Happy Tolkien reading day to you all!
With this being the first year that I’ve been aware in advance of Tolkien reading day, not only do I get to read, but I also have the time to get a bit of writing done and share fully in the excitement and joy of the day!
For this years theme of Home and Hearth: the many ways of being a Hobbit there are countless different options of reading that fit in to the theme; for me I have chosen to spend my reading time in the prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring; Concerning Hobbits.
I wanted to look back into Hobbit history to the time that they settled into the beautiful land that offers peace and plenty to all of its inhabitants; their permanent home; the Shire.
A helpful aid in this short journey is the interactive map of Middle-earth created by LOTR Project
Of their original home the Hobbits in Bilbo’s time preserved no knowledge. A love of learning (other than genealogical lore) was far from general among them, but there remained still a few in the older families who studied their own books, and even gathered reports of old times and distant lands from Elves, Dwarves, and Men.
Their own records began only after the settlement of the Shire, and their most ancient legends hardly looked further back than their Wandering Days. It is clear, nonetheless, from these legends, and from the evidence of their peculiar words and customs, that like many other folk Hobbits had in the distant past moved westward.
Their earliest tales seem to glimpse a time when they dwelt in the upper vales of Anduin, between the eaves of Greenwood the Great and the Misty Mountains. Why they later undertook the hard and perilous crossing of the mountains into Eriador is no longer certain.
I find this first passage that I’ve chosen to be one that fills me with curiosity, I daresay there is more information available out there that has been dug through and sorted by the experts. I’ll have to do some further research into these subjects that fill me with questions such as the Wandering Years of the Hobbits.
Even so, we are provided with some definitive facts within this passage about the movements of the Hobbits and their journey to find a new place to call home. One such fact is that they had in the distant past, moved westward.
Yet another question arises though, and that is why they undertook such a perilous journey, crossing the Misty Mountains and entering Eriador in the first place.
In the westlands of Eriador, between the Misty Mountains and the Mountains of Lune, the Hobbits found both Men and Elves. Indeed, a remnant still dwelt there of the Dunedain, the kings of Men that came over the Sea out of Westernesse; but they were dwindling fast and the lands of their North Kingdom were falling far and wide into waste.
There was room and to spare for incomers, and ere long the Hobbits began to settle in ordered communities.
We are then informed that by Bilbo’s time, most of these earlier settlements have disappeared and been forgotten, lost to the passing of time. One of the earliest still endured though, and that was the settlement of Bree.
Going back again; we are told about the Fallohide brothers, Marcho and Blanco setting out from Bree and crossing the brown river Baranduin (Brandywine) with a great following of Hobbits.
They passed over the Bridge of Stonebows, that had been built in the days of the power of the North Kingdom, and they took all the land beyond to dwell in, between the river and the Far Downs.
This was the year of the crossing of the Brandywine and thus became Year One of the Shire.
About this time legend among the Hobbits first becomes history with a reckoning of years.
Also referred to as the shire-reckoning.
Hobbits fell in love with their new land, and they remained there, and soon passed once more out of the history of Men and of Elves.
This passage struck me as the point in the Hobbits’ history when their land became their home; settled so much into their new found home that they even passed out of the history of Men and Elves.
The land was rich and kindly, and though it had long been deserted when they entered it, it had before been well tilled, and there the king had once had many farms, cornlands, vineyards, and woods.
Forty leagues it stretched from the Far Downs to the Brandywine Bridge, and fifty from the northern moors to the marshes in the south. The Hobbits named it the Shire.
Here is the farming/self-sustaining civilization’s equivalent of winning the jackpot lottery.
There in that pleasant corner of the world they plied their well-ordered business of living, and they heeded less and less the world outside where dark things moved, until they came to think that peace and plenty were the rule in Middle-earth.
Throughout further reading of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, we gain a lot more insight on just how the Hobbits’ well-ordered business of living was plied, and just how homely and settled they were in their idyllic land; and just how important things like home and comfort truly were to those happy folk.
And for a very long time, thanks to the protection the Hobbits unknowingly received from outside the Shire; peace and plenty were the rule within their homeland and the world outside didn’t require their attention or worry.
That’s all from me for this year’s Tolkien Reading Day, I hope you have enjoyed this selection of passages.
What are you reading to celebrate? Have you written about it? Feel free to share your links on this post and I’ll give them a read as soon as I have the opportunity; I have a lot of reading ahead of me for the rest of the evening.
Happy Tolkien Reading Day!!
The Road Goes Ever On…
Yesterday I published my most recent piece of Middle-earth art which is also quite apt for today’s theme although unintentional at the time of conception.
If you fancy getting your hands on a Limited Edition Giclee Print of the artwork, simply click the image below!
Thanks for joining me and until next time, farewell!