end of this part, Frodo tells the Black Riders to go back to Mordor and leave him alone. But “Frodo had not the power of Bombadil” (209). What strikes me here is the contrast. Tom has the ability to command with his words; Frodo does not, but the parallel to Tom reminds of just that, the ability to use words to dismantle and dispel danger. Even though he’s wounded, Frodo resists in a way that he’s seen used before. It isn’t enough. But I thought it was an interesting detail that wouldn’t have been so striking if Tom had been cut from the story. Heck, even Strider and Glorfindel use words to ease Frodo’s wound. (Well, Strider uses words and athelas, but the point still stands, I think.) 

There was a diversity of poem formats, lots of songs and such. A few have struck with me, but it was enlightening to pay attention to them stylistically.

There were a lot of good quotes. I’d also like to (maybe) type up out when each character is introduced and the first time they speak. Just because I found the order and who and when interesting.

On that note, I’m struck with how direct and precise Tolkien’s language is. I like it. 

More to the point, the way that, while characters have reactions to situations and each other, there’s not a lot of character immersion. I know Sam doesn’t trust Strider because of how Sam talks and what the text tells me: “Sam frowned” (162) and “Sam was not daunted, and he still eyed Strider dubiously” (168). What I mean is, the reader doesn’t experience the story from any particular POV (though the feelings of the hobbits are definitely the viewpoint) and especially not from an immersed-in-said-characters’ experience of the story. That’s not to say the text doesn’t give the reader a sense of what the hobbits feel, because it does. Only it’s not, as I learned on a writing cruise, written in a way for the character to serve as an avatar for the reader in the world. But what’s really fascinating to me about this, is how it reminds me of fairy tales and epics and the Arabian Nights — characters are afraid, delighted, terrified, sorrowful, but it’s conveyed strongest in speech and action. 

On the note of speech, that ties back into Tom Bombadil—words and language are powerful business in Tolkien’s writing. Which, with him being a linguist, makes sense.

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    Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies

    The Guardians: Book Three

    by William Joyce

    “Katherine’s strength had been greater than there’s” (Joyce, 226).

    Chapter Fourteen – Chapter Thirty

    Well, originally when I re-read The Guardians of Childhood back in 2012, my aim was to go through each book, and use my close reading notes and responses to the text to create the posts. I made it through Book 1 and Book 2 and a third way through Book 3 (even though I posted them much later), when I ran out of steam.

    This occurrence — having an goal and running out of inertia for it — is pretty common for me. Maintenance of anything that requires interactive expectation can be difficult. Or, you know, keeping my interest on a subject that isn’t one of my major interests is hard. Or, in this case, maintaining a regular pattern for writing about books can only hold my attention for so long (or if I feel mentally dynamic enough to write about them).

    (This is likely why this blog has floundered; it began with a lot of book responses and I only have so much time to care about writing about books I read, let alone having the time to cartmentalize my thoughts into a coherent readable structure.)

    Basically, I won’t be finishing Book 3 the way I intended. The thought of having to write (and edit) four more posts makes me want to throw this whole project against the wall. But I don’t want to just throw it away. So, I’m going to summarize why I do like Book 3, but without all the little details. So…

    Chapter Fourteen to Chapter Sixteen would have covered: The plot to get the tooth and along with it Katherine’s memory of her parents. Nightlight and Katherine meet Toothiana.

    Chapter Seventeen to Chapter Twenty would have covered: Katherine is captured. The guardians meet Toothiana. Katherine is going to become a Darkling Princess. Toothiana’s wing is broken

    Chapter Twenty-One to Chapter Thirty would have covered: The Guardians plot their rescue of Katherine. The appearance of Mother Nature. And little details and thoughts, as well as the climax and conclusion.

    Spoilers below!

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    Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies

    The Guardians: Book Three

    by William Joyce

    “When she was at her saddest, she would take one of her baby teeth from the carved box…and hold it until it revealed its memories” (Joyce, 96).

    Chapter Thirteen

    After losing her parents, Toothiana is subjected to more sadness: “she belonged nowhere – not among the creatures of the jungle and certainly not among the humans of the village” (96). The animals in the jungle being her food, but she is still sad and alone. Her only comfort is her gift from her parents: her baby teeth.

    As the years pass, she sees how “the village children lost much of their innocence and some of their goodness as they grew up” (96). That’s sad . I’m not sure I can pinpoint why, but I suppose, in the context of the Toothiana’s story, it’s a lost that might have them turn into their parents. Growing up is one thing. But growing up to be crueler is dishearteng.

    Seeing this, Toothiana took to collecting their teeth to “give them back their childhood memories and remind them of their kindness” (96).  And that, right there — that gives a reason for her progression to Tooth Fairy. She collects baby teeth to remind people of who they are and who they’ve been. Of a time when goodness really did seem, well, real. And that idea — memories, especially — just really gets me me emotional. Just, yes, you do your thing, Toothiana. I’m for it. It’s beautiful.

    Unfortunately, Toothiana begins to leave treasure from the jungle for the children, who begin hiding their teeth from their parents (as they don’t want them to know). Of course, their parents notice the treasure, and [o]nce again the hearts of the grown-ups filled with greed” (97). Oh, come on! Really? Can’t Toothiana have a few moments that don’t result in people (grown-ups) being greedy jerks?

    A trap is lain for Toothiana and she is caught in a cage by the Mysterious Hunter. (Have I mentioned him yet?)

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    Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies

    The Guardians: Book Three

    by William Joyce

    “If you have them under your pillow as you sleep, or hold it tightly, you will remember that which you need — a memory of happy days, or of deepest hopes, or even of us in better times” (Joyce, 93).

    Chapter Twelve

    Last week Mr. Qwerty told Katherine and the other Guardians about how Toothiana’s parents, Haroom and Rashmi, met. Because there are no children in Pujam Hy Loo, the family moves to live among mortals. Their lives are peaceful for a while, until Toothiana turns twelve and loses her last baby tooth.

    Then she sprouts wings, much to the delight of the other children.  But their parents, the grown-ups “were bewildered… [and] [s]ome thought she was an evil spirit and should be killed; others saw ways to use her, as either a freak to be caged and paraded about, or to force her to fly to the palace of the new maharaja and steal his jewels” (86).

    I don’t have the words to express how angry this makes me. She’s a child and all the adults can think of is how to use to her to increase their fortune or to kill she defies what is normal. It just…it makes me furious. As the text sums up concisely: “The grown-ups of the village had gone mad with fear and greed” (87). Basically, they’re jerks. And it won’t get any better.

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    Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies

    The Guardians: Book Three

    by William Joyce

    “Selfless like her father. Pure of heart like her mother. She was named Toothiana” (Joyce, 84).

    Chapter Eleven

    A big hullabo is made by the Lunar Lamas over Katherine’s lost tooth. Bunnymund is baffled by their reaction. As long as she’s all right, that’s what matters. Besides,

    “‘[i]t isn’t actually lost. She holds it in her hand, and now she’ll grow another one. It’s all very natural and, frankly, rather ordinary. It’s not like she lost chocolate truffled egg or anything'” (68).

    ♥ for Bunnymund and his logic. I can relate to the way he thinks.

    But the Lamas reiterate that the value of Katherine’s tooth is that it’s a “child’s tooth” (69). As a result “Her Most Royal Highness” will visit them, which has never happened and they are tremendously thrilled. Hearing this North, bless him, wonders “if this personage on this continent, [for] he’d likely stolen something from her in his crime-filled younger years” (69).

    It turns out, no, he never stole from her for she is not simply royalty but is, in fact, ” ‘Queen Toothiana, gatherer and protector of children’s teeth!'” (69). Everyone seems skeptical or surprised except Bunnymund:

    “‘Oh, her,’ he said dismissively. ‘She dislikes chocolate. She claims it’s bad for children’s teeth'” (70).

    I love this dynamic. One, it shows he’s aware of her. Two, it shows how feels about her principles (and furthermore, what those might be — the value of teeth outweighs chocolate. The reason for this will be explained later). Third, it shows how he thinks of her. (We’ll learn what the Toothiana thinks later). And fourth, it hints at, when they do officially meet, how they might interact: diagonal interests but not necessarily in opposition. (I seriously love all the Guardians’ interactions.)

    Katherine, North, and Ombric (who feels that he remembers hearing about her) are curious. Mr. Qwerty, the bookworm-turned-library offers to tell them about her. But the story actually starts with her parents.

    Whoo. Okay. Feels time.

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    Toohiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies

    The Guardians: Book Three

    by William Joyce

    “He was so confused by all that was happening and how close he’d come to losing Katherine” (Joyce, 66).

    Chapter Nine – Chapter Ten

    There’s not a lot to be said for these chapters. (Also, if this post and the last few of Book 3 seem tonally dissonance with the others, it’s because there’s a gap of a couple years between writing them.)

    Last we learned, North shared his new dream, fostered from Katherine’s dream (yay!). This sets the stage: everyone is talking about it. Katherine, while pleased by their enthusiasm, wonders where Nightlight is. She hasn’t been able to feel him or his friendship as easily recently. She follows him up to “the highest tower of the Lamadary” (59).

    When she finds him, she’s surprised that he looks sad. Of more interest to me is this: “In his hand he held something. She leaned forward even closer. It was a tear. A single tear” (60). He still has it. Her Dream Tear.

    Unfortunately, Nightlight is startled by Katherine, who crept up beside him on the ledge as quietly as she could. Startled herself, Katherine “teetered for a moment, windmilling her arms for balance” and then “fell from the ledge” (60).

    Yikes! She falls and as she does her mind whirls through a flurry of thoughts.

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    Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies

    The Guardians: Book Three

    by William Joyce

    “this was the dream she had given him when all seemed lost during one of their first great battles with Pitch!” (Joyce, 55).

    Chapter Five – Chapter Eight

    In the morning, the entire village of Santoff Claussen boards Bunnymund’s egg-train and journeys to the Lunar Lamadary. There’s another hint at the time frame of the story as “[t]rains were still not invented yet (Bunnymund would secretly help the credited inventors some decades later)” (31). This indicates that the story occurs prior to major, widespread modern industrialization, and additionally that it takes place a couple decades prior it. To me that would be three to four decades, so still probably in the 1700s.

    This chapter prominently serves to re-introduce the Lamas, the yetis, and what exactly the Lunar Lamadary is. This is conveyed through Katherine answering the other children’s questions. But near the end, Katherine is suddenly uneasy. She no longer feels quite right with her old friends. Specifically, “[s]he didn’t really know where she wanted to be — with the children or with North and the other grown-ups. Even Kailash didn’t comfort her. She was betwixt and between” (37). It has become about Katherine’s change and growth.

    Katherine eventually joins the other Guardians, ruminating on why Nightlight seems distant. She speculates it’s because he misses the battles. She also wonders the same about North, but in contrast to Nightlight the former bandit has changed a lot. And while it isn’t what Katherine notices about North’s change, I loved how he

    “still loved conjuring up new toys for the children. (Just that morning he’d brought the youngest William a funny sort of toy–a round biscuit-shaped piece of wood with a string attached to it’s middle. When jerked, it would go up and down almost magically. North call it “yo-yo-ho”) (43-4).

    And that’s just adorable! I love it. North created a yo-yo, and I just–I really like Santa Claus, okay?

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