One Book to Rule Them All

I don’t run the hamster wheel on Amazon Prime Day, spinning round and round searching for deals and opportunity to needlessly spend more money. But hours before the annual (so-called) sales event ended, on July 12, 2023, I came upon one intriguing item among the many suggested discounts flooding my RSS feeds (If you don’t know what RSS is, return to TikTok and resume running the mouse maze to nowhere).

Need I say, since you can see what from the Featured Image? I don’t collect books, but having something tangible and non-digital to read is always smart. You got grid down scenarios, because of summer heat or threat of cyberattacks, for example. What if Russia-Ukraine escalates to global war? I will want something to read while waiting to die from radiation poisoning during nuclear winter.

The hardcover edition, illustrated by the author, was discounted to $26.14 from a list price of (cough, cough) $75. If I had waited, and really wanted the book, Amazon price is $39.19, this evening. Ah, nah. I spent as much as willing for something justified as being a belated birthday present to myself. The three-books-in-one volume arrived today.

I first read The Lord of the Rings in 10th grade. I own a Kindle version that serves as reference but has never been thoroughly read. Some books demand the ink-to-paper experience. Digital won’t do, and I expect to prove such when reading the hardcover during the next few weeks or so (I’m not a slow reader just short on time).

From my meager perspective, J.R.R. Tolkien is a masterclass writer—someone anyone seeking to write better should read (damn, that’s an awkward sentence). Decades later, I easily recall passages—many of them from third book Return of the King—for their drama. Tolkien literally brings words to life, like reading—rather than watching—a fine film.

In Chapter 4, “The Siege of Gondor”, the castle is breached and the battle is seemingly lost; alone, Gandalf faces Lord of the Nazgûl:

In some courtyard of the City, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, recking nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn. And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin’s sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.

The first reinforcements had arrived.

In Chapter 6, “The Battle of the Pelennor Fields”, “Théoden, King of the Mark, leads the Riders of Rohan to an early route, until he is suddenly unhorsed and mortally wounded by the undead Nazgûl. The king is seemingly abandoned:

‘Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!’

A cold voice answered: ‘Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye’.

A sword rang as it was drawn. ‘Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may’.

‘Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!’

Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. ‘But no living man am I! You look upon a woman’.

If you have never read The Lord of Rings, now would be a good time to correct course. Yes, the Peter Jackson movies are exceptional. But so is the source material.

For the uninitiated, the title of this post loosely derives from verse about the Ring: “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them“.

The photo comes from Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture and shutter speed manually set: f/2.8, ISO 1000, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 7:21 p.m. PDT.