Green Hill Country by Ted Nasmith.
Another faithful rendering of the essence and spirit of Tolkien’s writing by Nasmith! I am re-reading The Fellowship of the Ring at the moment, and have just finished the chapters ‘Three is Company’ and ‘A Short Cut to Mushrooms’. I know that many people have found these earlier chapters to be slow-paced, ill-suited to the grandness of the rest of the tale – tedious even! But I take exactly the opposite view. The early chapters in The Lord of the Rings are essential in emotionally connecting the reader to the foundational characters of the book: the the small, homely, down-to-earth hobbits. Our journey begins with them, in familiar and comfortable settings. We get to know the hobbits, and come to care not only for them but their beloved and simple Shire.
As Frodo tells us, “I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable.” And as the story goes on, and the darker and more desperate it becomes, we too feel the same way. The memory of the light-heartedness and idyllic setting of the early chapters provides the perfect foil for the weight and danger of the latter stages of the tale; the distant memory of the Shire, indeed the nostalgia, captured from these early chapters and so far removed from the fear and shadow that will follow, contributes to the epic nature of the journey as it proceeds. It is also what cultivates a longing and sadness for what is lost, increasingly felt as the quest continues, especially so by the end.
So for me, these early chapters are precious; just as it is with everyday life, we may not understand its value and significance while we are living through it, but we come to appreciate it and look wistfully back at those simpler times as the years go by.