Feb 8, 2023

he laughed again

By some strange serendipity, I happen to be reading the Lord of the Rings books for the first time, and I’m reading them alongside Adam Roberts, who is in conversation with Alan Jacobs about all things fantasy. And even Robin Sloan is in on this — for each of these fine thinkers, a re-read. I’ll be tracking along with their thoughts.

But I daresay I have it best, in the end, because I’m reading it aloud to my 12-year-old son, Malcolm. What a joy it is to discover this author alongside a child at an age when so many discover it. We are reading it slowly, in part because I never want this time together to end. Malcolm’s voice is still young, his body still slight, and I will be wrecked when this last of my babies is no longer such.

Much to love about the end of The Two Towers, but these lines are still banging around my head:

(Sam): … I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, of course, but I mean: put into words you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: “Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring!” And they’ll say: “Yes, that’s one my favorite stories. Frodo was very brave, wasn’t he, dad?” “Yes, my boy, the famousest of hobbits, and that’s saying a lot.”

“It’s saying a lot too much,” said Frodo, and he laughed, a long clear laugh from his heart. Such a sound had not been heard in those places since Sauron came to Middle-earth. To Sam suddenly it seemed as if all the stones were listening and the tall rocks leaning over them.

But Frodo did not heed them; he laughed again.