dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a
dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a
hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”
least that I can recall. I was five years old at the time and the strange creatures
of Middle Earth—hobbits, dwarves, goblins, and the dragon—speedily populated
the world of my imagination.
Lord of the Rings aloud. He gave me my own copy for my seventh birthday and I
loved it so much that for the next year I slept with it at the foot of my bed.
for me, the backdrop of all my imaginings. The characters became than a child’s
imaginary friends. To this day, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings remain my
favorite books. And yet, unlike some Tolkien purists, I also absolutely love
the movies, despite their differences.
of Smaug. I’d heard mixed opinions of the movie—lots of comments about the
addition of Tauriel, Legolas/Tauriel/Fili, and the extended plot lines—so I
wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
mythologies he studied. Mythology grows over time. It is not the work of a
single author. It’s bigger than that. It power rests in its ability to capture
and stimulate the imagination of others. And in turn, to absorb their
interpretations and additions.
Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings remains true to the spirit of Tolkien’s work,
if not true to every detail. I watch the movies as much to see the beauty of
Middle Earth in living color on the screen as to know the characters and follow
Unexpected Journey. And just as I’m sure I’ll love the third and final installment
when it finally comes out!
childhood, watching The Lord of the Rings movies and reading the books feels
like coming home.
Here is the next weekly(ish) Fantasy Quiz on Of Battles, Dragons, and Swords of Adamant. We’re quizzing our way through the Lord of the Rings right now.
Once we’re finished with Middle Earth, you can expect fantasy quizzes from all the different beloved realms of fantasy! Thank you for all your wonderful suggestions last time — I’ve added quite a few of those into the lineup.
Speaking of which, if you have a favorite fantasy novel or topic and would love a quiz on the subject, feel free to leave a comment!
But it wasn’t until several years later, when I picked up some of my older sister’s books, that I realized where her stories came from.
So many of the characters, places, and stories we had played over the years were drawn from the books she was reading at the time.
Imagine it for a moment. You pick a book off the shelf, flip it open, and suddenly realize that a character seems oddly familiar, almost as though you’ve met before. You recall a name, but can’t figure out how. The story you’ve never read tugs at your memory.
The more books I read, the more I realized that I had already traveled a fair bit around the literary world in those games in the backyard.
I’d sailed to Treasure Island with Jim Hawkins. Traveled to Letzenstein and escaped from Julius Varenshalt along with Catherine Ayre from the Letzenstein Chronicles. Journeyed through the Wardrobe to Narnia along with the four Pevensies.
I think I can honestly say it was that first epic story I heard … and those wonderful little games we played … that inspired me to write novels of my own.
To create characters and worlds and events that would transport others to an imaginary place. To allow others to experience what I had experienced.
The beauty of imagination.
It’s a wonderful gift.
“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.” – Carl Sagan
Feeling in-Quiz-itive today?
Sorry. Terrible pun there. I just couldn’t resist.
In an effort to bring some exciting new material to this blog, I intend to start posting a weekly(ish) fantasy quiz to test your knowledge of . . .
Are you ready for it? . . .
All things fantasy.
Your favorite fantasy novels. Movies. Fairy Tales. Creatures. Quests. Weapons. Steeds. You name it.
In fact, please do. If there’s something you would love to see a quiz about (i.e. you just love this fantasy book and would love to test your knowledge on the subject), then leave a comment and let me know. And I’ll see what I can do!
And let me know (nicely) if the quizzes are too easy . . . hard . . . boring . . . etc. Constructive criticism is helpful, but scholars generally advise treating authors nicely. After all, if you hurt their feelings, they may just put you in their next novel . . . and kill you off!
You’ve been warned.
So to start off, because Tolkien is one of the fathers of fantasy as we know it, here is a quiz from The Fellowship of the Ring.
And now Legolas feel silent, while the others talked, and he looked out against the sun, and as he gazed he saw white sea-birds beating up the River. “Look!” he cried. “Gulls! They are flying far inland. A wonder they are to me and a trouble to my heart. Never in all my life had I met them, until we came to Pelargir, and there I heard them crying in the air as we rode to the battle of the ships. Then I stood still, forgetting war in Middle-earth; for their wailing voices spoke to me of the Sea. The Sea! Alas! I have not yet beheld it. But deep in the hearts of all my kindred lies the sea-longing, which it is perilous to stir. Alas! for the gulls. No peace shall I have again under beech or under elm.
Have you? The indescribable feeling that stirs in your heart as you stand upon the sandy shore overlooking miles upon miles of rolling waves. Water stretching in all directions. Deep. Unfathomable. Seemingly endless.
And the cry of the gulls. Can you hear them?
And yet there are other things that inspire this same feeling.
A lightning storm. Flickering strands of light crawling across a midnight sky. The rhythmic drumming of hooves galloping across a green field. Soaring melodies that summon emotion and stir the soul. A book that resonates deep within. That creates this longing, this desire for something more.
According to Tolkien’s essay On Fairy Stories, this longing is the purpose of all true fairy-stories, for they are “not primarily concerned with possibility, but with desirability. If they awakened desire, satisfying it while often whetting it unbearably, they succeeded.”
C.S. Lewis also speaks of this desire in The Weight of Glory.
In speaking of this desire for our own far-off
country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness . . . We
cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually
appeared in our experience . . . The book or the music in which we thought the
beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them
was longing . . .
Longing . . . but a longing for what? What is this desire that great beauty awakens?
The desire for something more. For a world beyond our own. For a purpose in our lives. For true love, true pleasure, true joy, true glory, true beauty.
The longing for our Creator.
These things–the beauty, the memory of our own past–are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the things itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited.
The book of Hebrews houses the “Hall of Faith” in chapter eleven. After mentioning Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others, it goes on to say:
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own . . . Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
~ Hebrews 11:13-16
We are longing for a better country. A heavenly one.
I believe the longing that fills our hearts when we see the ocean, or the glory of a sunrise, or explore the depths of a truly great book, is a longing for our true home.
A longing for the far country.