As I was reading the Lord of the Rings, a quote continuously came to mind. It is a quote from C.S. Lewis' review of this book, "a reviewer need say little, except that here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron; here is a book that will break your heart." It is stunning to watch these books unfold and become enveloped in the world presented therein. Such craft and artistry is largely unmatched, but oft imitated, and special because of how much dedication it took to pull the whole thing off. Tolkien walked away from his "trilogy" (really one novel in six parts divided into three books) having crafted something incredibly special -- something which only he could have made. Every inch of the world was a portion of his palette, and no inch of it went unpainted it seems.
One very interesting detail is how the various countries of men (humans) speak in the novel. The halflings, those of the west and the Shire, favor a very folksy, contemporary-to-Tolkien, down-home English. Meanwhile, the folk of Rohan speak a very formal, almost archaic English, using "thee" and "thou" at times. Gondor, meanwhile, speaks a very formal, although less archaic language. It is interesting how Tolkien draws these lines linguistically, carefully distinguishing between his people groups. Absolutely fascinating. Finally, there is such beautiful philosophical and theological insight in this novel that one will often find himself floored by what he reads.
It is unfortunate that the novel slows down dramatically after the war when the hobbits return home and must save the Shire. There is nothing particularly wrong with this narrative development, and it actually serves as a nice wind-down from the main war, but it feels as though it goes on just a moment too long. On the one hand, it serves to prove that war touches everything (even beautiful places like the Shire), but on the other hand it somewhat hurts the book in its final pages. Yet, even so, the book is so full of beauty that it surpasses this minor bump in the road, and the final chapter is one of incredible beauty and depth.
All I can think is:
'I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.’