Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Review: The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Genre: Epic Fantasy

Excerpt from the back of the book:
"The dark, fearsome Ringwraiths were searching for a hobbit. Frodo Baggins knew they were seeking him and the Ring he bore-the Ring of Power that would enable evil Sauron to destroy all that was good in Middle-earth. Now it is up to Frodo and his faithful servant, Sam, with a small band of companions, to carry the Ring to the one place it could be destroyed-Mount Doom, in the very center of Sauron's dark kingdom."

Oooh. How many people are not slavering at the mouth to jump into this book right now? Everyone has heard of The Lord of the Rings or seen the movies. But I doubt many have actually read the book. If you haven't, you really must; they're popular for a reason. The movies are good, don't get me wrong, but they are a skeleton compared to the books. I've heard that some people do not like the long descriptions and details in the books. Tolkien's descriptions are nothing like Victorian novels, however, and ground me in his world that is so beautiful and unique.

The characters are lively and real, there's fantastical creatures (wizards, elves, living trees, orcs, goblins, hobbits, of course), and the stakes are extremely high, which makes me race through the pages to find out what will happen. The poetry/songs throughout the book can be a little hard to get through if you're not used to that sort of thing, but add richness and beauty to the work. And one is supposed to be stretched by books, right? I also really like how Tolkien hints at Christian themes while not being obvious and keeping his characters real. There are so many levels you can read this book on; it's such a delight. I definitely give it a 5 (the absolute best).

The Fellowship of the Ring is the first book/part of The Lord of the Rings. Part Two is The Two Towers and the last segment is The Return of the King. Tolkien never intended it to be a trilogy; he wanted to keep it as one novel. What a thick book?

What I learned from this book: So much! One of the major things is that evil does not usually start as evil; it occurs over a long period of time and can happen to anyone. I also learned that despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt (got to love Gandalf!). There are so many gems of wisdom in this book; it is a must read for everyone. I would suggest middle school, highschoolers and up read it; it's not really a 'kid's' book.

Other books that might be helpful to read before this series:
                The Silmarillion -A compilation of Tolkien's notes on the history of his world. Lovely!
                 The Hobbit -A kind-of prequel to The Lord of the Rings that explains how the Ring was found by Frodo's caretaker, Bilbo. I might like this more than the trilogy.

Oh, on a different note, I am trying to make my blog look 'professional,' so if you see some changes over the next few weeks, don't freak out. If you also have any suggestions, please, please let me know! I'm still a newbie to all of this :).

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Review: The Naming

 The Naming

The Naming by Alison Croggon
Genre: Young Adult Epic Fantasy

Excerpt from the back of the book:
"Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child after her family is destroyed by war. She is unaware that she possesses a powerful gift, one that marks her as a member of the School of Pellinor. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true heritage and extraordinary destiny unfold. Now she and her new teacher must survive a journey through time and place where the dark forces they battle stem from the deepest recesses of otherworldly terror."

This is a series, and the other books are The Riddle, The Crow, and The Singing. I've read this series twice and own them, which shows that I enjoy them. I particulary like the world Alison Croggon has set up with its magical Bards who live in uniquely beautiful places, the wicked Hulls disguised often as Bards, and exploring this new world with Maerad, a tough, yet fairly naive girl.

The plot is fairly basic in this series; Maerad, with the help of her friend Cadvan, must save her world from utter destruction. But there are several twists in it and the world is unique and interesting enough to keep one reading. I did get bored several times with all of the descriptions of places, since the main characters travel throughout the series. But I give it 4 out of 5 stars (meaning I really liked it) overall, and enjoyed the deeper themes of good and evil inhabiting every person. I would recommend this series to teenagers and older.

What I learned from this novel: Traveling is exhausting! :) Seriously though, I learned that sometimes one must give up comfort and ease for those they love, 'doing what is right' is hardly ever clear, and no one can do anything great by themselves. See, you can learn from fiction/fantasy novels!

Visit Allison Croggon's website. It's a bit creepy at first with all of the character's faces appearing out of a blue background, but it has some useful information about the series.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Skiing in New Mexico

So this last weekend I went snow-shoeing and skiing with my awesome family at Angel Fire, New Mexico. It was beautiful and the snow was great for skiing. It was a blast. Here are some pictures of the trip. I didn't take any of my dad, sis, and I skiing because I didn't have time for that; we shredded that mountain!

 Is this crazy guy in my family? Oh yeah, he's my brother

My lovely sister only fell on her face once. Ha ha!  
Sunday afternoon it started to snow while we were skiing. Have you ever skiied with snow blowing at you? What a rush! Anyhow, late that afternoon my family headed south and I came back north to Denver. The snow got steadily worse as I neared the border of Colorado until in Raton it was so bad you could barely see the road. Needless to say, I had to stay in Raton that night because of the blizzard. It was an exciting, albeit terrifying, trip! I am thankful the Lord got us all home safely, and am amazed once again at His beauty in the mountains and sparkling snow. How have you seen God's beauty, in any way, this week?