Brian Steed's Reviews > The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
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Dec 20, 2008

I read a lot of this while I was down with mono. And it was the omnibus illustrated hardback edition of LOTR, which in my weakened state I had to heft to an upright position in order to read its pages. Tolkien deserves the acclaim he gets for creating a world, complete with a rich history and its own languages, down to such a level of detail. Enjoyable in an operatic sense, and Tolkien does a good job balancing the need to keep the narrative moving with his desire to frequently stop and paint more detail into his mythological world. But by the end I was reminded why I don’t really care for this kind of fantasy. Balanced against the aforementioned good points are (for me) the weaknesses: lack of humor, no connections to anything in the real world, cringingly stilted dialogue—all of which befit the nature of the story/setting and are basically woven into the genre. In the debate over which (LOTR or Gormenghast) is the number one fantasy classic of all time, I definitely side with the minority and go with Gormenghast. Peake’s brand of fantasy is so original and imaginative and impishly funny that no one to my knowledge has ever been able to create anything like it, whereas the vast majority of fantasy books that have been written since LOTR are basically LOTR rip-offs. Tolkien may have been the first, but his stuff must not be too difficult to imitate. Plus, even though Tolkien was a student of language, Peake’s prose was far superior; he could create rich paintings with his words like no one else I’ve ever read.
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