I had a guess as to where this was from and I was right. When I double checked the context though, what strikes me as a bit odd is that the narrator compares the passing of the dragon to an express train, something that, while familliar to the reader, is completely unknown and non-existant within the milieu.
When I first read the book in question, I never noticed it. The probable reason is that the narrator for the story is external to the characters. The author is telling an ancient story to a group of his contemporaries; the events are not being recorded by someone who experienced them.
When I last read the book (the past 6 times) I wasn't writing my own, and didn't know what I know now about writing.
I am finding it an enlightening experience to go back and pick up several of my old favorites with an eye for analyzing how they were done. I'm surprised at some of the techiques used that would not pass muster in the F&F forum.
As regards to our little tri-tome that begins with the festivities leading up to the exploding dragon... I remember watching the son of the publisher in an interview included in the extended DVD movie rendition. The man chortled when asked about whether his father, the original publisher, had edited the manuscript.
"Author X (are we still trying to be secretive about this?) was a professor of languages at Oxford. One did NOT edit anything he wrote."
The out-of-milieu metaphore of a freight train would be the author's error, and his alone.
The Lord of the Rings is supposed to be taken from a book written by a hobbit, isn't it?
Maybe Tolkien is really telling us 'pssst, the western isles is really the future and Frodo is living under Platform 5 at Central Station.
In a hole in the sidewalk there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty wet hole filled with the butts of cigarettes and candy wrappers, nor yet a dry dusty hole with nothing to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means pizza!
[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited November 15, 2005).]
Thanks for the hint. The only book I've ever read with a dragon was The Hobbit (I'm not really a fantasy buff), and that was years ago, so I figured I should leave the guessing to others.
My feeling is that what Tolkien wanted most out of The Hobbit and LOTR was to describe this place, this Middle Earth, where he could stick his languages. I don't think he'd blink before using whatever word he thought described a scene the best. Description was his thing, after all.