The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is a fascinating read. Of course, there are those who will have nothing to do with the books based on its use of witches and wizards as its backdrop. Another discussion for another time. But I am convinced that she could have used anything as her backdrop and written just as good a series. She wrote in such a way that would have me glued to the pages, following the story carefully. And just when I would think I had my fill, she would throw a paragraph or even a sentence at the end of the chapter and I would be like “Now I have to keep reading!” The things she wrote about became darker and darker for the main characters, until I simply thought there was nothing but doom at the end. But through it all, I felt like that as bizarre as many of the elements of the stories were, they were still crystal clear. I could visit Hogwarts and see the library, the quidditch matches, the forest, and all the places that the main characters spent their years discovering and allowing us to discover with them.
I have never read any series quicker than I read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I started reading them Christmas Day of 2001 and finished January 13, 2002. I simply could not put the books down. I’ve read them several times since. It’s the ultimate underdog story – that a creature as small as a hobbit could have the bravery, the fortitude, and some would say the luck, to take this mighty ring, ignoring its temptations for so long, to the one place it could be destroyed – the heart of Mordor where its maker and master dwelt, ever longing to have it restored to him. No one, I repeat no one, ever painted so clear a picture with words as this man did with these books. No detail is to trivial to leave out – you will be told what the color of the bricks on the fence you are passing are, the curiosity of why some are missing, and the conjecture of who might have built such a fence in the first place. That is his style – so detailed and precise that my mind has no issues seeing the Shire, the Misty Mountains, Rohan, Gondor, and Mordor, of envisioning how beautiful or how dreadful these places were.
And then there’s the series that means more to me than the others – The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Is it as heart pounding as Harry Potter? No. Is it as detailed as The Lord of the Rings? Not by a long shot. Quite honestly, J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t like the books. So what does this series have for me? It doesn’t simply take my imagination to another place; it makes me long for another place. The children in these stories were just that in this world, but they were kings and queens of Narnia. They lived normal lives here, but every journey into Narnia was an adventure. And while they did not always feel loved in this place, they were well aware of the great lion Aslan, who being so terrifying and powerful, had nothing but love for each of them. Lewis recognized that there is a God-designed desire created in all of us to go to another place, because ultimately, none of us will stay in this one very long. And while his stories aren’t as deep or long or descriptive as the ones above, they go straight to my heart and the desire I have to go to my home, the place God has prepared for me.
The written word – from the pen comes people, places, stories, adventures, emotions, and more that stir our imaginations and our hearts. And those who are gifted with the skill of wielding it do so with a beauty and a wonder that can only make it fit to be called art.