Monday, March 28, 2016

Monday Excerpt: The Grey Rain-Curtain

Now Playing: Howard Shore - The Grey Havens (The Return of the King OST)

I need to reread Lord of the Rings.

I've always gotten the impression that people like Tolkien's creation because of the world--because the universe redefined and changed the fantasy genre. And while that's true, because I'm someone who experienced it well after it had already made its cultural impact elsewhere, the world didn't enamor me as much as it did to other readers.

But that's not a bad thing.

Because it meant the first time I read the three volumes back in freshman year of university, I could focus on two things: the prose and the characters. If Tolkien wasn't masterful at both, The Lord of the Rings wouldn't have such longevity. It would have come and gone, left imprints, perhaps, but not been remembered as it was.

I know it's a massive fantasy writer cliche to do so, but before I rewrite my own epic fantasy, I'm going to reread The Lord of the Rings.

Particularly for one reason: the themes of loss, the horrors of warfare and the nature of corruption. I'm so used to fantasy series ending with a happily ever after, I forget sometimes why so few stay with me: they're flippant and they don't ring true. The end to The Lord of the Rings feels genuine. Aside from Éowyn and Merry's awesome fight against the Witch-king, this is my favorite moment.

Major spoilers for the ending.

(Grey Havens by Jian Guo on DeviantArt)

Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went aboard; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost. And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise. 
But to Sam the evening deepened to darkness a she stood at the Haven; and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow on the waters that was soon lost in the West. There still he stood far into the night, hearing only the sigh and murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-earth, and the sound of them sank deep into his heart. Beside him stood Merry and Pippin, and they were silent. 
At last the three companions turned away, and never again looking back they rode slowly homewards and they spoke no word to one another until they came back to the Shire, but each had a great comfort in his friends on the long grey rode. 
- The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien 

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