I don’t know about you, but I get excited every time I see the ads for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I might not make it to opening night, but for sure I’ll be seeing the movie right after it comes out in December. Seriously, the only thing I didn’t like about the first installment in The Hobbit was knowing I had to wait a year for Part Two.
I love the way Peter Jackson brought J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth to life in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it, especially the second movie, which was my favorite. I own the deluxe set, but also a couple in the theater cuts because there were some different scenes in them that I liked.
One of the reasons I’ve loved this series is that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were my first introduction to the wonderful world of fantasy books. There have been many others that I’ve loved, but these will always be special for being my first. In my experience, I’ve found that when I read a book that has such a powerful impact, I don’t just remember the title or the characters or why I liked it. I also remember where I was when I held that book in my hands and lost myself in the story.
I was introduced Tolkien’s books when I was in college—and in the middle of finals! My then-boyfriend, now husband of many years, mentioned that he thought a picture of Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame) looked like he’d always imagined Galadriel to look. When I didn’t know who Galadriel was, he gave me his copy of The Hobbit to read. I immediately immersed myself in Middle Earth and didn’t resurface until I’d read all four books in less than two weeks.
And did I mention finals?
Seriously, I can remember sitting on the floor outside of my Asian Civilization class surrounded by people cramming like crazy for the test, which was less than an hour away. Our grade for the semester was based solely on the midterm and that final exam. The importance of the test was reflected in the high level of tension running through the people scattered up and down the hallway as they muttered to themselves and pored over their notes.
Yet, as everybody else was doing their best to memorize the names of dynasties and regions in China and Japan, there I sat, reading like crazy to make sure Frodo and company escaped the clutches of Old Man Willow. It’s one of my favorite memories from college. (And for what it’s worth, I still managed a B in that class.)
But more importantly, I had the true joy of experiencing a world created solely with words on a page (well, and a few maps). What an amazing gift in my life! To this day, I try to keep those special moments in mind as I choose the words and images I use when I tell my own stories. If I do it all right, maybe someone will not only remember the Warriors of the Mist, but where she was when she first lost herself in Agathia and fell a little bit in love with Gideon and his men.
And in the meantime, I’m counting down the days.