On March 25th, by the reckoning of the Shire, the Ring of Power was cast into the Cracks of Doom and the vicious horde facing the Men of the West melted away. I would it would be appropriate, therefore, to finish the Lord of the Rings trilogy in the tail end of March. When I began the trilogy back in 2014, I did so mostly to see what the fuss was about, since authors like Isaac Asimov raved about Tolkien. (Following Asimov has also introduced me to Sherlock Holmes and P.G. Wodehouse. He’s a good guide.) Finishing The Two Towers invested me in the journey, though; when I started reading Return of the King, I earnestly wanted to experience the triumphant end.
There were surprises in store for me. For instance, I didn’t realize how early on the Ring would be destroyed: I’d rather fancied the ending would be like (and I am truly sorry for this analogy) The Phantom Menace: while the army of free creatures faces down a horde of beasts and is slowly sloughed away, the plucky heroes struggle along on Mount Doom and finally fling the Ring into its belly. The enemy’s heart is cut out, and the horde collapses just before the good guys are completely routed and Sauron reduced to a naked baby-thing at a celestial Kings Cross station. (I think I wandered away from my allusion there…) Anyhoo, that’s not what happened, as those who’ve read the book know. There’s fifty pages of story after that point, and the “Scouring of the Shire”, which I’d heard of and assumed was the consequence of Sauron’s army running amok, takes place after the big bad is dispatched.
I truly enjoyed the writing, especially when the heroic company return to Hobbiton and find out that it has been subjected to that dreadful malady, Government — complete with taxes and prohibition. After a sheriff reads out a long list of crimes, Sam suggest he add more, like calling ‘the chief’ names and wishing to punch his pimply face. In due time the jumped-up reeves are run off, their boss is dispatched by his own minion, and Sam returns to his own garden, the only realm he has any interest in ruling. Now that I’ve completed the epic, I look forward to watching the movies for the first time.