"Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie."
I'm not sure why I never got around to reading "The Lord of the Rings" (1137 pages) by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. I think when I was younger I was under the impression that the epic novel was some kind of difficult read, part of this may have been just based on the size of the volume alone. Later, having seen the movies I thought there probably wasn't much of a point. That, and I usually don't go for fantasy stories. Recently my friend Dann gave me a copy of the tome to read "in case I ever got bored." What seems like a year ago I reluctantly started the book just to see how it would be. I was pretty much hooked after a couple of pages. From the cover of the book:
"In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, The Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell, by chance, into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.
From his fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, Sauron's power spread far and wide. He gathered all the Great Rings to him, but ever he searched far and wide for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.
On his eleventy-first birthday Bilbo disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest - to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom. The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard, Merry, Pippin, and Sam, Gimli the Dwarf, Legolas the Elf, Boromir of Gondor, and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider."
Overall I really liked the tale presented here, though I knew from the movies the direction the story was going to take. Having said that, there is so much more that the story has to offer over the movie. Indeed complete sections of the book have been omitted from the movie much to my surprise and enjoyment. I found the book, in spite of it's ghastly length, to be quite readable, putting aside my earlier fears that this was a book to be feared.
I found many of my favorite parts of the story to be ones that were omitted or shortened by the needs of the movie. I really enjoyed reading and learning about Imrahil, Glorfindel, Beregond, and most of all Tom Bombadil. Specific chapters in the book that I really enjoyed and that were new to me involved the Old Forest and the Scouring of the Shire, especially the latter which really highlighted the growth and strength that the Hobbits had attained through their trials.
Lastly I loved how the book tied up all the multiple stories as it drew to its conclusion. Perhaps this was done even better than the movie "The Return of the King." I'll admit I had a few tears in my eyes as I laid the book down for the last time. On top of this there is much more information to be had after the conclusion in the form of many appendices. I really appreciated "Later Events Concerning the Members of the Fellowship of the Ring."
There were some moments, particularly during parts of "The Two Towers" where pacing was a problem and I could feel my eye lids drooping from time to time. Tolkien creates a rich and colorful world but sometimes his descriptive skills were a little overkill. I wanted and expected a little more action than what was present and a little more in the way of conflict between the characters, at least initially in the part of "The Fellowship of the Ring." A minor quibble to be sure.
Often times fantasy novels of this type leave out strong female roles. This too is the case with "The Lord of the Rings." Arwen only mutters a few lines of dialogue in the entire book, Galadriel, whom I loved, is featured little unfortunately, and Éowyn has to hide and masculate (is that a word?) herself when she could have been strong without becoming, to all intents and purposes, a man. I guess the 1950s was a mans world, even in literature!
There are so many locals and characters mentioned in this book that I could understand how it could become overwhelming for a reader. Luckily, for myself, seeing the movies a few times helped me keep most everyone and every place in check.
I'm really glad I took the time to read "The Lord of the Rings," indeed I'm kicking myself a little for taking so long. The story added many new and heavier layers that the movies omitted or shortened; however, there are some occasions where the movies have added new twists to an old story that were better than the book. Apples and oranges I suppose. For my part, seeing the movies first didn't hinder the enjoyment of the book one bit. I maybe wish that I had read the book in its three parts taking breaks in-between with other reads. Highly recommended to fans of fantasy and similar genres or fans of an epic yarn. I intend to read "The Hobbit" before the end of the year (and before the movie opens!).