I first met you five years ago in assembly. I had no idea who you were, or what you would come to mean to me. You were simply another book, another story, riddles in the dark. Two years later I found you again, read you, taking in the words like a desert plant takes in the rains. Your unlikely heroes, your magic, touched me, drew me in, changed me utterly. Your films only added to that. You taught me obsession, built a bridge with no parapet across the great river of uncertainty and doubt. You taught me love; love of home, love of the world, love of the forbidden. And pain. You taught me pain too, filling my heart and then ripping it away. And now you teach me to move on, to aim to walk in starlight, rather than paths worn smooth by familiarity.
Watching your three films now, I see only what others, wiser and more judgmental than I, saw from the start. I see details ignored which should not have been passed over, characters who shouldn’t exist forced into impossible love stories. I see CGI where it can’t be unseen, and I see tales which I loved pull off their masks of glamour to reveal an impossible dream. Nothing will follow you, I see that now, because an epic can only be crafted once–anything which follows can only ever be a pale imitation, wraith-like in its lost splendour.
And so, to Bilbo Baggins, to the company of Thorin Oakenshield, to everyone I met on my unexpected journey, I wish you all a very fond farewell.