Lord Of The Rings Review
There are not many books with a science fiction or fantasy theme that are classics. The only one that really comes to mind is perhaps the Grandfather of them all: Lord of the Rings.
What sets this book aside from the rest of the genre, and in fact from many other accomplished books is the attention to detail and the quality of the writing. Tolkien wasn't only a master storyteller, but he was also an amazingly gifted writer and poet.
His words don't tell a story; they build a world and fill it with vivid characters, heroic deeds and wonders beyond the imagination. The world he has created is as real as the one we live in; it lives and breathes not only in the pages of the book, but in the minds and imaginations of millions of readers.
So what makes Lord of the Rings so good?
It's very hard to define what makes Lord of the Rings so good. There are so many qualities about the book that it is really difficult to define them all. Tolkien has infused the book with reality. With each description, each song, each poem Tolkien has added something intangible; he's simply made a world that could be real, and filled it with stunning battles, heroism, sadness, love and humor.
Out of all the books I have read, and I've read probably over a thousand, it stands out as the one book that creates a world that is so real, that I can almost imagine sailing across the ocean and landing in Middle Earth. The characters are so real and vivid, that I can almost see their faces greeting me as I enter their world.
Simply put, this book is more real than any I have ever read.
Lord Of The Rings - Brief Synopsis
It is hard to give a full synopsis of the story without giving too much away. There are so many plots and sub plots that most readers will read the book several times.
When Bilbo Baggins decides to retire he holds a huge birthday party. Reluctantly he gives his nephew, Frodo, his ring, which just happens to be the One Ring. This Ring was created by the Dark Lord Sauron and is the controlling ring over all other magical rings in the set.
Frodo, being a stout hobbit, sets out on a quest to destroy the ring. Gandalf, a mighty wizard, has advised Frodo that the ring is very dangerous and must not fall into the Dark Lords hands. It seems that the only recourse is to destroy the ring. Pippin and Merry (Frodo's cousins) join him on the journey as does Sam (his faithful servant). Other members soon join the party ranging from a grouchy old Dwarf (Gimli), a mysterious elf (Legolas), a huge bear of a man (Boromir) and a mysterious human ranger (Aragorn).
Leaving the shire they travel through Middle Earth. Travelling through forests, over land, under mountains and on water they encounter many creatures; some of these are allies some turn out to be enemies. Perhaps the most dangerous of these are the Nazgul, the Dark Lords servants; these hideous creatures were once great kings, now they only exist in a strange nether world. Their touch is enough to kill most men.
As they continue their quest, great armies mobilize as several people vie for power. The once good wizard 'Saruman' has decided to recover the ring for himself and use the power for his own gain. Sauron, with his armies of orcs and goblins and his Nazgul servants is determined to win back his ring.
Without giving too much of the plot away, the book tells the story of the party and the dangers they face. It is an exciting book, that does drag at times, but is well worth the effort of finishing. To get the best out of this book you will need to read it several times.
Lord of the Rings is a book that transcends its genre. It is a fantasy book in a fantasy setting, however the quality of writing and prose makes it stand out as a classic. It is a massive story that is well told and will capture the imagination of most people. Albeit a bit slow in parts it is still one of the books I have ever read.
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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.
The Land - Middle Earth
Middle Earth is first brought to life in The Hobbit, a wonderful tale about the grand adventures of Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo lives in a land that is vast; imagine Wales or New Zealand, and then add more rolling hills, darker forests, ancient roads and dark foreboding castles and you'll come close to describing the land.
Throw in some of the worst monster you can imagine; fire breathing dragons, ugly gorilla like Orcs, deceitful and rat-like goblins, evil ghosts and ghouls, and mix them with some weird and wonderful races; the elegant elves, the grumpy dwarves, the tree-like Ents, humans and a whole host of other benign races, and you'll find a world that is packed with intriguing characters, heroes of good and champions of the dark.
Splash some magic around liberally, and mix in some herbs and flora with qualities that are sure to astound.
Spice the land up by adding medieval villages, horror filled caves, dank bogs inhabit by evil entities and lakes that hide deep secrets and you'll complete the enigma that is Middle Earth, a dangerous and yet enchantingly beautiful place to be.
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Fellowship of the Ring is formed in Book 1 of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It comprises of many diverse and wonderful characters....
(Please click the pictures for more details from Amazon.com).
Aragorn, or Strider is a member of the elusive and enigmatic Rangers. He was cared for by the Elves in Rivendell after the death of his father. His lineage is faultless, and despite his unassuming ways, and his desire not to achieve his inheritance, he is destined to be great. His role in Lord of the Rings is initially one of guide and advisor; as the story moves along his role becomes more important and dangerous.
Out of all of the characters in the books he seems to have the least character flaws - for me, he is a great man capable of much, yet quiet and humble.
Boromir, son of Denethor comes from a prestigious line of Stewards of Gondor – the Stewards have ruled in Gondor while the House of Isildur remains heirless. He is a man of honor, who fights for right, but most of all fights for Gondor.
When I read the book I always got the feeling that Boromir's heart was in the right place, but his alliegances were more for Gondor than the Fellowship - despite this, he always was a solid and honorable man, even when faced with temptation.
There is much written about Frodo – son of Drogo, and related to Bilbo Baggins, he is an amazing character. Full of courage and fiercely devoted to his family and friends, he faces much with determination. Despite his size, he has the heart of a King and the courage of a Wizard. Frodo is the central character to the book, and is probably the most complex – his struggles both inner and outer, are interesting and varied, and perhaps a metaphor for life in general.
When I look at all the books I've read there are only a few 'heroes' that simply fulfill everything that the writer intended - Frodo has flaws and strength and the complexity of character is perfect.
As mentioned in ‘Wizards’ below – Gandalf is a maiar and a messenger sent to help in the quest against the Dark Lord. His power is immense, yet his compassion matches his power. He is like the Grandfather to all the members of the Fellowship and his guiding light keeps the Fellowship moving forward, when darkness seems to engulf them.
Gandalf is an amazing character - from the first time I read about him, I knew how important he was both to the plot, but also as a unique balancing character - almost like a narrator in a way, moving the plot along, but not really influencing much....
Gimli is the son of Gloin (who participated in the quest with Bilbo to the Lonely Mountains). Gimli is first seen at Rivendell as the Fellowship forms – he is a strong and able dwarf, who realizes the importance of the quest and will do everything in his power to ensure it succeeds.
What is interesting for me is that Tolkien uses Gimli as a tool to explore prejudice - his dealings with Legolas, who should be his enemy are often enlightening.
Legolas, is an immortal Sindar Elf. He is an astounding archer, but also has extremely good eyesight and hearing. Slightly aloof, he seems immune to fear and is a steadying force for the Fellowship.
Out of all of the charecters, Legolas is the most mysterious to me - seemingly without feeling, he shows much compassion during the journey.
Merry, or Meridaoc Brandybuck is a typical hobbit. He is full of life and loves his ale, pipe and food. His inquisitiveness often gets him and Pippin in trouble – but despite this he is a valuable member of the Fellowship.
For me Merry (and Pippin) are the comic relief for the Fellowship - in the darkest times, they can always somehow manage to break the mood.
Sam Gamgee is another Hobbit – just like Pippin and Merry he loves his food and ale. However, out of all the characters in Lord of the Rings, he is perhaps the one who is always going to be there for you. He is strong and tenacious, but above all is selfless. This quality is perhaps his shining light and sets him aside from most of the characters.
There really is something endearing about Sam - everyone would love a friend like Sam - he's humble, loyal and above all selfless - he's one of my favorite characters.
Peregrin Took, or Pippin is similar to Merry – he always seems to be up to mischief. Like Merry he often seems more interested in food and drink than what is happening around him.
Merry and Pippin are more like twins - they seem to think alike and do alike - they are both important characters, but also comic relief.
The creatures and races of Middle Earth
Tolkien not only created a diverse and exciting world, but he also created many wonderful and frightening creatures, each with their own characters and most with their own languages. Some creatures already existed in Myth, but many were purely creations of Tolkien's mind.
Orcs are strange ape like creatures who are the main component of the Dark Lord's army. Legends say that they were once Elves who were corrupted by Melkor. They prefer the dark, and shun the daylight. The Uruk-Hai, the elite Orcs adapted to the daylight.
Out of all the creatures in Lord of the Rings, the Orc is perhaps the scariest for me - it's probably because they are the most human-like creature, in terms of the way they act and the way they are so cruel - they seem to contain all that is bad about humanity.
Balrogs are spirits made entirely from fire. They are man-like, but fire and shadow surrounds them. The are armed with huge burning whips. These creatures are terrifying, but thankfully few remain; those that do dwell in remote and dangerous places.
What is strange is that the Balrog is 'my kinda' creature. It is fearsome, and frightening, but there's something majestic about it.
Dragons, or fire-drakes are essentially large flying fire-breathing lizards. They are terrifying and dangerous creatures that like to hoard treasure. Smaug is a prime example, and even though he doesn't appear in the Lord of the Rings, he terrorized Middle Earth in the Hobbit.
The Dragon is perhaps the most well known mythical creature of all time; it lives in the minds and imaginations of millions of people. Having lived in Wales, the Dragon holds a special meaning for me, and despite Tolkien's portrayal, I still see the dragon as an honorable and noble creature.
Shelob, the descendant of Ungoliant is a giant spider who dwells in a cave close to Mordor. She preys on the unsuspecting traveler who happens to stray into her web.
I hate small spiders at the best of times, so just the thought of a Giant Spider sends shivers down my spine. It's perhaps the alien quality they have that inspires the most fear.
Trolls are large monsters who are renowned for their lack of intelligence. They cannot abide in sunlight and turn to stone should they be caught in it. They are fierce and strong, and it takes many men to bring one down.
Funnily enough the Troll reminds me of some of the jocks I knew in school. Very sporty, but they had the brains of a plank - they lived by use of might and by bullying us little geeks.
Wargs are wolves that are aligned to the Dark Lord. Often they are used as steeds for Goblins to assist in battle or to help search for slaves and food. They are an intelligent and ferocious race and are a danger to all who cross their path.
When I used to play AD&D (Shhhh don't tell anyone) my character used to have a wolf as a companion - this was partly inspired by the Warg as I like the fierce nature and the fact they worked with other sentient beings.
Shadowfax is Gandalf's steed. Initially he was borrowed from King Theoden, but eventually became a permanent gift after Gandalf performed a priceless service for the King. Shadowfax is the fastest of all the horses, and has the ability to know when he is needed and always be where he is needed.
After living in America for a while, I imagine that Shadowfax would be the number one Budweiser horse of all time!
Ents are tree-like people known as the herders of trees. They are tree-like in appearance, but are ferocious warriors when needed. They possess great intelligence and patience. They are one of the oldest races in Middle Earth.
There's something cool about Ents - they possess more experience and knowledge than most races, and yet seem gentle. They are courageous and can be very fearsome - they are one of my favorite races in Middle Earth.
Woses are an ancient primitive tribe often called the Wild Men of the Woods. They are elusive people who do not normally come into contact with society.
When I think of the Wose, I tend to imagine them looking like Tom Hanks when he get's stranded on an island in Castaway! They have a wildness that is similar, and while intelligent they seem to have a hint of insanity.
The Great Eagles are gallant and honorable creatures who are friends to Man and Elves. They are sentient beings who are able to speak - compared to normal eagles they are massive.
For me there is something majestic about an Eagle; the Eagles in Lord of the Rings have this quality, but they also seem to posses something that is akin to royal blood - they are honorable and reliable.
Dwarves are small in stature but large in heart. Both males and females are bearded, making differentiation between the sexes often difficult. Thet are skilled miners, wood-workers and metal workers. Their famed mithril (a special silver) is used in the highest quality armor. They are grumpy and distrustful, especially of Elves.
There's something about a dwarf that is special - perhaps due to the seven dwarves of Disney fame, they seem to hold a special place in my heart, despite their grumpiness.
Elves are an ancient and immortal race that can only normally die in battle. As they tire of the land, they sail to the Undying Lands. They have a profound connection to nature, and live in the great forests. They are generally peaceful, but have a mutual distrust of the Dwarves.
Elves have a quality similar to Peter Pan; they are ancient yet seem childlike and innocent. Despite this, they posses great intelligence and compassion. Out of the races of Middle Earth, they are perhaps the one I'd like to be the most.
Rangers or Watchers are an enigmatic race of man. They are descended from teh Dunedain and live of the land. They are more in tune with land, animals and fauna than normal man, and as such have more respect within the Elven communities.
If I can't be an elf, then I'd be a ranger. There's something mysterious about the Rangers, something that sets them aside (and perhaps above) other men.
A general misconception is that Wizard were men with magic talents. In fact, Wizards are spiritual beings (Maiar) sent to Middle-Earth by the Valar as messengers to help in the struggle against Sauron – in the simplest terms they could be classed as ‘living’ angels. Their powers are limited due to being living – this is part of their mission – they were sent to assist the people of Middle-Earth, not destroy Sauron on their own.
Wizards are perhaps the most enigmatic of races of Middle Earth - the power they possess is incredible, as is the trust that they have been given. While I admire their power, I'd never want to be one!
While Hobbits are very small, generally only three and a half feet, they are perhaps the most courageous of all races. They are worldly people who farm and live of the land. They love their ale and smoking pipe weed – but most of all they love their food. They are an insignificant race normally, but turn out to be a very important race.
For me these are the 'Irish' race of Middle Earth - they are full of fun and mischief, and somehow you can't help but like them.
There's a lot of debate about exactly what a goblin is. In most cases, the agreement is that the Goblin is in fact a type of Orc - in the same manner that there are different types of Man, then there are different types of Orc. The Goblin has always been seen as an inferior race, relying on numbers and guile to achieve any success.
From my roleplaying days I always laughed at the number of Goblins my game-master used to chuck at us - they were more of a pain than any real danger.