Friday, December 7, 2012

Lord of the Rings

I'm not a fan of science fiction.  Nor am I a fan of things that are very popular with lots and lots of people.  But I kept hearing The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien mentioned and I have only read one book of fiction since January 2011, so I decided to read this novel.

The story is pretty good.  An unimpressive and unskilled person is tasked with a difficult task in a new and original setting.  The setting of Middle Earth is interesting and unique.  Many parts of the setting and characters races have inspired lots of other creative works.  Even creative works as recently as this year have been inspired by this book.

This book is said to be one of the great classics of science fiction.  And the few characters against the world makes for a good story.

But there are problems with it.  The unique characters and setting seem incomplete.

For example: a large group of villains in the book are called "orcs."  Why are they villainous? What do they look like? Where do they come from? Do they have a society of some kind?  I don't know the answers to any of these questions.

Another example: the group of protagonists get chased by a "balrog."  Apparently it is a monster that they fear.  What does it look like? How big is it? What color is it? How many arms/ legs/ eyes does it have? Where did it come from?  I don't know the answers to any of these questions.  All the characters fear this monster and I have no idea about what it is.

One more example: The main character spends the first quarter of the book getting introduced and making his way to the city of "Rivendell."  Apparently it is the home of some elves.  And one elf in particular lives there.  I don't know anything more about it.  What do the buildings look like? How many are there? Are the citizens mostly elves? Is it located in a valley or mountains or a plain?  I don't have the slightest idea.

LOTR is a sequel to another book, "The Hobbit."  Perhaps all of these points are covered in it?  Perhaps not?

For the first time ever after reading a book, I say, "watch the movies instead."  I've seen most of the three movies that were based on this book and I constantly was thinking about it so that I could get some idea of what was going on in the book.

In other books you can read and imagine that you are in the book.  That is not the case in LOTR.

When other books are made into movies many parts are cut from the story.  That does not seem to be the case with LOTR.

For the first time ever I say, "watch the movies instead."  Other books translate very badly to the screen.  Other stories lose lots of characters, back stories, or scenes.  But despite watching and reading this story I've only noticed very minor differences and only very minor characters removed.

The Lord of the Rings should be praised for introducing a new world, a new setting, and a new section of fantasy.  But the missing setting and missing character descriptions leave it lacking.

Its a good story but it seems to be lacking in depth.  It uses just enough words to move the story along.  I miss knowing what the settings are.

What does the world look like?

How tall are the dwarves?


  1. Read the silmarillion if you want the backgroun, though it is a very dense read. It is a collection of myths and legends that Tolkien wrote from his youth up to the point he wrote LOTR. It gives you the entire back story. Tolkiens world is perhaps one of the most fleshed out fictional universes you will ever encounter.

    As an aside, both Tolkien and CS Lewis were members of a club that tried to espouse christian ideals through allegory.

    1. I imagined that the seemingly missing details were around somewhere. If all you want to do is pick up the book and read, then I stand by my review.

      Thanks for the direction, though.