Werner's Reviews > The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
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Apr 26, 08

bookshelves: fantasy, classics
Recommended for: Anyone who appreciates fantasy
Read in January, 1980

Actually, I read Tolkien's masterful Middle Earth fantasy corpus, beginning with The Hobbit in the early 70's and finishing the Lord of the Rings trilogy almost a decade later, before this anniversary edition came out. (I also read all four books to my wife in the early 80's; she loved them too!)

This body of work is, of course, the genre-defining classic of modern fantasy --especially epic, or "high" fantasy -- which popularized the genre as the publishing market force it is today, exerted enormous influence over practically all subsequent fantasy authors (including R. A. Salvatore and Terry Brooks), and set the conventions readers would come to expect: a pre-technological setting, an epochal struggle between good and evil whose outcome is determined by magical factors, and a demand for personal moral growth on the part of the characters thrust into a pivotal role in that struggle. And Tolkien's depictions of wizards, elves, dwarfs, dragons, etc. became the template for all subsequent portrayals of these creatures.

Part of the success of Tolkien's work derives from the breath- taking scope of his world-building, which reflects his day jobs as a philologist and medievalist; he created entire languages and folklores for his "Middle Earth," as well as a detailed, millenia-spanning history. But more importantly, as a devout Catholic, he embodied his deeply Christian world-view in the writing: his fantasy world (though he doesn't employ the kind of explicit Christian symbolism that C. S. Lewis does) is the scene of conflict between and evil with world-altering significance, under a superintending Providence, in which the individual moral choices of both the high and the lowly have significance, and temptation is an ever-present danger.
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message 1: by Emily (new) - added it

Emily is it worth reading if you've already watched the movie ?


message 2: by Werner (last edited Mar 22, 2013 06:34AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Werner Emily, good question, but it doesn't have a simple answer, because it depends on the person. If you read/ watch movies mainly for plot, most of the main threads of the plot here are covered in the movies; the books do add some details (and differ in a few details from the film version), but they aren't major. My wife is a reader/viewer like this; she saw the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone movie first, and when she tried to read the book later, she didn't finish because she felt it didn't add anything (to the storyline). I could see someone having a similar reaction to the LOTR books.

If, however, you're into an appreciation of the differences in the literary and cinematic art forms, and you particularly value all of the added depth of character development, world-building (Tolkien's is breathtakingly detailed), verbal description, etc. that can be put into a written, but not a film, version, and if you just like to savor written prose for the effect of it, I'd say yes, the books ARE worth reading even if you've seen the movies. I'm in that category myself; I'd actually read the books (twice) before seeing the movies, but if it had been the other way around, I'd still have enjoyed the books. (Of course, I always get a kick out of comparing book/film versions of works I like, in either order that I experience them!)

Hope that helps clarify the question (instead of muddy it!).


Dolors Werner couldn't have told it better, Emily, but I wouldn't doubt with this particular book (although I admit I fit into the second group of people who have great fun comparing book/film versions...).
Talking about movie adaptations, this was masterfully done, I think it's one of the best epic&fantasy movies I have ever seen!
Changing subjects, The Host on the screens today in Barcelona!


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