Review: The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

Hannah has finally come to a close of her Lord of the Rings Journey. She finished The Return of the King and she will be judged based on her reviews, she is sure of it. Overall, the hype is real for a reason. Tolkien created something with his fantasy series and people are accurate in his assessment of war. He makes the war real for everyone with proper stakes and looks at the evils of war in a very creative way.

I read The Fellowship of the Ring twice in my lifetime. This lead to a belief that Tolkien should be read a total of two times to be fully understood. This book was so lyrical and wonderfully done to set up the world and the stakes of the rest of the series. The introduction of the hobbits and their relationship with Gandalf was beautiful, and how the journey appears to take a while as it would in the real world. Unfortunately, I have seen the movies far too much to ignore their context in my mind, but I was surprised how long it took for the hobbits to even leave the Shire. I was also secretly a fan of Tom Bombadil. I am willing to see a side story if it introduces us to new information, and he was interesting and shrouded in mystery that I found amusing and enjoyable. I also enjoyed the context for the fall of Boromir. The way Tolkien describes these things is interesting and informative as a story overall. We are seeing less dialogue for more explanation, and it is a welcome reading for me. I also enjoyed the context of Sam and Frodo’s relationship. The book does a much better job of showing their relationship as more of a lord and his servant for a while, while building the relationship to make them close traveling companion.

The Two Towers was next on my journey, and this and The Return of the King were only read once. The Two Towers was a much slower read overall. I am not going to deny Tolkien’s genius. However, the beginning of this book was a bit of a drag. It felt like Tolkien understood he has to set up the next book for the final showdown and threw in some plot to make sure the characters were still “walking on down that path.” There could also be an issue that Tolkien wanted to show too much war and was uncertain of how to at that point after deciding to split the Fellowship up. I enjoyed the Ents and Merry and Pippin and their interactions, but all of that felt too small in the overall context of the story. It felt like he was more interested in Frodo and Sam than the others, and that was difficult when the first half of the novel you only see the other characters. I had a hard time getting into it, and found myself distracted. Further, the battle scenes felt like they didn’t have enough set up, which made it hard for me to picture why they were doing what they were doing. Overall, I didn’t love it as a stand-alone book, even if I recognized there was more (and better) to come. 

The Return of the King again had numerous war that were difficult for me to take in. For the characters, it felt that Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas were almost commanders and Tolkien didn’t have a proper voice for his commanders. They feel less real to me and more like something to aspire to. However, Gimli and Legolas as friends were delightful. I loved there journey after the fight and liked them more outside the battle scenes. This book also felt strange because Merry and Pippin often felt like they were on the same journey as a coincidence and not because there needed to be a theme, mostly that they just coincidentally did the same thing at approximately the same time. I did adore the Sam and Frodo again, and felt their deep love for each other. I understand why people find them to be romantically involved and I completely understood. Further, the ending was so amazing. I felt that I really saw Tolkien’s description of war after the hobbits return home to fight for themselves. I honestly felt like this was showing the repercussions of war. No one is left innocent and people who want to profit from it often make the worst for their people. Saruman was interesting in his issues and his need for power and revenge. I felt this was where the themes were strongest.

What do you think of this review? I understand that this may not be everyone’s belief. The books overall are pieces of art where the language itself is just as important as the story. I think sometimes I need to slow down and reread to appreciate and will plan to do so in the future.

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