Frodo learns that a magic ring that was left to him by his Uncle Bilbo is incredibly dangerous. The wizard Gandalf warns Frodo that the Dark Lord is searching for the ring, and Frodo must leave his home in the Shire. A few of his loyal friends accompany him through the wilderness, hoping to discover a way to destroy the evil ring.
Every time I reread this trilogy, my heart soars and I get inspired! I just love the deep spiritual themes about friendship, grief, duty, honor, love, and courage. There have been many times in my life when I have faced a difficult circumstance and I found courage and hope in the examples of these characters. There is so much meaning behind every scene. There is always another layer to unpack and explore. I especially find encouragement in the Christian themes and imagery. Tolkien’s writings are saturated with faith.
2.5 stars Belrog the Minotaur tells the younger minotaurs the tale of Grom, a legendary minotaur warrior who fought the Blue Dragon in a great war. Grom was once a simple soldier, apprenticed to learn from one of the fighting Masters. General Kelkak leads them to war when a dragon and his army of orcs threaten their peaceful city. The dragon has orcs and evil elves on his side, but the Minotaurs have their own magicians and a secret company of berserk minotaurs who will fight to the death.
Loki has been banished from Asgard. Odin has given Loki the form of an 11-year-old human, and sent Thor, Heimdall, and Hyrrokkin (also in the form of humans) to keep an eye on him. Loki must learn to be good within a month’s time, or he will be punished for all eternity. Thor and Loki go to school together and must dodge the sneaky Frost Giants, while Loki tries all the wrong ways to be good.
At Princess Amy’s christening, one of the fairies grants her the gift of ordinariness. Compared to her beautiful royal sisters, Amy is plain and ordinary. All her sisters have long blonde hair and perfect complexions. Amy has short mousey brown hair and freckles on her nose. As Amy grows up the royal family is distressed, because no prince wants to marry an ordinary princess with freckles. Princess Amy must take her destiny into her own hands, and prove that you don’t have to be beautiful and perfect to find happiness.
This YA fantasy takes place in the Middle Ages, and Sylvie is terrified that an Inquisitor from the Holy Catholic Church could denounce her as a witch. She has a special ability to heal which she believes is from God, but being a good Christian won’t save her from being killed as a witch if the wrong people find out about what she can do. Sylvie tries to heal her mother, but when it goes terribly wrong, Sylvie leaves her quiet French village searching for someone who might be able to teach her how to control her powers. Her little friend, Martin, tags along eager to travel and see the wide world.
Octavia has lived all her life within the walls of her city, the last refuge for humanity in a world that has been destroyed by war and plague. The only living things outside the walls were monsters. There was no human life left anywhere except in Octavia’s city…. or so she believed. Octavia meets a mysterious girl who claims to be from another city. Together they could destroy everything the town believes and bring healing to a society drowning in lies.
I loved this book so much! The adventure, the magic, the world building, the character growth; this book has it all! I got emotionally attached to the characters very quickly, and it was so wonderful to see how Octavia grows and heals and changes as the story progresses. There are so many big revelations and plot twists as Octavia learns just how deep the lies really go. Every time she discovers something new in her world, the reader discovers it along with her.
Sai pretends to be from a wealthy family in order to get an apprenticeship with a mapmaker. She hides that her father is a criminal, and uses her skills as a forger to help the mapmaker copy maps and documents. When the mapmaker goes on a sea voyage to explore new regions of the world, Sai is eager to leave her past behind and start a new life. There are tales of dragons and dangerous seas in the South, but the riches and rewards could be immense.
I loved this story! It’s so exciting as they travel further and further from Sai’s home, and the people on board the ship begin to divide into groups with very different goals. Both the adventure and the emotional journey have a lot of tension and suspense. There are so many great twists in the plot!
2.5 stars Eamon and his friends visit the abandoned home of their favorite author, Addington, who wrote stories about animals who celebrate Barley Day with a massive feast. Those stories inspired and comforted Eamon for years after he was abandoned by his father. But now, when Eamon and other fans of the author visit the setting for those stories, they find that the truth behind the book is stranger and far more frightening than they could ever imagine. Because there is another Barley Day tradition besides just the feast… the Barley Day hunt.
I really liked Eamon’s character. He is a broken person, an orphan who finds it hard to connect with others. But he is trying to be emotionally healthy and have a good life. I was inspired by his growth and how he recognized his personal problems and tried to overcome them. I loved his jovial and teasing dynamic with his friends.
Maggie lives in an urban society that has outlawed the use of magic. When the fabric of the dimensions begins to collapse, and holes in reality start to appear, the government tries to use science to deal with the problem. When Maggie meets her new stepfather for the first time, she knows he is involved in some kind of powerful magic, because he is surrounded by wisps of shadow that loom in the darkness. The shadows seem to move about on their own, wiggling and changing with every mood.
I loved the magical urban setting in this book! It’s very modern, with cars and cellphones, but the history of the world includes magic, passed down by genetics through certain families. The world-building has such great depth, and it was so interesting learning all about the magic system.
As Bilbo sets off on his last journey from Rivendell to the shores of the sea, he sings this last poem as his farewell to MiddleEarth before boarding a ship that will take him to Valinor with Gandalf, Frodo, and Elrond. The poem itself is not very long, with one stanza on each page.
This book is beautifully illustrated with gorgeous settings that show Bilbo on his way to Valinor. The illustrations begin with Bilbo at Rivendell. He talks with Elrond about making the last trip, and they make plans for travelling. Bilbo and the company of Elves pass through the Shire, where Frodo and Sam join them. They reach the harbor where Cirdan the shipwright is waiting to greet them. They say goodbye to Sam, Merry, and Pippin. The final illustration shows Bilbo reaching the shores of Valinor.