Posts Tagged ‘The Lord of the Rings’

HobbitLike the Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit is a children’s classic, and perhaps even better known. With the release of the extremely successful “The Lord of the Rings” movies, we come to the book that started it all.
 
Tolkien is considered the father of modern fantasy literature, and it’s this world of Middle-Earth that started it all. A close friend of C. S. Lewis, Tolkien was part of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. I can’t even begin to imagine all the creative discussions that took place there.

Also worth noting is that there’s a dramatized, audio version of this story produced by the BBC. Other than the terrible voice of Gandalf, I quite enjoyed it.

Story overview:

One seemingly peaceful day, a wizard named Gandalf shows up at the home of a plump, middle-aged, well-to-do Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. Without really obtaining consent from the Hobbit, the wizard tricks him into throwing a party for a band of dwarves.
 
As the group’s chosen burglar, Bilbo reluctantly goes with them in search of a vast dwarf treasure, which had been stolen by a dragon named Smaug; who lives in the Lonely Mountain. Encountering trolls, giant spiders, goblins, wolves, elves, and–among other things–a mysterious creature inhabiting an underground lake, the team eventually makes it to the mountain.
 
With the help of the men at Lake-town (just below the mountain,) Smaug is finally defeated, but this is when the real problems arise. Everyone seems to want a piece of the treasure and the dwarves are not willing to give it up. Using his new found burglar status, Bilbo finds himself doing what he can to try and stop a war.
 
My thoughts:

This is another one of those books that was read aloud to me as a kid. To this day I can still picture my initial mental images of Gollum. There is no doubt that this is a classic, and a must read for all.
 
Things to consider:

Unlike “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Hobbit” was aimed towards kids. It contains a lighter atmosphere and isn’t nearly as dark as the rest of the series. There are still some elements which may be disturbing to some children–and the wording may be a little difficult to read here and there–but overall it’s fairly kid friendly and good for both girls and boys.
 
Opportunities for discussion:

Overcoming greed is one of the main points of discussion here. Talk to your kids about temptation and that giving into it often leads to terrible consequences. Whether an obsession over food, TV, video games, cloths, music, or any number of things that bombard our children today. As we learn in this story, obsession over treasure went far enough to cause a war. We also learn that a simple and selfless act can produce great change. Ask your kids if there is anything in their life that they can honestly consider an area of greed, and then have them do a small act of selflessness to counteract it. Challenge them to leave their comfort zone and explore deeper parts of their lives.

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EragonI’ve caught up on all three of the current Inhertitance cycle books, but I hate to post reviews of books out of order. So let me share with you the story of Eragon.

When I stumbled across this book, I was surprised at how much I liked it. In fact I liked it so much that I did research on the author, Christopher Paolini, just to see what I could learn about him. What I discovered truly amazed me, as he was only fifteen when he started writing. This encouraged me to get back to writing for myself, as I had started “A Wizards Tale” when I was thirteen. The challenge was to improve my writing skills, and Paolini’s personal story talked about how he tackled projects by educating himself. This motivated me to acquired the same books on the craft that he read, but it didn’t stop there. Since then I have greatly expanded my studies on the art of writing, and now I have even published my own book as a result. Thanks Chirstopher!

One final note: I thought the movie version of Eragon was awful. It had none of the complex character dynamics that I liked so much in the book; such as the tension between Eragon and Arya. I do not recommend the movie.

Story overview:

Fifteen-year-old Eragon, who lives with his uncle Garrow and cousin Roran on a farm, finds a polished blue stone, which appears right in front of him one day as he wanders in a wilderness called the “Spine”. To his surprise, several days later a dragon hatches from it.

Eragon learns that the dragon, Saphira, has chosen him to be her rider, and Eragon’s uncle gets killed because of it. He travels with a man named Brom to a place called Teirm in order to find the murderous Ra’zac who did the deed. Along the way Brom trains Eragon in magic, sword fighting, and the Ancient Language.

After many events, he discovers a captured elf, Arya, and frees her. They flee to the Varden, which is a group of people forming a rebellion against the tyrant Galbatorix. The Varden is invaded and Eragon finds himself fighting alongside them.

My thoughts:

I know that this story is not particularly original, in fact there are many elements of “Star Wars” and “The Lord of the Rings” used here. However, the situations and characters kept me wanting to know more. At first I didn’t like Eragon, but as he grew so did I grow to like him, and I particularly liked the werecat, Solembum, who is an extremely interesting character.

Things to consider:

There is a lot of violence in this story, however the language and any sexual situations are very tame, if not totally non-existent. My thought is that this is more of a boy’s story; though, I do understand that a lot of girls like it too. I would age rank this one into the early teens.

Opportunities for discussion:

You can explain to your children that, even though unpleasant, difficult situations are what mold a person’s character and helps them to grow up. You can explain to them that in the Bible, God often allows things to happen so that good will abound in the end. Another good point to bring up is the importance of companionship, as Eragon and Saphira become closer and more dependent on each other. I should point out too that, this is a good opportunity to share your thoughts on fortunetelling.