November 20, 2020
In my opinion, everyone should read The Lord of the Rings at least once in their life. Or, at the very least, watch the extended edition of the movies.
Why, you ask?
- It’ll make you feel a lot of things (AKA, it’ll make you cry)
- Many of the parts not included in the movies are the funnest parts
- In the age of easily digestible books (and shorter attention spans), modern readers have a harder time putting in the time that a trilogy requires. The way Tolkien writes is rich and dense, and every detail seems important
- Personal relationships are very important in the books
- There are 5 million different types of fear in the books, with just as many reactions to that fear or ways of handling it.
- It’s full of amazing quotes. Quotes I personally believe are better than “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost”
Some of my favorite quotes are:
“I will not say: Do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” Gandalf in Return of the King p. 310
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” Haldir in The Fellowship of the Ring p. 339
"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf in The Return of the King p. 155
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. ‘So Do I’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’”
The Lord of the Rings series has also taught me many valuable lessons, including:
- The power of positivity, even if it's forced positivity (i.e. "fake it ‘til you make it'). For example, at one point, Frodo is so controlled by the ring that he wouldn't have made it without Sam supporting and encouraging him. Also, Sam always tries to see the best in a situation (he even points out that the elven bread "isn't so bad.")
- Greed corrupts- even if your intentions are pure. Boromir is a great example, as he wanted to use the ring for good but it clouded his mind and turned him into someone he was not. Furthermore, when Frodo attempts to give Gandalf the ring, Gandalf emphatically says “Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused.”
- Mercy is strength. The mercy that Bilbo showed Gollum was the catalyst for the one ring being destroyed. “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the wise cannot see all ends.” P. 93 the Fellowship of the Ring.
- Sacrifice. Tolkien survived two world wars, he knew the meaning of sacrifice and that freedom and victory come with a price. In the books, Frodo gave up his life, never going back to his life in the Shire because he no longer had a place in that world.
- Change is okay, change happens. You lose people and that’s okay. Sam says goodbye to Frodo at one point, with the book stating “And the sound of them sank deep into his heart” All things end, but that doesn’t lessen the experience or the relationship, and it doesn’t mean anything was done wrong. Things just end.
If you're thinking of reading The Lord of the Rings and are intimidated, or don't know where to start, I can offer some tips for reading them for the first time.
- Tolkien revels in description, so some of the passages are slow reads as a result of all the richness and detail
- Tolkien also includes many songs, which you shouldn’t be afraid to skim. Yes they are a part of the world-building of Middle Earth, but also they aren’t integral to the plot and you will not miss much by skipping them
- Despite how the movies can be at times, these are not “action books"
- The first book was published in 1954, so remember that writing styles were different then
- Tolkien often writes about the same event from multiple points of view. So, you will sometimes you will read about the same event multiple times through each characters eyes
- Epic fantasy books often feature characters and locations with odd names. To further complicate matters, Tolkien also gives some characters multiple names. You may want to write down a list of the characters with all of their respective names. Or choose the important ones and focus on remembering them. Some of them are listed below
-The Main Crew-
Aragorn - Strider - Estel - Elessar
Frodo Baggins - Mr. Underhill - Ring bearer
Gandalf the Grey -Gandalf the White - Mithrandir - The Grey Pilgrim - Tharkȗn
Gimli - Elf-friend
Gollum-Sméagol - Trahald
Meriadoc Brandybuck - Merry - Holdwine
Legolas Greenleaf - Prince of the Woodland Realm
Peregrin Took - Pippin
Samwise Gamgee - Sam - Samwise the Brave
image credit: Pixabay - free image