For this week, I've been escaping into some delicious books, which I'm going to share with youse all here.
As a fantasy buff, I have a hard time raving about much other than fantasy, but since I know you people like to dapple in more than just that, I've found a couple other non-fantasy books I think you'll enjoy.
1.) THE LORD OF THE RINGS, BY J.R.R. TOLKIEN - Fantasy
Gandalf also changes from the sometimes cantankerous, sometimes merry wizard to a great leader, a wise leader, the White Rider to whom all look for hope.
All the characters undergo the most amazing character arcs, including Strider, who long resists the role he has been born for, but at the end accepts and indeed even embraces his destiny as King of Gondor.
Then there's Eowyn, White Lady of Rohan, who desires such great things in her life yet finds her dreams cast aside daily for the cause of duty.
And there's Faramir. I have always loved Faramir. His story is one of my favourites. Against all odds, he remains one of the truest men of Middle-earth. Despite his father's lack of love and favour, he does his best to be a good captain of his men, and a dutiful son. He is so uncomplaining, so selfless, so dear. He would go to his death, if his father asked it of him.
However, reading this time around, I developed an unexpected love for the hobbit Merry. I've liked Merry for years and years. But his, I think, is one of the saddest stories. While Frodo and Sam go off together to destroy the Ring at the end of book one, and Pippin is taken by Gandalf to Gondor after Pippin looks into the palantir, Merry is left behind. In fact, Merry is always getting left behind. He feels like such a useless member of the Fellowship, and his loneliness and sense of unworthiness really touched me. I think, after Frodo and Sam, Merry has become my favourite hobbit.
You all know the story... at least, you all OUGHT to know the story. I'm not going to bother telling you what it's about here. But give it a read. It starts off as a slightly more advanced fantasy novel, and develops into an epic High Fantasy read, but the beginning is really easy to get into. Hopefully you'll just keep going on, all the way through the Appendices. :) (You Tolkien diehards know what I'm talking about.)
2.) SHANE, BY JACK SHAEFER - Western
It is a time of unrest in the town. A man called Fletcher, a powerful cattle rancher, is trying to buy up all the farmers' land to expand his ranch. If a person doesn't want to sell, Fletcher has ways of persuading him. Tension escalates while Shane stays with the Starretts, until a time comes when he knows he has to face Fletcher and his gunman Stark Wilson. Otherwise, all the town is at risk, and Shane is in danger of losing the Starretts forever.
This is a great Western. I read it in one afternoon, and it is not boring at all! There are some great bar fights (sheepish grin), some good old fashioned Western justice, and a touch of romantic tension. This is one of my most favourite Westerns.
3.) GUNS OF NAVARONE, BY ALISTAIR MACLEAN - Mystery/Espionage
This is just one of the best books ever. Period.
Twelve hundred British soldiers are marooned on the island of Kheros. The Royal Navy plans to send ships to rescue them, but there is a problem. The only deepwater channel through which ships can sail is heavily guarded by radar-controlled guns of gigantic magnitude: the guns of Navarone. Navarone is an island off the Turkish coast which is heavily fortified by Germans in an attempt to stifle British activity in the Aegean.
After a failed bombardment attack, Captain James Jensen brings together a highly specialized team of saboteurs. Their goal is to sneak into Navarone by climbing the island's unclimbable south cliff and penetrating the German fortress housing the guns.
They have one week.
Leading the team is Captain Keith Mallory, a New Zealand Officer with the Long Range Desert Group. He is fluent in Greek, and is well-known for his incredible rock climbing skills.
Then there is Andrea, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Greek army. He has a secret past only Mallory knows of, and he is a ruthless fighter when aroused.
Corporal Dusty Miller, an American explosives expert is chosen precisely for that reason: his expertise in explosives.
Petty Officer Telegraphist Casey Brown is a Royal Navy engineer. He is in charge of the boat that will bring them all to the south cliff, and takes care of communications.
Last is Lieutenant Andrew Stevens R.N.V.R. He is a young naval officer in charge of navigation. He is fluent in Greek, and also an experienced mountain climber.
There is a skirmish on the sea.
There is a storm.
There is a terrible accident.
There is survival, capture, and escape.
And the guns of Navarone are waiting.