|The Lord of the Rings|
J.R.R. Tolkien's epic high-fantasy work The Lord of the Rings. Although widely mistaken as a trilogy or series, it is only one book, although usually published in three separate volumes. The original publishers split it into three parts because they felt that no-one would want, or be able to afford, to purchase a volume as large as the one Tolkien had written. However, some editions have since een published as a single book, the way the author intended.
Picking up a few decades after The Hobbit left off, The Lord of the Rings seems to presuppose that the reader is already familiar with the previous book – its opening sentence leaps straight into a description of Bilbo Baggins' 111th birthday party preparations, without bothering to introduce the character (Bilbo was the main character for The Hobbit). However, it is quite easy to get into the swing of the books, as they introduce all the other characters well. The sequel picks up on what was only a minor prop, Gollum's Ring, in The Hobbit, and reveals it to be an object of enormous power and evil, the One Ring itself, forged by the Dark Lord Sauron. Although the book has many plot threads, the primary one follows the journey of Frodo Baggins, Bilbo's nephew, as he and his companions attempt to destroy the Ring.
These books are impossibly amazing. Although the recommended reading age is 13+, I first "read" them at the age of ten (I was very good at skipping over long descriptions and poetry). However, to get the full effect of this masterpiece, you must read every word. It contains enormous amounts of description, history, and poetry, and is written rather archaically. If you can't get enough, read the appendices at the end of The Return of the King, which are often less interesting but they make the book even easier to understand. If you really love these books, read The Silmarillion, which is a detailed history of the world, Arda, up through the time of LOTR. The books contain some fighting and battles, but they are not graphically described.
The Lord of the Rings is incredible. It is on the only book that I have ever read that I can truly say I enjoyed more on its second reading than the first: an amazing achievement for any book! The first time I read it, some sections didn't make sense, particularly the second-to-last chapter. Reading it again, I can appreciate why it's there. Tolkien's imagination was surely the greatest of any person ever. Some authors create a creature and then put it into our world (The Day of the Triffids, for example). Others create magic and put it into another world, and even develop that world quite a bit (The Chronicles of Narnia). But nobody did as much as Tolkien: he made a whole world, including languages, history and culture. Middle-earth is the most fully developed fantasy world, apart from perhaps that of Star Wars – although that has been built upon by lots of authors, to make it what it is now. The Lord of the Ring's influence on its genre is comparable to almost no other book. Read virtually any other fantasy or science fiction book, and you can spot Tolkien's influence in them. Even fantasy films are strongly influenced by Peter Jackson's films of The Lord of the Rings. It is a masterpiece, and deserves all its plaudits. If you have even a passing interest in fantasy or science fiction, you must read this.
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- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (published 1954)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (published 1954)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (published 1955)
- Reading Age: 13+
- Reading Aloud Age: 13+
Contains some non-graphic violence, is extremely long and is written in an old-fashioned style.
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The Lord of the Rings.
Other books by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Tolkien Gateway, the J. R. R. Tolkien encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
- 2001 film version of The Fellowship of the Ring
- 2002 film version of The Two Towers
- 2003 film version of The Return of the King