The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3)

ISBN: 0618640150
ISBN 13: 9780618640157
By: J.R.R. Tolkien

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About this book

A fantastic starter set for new Tolkien fans or readers interested in rediscovering the magic of Middle-earth, this three-volume box set features paperback editions of the complete trilogy -- The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King -- each with art from the New Line Productions feature film on the cover.J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a genuine masterpiece. The most widely read and influential fantasy epic of all time, it is also quite simply one of the most memorable and beloved tales ever told. Originally published in 1954, The Lord of the Rings set the framework upon which all epic/quest fantasy since has been built. Through the urgings of the enigmatic wizard Gandalf, young hobbit Frodo Baggins embarks on an urgent, incredibly treacherous journey to destroy the One Ring. This ring -- created and then lost by the Dark Lord, Sauron, centuries earlier -- is a weapon of evil, one that Sauron desperately wants returned to him. With the power of the ring once again his own, the Dark Lord will unleash his wrath upon all of Middle-earth. The only way to prevent this horrible fate from becoming reality is to return the Ring to Mordor, the only place it can be destroyed. Unfortunately for our heroes, Mordor is also Sauron's lair. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is essential reading not only for fans of fantasy but for lovers of classic literature as well...Librarian's note: this edition shares an ISBN with the 2004 edition published by Houghton Mifflin Company

Reader's Thoughts

colleen the contrarian ± (... never stop fighting) ±

2.5And so begins my avoidance of epic fantasy.I like the story of LotR - I like the idea of it. I appreciate it's role in history, and the breadth and depth of Tolkien's world-building and involvement. (Though considering that it really is a take on Norse myth and all that, I sometimes wonder if we don't give Tolkien a little bit too much credit for creating the world.)But, anyway - while I like the idea of the story, and the gist of it, my problem comes with the telling.There are tangents and back-histories of people's father's fathers that aren't really relevant. And the poems - my gods, the poems. Written in another language that then had to be translated, taking up another 5 pages.And with Tolkien begins the overly-descriptiveness of minutae that many writers of epic fantasy seem to think is necessary for world-building, but is really just odious.Oh, I know I'm in a minority - a fan of fantasy who thinks Tolkien is not a god. Like I said, I give him credit for what he did, but I think he could've used some serious editing. Also, aside from the above, I *hated* the way the telling was broken up, where we went through a whole section of time from Sam and Frodo's perspective, and then went back and went through the same thing from everyone elses perspective. It wouldn't flowed so much better if the stories were more intertwined.I can't fathom the people who love this book so much they reread it every year, but to each their own. I can respect that. But I found it a struggle to get through it just once - and that was with a prodigous use of skimming the find the plotline when he went off on one of his tangents.Note for modern writers - just because you have some backstory, or some detail, that you have in your mind, doesn't mean it has to be written into the story. If it's not directly relevant to the plot, then let it go. Seriously. It's ok.Even some fans of the book admit that characterization is a bit thin, and perhaps that's my biggest problem. Some people get lost in the details. They become enraptured in the world via these details, so that they feel like they can see and breath the world.For me, I'm all about character. I need to empathize and care. This is my ticket into any book or movie. I ate up a book many didn't like - Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell - precisely because I was enthralled and intrigued by the characters from the start.But the characters in this book are, by and large, role-playing pieces in order to fit the raid, erm, story. By the way, the only reason I came back to write a review on this is because I'm so tired of reading about how you have to read Tolkien because he's sooo wonderful. I mean, great, if you love the books then I'm happy for you and I can see why people do like them - I really do, even though I struggled with them. But to act like it's some sort of blasphemy to not like them really irritates me. Which is why this is more of a half-coherent rant than a review. My apologies - but I don't think anyone is an idiot for liking the book, and I'm tired of hearing the implication that I'm some kind of idiot because I found it less than enthralling.I wish I liked it more - I really do.Anyway, it's really a shame, though, because if Tolkien had built the world and the ideas and given them to a better story-teller, then this could've been so much better. All the elements are there - it's just the telling is a drag. And, in some ways, that's exactly what Tolkien did - and perhaps that is his true legacy.That said, I liked The Hobbit. Maybe it's because he wrote it for his children, or because he didn't feel the need to cram in so much academia and minutae, but The Hobbit just reads as a better story.

Mike (the Paladin)

The epic fantasy against which all other epic fantasies are measured. And there is reason. Beautiful, lyrical, depth, enthralling. I love these books. I've read them many many times. Really they are not to be missed. Highly, highly, highly recommended.'Nuff said!

Manny

Considering that The Lord of the Rings is one of the most popular books of the last century, it's surprising to see how few reviews there are here. I get the impression that many people feel guilty about liking it. It's a phase you go through, and the less said about it, the better. I think this is unfair to the book, which, I am prepared to argue, is a whole lot better than it's generally made out to be; I don't think its huge success is just evidence that people have no taste. It's something that can be read at more than one level, and, before dismissing it, let's take a look at what those levels might be. On the surface, it's a heroic fantasy novel, and quite a good one. It's a gripping, well-realized story, with an interesting fantasy world as background. Under the surface story, it's also clear that there's a moral discourse. It's not an allegory; as Tolkien points out in the foreword, he hated allegory, and we certainly don't have an in-your-face piece of Christian apology by numbers. None the less, the author has constructed some inspiring and thought-provoking symbols. The Ring confers great power, but the only way to defeat Sauron is to refuse that power, and destroy it, even at great personal cost. Frodo's self-sacrifice is quite moving. I also think that Gandalf is an unusually interesting Christ-figure; sufficiently so that many people refuse even to accept him as one, though, at least to me, the argument on that point seems convincing. He comes from Valinor, obviously the Heavenly Realm, to help the Free Peoples of the West. A central part of his message is the importance of mercy, as, in particular, shown by the memorable scene near the beginning, when he rebukes Frodo for wishing that Bilbo had killed Sméagol when he had the opportunity. As we discover, Sméagol is finally the one person who can destroy the Ring. And let's not miss the obvious point that Gandalf is killed, and then returns reborn in a new shape. I find him vastly more sympathetic than C.S. Lewis's bland Aslan, and he is the book's most memorable character.But I don't think the morality play is the real kernel either. What makes LOTR a unique book, and one of the most ambitious experiments in literary history, is Tolkien's use of names. All authors knows how important names are, and use them to suggest character; though when you think about what is going on, it is rather surprising how much can be conveyed just by a name. Proust has a couple of long discussions about this, describing in great detail how the narrator's initial mental pictures of Balbec, Venice and the Guermantes family come just from the sounds of their names. Tolkien goes much further. Most of his names are based on a family of invented languages, linked by a vast complex of legends and histories, the greater part of which are invisible to the reader and only surface occasionally. The astonishing thing is that the technique actually works. The interrelations between all the invented names and languages make Middle-Earth feel real, in a way no other fantasy world ever has. When some readers complain that characters and locations are hastily sketched, I feel they are missing the point. Tolkien was a philologist. He loved languages, words and names, and tracing back what the relationships between them say about their history. In LOTR, he's able to convey some of that love of language to his readers. You have to read the book more than once, but after a while it all comes together. To give just a few obvious examples, you see how "hobbit" is a debased form of the word holbytla ("hole-dweller") in the Old Norse-like language of Rohan, how the "mor" in "Moria" is the same as the one in "Mordor" and "morgul", and how Arwen Undómiel's name expresses her unearthly beauty partly through the element it shares with her ancestor Lúthien Tinúviel. There are literally hundred more things like this, most of which one perceives on a partly unconscious level. The adolescent readers who are typically captivated by LOTR are at a stage of their linguistic development when they are very sensitive to nuances of language, and programmed to pick them up; I can't help thinking that they are intuitively seeing things that more sophisticated readers may miss.Perhaps the simplest way to demonstrate the magnitude of Tolkien's achievement is the fact that it's proven impossible to copy it; none of the other fantasy novels I've seen have come anywhere close. Tolkein's names lend reality to his world, because he put so much energy into the linguistic back-story, and before that worked for decades as a philologist. Basically, he was an extremely talented person who spent his whole life training to write The Lord of the Rings. In principle, I suppose other authors could have done the same thing. In practice, you have to be a very unusual person to want to live that kind of life.Writing this down reminds me of one of the Sufi stories in The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mullah Nasrudin. The guy is invited to a posh house, and sees this incredibly beautiful, smooth lawn. It's like a billiard table. "I love your lawn!" he says. "What's the secret?""Oh," his host says, "It's easy. Just seed, water, mow and roll regularly, and anyone can do it!""Ah yes!" says the visitor, "And about how long before it looks like that?""Hm, I don't know," says the host. "Maybe... 800 years?"

Brad

Twenty-five years ago I'd have given The Lord of the Rings my highest possible praise. I came to Tolkien's masterpiece on my own, and that meant much to me at twelve. The only books that had been reached by me alone were books on mythology and horror. Everything else I read, from DH Lawrence to Hemingway to Dickens to Shakespeare (and this also included Dracula and Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde because they were "true" classics), was suggested and sanctioned by my mother (for which I will always owe her deeply).But The Lord of the Rings was mine and mine alone. It is easy to forget that The Lord of the Rings was not a pop culture phenomenon in the seventies and early eighties. It was a fringe book (at least in North America), something that was not yet considered a part of the canon, something that was not a name on every boy's lips (even if they were just getting to know D&D) let alone every child's lips. Sure it was respected and loved by those who knew it, but knowing it was not a foregone conclusion as it is today, and its audience was almost completely genre oriented. In my little community (my school and the blocks surrounding my home), I was the first kid to read it.And that first reading was a revelation. Sure I'd read The Hobbit, but that didn't prepare me for the breadth and depth of The Lord of the Rings. Middle Earth in its grandest incarnation. To create a fantasy world is one thing, but to breathe life into ages of that world, to keep all the pieces together with such magnificent detail and rigour, to create character after believable character and make us care about most of them, even poor Smeagol/Gollum, that is a literary labour of Hercules. And by pulling it off, Tolkien created the single most important manifestation of Fantasy that has ever and will ever be written. The Lord of the Rings has rightly been named a classic. It is part of the canon, and it deserves its place. It is entertaining, it is weighty, and it is loved by nearly all.Aye...and there's the rub.Its indisputable greatness has made it indisputable. It has become dogma among fanboys and fangirls that the bastions of The Lord of the Rings are unassailable. Criticize Tolkien's work -- academically or otherwise -- and you put yourself in almost as much danger as a chatty atheist trying to engage in a theological discussion in a coliseum full of Jehovah's Witnesses (how many of those folks will make it into the afterlife? Isn't there a limit?).Feminist critics point out the lack of women in The Lord of the Rings, and that those women who are present fulfill only the narrowest stereotypes. Éowyn's strength is dependent upon adopting male gender qualities, a typical stereotype of "powerful women in fantasy," and she is alone amongst the Rohirrim as a woman who can and will fight. All other women in her culture are present as a reason to fight rather than as integral parts of the struggle. Arwen's place (in the books, at least) as a maiden waiting for the hand of her king takes the "reason to fight" to even greater heights. And the only powerful female, Galadriel as the terrible, beautiful elven Queen, is too far removed from mortality and reality to be anything more than a mid-tale deus ex machina, thereby removing her from the realm of women and men and making her a pseudo-god whose power is allowed only because it is arcane and mysterious. Post-Colonial critics have latched onto the racism inherent in The Lord of the Rings, pointing out the hierarchies between the races: from the "superiority" of the elves, to the "chosen" role of "European" Men of the West under the leadership of Aragorn, to the lesser races of Dwarves and Hobbits (the former are "lesser" because they are "too greedy" and the latter are "lesser" because they are children). Post-Colonialists look to the "orientalization" of Sauron's forces and the configuration of evil as an inherent quality of Orcs and "the dark folk." They point out Tolkien's family's history as a cog in the mechanism of English Imperialism, and his own birth in one of the most blatantly racist colonies of all, South Africa (while he did leave at three years old, his family's presence there at all suggests that some of the classic colonial opinions about the colonized "dark races" helped form the man who wrote these books), as possible reasons for this racism. These criticisms further suggest, at least to me, that the archetypal source of all fantasy's entrenched racism -- even those books being written today -- is The Lord of the Rings. Those fantasy authors who have followed Tolkien consistently and inescapably embrace his configuration of the races (yes, even those like R.A. Salvatore who try and fail to derail this configuration) and the concepts of good and evil that go along with them, which leads to the stagnation and diminishment of their genre.The fact is that these flaws do exist in The Lord of the Rings. They are present. They are easy to find. But few of Tolkien's rabid fans want to hear about them. And even when the criticism is not necessarily suggesting a flaw in Tolkien's work but merely the presence of some subtext, the dogmatists react with rage and condemnation. A fine example of this is when Queer and Gender theorists point to the overwhelming relationships between men, and how the relationship between Frodo and Sam is homosocial, at least, and possibly even homosexual. The only true intimacy in the book occurs between the men, after all, and to ignore that fact is to ignore one of key components of why The Lord of the Rings is so emotionally satisfying, especially to young men. Even faced with these ideas supported by convincing arguments, however, many fans either strive for ignorance or attack the messenger. This may have much to do with the worry -- unreasonable though it is -- that to admit that a flaw or something uncomfortable exists in any of these books, which so many people love so deeply, is to accept that The Lord of the Rings is neither great nor worthy of love.But this is not the case. I love The Lord of the Rings even though I subscribe completely to the post-colonial criticism, and see the merits in both the feminine and queer criticisms, not to mention the countless other criticisms and subtexts that are floating around.The books are racist; they are sexist. They are not perfect. And I must criticize the elements of The Lord of the Rings that make me uncomfortable and deserve no praise. But my complaints and the complaints of critics make Tolkien's achievement no less great. Tolkien created the most magnificent imaginary world ever conceived, and, for good or ill, Fantasy would be nothing today were it not for him. The Lord of the Rings is a triumph on countless levels, but it is not the word of God, nor should it be elevated to such heights.I love The Lord of the Rings, but I love it with reservations. I love it because of its place in my personal mythology, its genuine originality, its creativity, its power, but I love it with my mind open to its flaws, and I refuse to make excuses for Tolkien or his work.Twenty-five years ago I'd have given The Lord of the Rings my highest possible praise. Not today. But I am still willing to admit my love.

Jon

LOTR has its faults, yes: it can be excessively descriptive; female characters (even the important ones) aren't as fully fleshed-out and realized as male characters (Arwen spends most of the books making a flag); Gandalf annoyingly and constantly points out how everyone else's decisions are wrong; the refusal to interweave chapter-by-chapter the stories of Frodo & Sam with the stories of everyone else results in literally hundreds of pages going by without mention of the majority of the main players' names; the Tom Bombadil section (as much as I like it) has literally nothing to do with the last four-fifths of the trilogy (yes, I realize it's actually a hexalogy, but most people haven't the slightest clue what that means); and I could probably go on for quite some time. Why, then, do I give this book five stars? Quite simply, it's perhaps the single most read, reviewed, and revered fantasy novel since the genre was invented. The list of authors who have been directly influenced by LOTR would stretch longer than the space given me in this text box, and it's virtually impossible to publish any novel of high fantasy in the modern era without being compared to Tolkien (try it: just go to your local bookstore and start plucking books off the shelf in the Fantasy section--I'll bet you a dollar that within thirty seconds you'll find one with a review that compares it to LOTR). Plus, it's one of the few books (I purposely group them together here for purposes of simplification--plus, my copy has all six books plus appendices in one massive paperback-bound edition) that I've read more than ten times, and every time I read it, I enjoy it more than the last. For all of its faults, I wouldn't change a word of it.

MJ Nicholls

Those books that balloon into virulent, lethal pop-culture viruses that feast on disinterested bystanders. You try to flee them by hiding in a disused warehouse under a soiled mattress in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but Frodo and his friends will find you eventually and pull you into their lair of medieval gimps called Bilbo and Bongo on an implausibly long and homoerotic quest for a misplaced ring. Did they look behind the sofa? Under the fridge? This whole quest could have been avoided! But here’s what I resent about Lord of the Rings. I have been physically, cosmically unable to avoid it. And that hurts. One thing I pride in life is my ability to avoid participating in popular culture in its many-tentacled forms. Since the creation of Dungeons & Dragons and the games it spawned I have been on countless pointless quests for rings. How many rings did I pick up in Sonic the Hedgehog? Millions. Computer programmers adopted this book as their bible, and the subsequent two decades of game innovation (which I addictively participated in) took their “plot” templates from Tolkien. When I left this world, a series of blockbusting films filled up the media pipes like fast-acting carbon monoxide being pumped into my front room year after year as the endless insufferable saga to find a missing fucking ring droned on and on infecting comedies, dramas, films and books with reference after reference after reference. How dare you, Lord of the Rings, invade my cultural happy place so brutally, you ubiquitous beardy bastard? Why can’t you leave me alone? Your ubiquity has devalued any artistic merit the books might have had for me completely. Happy now?

Kanova

I was forced to read this book. Each member of my first book club had an opportunity to choose the book we read. When one of the members chose The Lord of the Rings I was not happy. Fantasy is not my genre! But I was a good book club member and read it anyway.I loved it! There were times when I did not want to sleep because I wanted to finish just one more page or chapter. Tolkien creates whole worlds, languages, species, and histories. It is epic in its scope. Somehow he manages to entertain, make you think, and visualize the world he describes. It taught me a lesson about being open to new things, because sometimes by being open you can be richly rewarded.

Baylee

Leggi la recensione su Lovely Dreams!La mia storia d'amore assoluto con Il Signore degli Anelli è iniziata quando avevo 12 anni. Me lo prestò una mia amica - sia benedetta! - e mi tenne incollata alle pagine fino alla fine (Appendici comprese). Da allora credo di averlo riletto almeno (e sottolineo almeno) una volta l'anno. E ogni volta mi emoziona come la prima.Credo sia impossibile rimanere indifferenti di fronte alla bellezza - alla perfezione - di questa trilogia. Non c'è niente che sia stato lasciato al caso, ogni elemento, ogni personaggio, ogni descrizione è lì per un motivo, per incastrarsi con precisione per formare il disegno della narrazione. Tolkien è semplicemente il Dio Creatore del suo universo e la sua Provvidenza dà il giusto Ordine agli eventi.Nessuno che dica di amare il fantasy può permettersi di non aver letto questo capolavoro. Sembra quasi un trattato sul fantasy tanto le sue pagine sono dense di significati. Non è mai banale, ma è al contempo è grandioso e magnifico, semplice e umile. Tolkien amava la bellezza e ne ha riversata con generosità nelle sue opere - e non solo la bellezza abbagliante degli Elfi, ma anche quella quotidiana e casalinga degli Hobbit. Ma conosceva anche l'orrore della guerra e lo squallore dell'odio: mai come ne Il Signore degli Anelli si avverte la follia del Male, ma anche la sua forza persuasiva.Il Bene vince, ma a quale prezzo: quello che è rotto non può tornare alla primitiva bellezza. Chi è stato ferito a fondo non può godere della vittoria, sempre memore dell'antica - e perduta - bellezza. Ma egli non ne sarà dispiaciuto: altri godranno della pace, prospereranno e vivranno la vita che lui non può vivere. E non è questa la suprema vittoria del Bene?

Joe

1985-First read when I was about 12. Thoroughly enjoyed it then.7/97-Although the battle scenes were difficult to follow, the Elven stuff sentimental and dialog of less developed characters (Legolas, Gimli) sometimes melodramatic, there were plenty of tense moments that made up for at all. The black riders in the 1st book, the tenuous alliance with Gollum and the horrifying scene with Shelob were the most exciting parts of the trilogy. The cleansing of the shire was triumphant. 2001--[Audio]. I started reading this to my daughters, but they were too young still. I couldn't put it down once I began, though, so I got the tapes so I could "read" it despite grad school and church duties. I absolutely loved the reading by Rob Inglis. His voice characterization is delightful. I don't know why I enjoyed the story less the last time. This time, I was totally engrossed. I found so much depth of meaning in the struggle of the ring bearer, Frodo. I also have decided that Sam is the most heroic character in all fiction. And his bravest moment is not when he takes on Shelob. It is when he takes the ring and makes the terrible choice to continue on alone. I can't wait for the movie!

Werner

Actually, I read Tolkien's masterful Middle Earth fantasy corpus, beginning with The Hobbit in the early 70's and finishing the Lord of the Rings trilogy almost a decade later, before this anniversary edition came out. (I also read all four books to my wife in the early 80's; she loved them too!)This body of work is, of course, the genre-defining classic of modern fantasy --especially epic, or "high" fantasy -- which popularized the genre as the publishing market force it is today, exerted enormous influence over practically all subsequent fantasy authors (including R. A. Salvatore and Terry Brooks), and set the conventions readers would come to expect: a pre-technological setting, an epochal struggle between good and evil whose outcome is determined by magical factors, and a demand for personal moral growth on the part of the characters thrust into a pivotal role in that struggle. And Tolkien's depictions of wizards, elves, dwarfs, dragons, etc. became the template for all subsequent portrayals of these creatures.Part of the success of Tolkien's work derives from the breath- taking scope of his world-building, which reflects his day jobs as a philologist and medievalist; he created entire languages and folklores for his "Middle Earth," as well as a detailed, millenia-spanning history. But more importantly, as a devout Catholic, he embodied his deeply Christian world-view in the writing: his fantasy world (though he doesn't employ the kind of explicit Christian symbolism that C. S. Lewis does) is the scene of conflict between and evil with world-altering significance, under a superintending Providence, in which the individual moral choices of both the high and the lowly have significance, and temptation is an ever-present danger.

mark monday

not a review and there probably won't be one any time soon. i also won't be climbing Mount Everest in the near future. but here are some cool illustrations that i found and want to share. World of the Ring by Jian Guo

Kristin Little

Save time... watch the movies. This book can appeal only to a linguist. The underlying story is great, but it is buried under an avalance of horribly annoying songs and poems that do nothing to advance the story. They just take up space. I diligently read every last one, hoping that they held some deep meaning in relation to the story, but if there is one, it is so obscure that it serves no purpose. Also, the book is all about walking. Yes, I know they are on an epic quest, and there has to be soul-searching, etc., but the amount of detail regarding the walking is a snoozer! 45 pages of walking and 3 pages for a huge battle. AUGH! I know that this is a masterpiece, and I agree that the plot line is a beautiful tale of good and evil and power and corruption. However, reading this series was a drudgery. The only really good part that you miss in the movies is when the hobits return to the Shire in the last three chapters of The Return of the King. If you want a Tolkien fix, I'd reccommend The Hobbit.

Manny

Look at thisss, hobbitses! Not bought at flea market for ten francses. Catalogue says worth seven hundred dollarses. Oh yes, Not knows about bookses, gollum. But can't touch, can't read, she says too valuable. Going to eat fish instead, but nice birthday present, oh yes precious.

Gyst

These books were vastly influential, very interesting, but they are ultimately very boring to read.

Audrey *Ebook and Romance Lover*

January 11th, 2014Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien better surprise me :)Loved the movies and also the two hobbit ones that were recently made :)Its 1,178 pages...so wish me luck my friends! I know this will be a five star for me. It might take me a month at least.

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