Skip to content
Advertisements

Book #72: The Lord Of The Rings

Wow. It “only” took me about two months, but I’ve finally completed the epic known as The Lord of the Rings.

As I’ve said before, I had only read about half the novel before inexplicably putting it down many years ago without finishing. What was I thinking?

The Lord of the Rings is, quite possibly, the best novel ever written.

I don’t say that ironically, and I’m not saying that to troll. I really mean it. But, of course, as is everything on this blog, that’s just my opinion—which is reflected in my rankings.

You know the story, right?

There’s a ring that was forged years ago by the evil Sauron in the bowels of Mt. Doom. Bilbo Baggins came upon the ring, as told in The Hobbit. He’s much older now.

After being defeated, Sauron has slowly returned to power—and is doing everything within his power to regain control of the ring, which is now in the hands of Frodo, who is Bilbo’s cousin.

Whoever wears the ring can eventually become powerful—but at the risk of “losing their soul” in a sense, because the ring is full of darkness and evil. A bunch of wise folks, like Gandalf and Elrond, decide the only way to make sure Sauron doesn’t gain full power, and the only way to really destroy him, is to destroy the ring.

The ring has to be destroyed in the fires of Mt. Doom, where it was first created, and that responsibility falls upon Frodo, the ring bearer.

The Lord of the Rings is the tale of Frodo and his companions–like Gandalf the mighty wizard, the future King Aragorn, Legolas the elf, and Gimli the dwarf, as well as his hobbit friends, Merry, Pippin, and Samwise–as they seek to destroy the ring.

One of the many reasons The Lord of the Rings is so unique is its detail.

Tolkien can take two pages to describe a tree. Some readers lose their minds over that amount of detail—and I fully admit I feel the same way when an author is overly descriptive.

But that wasn’t the case with Tolkien.

By the time you’ve read The Lord of the Rings, you feel like you were on the journey with Frodo, that you’ve been through it all. And a lot of that has to do with the sense of place that Tolkien builds into the story.

The settings are so unique, and filled with hundreds of years of backstory of their own. He can’t tell you all of that the history (though he tries in The Silmarillion), but he tells enough for you to get the sense of place and context you need to appreciate what’s going on in the story.

tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien

As Brandon mentioned in his guest post a few weeks ago, Tolkien has been incorrectly criticized for his lack of character development. Brandon points out that he wasn’t interested in character development—but moreso in the use of language in telling a story.

But I would say that he was pretty darn good at character development—for an author who is supposedly not very good at it.

When you think about the development of the hobbit characters—Frodo, Pippin, Merry, and Sam—throughout the course of the three books, you can’t help but be impressed.

But, again, I keep coming back to the beauty of Tolkien’s descriptions. His writing is just fantastic, as evidenced in this passage from Fellowship.

The rain, however, did not last long. Slowly the sky above grew lighter, and then suddenly the clouds broke, and their draggled fringes trailed away northward up the River. The fogs and mists were gone. Before the travellers lay a wide ravine, with great rocky sides to which clung, upon shelves and in narrow crevices, a few thrawn trees. The channel grew narrower and the River swifter. Now they were speeding along with little hope of stopping or turning, whatever they might meet ahead. Over them was a lane of pale-blue sky, around them the dark overshadowed River, and before them black, shutting out the sun, the hills of Emyn Muil, in which no opening could be seen.

Frodo peering forward saw in the distance two great rocks approaching: like great pinnacles or pillars of stone they seemed. Tall and sheer and ominous they stood upon either side of the stream. A narrow gap appeared between them, and the River swept the boats towards it.

Isn’t that pretty?

Look, I could go on and on and on about The Lord of the Rings, but we’re not covering any new ground here. Plus, I’ve been talking about this novel for two months and I’m guessing all of you are tired of it.

So let’s move on. But, please, do yourself a favor and give The Lord of the Rings a chance if you’ve never read it. This is truly an epic novel.

Other thoughts

The Opening Line: “When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”

The Meaning: Tolkien hated allegories, so it’s not that. But the novel touches on death, immortality, the “addictiveness” of the ring, as well as the age old tension between fate and free will.

Highlights: Let’s start with the fact that this novel runs well over 1,000 pages, and I was plugged in the whole time. I already knew how it ends. I understood the basics of the story, though I had never read the second half. But, still, The Lord of the Rings left me mesmerized. I also love how Tolkien plants Merry and Pippin in scenes to give almost a voyeuristic account of what’s going on. They aren’t involved in much combat.

Lowlights: The most difficult aspect of this novel is keeping up with all the names, of both people and geography. There’s Mordor and Gondor and Boromir and Rohan and Aragorn and Arwen and the list goes on and on. It’s difficult, but it’s also amazing how Tolkien created an entire language as a basis of the novel.

Memorable Line: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Final Thoughts: I love this novel. That’s it. You might surprised at where I place it in my rankings, so go take a look if you’re curious. God bless you, Tolkien. You left the world with an amazing piece of art.

Advertisements
44 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nice book to read.

    Like

    August 6, 2014
  2. Congrats! It is an accomplishment to finish reading Lord of the Rings. It took me awhile to get it done as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 6, 2014
    • I still haven’t been able to get past a certain point. Thank you for sharing your experience.

      Like

      August 7, 2014
  3. Sam #

    I don’t see LOTR on your list yet. What did you rank it?

    Like

    August 6, 2014
    • Sorry, forgot to update it. #2!

      Like

      August 6, 2014
      • Sam #

        It’s hard for anything to beat ‘The Great Gatsby.’ I feel like anything in your top 5 is an amazing book!

        Like

        August 6, 2014
  4. The meaning could also include the small, ordinary folk making big changes against the odds

    Like

    August 6, 2014
  5. J.R.Barker #

    Years ago I got half way through the second one, where there were chapters devoted to nothing but walking, and gave up. I did eventually break through, but I can’t really remember it. I’m going to have to read it again.

    Like

    August 6, 2014
  6. 1banjo #

    The Times of London called it the greatest book of the 20th Century and I agree. I had a friend, a Yale man, who re-read it every year.

    Like

    August 6, 2014
    • Wouldn’t argue with that. I put it #2 behind Gatsby.

      Like

      August 6, 2014
  7. Two months. It’s taking me much longer. Haha. Such a good series and well worth the time.

    Like

    August 6, 2014
  8. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    The rain, however, did not last long. Slowly the sky above grew lighter, and then suddenly the clouds broke, and their draggled fringes trailed away northward up the River. The fogs and mists were gone. Before the travellers lay a wide ravine, with great rocky sides to which clung, upon shelves and in narrow crevices, a few thrawn trees. The channel grew narrower and the River swifter. Now they were speeding along with little hope of stopping or turning, whatever they might meet ahead. Over them was a lane of pale-blue sky, around them the dark overshadowed River, and before them black, shutting out the sun, the hills of Emyn Muil, in which no opening could be seen. (J.R.R. Tolkein)

    Like

    August 6, 2014
  9. I absolutely agree with your ranking of The Lord of the Rings. Critics who say that fantasy is a lower art than literary fiction have not read The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien clearly had a great understanding of ancient myth and lore. I actually think he writes characters very well. Sam, Gandalf, and Aragorn are some of the most memorable characters in literature. Memorable because they are inspiring and yet so relatable.

    Like

    August 6, 2014
  10. Bob Berry #

    I have been looking forward to this review and I love it. I “discovered” the 101 Books site only recently and did not “read along” but I will now read LOTR with even more interest thanks to your effort. I’m pretty sure I read the novel at least once ( or, more likely, “turned the pages of”) since I was a reckless drunk reader for many years (not a single “RWI” though). Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 6, 2014
  11. I think there is more to the meaning than he lets on. He doesn’t like allegories but I think he uses symbolism. For instance, I think there is more to the “addictiveness” of the ring. It’s very interesting to consider how something so full of darkness and evil could be so desirable and addictive to seemingly good creatures.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 6, 2014
  12. When I first read it, there literally was nothing like it. The “heroic fantasy” craze had not yet started. I read it several times, including aloud to my wife and young daughter. Wonderful book.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 6, 2014
  13. chyeawolves #

    Reblogged this on The Pages You'll Read and commented:
    An insightful look and review on one of my favorite trilogies of all time.

    Like

    August 6, 2014
  14. chyeawolves #

    Glad that you enjoyed LOTR! I also put the book down when I was younger. When I read it in middle school, I was like “why did I do that? This book’s amazing!” Really enjoyed your post by the way! 🙂

    Like

    August 6, 2014
  15. I see Gatsby still rules.

    Like

    August 6, 2014
  16. after seeing this mentioned so many times in the past two days I am headed for Amazon. I love Kindle Unlimited.

    Like

    August 7, 2014
  17. feedmeinbooks #

    Reblogged this on feedmeinbooks.

    Like

    August 7, 2014
  18. I might need to give this a try again, I too stopped halfway through at my first attempt at the trilogy but this has sparked a little interest for me!

    Like

    August 7, 2014
  19. It took me quite some time to complete the trilogy and it remains among my favorite books of all time. I, personally, did not enjoy Tolkien’s flowery writing as much. I don’t think its necessary to spend two paragraphs describing one hill! Great review and great read! Kudos

    Like

    August 8, 2014
    • I would rather have root canal weekly for the rest of my life than subject myself to the torture of this ghastly Oxford bilge.

      Like

      August 9, 2014
  20. I’ve tried to read it before, but the detail really bothered me! Your review makes me want to try again, though.

    Like

    August 9, 2014
  21. Read it a few years ago – I agree it is a quite epic book. Difficult to put it along side anything. Just a book everybody should read at some point in their lives because it is more than just a fantasy adventure.

    Like

    August 10, 2014
  22. I read this over the course of a weeks holiday in Antigua. My husband made me read this and I made him read Pride and Prejudice. I agree that I’m not a big one for excessive detail but this book just worked for me.

    Like

    August 12, 2014
  23. Bethany Hawkins #

    This has to be one of my favourite series. I completely agree with your whole review and I personally think that Tolkien is one of the most incredible authors ever! The way he sets out the books are incredible and although at times it can be a bit hard going on the reader it definitely is worth it for the amazing story you go through with the characters. When I read this book I was engrossed in Middle Earth and almost felt a part of it! Once again your review was on point!

    Like

    April 3, 2015
    • 1banjo #

      The Times of London said it was the greatest novel of the 20th Century. No disagreement from me.

      Liked by 1 person

      April 3, 2015

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Looking Back On The Lord Of The Rings | 101 Books
  2. Power and morality | Episyllogism
  3. What Do You See When You Read? | 101 Books
  4. The Ten Books of Facebook | On Books and Writing
  5. Eat like a Hobbit, Walk like a Hobbit » Club Adipose
  6. This Girl’s Boyfriend REALLY Loves The Lord of the Rings | 101 Books
  7. Ranking The First 75 Novels | 101 Books
  8. Kingsley Amis On Character Development and Language | 101 Books
  9. The Lord of the Rings Mythology In 5 Minutes | 101 Books
  10. Book Reviews | Bethany's Fitness Fun
  11. Batman Meets Galadriel | 101 Books
  12. The First 80: A Look Back | 101 Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: