The Lord of the Rings, written by J. R. R. Tolkien and released by 1955, continued the story that left off in The Hobbit. The gold ring that Bilbo Baggins obtained under the mountain turned out to be the One Ring, a powerful artifact that gave the wielder the power to control others that hold lesser Rings of Power. I was debating in my head whether to do this one as three separate books or just one book, but I realized I don’t have a whole lot to talk about each individual book. Also, The Lord of the Rings was originally designed to be a single book with six parts, so I am also treating it as one book here with one entry of thoughts.
I watched the movies before reading the books. I kind of wished I had been able to finish the books first just to more easily see the differences. I did get the books before the later two movies were out, but I just couldn’t get into them. I only got halfway through The Fellowship of the Ring. While I was able to finish The Hobbit, I think it was the same problem here. The amount of detail was just massive. I didn’t have an interest in looking up all the proper nouns. Without knowing the background, it was hard to get invested in the story, which is normally what keeps me wanting to read. During a recent road trip, I was able to read all of them, so these thoughts are mostly based on these newer memories.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Reading this part was exciting just because of the anticipation. I knew certain main events in the story but was excited to see how they were explained in the book. It’s also always fun in a new book to learn about the world it’s set in. Most boys’ favorite character would be one Aragorn, Legolas, or Gimli, but I identified more with Frodo. The One Ring sometimes is like carrying a millstone around your neck, sapping all your strength. You just wish to take advantage of it one last time. I feel the same way when it comes to my sins. The temptation to sin can feel like a weight on me. I just wish to give in. Sometimes I do, just as Frodo gave in sometimes by putting on the ring during the story.
The only thing I didn’t like were the songs. Because it was a book, there was no audio. The songs just amounted to me reading the lyrics with no music. Some people could maybe make up music to go with the lyrics, but that was beyond my abilities. I found myself skimming those sections. This west for the later two parts as well, but singing seemed less common in them.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
My reading started to slow down during this book. The initial excitement over the newness of the world and characters was over and the final conclusion was far off, so I had to get excited over the little short term events. I liked the little hints of attraction between Eowyn and Aragorn. In the book, I was left in the dark about Aragorn’s relationship with Arwen until The Return of the King, so it seemed like a possibility that Aragorn would marry Eowyn. I thought it was great how she disguised herself and went off to war. It’s amazing that Tolkien would write a strong woman like this back in the ’50s when it was very rare. It’s just another area where he was ahead of his times.
I disliked the lack of an ending for the Saruman story arc. He was basically free for the rest of the book. They did this better in the movie. In addition, the treants got stuck with guard duty and then cleanup duty when they could have been great in the later battles with Sauron’s forces. I found it interesting that the book didn’t go back and forth like the movie did. The movie version was definitely more modern and what people would expect, but the story in the book was easier to follow.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
By the time I got to this last part, I was really excited to see the end. I was racing through the pages. It was also because I wanted to meet my goal of finishing the full trilogy by the time I got back from vacation. In the end, I had to do about two hours of reading at home. I didn’t remember much from the movie. I was having a party with friends. My parents watched it, but I only saw short snippets in between video game playing. This made the plot developments in the book all the more interesting. It was almost all new to me.
It was great to see Aragorn finally become recognized as the true king. At the same time it was kind of anticlimactic because it was then simply up to the hobbits whether the world would be saved or not. They did play a part in luring some forces away from the areas that the hobbits were passing through, but it would have been cooler to me if they somehow met up with the hobbits to help them on the last part of their journey.
I found the ending to be quite long. The whole book was so long it definitely deserved a long ending, but I didn’t like how there were still problems in the Shire. I felt like the story was over after the One Ring was destroyed and Aragorn was crowned, but then the hobbits come back to find problems back home. I guess this was part of the Saruman story arc. He turned up there causing trouble, more reason his story should have ended with the capturing of his tower. This little bit of conflict at the end of the book messed with the flow of the story.
Overall, as happens with a lot of fantasy stories, the story was a little too convenient at times. Too many times the characters were stuck somewhere and someone appeared or some fantastical miracle happened that got them out of the situation. This is probably because of my age. The older I get, the more skeptical I become. When I was a kid, I just believed everything. Now I have read enough and lived enough to know how often people make mistakes. In a dangerous world like Middle-earth, those mistakes result in death. There are no second chances.