Mark Reads ‘The Return of the King': Book 2, Chapter 9

In the ninth and final chapter of The Return of the King, the hobbits settle down in the Shire after a long and chaotic journey, but the sadness is far from over. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish The Lord of the Rings.

CHAPTER NINE: THE GREY HAVENS

When his son entered his study, he could see that he’d aged. They always did, and he knew this was an absurd thought to have. His children would continue to get older, and so would he. Soon, they’d have the same lines crossing their faces as he did then, and he’d be their elderly father. For now, though, John smiled at his son Christopher, who came up to his father clutching a thick batch of papers. He recognized that color. They were his papers. His son had gotten the last chapter.

Christopher hugged his father tight, and the two stood close to one another. “I’ve missed you, Papa.”

“I missed you, too, son. Glad to be home?”

“And glad to be alive, too.” His father made to say something, but Christopher put his hand up. “I know the war’s been over for years now, but I still feel the same way. I’m just happy to be here.”

“Well, I’m happy you are here as well.” He paused. “I see you’ve received ‘The Grey Havens,’ then.”

“I do, I do. I know you just finished, but I just wanted to talk to you about it.”

Tolkien gestured towards a chair opposite his desk, offering it to his son. As Christopher sat, he lowered himself into his chair, his bones feeling like they creaked along with the wooden floor. He looked up at Christopher, who sat eagerly holding the pages of the last chapter of his next book. He had to admit to himself that he was a little nervous. It was hard having such a critical person for a son, but John appreciated his son’s insight.

Christopher started first. “Well, obviously, there’s a lot to say, but I did take a few notes about things that stood out to me. If you don’t mind – ” he set the pile of papers aside on a small table, and then he began to frantically search his pockets until he pulled out a small notepad from inside his jacket ” – I just want to go from here, if that’s all right.”

“Of course, of course. I’m interested to hear what you have to say.”

Christopher smiled nervously. “Heh, okay. So.” He flipped open the notepad. “Number one: Lobelia.”

Silence.

“Yes, what about her?”

“No, nothing much. Just that it’s nice she appreciates Frodo. And that she found something aside from greed to go after.”

“That’s it?”

“What do you mean?”

“No witty comments? No snarky remarks about how I should have given her a magical sword or how the hobbits could have prevented Saruman’s police state if they’d just had a van?”

“Well…, no. Nothing.”

John squinted at his son suspiciously. “This isn’t like you.”

“What, I can’t just appreciate the story you’ve told? Are you prejudiced against me, father?”

“It hasn’t been that long since I once told you stories before bed, Christopher. You were rather inquisitive then, and you still are. This is a trick, isn’t it?”

“No, I swear! It’s a great bit of character development, especially for a character who hasn’t shown up since the first couple chapters of the book.”

“I think you’re hiding something from me. Be honest, son. It’s the only way this book will get better.”

“I promise you, Papa, that this is genuinely good. I had nothing witty to say about Frodo becoming Deputy, about Pippin and Merry weeding out the remaining ruffians, or about the brilliant way that the hobbits repaired Hobbiton and Bagshot Row.”

John allowed a quick smile, but then narrowed his eyes again. “But…?”

“There’s no “but” here.” Pause. “Yet.”

“Oh, so you’re just providing me with a cushion of praise, aren’t you?”

“No, no, these are my genuine opinions!”

“Just give it to me. What’s your genius way of improving my story? Hot air balloons? Telephones? Talking ponies again?”

“Now, you see here, talking ponies are awesome. I still think if you can have orcs and dragons and eagles that can talk, ponies should be included in that. I’m not the one with horse bigotry running through my veins.”

“That’s not even a thing, Christopher. How can you be bigoted against horses?”

“Why don’t you look in the mirror?”

“No, I’m not doing this. I refuse to. We’re not even discussing anything that’s actually in the book. How does this even happen?”

Christopher grinned widely.

“Oh, to hell with you.”

“It’s so easy to upset you, Papa.”

“I’m old now. You’re being bigoted against old people. Don’t you care about your father?”

This time, Christopher ignored his father, turning back to the notepad he held in his left hand and reading aloud. “Number two: Why do the owners of the Rings always act so mysterious?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, why didn’t Galadriel just tell Sam that the silver seed she gave him would turn into a mallorn tree?”

“Because sometimes gifts are best as a surprise? Would you have liked it if I gave you an itemized list of what all your Christmas gifts were every year?”

“Well, at least then I could have provided feedback.”

“Must you give your opinion on everything?”

“Hey, you and mother gave me these genes, so don’t blame put any blame over here.”

“You’re impossible.”

“Okay, but seriously, why do they always speak in riddles and ambiguous statements? Did she know Sam was going to return home to the Shire? What did she see in her magic pool thingy?”

“‘Magic pool thingy?’ Really?”

“Whatever, you know what it’s called.”

“Why can’t you just accept magic? It’s magic, Christopher. That’s the whole point of it.”

“So Galadriel used magic to make sure Sam got back to the Shire to plant the seed, then.”

John groaned loudly. “Every time, I fall for your ridiculous logical mazes. You would think I would have learned over the last decade not to take the bait.”

“Number three.”

“Oh, so you’re already moving on? You don’t even care what you’re actually saying, do you?”

“Why isn’t Frodo canonized as a saint?”

What?

“The dude just sort of gives up in the book. I mean, Pippin and Merry live up to their reputation, but perhaps Frodo would have felt better if they made him the Patron Saint of Adventure or something.”

“You are making absolutely no sense at all. There’s no religion in Middle-earth.”

“Well, then that’s clearly the problem with the hobbits. Those dirty heathens.”

Exasperated, John turned away from his son, swiveling sideways on his chair. “I’m not speaking to you right now.”

“Good, I’ll continue. Number four: Who the hell is Rose Cotton and why is she marrying Sam?”

John stayed silent.

“I think this is a poor choice, Papa.”

More silence.

“We don’t know that much about Farmer Cotton’s daughter.”

More silence.

“Clearly, Sam and Frodo should be the ones getting married.”

John turned to look at this son, who appeared quite sincere.

“Look, they’ve already held hands, slept next to one another, kissed each other, just went on a long vacation together, and knew one another better than any other living creature in Middle-earth.”

“Christopher.”

“I’m just saying. It’s rude of Sam to ignore all that love and go after someone who is not Frodo. They’re meant to be.”

“I’m not putting that in the book.”

“Well, I guess you hate something else besides ponies: freedom.”

“You’re being ridiculous.”

“Frodo invites Sam and his new wife to live with him. That’s some beautiful poly love going on there. Do hobbits have sex, Papa?”

“I’m not answering that.”

“I assume they must. Will you write in a hobbit sex scene? It could be a lovely teaching tool.”

“No.”

“Come on.”

“Who would want to learn about sex from hobbits, son?”

Christopher raised his hand.

“You’d be the only one, I assure you.”

“How will you explain to children who read your book about how Elanor came about?”

“I’ll tell them to ask their parents.”

“You could always make up a myth for it in Middle-earth.”

“You came prepared, didn’t you?”

“Would you expect anything else from me?”

“How do hobbits have children in Middle-earth, Christopher?”

“They grow in the ground.”

John paused. “You know, this is so absurd, I have to hear it through. So… what?

“Well, the hobbits enjoy potatoes so much, so it’s obvious that’s how their children are raised. So they’re grown underground alongside potatoes. They feed on the potatoes until they’ve become large enough to claw themselves to the surface.”

“How do these hobbit babies breathe until then?”

“Gosh, can’t you just appreciate the magic of the process, Papa? Can’t you just enjoy it for what it is?”

John scowled at his son. “Stop using my words against me.”

“Stop oppressing the potato babies, then.”

“I…I don’t know what to say.”

“Did Legolas and Gimli get married?”

“Well, so what happened was – ”

“To each other, I mean.”

“What? No.”

Christopher dramatically grabs the pile of papers off the table next to him and throws them to the floor. “THEN YOUR NOVEL IS WORTHLESS.”

“Christopher, keep it down.”

How can they NOT end up together??? They’re basically married as it is!”

“That’s not how it works, beca – ”

“How am I to have any hope for the future of my romantic life if Gimli and Legolas do not spend the rest of eternity exploring caves and forests? My life is meaningless.”

“Will you hold it together?”

“Number five: Is this book I am holding the book Frodo wrote?”

“No, I wrote it.”

“Well, then this is some meta shit, Papa. He wrote a book inside your book.”

“Yes, he did. But they’re more memoirs. I’m telling the whole story.”

“Which is Frodo’s story.”

“Yes.”

“Which Frodo wrote down.”

“Yes.”

“Which is what you copied.”

“No.”

“You’re lying to me.”

“Frodo is a fictional character, son. I created him. I cannot copy a story from someone I invented.”

“That’s pretty talented. I don’t know how you did it.”

“How many more do you have, Christopher? I’m exhausted and you’ve provided no useful feedback at all.”

“None?”

“Are you surprised?”

“Surely you’ll give potato babies a second chance, yes?”

“No.”

Christopher sighed. “Well, that’s all I have.” He closed his notepad and returned it to the pocket on the inside of his jacket.

“That’s it? You have nothing to say about the ending?”

“No. It’s good. That’s all.”

“That’s it?”

“I admit,” Christopher said, “that I don’t have anything witty to say.”

“Really.”

“No. Really.”

John looked at his son, and he saw the somber look on his son’s face. It made him feel uncomfortable.

“It’s over, isn’t it?”

“What’s over?”

“This,” Christopher said, gesturing to the scattered pages on the floor. “I suppose I always knew it would be ending soon. I knew you were getting close to the conclusion. I guess I also knew that Frodo couldn’t stay, either, but… well, it was hard to read.”

“Trust me, it was hard to write.”

“It just reminds me of coming home. You know, after the war. I know I didn’t see much action, since I’m the youngest one. But it’s so difficult to come home after something like that.”

“Well, that’s the idea I was going for, I guess. Frodo was changed forever. It was time for him and the rest of the old age to pass on. To be honest, I thought you would have some sort of snappy comment about where these characters drifted off to in that great white ship.”

“I just like to give you a hard time. That’s all.”

“So you don’t even want to know.”

“It’s not really the point, though. This is about what Frodo did to save the world. He’s the hero of the story, and that’s how he was going to find peace, wasn’t it?”

“Exactly.”

“You had to end it with Sam, didn’t you?”

John smiled. “I think it’s the way it should end. I guess I like the idea that Sam leaves again on a journey, but this time he returns home safe and sound, and to his wife and daughter. It’s a different return for me.”

“You just want to make people cry.”

“No, that’s not what I’m looking to do. Wait.” John paused, then smiled at his son. “Did you cry?”

“No, of course not.”

“You’re lying.”

“No, I just had dust in my eye, that’s all.”

“Admit it! I totally made you cry.”

Christopher smiled. “Okay, it was really hard not to. If we’re being honest, I think I started feeling sad right around when Frodo and Sam ran into Elrond and Galadriel. And I pretty much lost it when Pippin and Merry showed up.”

“It was very emotional for me to write all this, you know. It’s taken me so long to get this done.”

“I know.”

“So… do you like it?”

Christopher smiled. “Of course I do, Papa. It’s brilliant. The best story you could ever have written.”

John returned the smile. “I still remember trying to tuck you in at night. You always had so many questions. You still do. But all those questions and all those nights of reading…. Who would have ever thought it would come to this?”

Christopher stood and pulled his father up into a hug. “I always knew you would do this,” he said quietly into his ear. “There was no one else better suited for the job.”

It was just what John needed to hear.

*

There will be four more days of Lord of the Rings posts, my friends. We can all sob after the last liveblog is over. Let’s keep this party going!

(Additionally, I’m going to experiment with something at the end of all my posts starting today. I’m discovering that no matter what I do, people still miss out on announcements and whatnot, and the only thing I’m certain all the people in this community read is that day’s review. So I’m going to include links of pertinent information as a sort of footnote to every post that will include announcements, links to important things, and anything else I want to make sure others can see. We’ll see how it goes!

Mark Links Stuff
– Check out my eBook store. Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Mark Watches Firefly are both on sale now.
– I now have a Lulu storefront where all my previously released eBooks are now available as printed books, including a complete edition of Mark Reads Twilight.
– I am going on tour in April/May to promote Mark Does Stuff in the western half of North America. Please RSVP for any dates and help find a venue!
– I am on Twitter: @MarkDoesStuff
I have a Facebook page for Mark Does Stuff that I’m updating regularly. Feel free to like it and spread it to your friends!
– I start Mark Reads The Princess Bride on Monday, March 26th!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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5 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Return of the King': Book 2, Chapter 9

  1. Rachel the HobbitWife says:

    Crying all the tears.

    It’s oooooovvvvvvvveeeeerrrrrrrrrrrr!

  2. Danielle says:

    EVERYTHING IS TRAGEDY FOREVER BUT ALSO BEAUTIFUL.

  3. clodia_risa says:

    When the movies were first pretty big, I lived with a roommate who had some rather bigoted opinions on slash. He thought that all of the Frodo/Sam shippers were totally gross and didn’t get it at all.

    I told him that in my opinion, it didn’t matter if Frodo and Sam totally wanted to bone or not. That either interpretation was equally valid. What mattered is that their love was so pure that it saved the world. Their love was so complete that they saved each other.

    If anyone wants to tell me that it is impossible for two people to feel that love and not have mutual attraction just because they are the same gender, you’re wrong. If you want to tell me that there absolutely must be mutual attraction with a love that overwhelming, you’re wrong.

    What Frodo and Sam felt for each other was love and friendship and everything that is beautiful. They will always be closer in spirit than anyone else in the world.

    On the other hand, I wonder what would have happened with their story if it had been written 200 years in the future, when it wasn’t illegal to be homosexual. When some people didn’t feel like they had to kill themselves when they were outed. When there had better be equal rights for everyone.

    Frodo and Sam are soulmates. Full. Stop.

  4. farfromdaylight says:

    POTATO BABIES

    mark i love you for everything.

  5. evildevilgirl02 says:

    I think there should be a post called “Mark Reads LotR Fanfiction”. We could send him fanfiction, and he could yell at at them because they all lack orc pillows and potato babies.

Comments are closed.