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

ISBN: 0553456539
ISBN 13: 9780553456530
By: J.R.R. Tolkien Brian Sibley

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About this book

The original ‘fantasy’ series, and still the greatest, The Lord of the Rings has sold over 100 million copies, been translated into more than 40 languages, and has been voted the best book of the 20th century, while The Hobbit has never been out of print since first published in 1937. If there are any works of fiction that deserve to be owned in magnificent editions – these are surely the ones.Successive generations have been spellbound by the exploits of Frodo, Gandalf and their comrades as they journey towards Mordor to do battle with the Dark Lord Sauron. There is something about the alluring world of elves, dwarves and old magic which has proved exceptionally popular, working on the imagination both as an enthralling adventure story and, at a deeper level, as 'a comprehensive counter-myth to the story of the twentieth century' – Independent. Tolkien’s treatment of the eternal struggle between good and evil, from stirring battles (‘as good as anything in Homer,’ according to C. S Lewis) to the conflict within every individual, is subtle, lyrical and profound.Illustrated by Eric Fraser, one of the foremost British illustrators of the 20th century, his images – a total of 7 full-page images and 57 head-pieces – are based on original designs by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Tolkien had seen her sketches and was so impressed that his executors gave special permission for Fraser to interpret them for these Folio editions. Covers blocked in gold and maps of Middle Earth as endpapers complete this superb edition of one the world’s favourite stories.

Reader's Thoughts


Wow - I have just stumbled on this fantastic quote about Tolkien from China Mieville (via GR friends Traveller and Cecily!) and it absolutely sums up the problem with Tolkien - even though I read him many years ago and even though I was enthralled and read him all over again, every word here is true :"Tolkien is the wen on the arse of fantasy literature. His oeuvre is massive and contagious - you can't ignore it, so don't even try. The best you can do is consciously try to lance the boil. And there's a lot to dislike - his cod-Wagnerian pomposity, his boys-own-adventure glorying in war, his small-minded and reactionary love for hierarchical status-quos, his belief in absolute morality that blurs moral and political complexity. Tolkien's clichés - elves 'n' dwarfs 'n' magic rings - have spread like viruses. He wrote that the function of fantasy was 'consolation', thereby making it an article of policy that a fantasy writer should mollycoddle the reader.That is a revolting idea, and one, thankfully, that plenty of fantasists have ignored. From the Surrealists through the pulps - via Mervyn Peake and Mikhael Bulgakov and Stefan Grabinski and Bruno Schulz and Michael Moorcock and M. John Harrison and I could go on - the best writers have used the fantastic aesthetic precisely to challenge, to alienate, to subvert and undermine expectations." - China Mieville


This book got me started reading. It's the reason I grew up and got a PhD, became a scholar, and so on. I spent hours and hours on a sofa in my parents' basement reading Tolkien and listening to a single cassette tape over and over and over again: "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" (Pink Floyd), "The Court of the Crimson King" (King Crimson), and the intro part of "Time" (Pink Floyd). Somehow it took me another ten years to realize that although this experience was pretty much the crucible in which my identity was formed, there was absolutely nothing unusual about reading Tolkien and listening to Pink Floyd all the time. An entire generation of people was doing the same thing at roughly the same moment. For years I actually thought this had been the basis of my individuality. That's like thinking you are who you are because you like chocolate. Surely only a handful of other people out there like chocolate... I once read a comic about a brain in a vat, and the brain grows legs and escapes from the vat, and crawls around the lab thinking "This is way bigger than the vat!"

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.


To even attempt to review Tolkien's epic is like measuring the coastline - the deeper you go, the more there is to find (or, as the more cynical might put it, the longer it gets.)And it's because it is so many different stories and, indeed, types of story, all melded together into one (at times unwieldy) whole. So, for example, you can read it as a poetry book. Skip all the narrative sections and just read the verse. You'll be surprised at how much of the narrative structure remains intact, and how the themes of loss, redemption, love and courage are still present. Likewise, I often tell people who got frustrated with the "hobbit stuff" at the start to skip straight past that and just read Aragorn's story instead, which is far easier to relate to.So the shifts in tone and style are not signs of bad writing, they are deliberate echoes of the different mythic forms he used as his original model for creating the world of Middle Earth. And it's this underpinning that makes the book so special - his characters live in a world that has its own intricate mythos that they can casually refer to, almost as though they expect the reader to know the stories just as intimately. In the way that an author today could refer to, say, the story of Romeo & Juliet and expect the reader to know the basics, here Aragorn talks about Beren & Luthien in the same way - and we (as readers) realise that we have no idea who these people are - but that those characters do. And, more importantly, that that story has absolutely nothing to do (in plot terms) with the one we are reading (except insofar as establishing a parallelism for Aragorn & Arwen.) It's a common flaw, especially in fantasy fiction, for the world to exist solely for the story that is being told; what makes Middle Earth so special is that, for all its inconsistency and implausibility, it really does have large parts of history that are nothing to do with The One Ring.Tolkien originally set out to create a mythology for England. He ended up doing more than that - and for that we should all be grateful.


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.

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!


It's nice to have favorites. When you have a favorite -- a favorite menu item, a favorite car, a favorite shirt -- you can enter at least one corner of the maelstrom of subjective choices that life presents to you and evaluate the choices in that corner not with respect to some external criteria, but rather with respect to one specific thing. For example, when asking oneself what the greatest book of all time is, one might first have to ask, "what makes a book great?" -- which is a question that one could spend a lifetime only attempting to answer.Instead, after reading a book, I am able to ask myself, "Which is better -- this book, or The Lord of The Rings?"The Lord of the Rings is the best story I've ever read.(Naturally, your mileage may vary -- possibly even dramatically.)A British writer posted something about The Lord of the Rings on his now-defunct website, oh, maybe 7 or 8 years ago. Paraphrasing, he said: "As a creative work, The Lord of the Rings is the work of a second-rate novelist. But if the creative work is Middle-Earth, then Tolkien is one of the very greatest artists who has ever lived." I think that's basically true. (Plus, since I'm not terribly widely- or well-read, it gives me a comforting measure of self-satisfaction.)I caught wind of the movies before filming began -- it was the sort of thing that would have cropped up in the fractions of the internet I frequented. I've come to have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the movies. (stinking academy award winning...) I am thankful Jackson was able to bring them to the masses. I am saddened that in repackaging for the masses, much of what I love about the story was left behind.Why do I like The Lord of the Rings? I like Tolkien's crochety introduction. I like the depth of the invented world -- it has its own stories, its own poetry (of different meters and rhyme-schemes, even), its own languages, its own geography, it's own history. I like the narrator's tone. I like the moments of understated humor. I like the medieval fantasy: swords and monsters and magic. Most of all, I like the characters and the ways in which their actions reflect such primitive things as courage, compassion, honor, and love.Some may hold this genre to be childish, or inherently imperfect. Some time ago I began to speculate that the more straight-up fiction of the mainstream variety may be fraught with more danger, and that there is something objectively worthy even in the fanciful and simplistic. One could scan the New York Times bestseller list and/or book reviews in literary journals and pick out a work that seems well respected, taking place in an essentially real time and place -- say, Chicago, in 1998 -- with, say, a protagonist named Joe, and a Holly-Golightly-esque object of his conflicted affections. Joe and Holly-esque wander and banter and ponder; lather, rinse, repeat. Throw in some other characters. Joe and Holly-esque hit it off! or, they don't. Finis.What lesson is a reader to draw from this? Perhaps Joe and Holly-esque's drama will enter the reader's subconscious (or some such) and, over the course of the reader's life, will impact or inform the way the reader interacts with the world. The reader may come to behave toward the world based on an understanding of the world that derives in part from what the reader observed in the interaction between Joe and Holly-esque.Which, recall, is fiction.So the reader's model of what men and women are, what men and women say and think, what men and women should do, may at some level owe provenance to what some author imagined human nature to be; and this model may in turn have a real impact on real people.What happens if a reader has read The Lord of the Rings? The work might resonate with the reader, and the reader might feel it altogether right and proper to deal with the world with courage, compassion, honor, and love.I know which danger I prefer.


J.R.R. Tolkien has received so much attention over the last several years that it is becoming a popular sport to claim a dislike for his works. The title of "Father" of modern fantasy fits him well and anyone who has such unmitigated success is bound to attract a significant number of naysayers. For my own taste I find Tolkien to be charming and delightful, the stereotypical English county gentleman. His work is well crafted, the storyline is one that easily suspends disbelief. That is provided that you are willing to believe in magic rings and elves. However, I find real genius in the work of Tolkien, the savant father amongst lesser offspring.Reading LOTR again and again I find the genius of Tolkien is in the details. Like a finely crafted antique chest, the story is dovetailed to fit the cultures of so many diverse creatures. Tolkien was a linguist which explains his fascintion for the languages of the elves, orcs, ents, and various tribes of men. Beyond the languages though are the stories. One gets the feeling that if you were to follow the fellowship forever that the goldmine of endless stories of the realm might never run out. Everywhere that Tolkien took us in Middle Earth there were stories. Many of these stories were old, some ancient, but everyone and everything had a story. The true magic is in the interconnection of all those stories, each one weaving into the next. In the realm of great storytellers Tolkien may be the one that rules over all.

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 wish me luck my friends! I know this will be a five star for me. It might take me a month at least.


Anyway, all my nerdy friends love this book and still talk about it- 25 years later. I certainly loved the Hobbit; but my goodness, what a bore LOTR is. I felt guilty, surely I had missed something. I read again (how eager to please I am); well at least join in their animated discourse. On my second read I think i nearly got to the top of Mount Doom with Frodo when I figured: 'Enough! Be gone with you wretched book. I will not be one of many and succumb to the clutches of peer pressure.' I returned to my chamber and lived happily ever after. So I thought. Jackson appeared with clever and powerful propoganda. My friends once again rubbed their hands and chirped in excited chorus. Again, against my will, I was drawn to the power of the book that would unite us all. I did watch the 3 films. I did fall alsleep in the 2 Tower ordeal. I perservered 'the Return'. Jackson did well. He maintained the detailed boredom of the book.


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.

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


This buch was wreckomeaned HIGHLY to me by MJ NICHOLLS. He is an writer to who wrote a buch called The Postmortem Blech which I havenot read bycause I haven’t solved the maize puzzle on the coover yet. (Spoiler it’s hard!) But I sure likked this Ring trilogism. There was short people with big feet and weird people who lived in the woods and I knew who all the evil people were because they looked the least like beautiful Caucasians. What else to say? MJ Nicholls has opened my reading lifes up to so many things, like Donnald Tart’s The Goldfinch, which one book of theyear on Goodreads and is feminist I think. MJ wrote a review of that that people yelled at. Okay bye.


can be summarised as: walking, walking, walking, bit of fighting with orcs, walking, walking, walking, anguish, walking, walking, walking, bit more fighting with orcs, walking, walking, walking.


I read Lord of the Rings first when I was about eleven or so, and then stayed up all night at a hip boy/girl party in the bathroom with Nathan O. ... talking about ents and elves and whether Tom Bombadil was God. Yes, I was a geeky child. However, all these years later, the story has stuck with me. First a warning: Don't read Tolkien if you don't appreciate true-omnicient-narrator-style epics. Tolkien isn't a master character builder: he leaves all that to the reader's imagination. The agony in the Aragorn/Arwen romance -- so blatant and operatic in the movies -- was a longing look on Strider's face at Rivendell, an odd comment from Bilbo, and a short no-nonsense Appendix. As with many of the themes in this work, the romance and deep character relationships must be picked from between the lines.And there is so much between the lines here. The world of Middle-earth lives, utterly lives. Instead of tugging on what-ifs, this fantasy forces readers to imagine. Tolkien's work is the fullest realization of literary world building ever penned.It is also sophisticated writing, drawing on older forms (epic, romance, tragedy). Tolkien doesn't waste time writing snappy dialogue: the story is too epic to dwindle to individual persons. However, voice shifts subtly depending on point of view: chapters dealing with hobbits contain much more dialogue and detail; chapters dealing with Rohirrim have a poetic rhythm reminiscent of extant Middle English works; chapters dealing with elves are magic and blurry and hard to wrap a mind around. These shifts in style, far from being a novice writer's oops, are intentional and serve as mass characterisation of races and groups. So, what Tolkien foregoes in terms of dialogue he replaces with style and action: a classic example of show not tell.Having just spouted all that praise, I have to admit that all the criticisms are true: the story does resound with Luddite anti-industrial metaphors, overt Christian themes of salvation and spirit, a structural decision to include songs that doesn't quite work, and fantasy tropes that are now cliche ... now that everyone else has copied them, that is. The thing to remember is that this book started the genre: everything fantasy, from Philip Pullman to George RR Martin, exists in the shadow of this opus.So, no, it isn't a popcorn read. Get over it. If you invest the time and spirit to read this work, you will be glad you did.

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