The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3)

ISBN: 0345235118
ISBN 13: 9780345235114
By: J.R.R. Tolkien

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About this book

THE GREATEST FANTASY EPIC OF OUR TIMEWhile the evil might of the Dark Lord Sauron swarmed out to conquer all Middle-earth, Frodo and Sam struggled deep into Mordor, seat of Sauron’s power. To defeat the Dark Lord, the accursed Ring of Power had to be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. But the way was impossibly hard, and Frodo was weakening. Weighed down by the compulsion of the Ring he began finally to despair.The awesome conclusion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, beloved by millions of readers around the world.

Reader's Thoughts


I have finally finished the Lord of the Rings! I had first started the first book over ten years ago, in my early teens. I have since attempted to read them about three or four times. All prior attempts were abandoned sometime toward the end of the first book or the beginning of the second. It was simply too boring for me at the time, and seemed to be going nowhere. With age came maturity, however, and I finally succeeded, and I managed to enjoy the journey as well! Thus ends the greatest literary endeavor of my life so far.What made Lord of the Rings so hard to review upon publication was Tolkien's unique goal in writing it. Even now, over fifty years after its release, over which period its shadow has only extended to cover ever more of Tolkien's lesser imitators, it stands alone. Is it really a novel? Is it even an epic, given that its entire mythology is completely fabricated and never considered to be actual history? Whatever one thinks of these issues, it is rather clear that Tolkien reached his professed goals in writing LotR. His forward to the second edition of the text states, "The prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them." While the reviews blasting the length of the work or its dull pace certainly exist, most readers can say that their attention was held, they were amused, delight, and even sometimes excited or moved. The indelible mark Tolkien has left on fantasy is a monument to his success.Is there, then, any room for criticism? Of course. One may disagree with his intent, or point out aspects of the text that were stylistically problematic, morally questionable, and so forth. Some of these, of course, are more sensible than others.Perhaps the most frequent criticism, especially among the élite and literate, is that Tolkien's prose is bad and his pacing is dull. The boredom issue is subjective. The prose one can be made more concrete, while remaining somewhat subjective. I had the opposite experience of most readers, judging by the reviews here: Tolkien's dialog was excellent. The characters and regions were differentiated, and the wisest and most eloquent of characters (Gandalf, Saruman, Denethor, the elves) had some beautiful and forceful dialog. Highlights included the conversation between Denethor and Gandalf, any monolog of Saruman, and almost the entirety of the Council of Elrond chapter. One is reminded of the best speeches in epic poetry from all cultural traditions. The frequent poetic devices, archaisms, and syntactic flexibility add to this effect.On the other hand, I agree with the detractors about Tolkien's description. At best it was boring. At worst -- and the worst was too frequent -- it was boring and unclear, and therefore worse than pointless (e.g. Treeboard's grotto). The best descriptions were those of the fantastical that were sufficiently vague to permit imagination. Mount Orodruin and Minas Tirith are too such examples (although the latter included the frustratingly vague description of Rath Dínen's location). The pacing is uneven -- FotR was exciting and full of discovery and beauty; the TT was rather slow (and almost immobile in the Fangorn segment); the RotK moved along at breakneck pace and provided a thrilling conclusion. The songs and poems embedded in the text are its low point. They are just awful. One or two were tolerable; they rest, not so much. Why we must read a bath song or Tom Bombadil's terrible verses is never established. Whatever Tolkien was trying, even if it was some masturbatory impulse to show off his non-existent poetic ability, failed utterly. Bad bad bad. Very bad. The song of Eärendil at Rivendell was probably the sole good inclusion. Your mileage may vary on this issue, but no me gusta.On the other hand, as I have noted in my reviews on the other two books in the 'series,' Tolkien's prose was very deliberate in one particular way: diction. Tolkien was a linguist and drew primarily on Germanic inspirations for his mythology. What better way to do this than using Germanic language? Read a paragraph anywhere in the text and think about how many words are Latinate/Greek in origin; the answer is disproportionately few. Tolkien created a linguistic effect by using mainly English/Germanic words.Another criticism is the characterization and character development. I feel the characters are a mixed bag. Again, it is important to remember that LotR is not merely about individuals undergoing psychological change, as many modern novels and short stories are. Tolkien is not interested in exploring in detail the thought processes of his characters, just as the epic poets and even dramatists were not. Of course, characters have motivations, but we are not privy to every detail. Some characters stick out as exceptional. Frodo, Gandalf, Éowyn, Denethor, Elrond, Galadriel, and Gandalf are particularly interesting, and all have distinct personalities. Other characters, not so much. Gimli and Legolas seem to exist to provide interaction between Elves and Dwarves. Merry and Pippin were not well differentiated (the films were excellent in providing actual personalities to the two), and pretty much all the important lords and knights are generically valiant. In brief, there are hits and misses.Tolkien's plot is indescribably complicated, not least of all because the events of LotR are simply entries in the annals of a history that extends back thousands of years. While the book does not begin in medias res, Tolkien masterfully conveys a sense of passing time and forgotten lore from the beginning of the work, when Gandalf spends years learning about the One Ring. The complexity of Middle-Earth is emphasized throughout all the work, especially through the appropriation and conversion of architecture (Minas Ithil/Morgul, Minas Arnor/Tirith, Greenwood/Mirkwood, Amon Sul/Weathertop, Orthanc, to name but a few). The issues of passing time and the individual's role in it are picked up by the departure of the Elves and the conversations between Frodo and Sam at the end of the Two Towers. The emotional impact this has upon the careful reader should be experienced firsthand. At a time in our world where history is more forgotten by decision-makers and the general population than ever before, LotR provides a much-needed counterpoint. Is human history divided into eras? It history circular or directional? Is there such a thing as decay, or a Golden Age, or recovered glory? The theme of time's progression makes Tolkien's work realistic in a way ignored by most fantasy authors, to their great detriment. Time in LotR is one of the strongest elements of the work.Related to the issue of time is the partial subversion of the epic hero. Frodo and Sam are virtuous but are not noble or battle-tested or even covetous of fame or glory. They are not rulers (Aragorn is, however), nor do they ever ascend to high ranks of nobility, though they enjoy great honor throughout the land. When they return to the Shire, however, they are changed, in such a way that they can never return to normal life. Unlike Odysseus, Frodo and Sam have only temporary peace and quiet. Tolkien's ending is therefore not totally happy: Frodo leaves Middle-Earth because his pain is too great to bear(view spoiler)[; Sam leaves when his wife dies and nothing tethers him to the Shire any longer (hide spoiler)]. They have thus prepared a world which they are unable to enjoy. Again, a remarkably realistic touch given the struggles that soldiers face coming home to a society that cannot or does not appreciate or even understand their efforts.It would be impossible to comment on every other theme or motif within Tolkien's work, but I did want to briefly touch upon morality in LotR. It is no secret that the work is fundamentally Christian. The largely dualistic moral system should therefore be unsurprising. There are, of course, shades of grey -- Gollum, Bill Ferny, Saruman even -- but the central conflict is clearly between an obvious good and an obvious evil. I do not find this problematic. We confront "obvious evil" all the time: what else are genocidal tyrants who murder senselessly, or psychopathic serial killers? LotR focuses on a conflict against Sauron, who desires the destruction of freedom and good. Given this focus, it should not be surprising that a dualistic moral system is in play. Most of the peripheral characters and locations are glossed over. Dol Amroth may have its crime problems, but they are not relevant to the story being told.The question of agency is more interesting: are any characters evil because of human agency, or are they evil only because Sauron's evil influence has taken over them? I do not think it is a stretch to say that Tolkien's view of humanity is optimistic: almost none of the protagonists make decisions that would be considered evil/wrong without being influenced by the Ring (as Boromir). But greed, selfishness, and disrespect abound not only through characters like Wormtongue, Saruman, Bill Ferny, and others, but also in the historical figures that have shaped Middle-Earth. Faramir resists the Ring; Boromir does not. Agency does appear in the Lord of the Rings, but in subtle ways.The morality of LotR is unsatisfactory in one respect: Tolkien does not actually address the issue of technological progress adequately. The only real advancement comes from Saruman, who of course is corrupted, etc. We are then left with the bizarre impression that society should come to a technological stand-still. Fine; perhaps Tolkien is a Luddite of sorts. But then what of Minas Tirith? What of the horse lords? What of the archives, all of which use paper? What of the cities and fortresses that clearly encroach upon nature? The answer is unclear. Perhaps Tolkien means to suggest that some balance with nature is possible. I would agree. The problem is that this system requires perfect benevolence and a total lack of curiosity on the part of every rational being involved. Militaries often spur scientific progress as a defensive maneuver; only complete and total trust could rid them of this apparent need. But how is such trust possible unless every person is perfect? The issue of agency resurfaces: Is all evil gone now that Sauron is? Or are the humans, remaining Elves, dwarves, hobbits, and others still agents who can do wrong? Unclear. Given the roles that technology and society play in the book, this is a slight oversight, but not enough to dampen enjoyment.I am very glad to have read Lord of the Rings. In terms of artistic goal and the nature of the book, it is of course sui generis. More than that, however, it is amusing; it is delightful; it is moving. It is full of wise aphorisms and strange tales. It is both personal and epic. It does reflect a particular worldview that we can critique and/or apply to our own lives. Tolkien likely had no idea how significant his novel would become, but that is for the best: he wrote the book for his own purposes, with an eye toward his readers and his own enjoyment. It worked.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Greg of A2

And so it ends. What Tolkien did so well in the final book was to provide closure to the story. The fellowship is allowed to part ways in a fine and loving fashion. Most writers never go to these lengths to conclude a story (probably an additional 40 pages after the destruction of the ring and the completion of the quest). And just when you think the story had come to a quiet end, the return to the Shire is filled with drama. And here, Tolkien gives the reader a chance to observe the new found confidence and maturity of the four hobbits. There is no better three volumes of fantasy in print as far as I'm concerned.Note on text: this 4-book Houghton Mifflin trade paperback set (known as the Alan Lee set) is great because it's inexpensive. The size of the volumes make for good traveling companions and easy holding while laying about. But...and it's a big but, this edition is poorly edited and is ripe with punctuation errors (missing commas) and misspellings. This is not a collector's set or a set that a serious reader would want to own if they wanted just one authoritative set. Much better editions of LOTR exist.


Swords and fights and epic elves and aragorn and hobbits and aaagh!!


I can understand why The Lord of the Rings is one of the most popular books of all time. It had adventure, action, war, and magic. But it reminds me too much of a blockbuster action movie, which keeps the audience entertained, without really providing any substance. While I didn't find this book very entertaining, I can see how others do, but I fail to see how it found its way onto a list of 100 All Time novels.As one who thinks great characters are what makes a book great, Lord of the Rings was a huge disappointment. All the characters, without exception, could be described as two-dimensional at best. They seem to lack the emotional complexity normally found in intelligent beings, and instead seem more like characters from a fairy tale, where everybody is either 100% Good or 100% Evil. Despite having 1,349 pages with which to work, most of the characters' back stories are never really explored, save the odd one paragraph anecdote about a past incident. And nor do they ever really change despite their journey and experiences. I found each character to be so vague, I was never able to develop any sympathy or attachment to any of them.That there wasn't really any story behind most of the characters was only part of the problem however. With a couple of different plot lines unfolding in the third book, there would be times that I wouldn't read of Frodo or Mary for nearly a hundred pages. It would be so long that I would have trouble remembering what had happened to them or where they were. Any attachment I had been developing was long gone, as I found myself flipping back dozens and dozens of pages, trying to refresh myself on what had happened so long ago.My next beef with this book was the plot. Sure, as I mentioned above, there was magic, there was war, there was adventure, and there's nothing wrong with those things. But the story was just too formulaic for my tastes. Everything always seemed to reach the only possible conclusion, and any hardships the main players did face (which was usually that they hadn't eaten for twenty minutes), was the briefest of problems, resolved almost immediately, allowing them to continue on their way to a predictable outcome.Formulaic stories aren't necessarily a bad thing though, as often the fun is in getting to the inevitable conclusion. We never think for a minute that T-1000 is going to actually kill John Connor, but Lord of the Rings doesn't have the fun bits in between. Tolkien would describe Frodo et al walking through the forest for forty pages, then Sam complaining about being hungry for another ten, and then them taking turns sleeping for another fifteen. But a confrontation with a foe would be cut down to one page. It was as if every time I was about to take some interest in what was happening, I was returned to a discussion about lembas, or the lack there of.When there was an opportunity for a creative plot twist, it either wasn't taken, or it was recanted almost immediately. Gandalf's dead? Surprising and interesting. The characters mourn for a bit before continuing on their journey. At this point in the book I was more interested than ever (and as it turns out ever would be), as the characters had been confronted with real adversity. There was a change in the way they interacted with each other and a change in the general mood or tone of the book. But alas, a few pages later it turns out he was brought back to life and everything is fine. It really destroys any fears one might have about a main character in a deadly situation, knowing they can be brought back to life at any time.It was even worse when Frodo dies, leaving Sam heart broken and scared. Despite the Gandalf experience, I was quite intrigued by the development. Of course the next page we learn that he was actually only unconscious. What a relief, everything was going to be okay! I might as well have read that the previous few pages had only been a dream and Frodo had never really died.I suppose that I'm maybe being too critical of this book, but after having invested so much of my time into it, I feel I deserve to be so. Too many things weren't explained or poorly explained, and too many unnecessary things were explained. And because I stand by my feelings of over a month ago that novels shouldn't require 600 pages of appendices, maps, and charts, to explain central plot points and character backgrounds, I now consider myself done with Lord of the Rings, forever.Unless I watch the movies, which I am now less inclined to do, than ever.You can read my other reviews here.


Finally got to sit down and finish listening to this. I started with the cassette, but I actually finished using the audio CDs, which some kind soul bought me for Christmas. (Definitely recommended: they come with a CD of the soundtrack music too. I love it.)Like most BBC adaptations, I think this is stunningly well done. As I've said with the other instalments, it's perfectly cast -- I do think J.R.R. Tolkien would have approved. It's a testament to how good they are that a housemate of mine who isn't at all interested in fantasy got hooked and wouldn't leave my room and stop listening -- and the one who is into fantasy got that it was LOTR within two minutes of listening and was wildly excited.It does help, of course, that I have a certain amount of childhood nostalgia for this stuff. One very bored holiday with my grandparents' was spent listening to these.


There: I've finally finished my reread of The Lord of the Rings. I'm trying to remember when I last reread it. Probably three years ago, maybe four, because I went through a long period where I was sure it would have lost its magic, and I mostly just remembered the accusations of how slow it was, how boring, how long it took to get anything done. That was true, as far as it matters: Tolkien is wordy, but I like the way he writes. I wasn't wrong in remembering that it tasted nice to me, with the help of my synaesthesia. This wasn't a book I wanted to gallop through at amazing speed. It doesn't have to move fast -- part of it is the awful menace, the seemingly interminable waiting. I feel some of the despair of the characters -- but at least I know that in five pages, or fifty, or five hundred, good news is on the way.I seemed to have swallowed whole all the other accusations too: racism, moral absolutism, sexism, etc, etc. I think most of that comes from a reading that isn't terribly deep, though. It's true that there are the evil men of the East -- I think it's the East -- and so on. I don't think we see a single redeemable character among those, or among the Orcs, for example. But it isn't quite wholesale 'men are good, elves are good, dwarves are good; only orcs and such are evil'. There are evil men, too, like Bill Ferny and Wormtongue, and arguably Saruman, since he's a man-shaped thing at least. And there are men who bring in some -- gasp -- moral ambiguity. Boromir, for a most obvious example. He ends as a noble man, but for a while it's in the balance. Denethor? He gives in to despair and by inaction threatens the cause.Gollum's another. For all the evil he does, he serves Frodo faithfully for a time, and there's a spark of light in him. And he does at the end what Frodo cannot -- however unwittingly and unwillingly. There's darkness in Frodo, and light in Gollum.Aragorn himself leads an army whose weapons are mostly fear and darkness -- the ghost army.As for sexism, it's true that women don't have a great part in the story. No woman rides in the Fellowship, and there's no sign of a woman for great swathes of the book, especially when it comes to Frodo and Sam. Women do have a place in the story, but it's to be come home to. Eowyn is given tasks that keep her safe and home, preparing for the return of the men; Arwen stays well out of the action; Galadriel remains hidden in Lothlorien; at the very end, Sam rides off with Frodo and leaves Rosie there alone, and comes back to her at the last...But at the same time, the role of women is explored a little through Eowyn. She leaves the safe haven of her home and goes out to war -- strikes one of the most important blows. We're told that the Lord of the Nazgul cannot be killed by a man, but Eowyn can kill him. She is eventually calmed, by being settled down with Faramir, but the way she's written, I doubt Faramir could or would rule her, and it's still acknowledged that she has won great reknown for what she did. Galadriel, although she stays hidden, seems to be important among the Wise like Elrond and Gandalf, and wields an elven-ring.Lord of the Rings would probably be quite different if written now, with what we have of reform and feminism and equality, but that's obvious. There's still some place for women in the narrative, and more than might be expected.This last book was shorter than I remembered. It was hard to stop reading it, and in the end I gave in and just sat down to finish it. In a way, I think the end lingers a little too long -- it could end in Minas Tirith, it could end as they enter the Shire, etc, etc. It's a little strange the way the action starts up again a little at the very end, for the Scouring of the Shire. But it is still good to read, and it ties up a lot of loose ends.And the real end, with Frodo and Bilbo and Gandalf and the elves all sailing away to peace and healing, it's beautiful. It's a little too good to be true, because people don't just sail off into the sunset and live apart from any strife; if there's anyone else around, there's usually something to disagree about. But that's what beautiful fictions are for.


How I Spent My Summer Vacationby: Caris “The O’Malley” O’MalleyThis summer was really good. I got to do a lot of neat things. The best part of the whole summer was that I got to spend it with my new best friend Johnny. Johnny is my friend because he’s smart and he tells good stories and his mustash tickles. The stories he tells are filled with creatures and adventures, so they’re really good.Johnny is really serious about his stories. Sometimes he gets really detailed about little things and I have to call him a fuckstick. Some things that made me call him a fuckstick are: lots of walking and funny names. When Johnny gets going though there’s no stopping him. We have to read a lot of books in school but none of them are as good as Johnny’s stories.It seems like school got out forever ago and just a day ago at the same time. Right when school got out, Johnny started telling me his story, called The Lord of the Rings. This is the story about two little people called Hobbits who go on an adventure. They meet lots of people along the way. Some of them are good and some of them are bad. One of the things that makes me hate Johnny is that a lot of the boring characters are in the story a lot and some of the cool ones (like Tom Bombadil) are just forgotten in the past of the story.Right before school started, Johnny told me the last part of the story. It was called The Return of the King. A lot of things happen in this part and it was the most exciting I think. I really liked the end and wished it would have been longer. It is the conclusion of all I had heard this summer. The end was very sad, but happy at the same time because everything worked out good for the characters.I feel like I spent a million years in Middle Earth this summer. That’s the setting of the story. I feel like I am now friends with Bilbo and Sam. They are the main characters in the story. Middle Earth is a nice place to go, especially when my dad is drinking a lot and my mom yells at him. No one does those things in the Shire. The Shire which is also the setting is where the Hobbits live.The Lord of the Rings taught me a lot about what it means to be someone’s friend. It was Frodo’s job to get rid of the ring, but his friend Sam stayed with him to the end. There was nothing that could keep Sam away from Frodo, not even spiders. Sam would do anything to make Frodo happier even if it meant giving him his last piece of food or his cloak to sleep on. I think if everyone was willing to give their cloak away to their friends then the world would be nicer.The other thing I liked about the story was that there weren’t very many girls in it. There were a couple but they didn’t do anything really and they weren’t around for long. One of those girls I think was a boy anyway because she wanted to fight with the soldiers. She was okay I guess.I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone, but I want to talk about the end. The end was my favorite part. The adventures in far away places was cool but the Shire was neatest. I liked how Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin came back to the Shire and took over again. Saruman an evil wizard decided to take over the Shire after the ring was destroyed and the evil armies were defeated. The Hobbits were not scared though because they knew they could beat him because Galdalf already did. It was really cool when Peter Pettigrew killed him with a knife then got shot by some Hobbits. I didnt really understand that part though. Why would Saruman go back to one of the only places his enemies would return to? He should of known he would catch a beat down there. If he was smart he would have gone somewhere else like America or Mexico. Even though it was a weird part I liked seeing the Hobbits being heroes.That was what I did this summer. It was fun. I hope next summer will be as fun as this one was. When I am an old man I bet I will want to hear Johnny’s story again. But next summer I want to go to camp instead.


To me, the whole point of reading the first two books of LOTR is to get to this one, because this is the truly masterful part of the story.One thing I will say is that I really admire how the main heroes of the story, Frodo and Sam, are quite inconsequential in the classic tradition of heroes. They can't fight, they can't cast spells, they can't really do anything except persevere through extreme trial, all so that they can do what they promised to do, to do the right thing. Sam, in particular, is a True Hero in my eyes, a character with a pure heart.Do I need to warn of spoilers when everyone already knows the story? Oh well, SPOILER ALERT!It's very interesting to me that Frodo is unable, at the edge of the Pit of Doom, to part with the ring. It takes a struggle with Gollum, and an accident, really, in order for the ring to be destroyed. I wonder if any mortal, even Sam, would have been able to throw the ring away? I suspect not, and to me it signifies our mortal failings in this life. We cannot, try as we might, fully separate ourselves from the natural man of our own accord. But still, like Frodo and Sam, we can give it our best go.In the end, however, we will need to be rescued. Like Frodo and Sam, we will not be able to survive or escape in and of ourselves, but we will need (so to speak) Gandalf and the eagles to come swooping down and rescue us, in the end.(I am, of course, speaking metaphorically in a religious sense.)


The Return of the King is perhaps my least favourite of the three volumes. Part of that is the slow hideous crawl to Mordor, of course, despite the bright valour of Aragorn and Eowyn and most of the people in Minas Tirith -- even the death of Denethor is good to read, though sad. Part of it is the fact that a huge chunk of it, over a hundred pages in my edition, is the winding up of the story. There are some beautiful bits, of course, but Tolkien's descriptions of joy and victory don't ring quite so true as his descriptions of strife against the odds. I'd be surprised if they did: joy is very difficult to write about, I think.It seems to take forever to wrap up and for those interested in the characters, it's very satisfying in that sense, if bittersweet in places. But it's also the wrapping up of the mythology, the end of an age, and for once I was focused more on that than on the characters. I'm not interested in the Fourth Age!Of course, then the appendices are a welcome addition, from that point of view. You really mustn't neglect them, if you're interested in Tolkien's worldbuilding. He worked on a scale that few other writers bother with, for the sheer joy of the imagination required, and it's amazing to look at his handiwork.


It's been quite a long time since I felt a bit sad when a book is finished. This book just did that.. Felt a bit sad towards the last few pages thinking it is getting ended.. Wish it would have been longer.. :DOne of the great series of books I've ever read..


This was technically a re-read, but since it was twenty years ago that I read it the first time I decided I could review it here. When the LotR trilogy came out in the theaters, I was reading the books after watching the theatrical release. Except for RotK. I either wasn't in the mood to read it or I just bounced off of it. After our trip to Vegas, we watched RotK again, and I decided that I was at last ready to give the book another attempt. Do I need to summarize RotK? I think enough folks have read this - or seen the movies - to remember the basic story well enough.Reading this book was an interesting comparision between the movie and the written word. I know amongst avid Tolkien fans that there was much resentment towards Peter Jackson and how he did the whole trilogy. Now having watched (more than several times) the theatrical version and having re-read all the books, I really must applaud Jackson for tackling such a difficult series. I have decided Tolkien is not an easy read. He has so much history and discription woven into all of the books that you really have to be paying attention to what is going on. His writing style is very formal to the point of being almost stilted. The names of his characters all look alike and sound alike (Eowyn, Eomer, Elrond, Elindil - to mention just a few) and he has multiple names for many of them. I felt it helps if you have read the Simarillion (which is a history of the four books) to help set the stage and all the characters straight - but it is certainly not necessary. Did Jackson "miss the point" in the final movie when compared to the books? In my opinion, no. Jackson took the whole LotR series and distilled it down to its bare bone essence. Like taking wine and making brandy. You start with something full of floral notes, fruity overtones and lingering tastes of summer and end up with, concentrated floral and fruity notes that make brandy. Something was going to be cut, changed, altered (artistic liberties going on here) and out came the movie trilogy. So while I think the books allow a person to really dive into the world Tolkein created and the epic struggle, I feel the movies did a good job of bringing that struggle to the screen. And I would say, if a person has the patience to read Tolkien, it is a facinating comparison because really, the whole story is brilliantly conceived and written.

Roly Chuter

I’m sure glad Stevie didn’t bother to read this one:Sam and Frodo wake up in some swamp/heath/mountain passFrodo: We’re lost, oh its awful, I’m hungry, we only have 3 pieces of elfin bread leftSam: Don’t worry Frodo I’m here for you, you have the breadSam and Frodo walk around a bit looking dirty and lost and miserableFrodo: oh the ring, it’s so heavy, how will I cope?Golem: Myyy presssciousss [and all that nonsense]Sam: Don’t worry you have a nice sleep, things’ll look better in the morning you’ll seeSam and Frodo wake up in some swamp/heath/mountain passFrodo: We’re lost, oh its awful, I’m hungry, we only have 3 pieces of elfin bread leftSam: Don’t worry Frodo I’m here for you, you have the breadSam and Frodo walk around a bit looking dirty and lost and miserable...FOR 200 HUNDRED GOD AWFUL PAGESAnyone who wasn’t desperately hoping that Golem cracked open Frodo’s skull like a pumpkin after Halloween and drained the grey goo inside has more patience than me.


Writers who inspire a genre are usually misunderstood. Tolkien's reasons for writing were completely unlike those of the authors he inspired. He didn't have an audience, a genre, and scores of contemporaries. There was a tradition of high adventure fairy tales, as represented by Eddison, Dunsany, Morris, MacDonald, Haggard, and Kipling, but this was only part of what inspired Tolkien.His writing was chiefly influenced by his familiarity with the mythological traditions of the Norse and Welsh cultures. While he began by writing a fairy story with The Hobbit and other early drafts, his later work became a magical epic along the lines of the Eddas. As a translator, Tolkien was intimately knowledgeable with these stories, the myths behind them, and the languages that underpinned them, and endeavored to recreate their form.Contrarily, those who have followed in his footsteps since have tended to be inspired by a desire to imitate him. Yet they failed to do what Tolkien did because they did not have a whole world of mythic tradition, culture, and language to draw on. They mimicked his style, but did not understand his purpose, and hence produced merely empty facsimiles.If they had copied merely the sense of wonder or magnificence, then they might have created perfectly serviceable stories of adventure, but they also copied those parts of Tolkien which do not fit a well-built, exciting story--like his work's sheer length. Tolkien made it 'okay' for writers of fantasy to produce books a thousand pages long, and to write many of them in succession. Yet Tolkien's length had a purpose, it was not merely an affectation.Tolkien needed this length in order to reproduce myth. The Eddas were long and convoluted because they drew from many different stories and accounts, combined over time by numerous story-tellers and eventually compiled by scribes. The many digressions, conflicts, repetitions, asides, fables, songs, and minutiae of these stories came together organically. Each had a purpose, even if they didn't serve the story, they were part of a grand and strange world. Epics often served as encyclopedias for their age, teaching history, morals, laws, myth, and geography--as may be seen in Homer or The Bible.This was the purpose of all of Tolkien's long, dull songs, the litany of troop movements, the lines of lineage, the snippets of didactic myths, and side-adventures. To create a realistically deep and complicated world, he felt he needed to include as many diverging views as the original myths had. He was being true to a literary convention--though not a modern one, and not one we would call a 'genre'.He gave characters similar names to represent other historical traditions: that of common prefixes or suffixes, of a house line adopting similar names for fathers, sons, and brothers. An author who copies this style without that linguistic and cultural meaning just makes for a confusing story, breaking the sensible rule that main characters should not have similar names.Likewise, in a well-written story, side-characters should be kept to the minimum needed to move the plot and entertain the reader with a variety of personalities. It is another rule Tolkien breaks, because he is not interested in an exciting, driving pace. He wants the wealth of characters to match the number of unimportant side characters one would expect from a historical text.The only reason he sometimes gets away with breaking such sensible rules of storytelling is that he often has a purpose for breaking them, and is capable of drawing on his wealth of knowledge to instill further depth and richness in his world. Sometimes, when he slowed his story down with such asides, they did not have enough purpose to merit inclusion, a flaw in pacing which has only increased with modern authors.But underneath all of that, Tolkien does have an appealing and exciting story to tell, of war and succession and moral struggles--the same sort of story that has been found in our myths since the very earliest writings of man. He does not create a straight monomyth, because, like Milton, he presents a hero divided. Frodo takes after the Adam, placing strength in humility and piety, not martial might or wit. Aragorn is an attempt to save the warlike, aristocratic hero whom Milton criticized in his portrayal of Satan.Yet unlike Satan, we do not get an explanation of what makes Strider superior, worthy, or--more importantly--righteous. And in this, Tolkien's attempt to recreate the form of the Eddas is completely at odds with the Christian, romantic moral content with which he fills the story. This central schism makes his work much less true to the tradition than Anderson's The Broken Sword , which was published the same year.Not only does Tolkien put forth a vision of chaste, humble, 'everyman' heroes who persevere against temptation through piety, he also presents a world of dualistic good and evil, of eternal, personal morality, prototypical of the Christian worldview, particularly the post-Miltonic view. His characters are bloodless, chaste, and noble--and if that nobility is sometimes that of simple, hard-working folk, all the better for his Merrie England analogue.More interesting than these is his portrayal of Gollum, one of the few characters with a deep psychological contradiction. In some ways, his central, conflicted role resembles Eddison's Lord Gro, whose work inspired Tolkien. But even this internal conflict is dualistic. Unlike Gro, Gollum is not a character with an alternative view of the world, but fluctuates between the hyperbolic highs and lows of Tolkien's morality.It is unfortunate that both good and evil seem to be external forces at work upon man, because it removes much of the agency and psychological depth of the characters. There is a hint of very alien morality in the out-of-place episode of Tom Bombadil, expressing the separation between man and fairy that Dunsany's work epitomized. Bombadil is the most notorious remainder of the fantastical roots of Tolkien's story which he painstakingly removed in editing in favor of Catholic symbology.Yet despite internal conflicts, there is something respectable in what he achieved, and no fantasy author has yet been capable of comprehending what Tolkien was trying to do and innovating upon it. The best modern writers of fantasy have instead avoided Tolkien, concentrating on other sources of inspiration. The dullards of fantasy have merely rehashed and reshuffled the old tropes back and forth, imagining that they are creating something.One cannot entirely blame Tolkien because Jordan, Martin, Goodkind, Paolini, Brooks, and Salvatore have created a genre out of his work which is unoriginal, cloying, escapist, and sexually unpalatable (if often successful). At least when Tolkien is dull, ponderous, and divergent, he is still achieving something.These authors are mostly trying to fix a Tolkien they don't understand, trying to make him easy to swallow. The uncomfortable sexuality is an attempt to repair the fact that Tolkien wrote a romance where the two lovers are thousands of miles apart for most of the story. Even a libertine like me appreciates Tolkien's chaste, distant, longing romance more than the obsessively fetishistic consummation that has come to define sexuality in the most repressive and escapist genre this side of four-color comic books.I don't think Tolkien is a great writer, I don't even think he is one of the greater fantasy writers. He was a stodgy old Tory, and the Shire is his false golden age of 'Merrie Olde England'. His romance wasn't romantic, and his dualistic moralizing cheapened the story. His attempt to force Christian theology onto a heroic epic is as problematic and conflicted as monks' additions to Beowulf. Tolkien's flaws have been well-documented by notable authors, from Moorcock's 'Epic Pooh' to Mieville's adroit analysis, but for all that, he was no slouch. Even if we lament its stolid lack of imagination, The Lord of the Rings is the work of a careful and deliberate scholar of language, style, and culture. It is the result of a lifetime of collecting and applying knowledge, which is a feat to behold. Each time the moon is mentioned, it is in the proper phase as calculated from the previous instance. Calendar dates and distances are calculated. Every name mentioned has a meaning and a past. I have even heard that each description of a plant or stone was carefully researched to represent the progression of terrain, though I can find no support for this theory.Yet what good is that to a story? It may be impressive as a thought exercise, but to put that much time and work into the details instead of fixing and streamlining the frame of the story itself seems entirely backwards to me. But for all that The Lord of the Rings may be dull, affected, and moralistic, it is Tolkien's, through and through.My Fantasy Book Suggestions


Que dizer deste livro... Adorei-o, pura e simplesmente. Emocionei-me e vivi todos aqueles momentos com as personagens, que já fazem parte de mim.No final ficou aquela nostalgia de tudo ter terminado e cada um ir para o seu lado.Sem dúvida que a trilogia do Senhor dos Anéis é daquelas histórias que vai ficar comigo sempre, estará sempre presente.


I am including the ratings and reviews of ;Eliza (16) 5 stars. She especially liked the ending. The satisfying tying up of all the ends. She loved that the story came full circle and ended in the Shire.Amelia (13) 4 1/2 stars. She had to take away half a point for the long, boringish parts.Max (10) 2 stars. He liked the beginning because it was the beginning and that was fun. He liked the ending because it was over. He had a hard time with all the boringness in between.This was a huge undertaking, especially because our family is not all at home in the evenings consistently anymore. I'm glad we did this together, and I'm glad that the girls liked it so much. Even though we lost Max through some of the long parts, he really did stick with it admirably. He knows what happened for the most part, and he loved the Ents!

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