Log in

No account? Create an account
08 March 2010 @ 02:25 pm
Durin's Bane  
Whenever talk of fantasy novels comes about, I always feel like the odd one out because I'm one of those rare people that finds the Lord of the Rings trilogy to be a bit tedious to read. As such, sometimes I forget that Tolkien occasionally really does have some great nuggets buried in there, such as when Gandalf describes his battle with the Balrog to Legolas and Gimli:

"Name him not!" said Gandalf, and for a moment it seemed that a cloud of pain passed over his face, and he sat silent, looking old as death. "Long time I fell," he said at last, slowly, as if thinking back with difficulty. "Long I fell, and he fell with me. His fire was about me. I was burned. Then we plunged into the deep water and all was dark. Cold it was as the tide of death: almost it froze my heart."

"Deep is the abyss that is spanned by Durin's Bridge, and none has measured it," said Gimli.

"Yet it has a bottom, beyond light and knowledge," said Gandalf. "Thither I came at last, to the uttermost foundations of stone. He was with me still. His fire was quenched, but now he was a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake.

"We fought far under the living earth, where time is not counted. Ever he clutched me, and ever I hewed him, till at last he fled into dark tunnels. They were not made by Durin's fold, Gimli son of Gloin. Far, far below the deepest delvings of Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he. Now I have walked there, but I will bring no report to darken the light of day. In that despair my enemy was my only hope, and I pursued him, clutching at his heel. Thus he brought me back at last to the secret ways of Khazad-dum: too well he knew them all. Ever up now we went, until we came to the Endless Stair."

"Long has that been lost," said Gimli. "Many have said that it was never made save in legend, but others say it was destroyed."

"It was made, and it had not been destroyed," said Gandalf. "From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak it climbed, ascending in unbroken spiral in many thousand steps, until it issued at last in Durin's Tower carved in the living rock of Zirakzibil, the pinnacle of Silvertine.

"There upon Celebdil was a lonely window in the snow, and before it lay a narrow space, a dizzy eyrie above the mists of the world. The sun shone fiercely there, but all below was wrapped in cloud. Out he sprang, and even as I came behind, he burst into new flame. There was none to see, or perhaps in after ages songs would still be sung of the Battle of the Peak." Suddenly Gandalf laughed. "But what would they say in song? Those that looked up from afar thought that the mountain was crowned in storm. Thunder they heard, and lightning, they said, smote upon Celebdil, and leaped back broken into tongues of fire. Is not that enough? A great smoke rose about us, vapour and steam. Ice fell like rain. I threw down my enemy, and he fell from the high place and broke the mountain-side where he smote it with his ruin. Then darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell."

Reading this passage also makes me feel a bit silly, because for many years, I had not realized that Gandalf had more-or-less been resurrected (as Gandalf the White) after his death from this battle.
stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herder433 on March 8th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
terry31415terry31415 on March 8th, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
I don't know about that rare part. Tolkien's writing is good (obviously), but the pacing is so much slower than books written more recently, in my somewhat limited experience with fantasy. (I've only been reading fantasy for the past few years, once my wife turned me on to it. Previously, I was all about sci-fi.)

BTW, I started smoking cigars because of the scene where Gandalf and Bilbo smoked together, blowing rings (or dragons). Actually, I think I just smoked one cigar, over several weeks. Nasty stuff.
wookieesncreamwookieesncream on March 9th, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)
I think that Tolkien's "tedious" nature is what appeals to many fantasy fans. So much fantasy is written as just a "wild ride," slapping all sorts of different elements together. I find that Tolkien's basically academic style makes his world much more vibrant and believable. It all ties into my Plot vs Setting theory of fiction. You seem to be more of a Plot fan and Tolkien is basically the epitome of a Setting writer.