Book: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
#100 on the Telegraph’s 100 novels everyone should read.
What is it about?
I don’t think The Lord of the Rings needs any introductions. It is an epic tale where nine companions set out to save Middle Earth from falling into complete darkness by destroying the one ring that the Dark Lord needs so he can achieve complete domination. The story follows nine fellows of the ring: Gandalf (wizard), Aragorn (man), Boromir (man), Legolas (elf), Gimli (dwarf), Peregrin a.k.a. Pippin (hobbit), Meriadoc a.k.a. Merry (hobbit), Sam (hobbit), and Frodo (hobbit) on their quest to help the ring bearer annihilate the Lord of the Ring by destroying the ring itself.
Before I say anything about the book, I have to say this: I don’t like fantasy. I steer away from anything too whimsical, be it novel or movie. I can’t really understand anything that is too out there. That being said, I loved loved loved this book.
I don’t know where to start. Tolkien is a genius. He created an entire world that is so believable, even a fantasy-hater believed it. Each race and each individual has their own different dimensions and are beautifully crafted. The different languages, wonderfully named cities so intricately described that the reader feels they are walking there with them.
Let me add some more praise to Tolkien. He achieved with just letters on white paper, what Hollywood could not achieve with all its sound effects, visual effects, and handsomely paid actors. I hated the movie (only saw part one and two, as no one can persuade me to watch the third). I remember vividly in part 2 saying: Oh now they brought in walking talking trees? Come on! Reading the book I said: how I would love to meet an Ent! And maybe drink from their draught so my post baby hair could stop falling.
I was scared when the Hobbits went to the Prancing Pony, I got goose bumps when Aragorn came on the black ships, and I couldn’t put the book down filled with suspense when Frodo and Sam were on Mount Doom. Now, watching the movies again with my husband, I keep on saying: no no noo! It shouldn’t be this way! Please stop messing with the plot Mr. Producer. Tolkien is considered a genius for a reason. And that is exactly why the book is much better than the movie.
I can’t really fault this book with anything. So I went to Google to see what other people saw that I couldn’t. I found two main schools of thought: racism and feminism. Now I am no Tolkien expert, I just read one book of his and know nothing of the fantasy genre or its history, but here are my thoughts regarding these two criticisms.
- Racism:I didn’t find the Lord of the Rings to be racist. Good and evil have forever been cast as black vs. white and darkness vs. light. This depiction was not about ‘race’ at all but about symbolism in the fight between good and evil. In my opinion, the Lord of the Rings is as racist as the yin yang.
The only relationship in the book that I was a bit bothered with was Frodo and Sam’s relationship, as Frodo was his Master. But, as they are both from the same race and color, this can be called “master – ism” if that’s a word or superiorism, not racism.
Feminist critics point out the lack of female characters in the Lord of the Rings. And if they were present, they had feminine roles. Now I am a female and don’t feel at all insulted by Tolkien. I was actually insulted by George Elliot’s Middlemarch as the females there all had no brains what so ever and were only worried about how frilly their collars were. (Don’t get me started with that book! You can read its review here). Eowyn killed the head of the nazguls, the wring wraiths, whom all were afraid of, what ‘feminine role’ is that? True, there are much fewer females than males in this story, but I will take that over mindless, frill-seeking, immature ones any day.
And there you have it. My thoughts on an epic fantasy tale which to my great surprise, I loved! Next book: To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee, you have one hard act to follow.