I let myself ramble on quite a bit, and yet the above is only a touch of the feelings that arise within me as I read this amazing story. "How can it be?" you may ask, and I will answer as best I know. For Tolkien created what to me has been the pinnacle of all literary accomplishments. He did not merely give us a tale, or send us out on a rampaging and eventful adventure. No, to think that's all that the famous Lord of the Rings trilogy has to offer is folly indeed. And those that come away only thinking that have missed the entire point of their writing. For Lord of the Rings was not written to tell a tale only. These books are a gateway, a doorway into -another world- that is as -whole- and -complete- as our own. There are not merely unique races, splendid places, and events that dumbly -happen- in this book, oh no! There is, throughout every corner and tracing word, LIFE. As you read you get from every smallest and largest part of it that this is a land of intricacy and history, of many peoples and their lives, of great things and fell things alike that have happened and that will continue to happen. Middle-Earth is a changing, detailed, precious thing! It is at once brimming with -history- and still ever gasping with new possibilities and things yet to come! And mind you, when I say "history," I do not mean anything like our own. If there is one thing that you take away from this review, know this!
Middle-Earth is real.
The majesty of Tolkien, the reason countless generations and peoples all over -our- world love him! ...is because he created a place so real, so FULL, that we cannot deny that it exists on its own. Perhaps we can never come there, to its great and beautiful shores. Perhaps we cannot walk amongst the Mallorn of Lothlorien, or gaze upon the still Mirrormere below or tall Caradhras above, but Tolkien gave us a way to experience it. When we fall into his story, it is as a great telling of things that happened long ago. Yet it happens all clearly before us, crystalline and vivid and tangible! We can feel the golden sun in the high bows of Lorien, and heed the ashen doom that befalls us in Moria with the greatest of fear and mourning. This is a tale not of our lands! Not of our peoples! Yet it speaks to us so perfectly that we are still brought in, into fear and wonder, desire and delight, temptation and struggle, mirth and determination! It is an Adventure! And yet it is beautiful and fairer than -any- of the books which I have picked up and read before. For they may tell great stories, but Middle-Earth comes to life.
I do not know who can read this book and not be drawn in by it. It is long, yes! But it is rich with wonders to offer you, things to learn and to learn to love! It is inescapably gorgeous and tender, strong and unblemished even though it carries darkness and hard times. Best of all, no one need stand upon the doorstep, if even you could. The journey is ours to follow along with, through these three books, but the things that we see and experience along the way fasten our hearts ever to these lands and their peoples.
I beg you, ever reader of books and tales, histories and other things alike: Take this book and read it. Give it the chance to capture you in its threads. Do not shy away from it, do not cease to read--endure, and follow it to its end. It is a treasure.
For those of you who saw the movie...
I thought often back to these movies as I read again the tale that I fell in love with many years ago, and each time again as I read it. I stand here before you now to claim that I profess from the depths of my heart love and appreciation and -wonder- unfettered for the movies they made after these books. Some have complained (I have been one of them to some extent) that the books were not completely followed. For my readers and movie-buffs alike, I want to bridge any debate and give you my opinion on this as well. The movies I adore, and I am -not- to be mistaken for a branded, superficial fiend of the world as roams today, who watches movies and says stupidly, "It's just as good as reading the book!" It is NOT. It BURNS me with ANGER to hear people SPIT such venomous poison out into the world! I am filled with fury and dis-GUST for any man or woman or brainwashed, too-stupid-to-know-better teen that feels a "moving picture" is better than clean words and one's imagination.
However. ...these movies were amazing. Amazing! The first time I heard they were to make a movie interpretation of the Lord of the Rings I was stunned and surprised. Then I became gripped with fear and worry. Too often I have seen good or even simply decent books be turned into movies and thus ruined, crippled and made into bland representations of a jaded message--if even that. Oh how fear gripped my heart! How I frittered away my worries until I at last saw the movie come out! ...and then I watched it for the first time. *Takes a pause and clasps a hand to her heart, bowing her head and feeling her eyes water with the still-fresh memories* ...though it is long ago now, every time I watch the movies again, my emotions fill almost to bursting and I can barely hold myself back from weeping--With relief! With Joy!
Oh...! They are beautiful! The Shire is lovely and delightful! The mines of Moria were glorious and vast! The Last Homely House was timeless and warm! Lothlorien alone I feel fell short of its beauty, but the rest, the rest! Oh how I ADORE them--the men and women that worked so HARD to bring to life Middle-Earth! The craft, the design, the sheer extent of their efforts! They DID it! I will shout it for JOY whenever I think of their work, "THEY DID IT!" Everything was BEAUTIFUL. Everything was WONDERFUL! Some things were left out, and yes I did miss them! But the story was carried, and it was carried in a way that made me -proud- of them. The characters were represented wonderfully and I can never now imagine other people to take their places in those movies. They have each settled permanently in my heart as the characters of the books that I love. The settings were astounding. The build of every home and town, every building and every garment of clothing. My good Lord in Heaven! I SAW every single minute of the MAKINGS of the movies, and it filled my heart with wonder and love! They were REAL, they were intricate! They were INCREDIBLE! The extents that they WENT for these movies BLEW. MY. MIND. And the music.... No one...no one who loves Tolkien cannot feel their hearts swell at the music they interwove throughout the movies. It is Elven and rich, or loud and joyous, or deep and dreadful, each according to its own time and place. The music is...unable to be expressed. All I know is that forever long, to hear the songs of my beloved characters actually -sung!- or the strains of beauty and far-off lands flowing throughout! it is something, I think, like Tolkien would have been honored by. And I am not the maker or carrier of the message of Middle-Earth, but... Somewhere in my heart, I hope he is proud of what they did. ...they did a magnificent job.
For those of you still in doubt, I will say one final thing to represent my thoughts on the movies, and I will probably repeat in my last review when I get to Return of the King: This is, above all, the BEST book-to-movie translation I have -ever- seen. Definitely watch the movies. But, if you have not seen them already (or even if you have), watch them (again) after you have read the books first. You will love them tenfold and more after that.