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.
I finally started my journey into The Lord of the Rings, courtesy of another buddy read, which I will link at the bottom. I probably would have never gotten to it if it wasn’t for this push! I’ve got some mixed feelings. If I were to give an overall rating, I would give it a 3/5 stars. Bear in mind, I have never watched the movies or formed an attachment to this series in any way. This is one case where I think I would have enjoyed the books more if I watched the movies first, and I intend to watch at least the first one before I go into the next book, which I will continue with eventually. Unfortunately, you shouldn’t have to watch a movie to get into the book that it is based off of, so the rating will stand.
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say
I started off pretty intrigued in the hobbits and Frodo and that quickly turned to boredom. 50% of the book, it felt like a struggle to get through. I got to Tom Bombadil and was like, this guy is pretty unique and then got bored again because that section lingered a bit too long. I think Tom in general is pretty interesting since he’s shrouded in a bit of mystery. I actually love when our authors don’t feel like they have to tell us every little bit about a character, because that’s true to life, we don’t know everything about ANYONE. Two of my favorite authors, Rothfuss and Hobb, employ this tactic. It can drive you absolutely mad with wanting to know more about specific characters, but that intrigue can build an amazing story. It’s good for us to use our imagination to complete characters in our minds. Then Strider came in and things started to get interesting. Up until this point, I felt like the character development with our forefront characters was so bland that I wasn’t connecting with Frodo’s group. In contrast, the world building is outstanding. Tolkien spends most of his time building this world up instead of developing his characters. For some people, this is exactly what they’re looking for. There’s a reason why people love Middle Earth, and it’s absolutely due to Tolkien’s time spent weaving its illusion. The lore and the songs were something that I adored because I have a penchant for subtle clues when building a story, if you pay attention to the words in the songs, they provide a lot of detail. I LOVE world building but my true heart lies in character development. When Strider came in, I felt like we finally start to get some depth to our characters and our merry little band of friends start talking more, rather than it feeling like we are just reading about them walking. It wasn’t until about 75% that I actually was INVESTED in the story and I felt like we were starting to experience enough action for me not to glaze over and have to reread paragraphs.
Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew that this was going to be a verbose novel. At times, it’s more than just verbose… it’s plain ole dry in that first 50%, at least to me. There’s always going to be people that have read more fantasy than I have, but I have a decent range. I read A Song of Ice and Fire before watching Game of Thrones and fell into the camp of wanting people to read the books before watching the show because I feel like the show is more enjoyable after having read the books. It is another series that is loquacious, but I can’t say that I ever spent 50% of the first novel glazing over. I say this because you get scoffs here and there about not having read LotR. I’ve read plenty of fantasy. This personally would never be the book I recommend to get someone into fantasy. Most people aren’t going to wait 50-75% of a book to see if it gets better. It makes me wonder how many of the people who have told me that they have tried fantasy and hated it was due to trying to start with LotR. That’s not to say that people can’t (in fact, I know many people HAVE) jump into fantasy by reading this first, but I would recommend something more universally palatable. That being said, Tolkien drops these little nuggets of wisdom that absolutely reminds me of why I love the fantasy genre. It’s a testament to the fact that fantasy is capable of being this magical journey while teaching us about ourselves and our world. We are capable of bravery in unlikely times, we can be compassionate when we least want to. Fantasy has always been so much more than it is marketed, it’s not just for “nerds” or dreamers, it’s for people that like looking deeper into themselves and humanity as a whole. Tolkien drives that point home effortlessly.
Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.
There’s no doubt that Tolkien was truly a pioneer of the fantasy genre. I am not debating that in the least. Throughout Fellowship, there were times that I was found myself with that Eureka! moment during a scene or when seeing certain terms or an expression, where it was obvious that another author’s book was heavily influenced by Tolkien. He’s the father of epic fantasy and there’s no doubt that the fantasy genre as whole would be much smaller without his influence. Gandalf’s awareness that absolute power corrupts absolutely is groundbreaking. To have a powerful being capable of taking more power into his hands and saying no is monumental. This certainly isn’t a new comparison but you can’t read Harry Potter, learn about Dumbledore and not think of that influence. This is just one of the millions of comparisons you could make.
All in all, I am excited to see where this journey goes, as it leaves on quite the cliffhanger and I am completely in the dark about what happens. I’m happy I did finally decide to read this because now I am able to have some narrative on the subject. Thanks to David, Pato, and J.M. for the push on this buddy read, I wouldn’t have done it without you!