Question for Week #1: If you could live in any fantasy world, which one would you choose (and why)?
My selection falls between those two overarching favorites: Narnia and Middle Earth.
To me, Narnia always seems very…transitory. A marvelous adventure ground, but hard to find a concrete place or time in which to settle down in (which is partly why I love The Horse and His Boy so tremendously… you get to stay).
So when it comes to an absolute choice I waver—especially when I think of Shasta and Aravis plunging into that cascading waterfall with its mysterious, invisible scent of massing rhododendrons, and then of Shasta’s drink of the crystal stream running over the fresh grass and his first breakfast with the dwarves in their delightfully homey kitchen—but all in all (if it was a life choice and I had to choose), I think Middle Earth.
I particularly love both Anórien and Ithilien.
From The Return of the King:
“(Merry) could not see them, but he knew that all round him were the companies of the Rohirrim. He could smell the horses in the dark, and could hear their shiftings and their soft stamping on the needle-covered ground. The host was bivouacked in the pine-woods that clustered about Eilenach Beacon, a tall hill standing up from the long ridges of the Druadan Forest that lay beside the great road in East Anórien.” (Wonder of splendid wonders—there are pine trees in Anórien!)
And this earlier quote from The Two Towers:
“Day was opening in the sky, and they saw that the mountains were now much further off, receding eastward in a long curve that was lost in the distance. Before them, as they turned west, gentle slopes ran down into dim hazes far below. All about them were small woods of resinous trees, fir and cedar and cypress, and other kinds unknown in the Shire, with wide glades among them; and everywhere there was a wealth of sweet-smelling herbs and shrubs. …fronds pierced moss and mould, larches were green-fingered, small flowers were opening in the turf, birds were singing. Ithilien, the garden of Gondor now desolate kept still a disheveled dryad loveliness.
“South and west it looked towards the warm lower vales of Anduin, shielded from the east by the Ephel Dúath and yet not under the mountain-shadow, protected from the north by the Emyn Muil, open to the southern airs and the moist winds from the Sea far away. Many great trees grew there, planted long ago, falling into untended age amid a riot of careless descendents; and groves and thickets there were of tamarisk and pungent terebinth, of olive and of bay; and there were junipers and myrtles; and thymes that grew in bushes, or with their woody creeping stems mantled in deep tapestries the hidden stones; sages of many kinds putting forth blue flowers, or red, or pale green; and marjorams and new-sprouting parsleys, and many herbs of forms and scents beyond the garden-lore of Sam…
“The travelers turned their backs on the road and went downhill. As they walked, brushing their way through bush and herbs, sweet odours rose about them. Gollum coughed and retched; but the hobbits breathed deep, and suddenly Sam laughed, for heart’s ease not for jest.”
In the end, a place to put roots down deep into the brown-turned earth, a land of wide running leagues between one place and another, with fire wrought story at the turnings—hugeness and depth and darkness and the joy beyond words.