“That’s the end?”


That was my wife and son’s reaction when I read the final line of The Hobbit to them last night. (It was this edition, so we had to stop often to admire the artwork–although I can’t say I was fond of the way the elves were portrayed.)

As family reading time goes, this was a long one, or maybe it just seemed long because I was the only one reading it. Usually we trade chapters between the three of us, but there was no way I was going to ask my dyslexic wife to read all those dwarf names over and over. That would have been hell for her. And since my son is not enthusiastic about reading aloud at the best of times, I gladly took on the task myself.

The only problem: we were watching DVD previews of… something last week (not a good sign, eh?) and the LOTR blue ray was one of them my son was startled to hear Elijah Wood say the name “Gandalf.”

“Didn’t you know?” I said. “The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are set in the same world. They’re connected.”

“Oh. Let’s read those next.”

And my heart sank. I’m happy that he’s (finally) warming up to fantasy, but there’s no way I can ask my wife to read LOTR aloud, so all the books would be on me and me alone.

Not only that, but much of Fellowship… is freaking dire. I’m sorry; I know there are people out there who lurve the books so much they read them every year or whatever, but too much of the early travel stuff is just tedious. And Bilbo’s birthday party takes forever to get to.

I’m tempted to break the family rule and skip the books in favor of the movies.

12 thoughts on ““That’s the end?”

  1. I’m with you on Fellowship. I tried reading it shortly after I finished The Hobbit (I was 9 or 10) and it broke me. It took for freaking ever and I gave up on The Two Towers after a couple of chapters. I’ve never gone back.

  2. Neerdowell

    Have you tried Librivox? They nearly everything before the 1940’s as free, online audiobooks. Whenever my college professors would make me read something I didn’t want to I would storm this site.

    Actually, only one Tolkien entry and it’s a short story: Goblin Feet.

    There is a British guy that does a lot of the Oscar Wilde stuff really well.

  3. Neerdowell

    Two Towers: my favorite too; love those ents.
    Also like that Tom Bombadil was cut from the first book; too many pages devoted to what they were eating as well. Maybe hobbits think w/ their stomachs though…

    I wish fantasy authors would use names I can pronounce w/o breaking my cadence.

  4. Naming is really difficult and very particular. There’s one well-loved fantasy writer that I can’t read because I don’t believe any of his character names. I myself fret over it a helluva lot.

    What I liked about The Two Towers was the sense of despair through the whole thing. It’s incredibly powerful to read about these guys who know they have no chance and [spoilers].

  5. Neerdowell

    Yeah… despair. See, that’s why your the author.

    Oscar Wilde’s “The Angry Giant” on Librivox is a good one.

  6. Joanna

    Fellowship was OK as a readaloud but we broke down somewhere in the Two Towers I think (we had a single volume 3-in-1 copy, which was hard to hold, so I’m a little fuzzy on exactly where we stopped). My son (11? possibly at the time) made me skip all the ballads.

    It’s not so bad, really. I would have kept going if he’d wanted me to.

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