Tuesday, July 1, 2014

LOTR Read-Along: The Grey Havens (ROTK Ch. 19)

We did it.  

To quote Frodo, I'm glad to have my fellow readers with me, here at the end of all things.  Well, not all things, but the end of this read-along and these books.  I'm still rather amazed that we finished the whole thing!  Granted, it took us longer to read them than it took Frodo and Sam to walk all the way to Mt. Doom, but still, we did it.

But enough about us.  This is such a quiet, soft, melancholy chapter, isn't it?  It reminds me of the little coda to Disney's The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, when the narrator tells Pooh, "All stories have an ending," and Pooh replies, "Oh, bother."  I would cheerfully spend another hundred or so pages reading about life in Hobbiton, and Merry and Pippin's visits to Rohan and Gondor, and Sam's children growing up, and Faramir and Eowyn setting up their household and trying to keep Ioreth from visiting all the time to dispense gossip, and...

But all stories have an ending.  And, as Sam's Gaffer says, "All's well as ends Better!" (p. 999).  I'm not really sad about how everything ends, just the fact that it does end.

Okay, so, on to a few less-pensive thoughts about this chapter.  Tolkien writes that "there were thousands of willing hands of all ages" in the Shire, ready to rebuild!  Thousands!  I honestly tend to think of there being maybe, I dunno, five hundred hobbits all told, but if there were thousands of hands, then there had to be at least a thousand hobbits!  Wow.

I love Sam replacing beloved trees, using his magic dust from Galadriel to better the whole Shire, not just Bag End, or even just Hobbiton.  And then he spends the winter being "as patient as he could, and tried to restrain himself from going round constantly to see if anything was happening" (p. 1000).  I get that way too, wanting to encourage things to grow somehow :-)

And how happy I am that Sam and Rosie get married and move in with Frodo!  What could be better?  Well, okay, Frodo not being changed beyond return would be better, but... I love Sam, and he's happy, so I'm happy.

Or I would be, if the story wasn't ending.

But doesn't it have the best last line ever?  

He drew a deep breath.  "Well, I'm back," he said.

Brilliant.  Wonderful.  "I laughed!  I cried!  It moved me, Bob."  (That's from some VeggieTales or other, I can't recall which.  It's what my college friends and I always said about movies and books we greatly enjoyed.)

Also, notice that it's almost exactly what he said to Farmer Cotton when he returned in the last chapter.  And that waaaaaay back when he stood outside Shelob's lair and debated whether or not to follow Frodo to the tower full of orcs, "[h]e felt that if once he went beyond the crown of the pass and took one step veritably down into the land of Mordor, that step would be irrevocable.  He could never come back" (p. 878).

But yet, he does get to come back.  And Frodo does not, or he doesn't get to stay back.  Hmm.  I think there's something profound here, but it's not quite clicking for me tonight.  Possibly because I'm tired and have strep throat again.  How about you?

Favorite Lines:

And no one was ill, and everyone was pleased, except those who had to mow the grass (p. 1000).

"I have been too deeply hurt, Sam.  I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me.  It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger:  some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them" (p. 1006).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Did you discover anything new during this reading?  Any little nugget of wisdom, new favorite line, character you suddenly "get," theme you never saw before?

I have an announcement to make!

I'll be hosting another giveaway to celebrate the end of this book!  And it will be a bigger giveaway than before, because we finished not just one book, but the whole trilogy!  However, like I said, I have strep again, and I'm tired, so the giveaway will start tomorrow, not tonight, as I need to get to bed.  Something for you to look forward to tomorrow :-)


  1. Congratulations...so exciting!!! I'm still a couple chapters back, but I so definitely hope to catch up!

    And ohhh no, not the strep throat again... :-( I'll be thinking about you and praying that it heals quickly.

    1. I'm sure you'll catch up soon! I have to admit I kind of dawdled through this chapter, making it last as long as I could.

      And yes, strep throat again. My mom unknowingly brought it with her when they were here for my nephew's baptism, and my son came down with it last week. I'm just glad this time around I knew that's what I had, so I went to the doctor right away and got antibiotics, instead of letting it get really bad.

  2. *sniffle* *sobs*
    I LOVE THIS CHAPTER. It's just...so...I don't even know. It's so perfect--it feels like just the way the book ought to have ended. It really couldn't have ended any other way, could it?
    The character that stood out to me most during this reading was actually Frodo--all of a sudden he just "clicked" for me and I fell in love with him. :D I'm not sure why...I just got him, haha...and now it frustrates me to see people who think Frodo was too whiny. :P
    Anyways. Thank you very much for holding this Read-Along! I haven't participated too much till recently, but I assure you that I've been reading most of your posts with great interest since the beginning of FOTR. :) It's been a lot of fun and I'm rather sorry it's over--looking forward to your OMATS one coming up! =)
    How fun, a giveaway! Can't wait to read more...;)

    1. Yes, it's quite perfect, isn't it? The only way it could all have ended.

      I've liked Frodo a lot more through this reading than I did before. I'll admit it -- I used to call him whiny. And he can be, sometimes. But my kids are whiny sometimes too, and that doesn't mean I don't love them. I think any whining Frodo might have done was pretty well warranted, given what he was going through.

      Thanks so much for all your participation! I'm glad you decided to start leaving comments, and even wrote a guest post! I'm also sorry this is over (well, mostly -- still have one more guest post to post, and I'll be doing a review of the trilogy as a whole. But the read-along part is pretty over). But I'm also glad I did manage to end it before the TOMATS read-along began, because otherwise that could have been confusing. AND you might be interested to know I'm planning to do a read-along of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" in October :-D These are such fun I can't help wanting to continue them.

      And yes, giveaway! It's up now. Go enter!

  3. So sad to see that you've finally finished. I've enjoyed reading some of your posts and am still kind of bummed that I found you "right in the middle of all things", or I would have joined too.

    I'm glad to see that you are continuing with more read-alongs!

    1. Better late than never! At least you can read back over the old posts, if you so desire, and now you're in at the beginning for all the read-alongs I do from now on!

  4. This was a perfect ending to my favorite book of all-time! And one of the greatest stories ever told.


    1. Yes, it's really quite perfect, isn't it? Thanks for taking this journey with me! It's been quite the blogging adventure :-)

  5. Congratulations on finishing this 'monster' read-along!
    I love how you say: I'm not sad how it's ending, just that it's ending. When I read this, I am sad at how it's ending. Not really about Frodo, because you know he's going to have a better life soon. And not really for Sam, because he still has a lot to do. But because the elves and the Three Rings leave Middle-Earth and you know with them some of the beauty and magic of Middle-Earth 'of old' will be gone forever...

    1. Yes, it's not a totally happy ending. Gandalf leaves, we never found the Entwives, and Sam's going to miss Frodo a lot. Maybe I should have said I'm sadder that it's ending than over the way it ends, because the ending is bittersweet.


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