LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien
Place of Purchase: eBay
Reading Began: January 2002
Completed Reading: March 2002
Overall rating: Nine out of ten
Recommendation to others: Definitely read this book, but if you are not a fan of fantasy novels, watch the movies first. Having an impression of the characters prior to their actions in the book makes all the difference in the world.
Why I chose to read this book: The first of the film trilogy was released in December 2001, and I was instantly captivated. I had been saying I would read this book for most of my life, but I never quite made a point to do it. I also had an aversion to “fantasy”. My uncle and grandmother read it when I was very young, and I remember hearing them discuss it from time to time. Respecting their tastes and opinions, I knew I should give the book a try. However, I had attempted The Hobbit as a teenager and was utterly bored with Bilbo Baggins. It was a large hurdle to overcome until I realized this was not the story of Bilbo Baggins. What sold me, in the end, was having familiar faces in front of me (namely, the actors in the films) while encountering the characters on the page. It was as if I knew them, then, so the book was mesmerizing from start to finish.
Further reading by this author: The Silmarillion; The Histories of Middle-Earth; The Unfinished Tales; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Comments: There is no end to my love for Lord of the Rings. In my mind, it is a near-perfect book. Mythic heroes, action-packed story, heartwarming romance, and battles against evil. It’s all here. Once I began this story, I never wanted to put it down. I purposed to read one [always lengthy] chapter a night, every night, but would find myself still devouring it at two and three a.m. It was the most mesmerizing book I had read since The Chronicles of Narnia, read as a pre-teen. And for someone who really doesn’t like “fantasy” as a genre, this is quite remarkable.
Had I not been familiar with the characters and the story’s beginning, I might not have made it past the opening chapters. But having actors’ faces in the place of Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Sam made the text come alive in more ways than mere words could. I rooted for them on their journey in as many audible ways as I had during the first film. Tolkien’s words became necessary to my existence for a brief three-month period, and I found myself completely consumed by all things Middle-Earth. Even when I had completed the story, finding myself fully satisfied with its end, I still craved more. There are not many authors about whom I can say that, not many books that fall into that category.
To say that Lord of the Rings changed my life is a bit over-much, but I do know that I am a different reader than I was previously. Tolkien’s words made me think, contemplate even, and his imagery and created languages made my heart soar. I wanted to know more, feel more, experience life in greater ways than ever before. Which I suppose means I was inspired. I believe I was.
I plan to revist Middle-Earth often during my life, and I’m thrilled to introduce this book to everyone who has not yet given it a chance. It’s sometimes difficult to wade through, but it is a masterpiece worthy of savoring.
Favorite Characters: Pippin, for his sheer childlike nature and for his redemption at the end of the story. Éowyn, for her spirit and balance of warrior and woman. And Faramir, for the love he brings to Éowyn, and for his own story of personal struggle against an unloving father and in the shadow of his brother.
Book Two, Chapter Seven: Lothlórien
“Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.” (spoken by Haldir, p. 339)
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
“As Frodo prepared to follow him, he laid his hand upon the tree beside the ladder: never before had he been so suddenly and so keenly aware of the feel and texture of a tree’s skin and of the life within it. He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself.” (p. 342)