I read the Hobbit when I was a teenager and loved it, all of it. I loved the dwarves and Bilbo. I loved Gandalf the Grey. I loved the beauty and music of the elves. I loved the dragon and the necromancer who makes Mirkwood an evil place.
|The Hobbit, narrated by Rob Inglis|
When I started the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, however, I found myself in an entirely different place. Evil threatened the world I have come to love. Darkness ruled. Frodo and his friends seemed to be journeying by night toward night, and I did not like this at all. I put the book aside and did not read it again till I was an adult. When I finally ventured into Middle Earth again, the danger facing Frodo and his friends was as real to me as before, but I was no longer attached to Middle Earth as it was in Bilbo’s time.
I fell deeply in love with Middle Earth. I walked in the darkness of Moria, floated on the river Anduin, and sang in the Last Happy Home. Till today, I can see in my mind the river in which Frodo faced the nine black riders and the chasm into which Gandalf fell with the Balrog. Middle Earth and its inhabitants were, and still are, as real to me as this earth, and perhaps, sometimes, more.
I began to listen to the Hobbit with the kids a few months ago, but they did not like the book. Too many difficult words, I think. I ended up listening by myself, and having finished it, immediately began the Lord of the Rings. My love for the book has only increased with the years. How well done it is! How magically real! How amazingly its descriptions throw me far in time and place so that I’m right there, at the table in Elrond’s house or in the elf boats, shooting downstream under the tall statues of the seated kings of old.
|LOTR narrated by Rob Inglis|
It doesn’t matter to me that there are few women in these books. I connect with the friendship between Gimli and Legolas, feel compassion for Boromir’s need to save his people and disgust with Gollum as he cowers and cheats and lies. I admire the loyalty of Sam, the quiet courage of Frodo, the natural kingliness of Aragorn, and I laugh with the two bumbling hobbits, Pippin and Merry, as they accidentally manage to raise an entire forest to war.
No other book has ever become so real to me. I have read it now more than twice or thrice, and still it sucks me deep into its world so that I no longer know where I am or what goes on around me. I hope that one day the kids will be open to listen to it, to share this love with me. For now, I guess I’ll just continue to allow the magic to emerge out of the words of the book as I listen to it in the car on my own. And if one day I disappear on the way, know that that’s where I went, to Middle Earth, to say hello to Gandalf, take a look at Sam’s elvish garden, ride on an eagle, see an elf, visit a dwarf in his home.
These are the audible books I’ve been listening to:
The Hobbit, unabridged, narrated by Rob Inglis
The Fellowship of the Ring, unabridged, narrated by Rob Inglis