It is unlikely that anyone reading this has never heard of Lord of the Rings. J.R.R Tolkien is pretty much the father of fantasy, the king of world-building, the master of creating languages and characters, and a man who really likes his descriptions. However, there may be some people who have heard of Lord of the Rings, are aware of it’s popularity, know that creatures called ‘hobbits’ and ‘orcs’ play a part in the story, but really have no clue what the actual story is about. Or maybe you’ve been living under a rock and have no clue what this ‘Lord of the Rings’ thing is! Perhaps fantasy isn’t your thing or Elves and Dwarves and creatures called Gollum just don’t really appeal to you, which is fine. But to aid you in your decision of whether or not you should give this series a go, I’ve written a helpful review for your viewing pleasure! As for those of you who have read Lord of the Rings, I hope you love it and I hope that you enjoy this review as well.
Summary: This is the story of a mis-matched group of characters who embark upon a journey to destroy a powerful ring that could cause catastrophic events if it is to fall into the wrong hands. The ring has a dark and bloody history that you learn throughout the beginning of the book. The book starts with the birthday of elderly hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who passes the Ring onto his nephew Frodo Baggins. After receiving a warning from his friend and wizard Gandalf the Grey, Frodo embarks upon a journey with three of his hobbit friends – Sam, Merry, and Pippin in tow. They reach Rivendell, home of the elves, where they form The Fellowship of the Ring – the group who will take journey to destroy the ring. From there the group heads off on a dangerous mission to destroy the ring once and for all.
Writing: Tolkien’s writing will not be for everyone. His writing is meandering and dense and incredibly descriptive. The chapters are long and he lingers over the details of the entire journey. There isn’t time lapses, nor does he skip ahead to the action. He provides every changing detail of the landscape, of the sky, and of the characters moods and feelings. This can make it difficult to read at times and if you’re an impatient reader (I usually am) then you may struggle. However, his writing is also beautiful. Just the fact that he knows his world so intimately that he can describe such specific parts of the land in such detail. Give yourself time to read this one though, it’s not a quick read in any sense.
Plot: The plot is intricate and interesting and follows the structure of a journey. In terms of the overall plot of the whole series, not a whole lot happens in this book, but foundations are built, characters are introduced and the journey is begun. You’re introduced to the different species that live in Middle Earth, you learn of the ring and its significance, and you become invested in the characters. Its difficult to comment on the plot as someone who has watched and adored the movies because I feel that I cannot look at it in a completely objective way (not that anyone can review anything objectively). However, I will reiterate that I think Tolkien is an absolute genius – his story is so layered, woven together in a complex blanket! His story is original and exciting.
Characters: I adore these characters. Tolkien’s writing shows its age when it comes to his characters and how they interact with each other. They are more affectionate than most characters that I have read and their language is dramatic and almost theatrical at times. This is what makes them so enjoyable and so loveable. Frodo’s gardener and best friend Sam is sweet and emotional and the bond between them is so beautiful. Tolkien isn’t afraid to show both physical and emotional affection between all of his characters and it’s so refreshing to see – especially in an older novel. There is also diversity, and people learn to respect and understand each other, despite coming from different races. If you’ve seen the movies but haven’t read the books, the characters are different in the books; if only in their language and their smaller actions. The movies portrayed them accurately, but the books give them a different dimension that I really appreciated!
I’m currently reading The Two Towers and I feel as though it may take me a while, but I am happy to pace myself and enjoy the writing and one of my favourite worlds.
Have you read/Lord of the Rings? What is our stance on the books/movies?