Lord of the Rings

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Lord of the Rings

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Dez. 11, 2007, 7:50pm

I struggled through the first 100 pages and gave up. I watched the movies and felt... bored. What's so great about Lord of the Rings?

Dez. 11, 2007, 8:41pm

Well, there's the epic struggle of good versus evil. There are charming (Elves, Hobbits) and frightening (Orcs) races and sapient things (Gollum). There's magic. I don't know why, but I really enjoyed the time when Frodo et al. started walking. There's man's inner struggle against a seductive and destructive power. There's battle (some people like that). There's peril, much peril. And even a little, tiny love story (I don't mean Frodo and Sam). Trust and betrayal (again Gollum). Leadership. Resentments between fathers and sons. And Gandalf.

Dez. 11, 2007, 8:47pm

You watched the movie and felt... bored?

I'm shocked and amazed.

Dez. 11, 2007, 8:52pm

Reasons to read it/watch the movies:
1- heart wrenching (especially the 3rd)
2- Interesting to read and watch, different take on our world
3- Understanding of Good and Evil more

There are many many more, but I haven't read the books in five years, so I don't remember a whole lot.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 11, 2007, 8:56pm

The only reason to read these books is so you will get the full impact of the story of Samwise after everyone else had left. I cry every time I read it.

Dez. 11, 2007, 8:58pm

> 1

Not much. Some people like the books, some don't. Don't sweat it. Go read what you enjoy, and don't feel you have to like something just because the masses do.

Dez. 11, 2007, 8:59pm

Very true, lilithcat.
Sorry if you feel pressured, but we are all entitled to our opinions. Nothing wrong with that.

Dez. 11, 2007, 9:14pm

> 7

I don't feel pressured, but apparently The_Kat_Cache does.

I do think it's weird, though, that some people can't accept that others don't share their tastes in books.

That said, I must say I enjoyed LOTR when I first read it, but then I was in my early teens and I've grown up a lot since then.

Dez. 11, 2007, 9:20pm

I think it sucks that some parents stop their kids from reading books they didn't like. We should have the right to freedom of text. (if that makes sense)

I mean, my friends mom wouldn't let her read "To Kill a Mockingbird" until it was manditory in 9th grade! And then there's my mom: "Sure! The Color Purple is a great book! You should read it!" That is, when I was in eighth grade, and I was extremely innocent before I read that book.

Dez. 11, 2007, 9:33pm

The_Kat_Cache - I totally agree with lilithcats posts. But, for what is worth, I've struggled through the Fellowship of the Ring twice, and had to force my way past Tom Bombadil both times. By the end trilogy I was quite moved both times. So, there may be something for you past those 100 pages. No promises though.

Dez. 11, 2007, 9:43pm


Yeah, I think that goes without saying. But I do get tired of responses like #3.

I guess I didn't like it because the story was too straight-forward. You pretty much know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are (I like shades of gray). And even though Middle Earth is torn apart, all of our good guys (at least, all of the characters they spent significant time on) come out relatively unscathed (I like some realism in stories of peril). Plus, the story moves so slowly (especially the first 100 pages that I read). I understand that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination, but there are limits! Finally, I'm not a big fan of battle scenes and Lord of the Rings is chock full of them.

Yet people look at me like I've grown a second head when I say I don't like LotR, especially since I like fantasy generally.

So I guess I bring this all up because:
1) I would like to know if I missed something in the books that I didn't gather from the movies that would bring me to appreciate it and...
2) I want to remind people that not everyone will like the classics you love and you shouldn't treat them like freaks for it.

Dez. 11, 2007, 9:49pm

> 9

I don't see anyone suggesting that parents should stop kids from reading LOTR.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 12, 2007, 12:15am

#11: 1) I would like to know if I missed something in the books that I didn't gather from the movies that would bring me to appreciate it

Well, what you missed in the movie was Tolkien. The movie provides wonderful visuals, but only the major parts of the story; It can't convey the language, and it simply can't reach all the underlying themes and ideas.

It's impossible to know what about the books might bring you to appreciate them. We are all different. For example in my case, books I expect a lot from always disappoint (which is really frustrating), while a surprise frees me to enjoy. Also, I can't presume to be able to explain what Tolkien has to offer. For me personally, while I like the main story, the real appeal is the colorful elaborate world Tolkien created, with the deep histories each character carries around and emotions sometimes shown openly and sometimes implied. I think the amount of knowledge Tolkien used to construct it, a depth and type of knowledge that was really unique to him, adds quite a bit of weight. Tolkien pulled deeply from various ancient legends, cultures and especially from languages that underlie European culture. Finally, the ethical aspects. Tolkien brought his own Christianity into LoTR, but in his own way. He did it is such a graceful and elegant way that nonreligious readers, like me, can appreciate it.

Dez. 12, 2007, 12:29am

I started the first book probably 5 times over a 10 year period before I could appreciate it. I read maybe 50, and then switched to something else. Of course, I had lots of other things going on, so I couldn't allow myself to appreciate what I was reading. It ~is~ good literature; that doesn't mean that it appeals to you specifically. Opera is (generally) great music, but I can't stand to listen to it -- even Aida!

Bearbeitet: Mai 29, 2019, 4:50pm

I also bailed out a little way into the second book, and tried again, and again. No luck. But the linguistics of the whole business fascinates me, as do some of the little details. Maybe someday . . .or maybe not.

And now...I am a seriously hooked forever fan.

Dez. 12, 2007, 9:13am

I finished the trilogy but I can't call them great; aspects of them, yes. Middle-earth is a great creation, as are the linguistics but Tolkien fails majorly in other areas. Despite what other people say, I just can't accept he is a good writer - the characterisation is two-dimensional; the plot is overly-simplistic; and, the writing style overwrought.

I find it puzzling that supporters of Tolkien will talk about the English myth he was attempting to create, the depth of allegory in his work - Tolkien denies there is any allegorical meaning to his work (although it's a fair shout that he was lying); and, that the myth he is creating is not new - it is the myth that England is unique, special, an middle-class arcadia that must be protected from foreigners and undesireables. It is heavily indebted to William Morris, who attempted to revive the medieval romance through the fantasy novel, and helped to start the crafts movement in the UK - a movement that rejected the modern world, and wanted to 'return' to a bucolic paradise where people would live in a world just like the shire.

Dez. 12, 2007, 9:15am

>9 Always_Reading:,12

My father discouraged (but did not prevent) me from reading Tolkien - he was at Oxford in the fifties and held Tolkien personally responsible for a great deal of the boredom he claims to have endured there (I don't think anyone warned him he would have to study Old Norse to get an English degree).

I think I'd agree with lilithcat - it's a book best read when you're fourteen. I've tried to return to it as an adult and found it very dull, but I enjoyed it at the time.

Dez. 12, 2007, 10:04am

It seems to me that LOTR is particularly susceptible to fanatical devotion, for whatever reason. I sort of agree with the idea that maybe those who read them when they were younger have a greater love for the series, but I'm not sure that I would have even then (I just read them a few years ago myself and had trouble getting into them). I also agree with the sentiment that Tolkien had some pretty great ideas, but that he wasn't a terrific writer. I liked the movies way better than the books, but then again, I'm a sucker for Peter Jackson. And, even though I didn't overly enjoy reading the books the first time around, I am looking forward to reading them aloud to my children - some books just work better when reading them to others.

I'm with lilithcat, though: don't be intimidated by people who insist you should like something. Life's too short - read what you want to read!

Bearbeitet: Dez. 12, 2007, 10:13am

I've read a few books about LOTR, but can't bring myself to actually read the books. In my family, this essentially makes me a pariah. Both my parents, all my aunts, and my husband are completely enamoured of the series. I think I'm lucky to not have a name that means something in elvish or fairie-ish. Every time I read something about the series, I get interested in what Tolkien was doing; I'm impressed by his linguistics and the scope of his imagination. Then I try reading it again and my head starts swimming and wandering and I start thinking about all the chores I need to do.

Dez. 12, 2007, 10:34am

Hmm... The Kit Cache... I'm a huge fan of the books, and also couldn't stand the movies, so I'm with you on that half, anyway.

Re: your comment that you gave up after about 100 pages... The first time I read the series, I also struggled to get through the first 100 or so pages of The Fellowship of the Ring. The beginning is just very drawn out, with a lot of back-story stuff that is very dense and can just seem endless. Once you get through that, though, the books really pick up steam. If nothing else, might I suggest that you try to get at least 250-300 pages into the first book, and then make a decision? Because once the story gets going, I think all three books really are page-turners.

Good luck!

Dez. 12, 2007, 11:11am

I enjoyed the first film, got bored halfway through the second, and didn't see the third. I've never read the book, which is something of an achievement for someone who grew up in the '60s.

Dez. 12, 2007, 2:24pm

I thought one sub-story that I really enjoyed in the books is Gollum. How evil seduces and corrupts him, but how is so much like the good guys (the hobbits at least). Frodo's strugggle with seeing himself in Gollum. Questions about we treat "evil" people who are in some ways very much like us. Something similar happens with Boromir and Aragorn.

I also agree with the group that states that the language and history behind the characters is nice, but if it's not for you, then it isn't. I love the hobbit and LOTR, but it about killed me to read Silmarillion. Anyways, I think LOTR is worth reading through once.

Dez. 12, 2007, 2:33pm

I adore LOTR but I can understand why some people wouldn't.

I wrote my honors thesis on the medieval and modern elements of Middle-earth. Tolkien was very much into the medieval world, and this comes through in the high romance culture of Gondor, the perfect hero-king Aragorn, even the feudal relationship between Sam and Frodo. But at the same time, we have very modern heroes in the hobbits. They don't use the beautifully archaic language of the rest of the characters, they bring a sense of humor (and absurdity, at times!) to the tale, and they are very open and honest about their fears and doubts, without ever becoming pathetic. Hobbits are your "guides," so to speak, through the medieval forest that is Middle-earth.

And then we have totally modern characters like Gollum and, I would submit, the Ring itself. Gollum is a modern junkie, addicted to the drug that is the Ring. And the Ring is a character in its own right. It has a will of its own and even acts for itself in certain situations — creepy!

Underlying the entire story is the amazingly detailed and authentic-feeling history of that world... everything in LOTR happens in the Third Age, but there are two Ages before that and they weren't dull, I can tell you (see The Silmarillion). I am drawn to the feeling of cultural depth that Tolkien created in Middle-earth. So much of its history is tragic. And that makes the beautiful things all the more beautiful and perilous.

I do think it's unkind for people to hint that LOTR is in any way an "immature" book, fit only for impressionable 14-year-olds to become fanatics over. This whole respect-for-other-people's-preferences thing works both ways, you know :-)

Dez. 12, 2007, 4:30pm

I'm not sure I agree with your thesis.

For me, hobbits are equivalent to the commoner in the fairy tale who proves his 'worth' by performing amazing acts of bravery. The difference is that the fairy tale hero is rewarded by being raised in status (usually by winning the hand of a princess) but the hobbits are not - why? Because they know their place; to demand representation, or power, would unbalance Middle-Earth. They are the workers of England pre-emancipation; men who sacrifice themselves for the good for the nation but are happy to accept the 'fair' rule of their betters. That is why hobbits are able to destroy the ring.

Isn't there a ring in the Kalevala that more-or-less operates in the same manner as the ring in Tolkien's work?

Dez. 12, 2007, 4:52pm

Who do you identify with more, jargoneer, Frodo or Aragorn?

I agree that the hobbits fit themselves nicely into the feudalistic patterns of medieval culture. These patterns are repeated mildly in hobbit relationships: we have "Mr. Frodo" and his servant Sam, and later his "bad servant" Gollum who never calls him anything but "Master." The Shire is an idealized medieval world... but I still think we as modern readers have far more in common with hobbits than we do with the high romance heroes of the tale.

And as for commoners sacrificing themselves for the good of the nation — it's not *just* the hobbits who do that in Middle-earth, you know.

And actually the point of my thesis was how Tolkien wove both medieval and modern values together so seamlessly in LOTR. While I think hobbits are primarily modern characters, there are absolutely those medieval relationships and social structures in their culture. More of that weaving I was talking about.

Must run now; back later perhaps with more :-)

Dez. 12, 2007, 7:31pm

I agree that we everyone bands together to save Middle-Earth but that's Britain in the war; London in the Blitz. What's important is that they all know their place - no-one from within threatens the status quo, only the other (foreigners).

I can't accept Tolkien was writing with modern values; we know he was a man who embraced Oxford because it was a place apart from modern Britain. He believed in the world of middle-England, and was a devout Catholic - traditional models, not modern. He didn't even like the car.

The 'Shire' is not just an idealised medieval world, it is an idealised English village of the 20th century.

It's interesting you mention Golem. He's a hobbit who didn't know his place; he wasn't bad because of the ring, the dissatisfaction was already within him. (I'm sure Tolkien would have been shocked at your reading of Golem as a 'junkie').

One of the reasons I think that accounts for LOTR's popularity is it's anti-modernity - escape the modern world to somewhere that is safe, decent, and unchanging.

Dez. 12, 2007, 7:38pm

I agree...most good books do seem to escape from the modern world. Especially LoTR, it is a kind of ageless thing...

But take into account it DOES seem to make the book worthless if you try to write down everything that goes on...I mean, so much history is a little unessessary. In my opinion.

Dez. 12, 2007, 11:02pm

A lot of the characters are two-dimensional, but I think that what JRRT does with Frodo and Gollum is masteful. Gollum is Frodo, at least Frodo as he could become under the influence of the ring. But more importantly, as Tolkien shows us, Gollum also represents a part of Frodo as he already is, the part that is subject to temptation. My reading of Gollum is that he is Bertha Mason Rochester, the madwoman in the attic, who is an uncmfortable part of Jane that she must master before she can accept Rochester. And Frodo knows this, knows that Gollum is essential to his mission; in fact it would have failed without him. JRRT clearly identifies primarily with the hobbits, and so they are the most successfully filled-in characters.

Dez. 13, 2007, 8:16am

#23 wisewoman & #24 jargoneer: The idea of a 'magic' ring that makes one invisible (and at the same time leads to corruption) is at least as old as Plato (cf. the ring of Gyges in The Republic). I don't know the Kalevala, but I'm sure you're right - Plato 'steals' myths all the time, so I'm sure the ring fable is much older than him.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 13, 2007, 8:55am

From post #26 'One of the reasons I think that accounts for LOTR's popularity is it's anti-modernity - escape the modern world to somewhere that is safe, decent, and unchanging.'

That's odd; the two LOTR films I saw were full of war, mindless slaughter and the destruction of entire civilisations!

Dez. 13, 2007, 9:02am

#30 yep. That's one of the problems of the films. The battles are much less prominent in the books. The landscapes are very peacefully described. Even when they are full of orcs.

In the end though, if you don't enjoy it you don't and little will change this for you.

Personally I really enjoy the depths of the world building, and histroy behind the characters. They aren't just thrown together existing as the heros pass through, but have a stable society independant of the heros. I also like the attention to detail.

Granted some of it drags in places. Frodo and Sam walking through the endless marshes loses it's appeal after a few chapters!

If you do feel you want to try again, maybe reading at speed will help you, don't get bogged down, skim through the slower passages?

Dez. 13, 2007, 8:13pm

jargoneer wrote: It's interesting you mention Golem. He's a hobbit who didn't know his place; he wasn't bad because of the ring, the dissatisfaction was already within him. (I'm sure Tolkien would have been shocked at your reading of Golem as a 'junkie').

Do you really think Tolkien would have been shocked by that reading? Why would he have characters say things like "he will never be free of his need for it" and "it consumed him"? Wasn't morphine making an appearance in WWI and II? I'm not saying that Tolkien was specifically trying to make Gollum a junkie, but I think that addiction, and the powerlessness of the addict to resist the drug, is a HUGE theme of the work. In the end even Frodo succumbs to the addiction of the Ring, and it is "grace," brought about by his odd decision to show mercy to such a creature as Gollum, that redresses the wrong and accomplishes the quest.

In The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, p. 234 and 235, Tolkien wrote:

"The domination of the Ring was much too strong for the mean soul of Sméagol. But he would never had to endure it if he had not become a mean sort of thief before it crossed his path."

Sméagol knew his place perfectly well; he was a nassssty sort of hobbit (note that Tolkien writes that Gollum's breed wasn't true hobbit; it was a diminutive branch that was related to but not identical with hobbits as we know them in the Shire) who delighted in digging up people's secrets and playing cruel jokes. His place in the world was himself, Gollum, against everyone else. He even thought the Sun was against him! Paranoid.

And so he was susceptible to the powerful addiction of the Ring. To move from that to "junkie" seems no great leap to me.

jargoneer wrote: I can't accept Tolkien was writing with modern values; we know he was a man who embraced Oxford because it was a place apart from modern Britain. He believed in the world of middle-England, and was a devout Catholic - traditional models, not modern. He didn't even like the car.

Oh, I know! He was very much against many things in our modern world... notice how Saruman's turn to evil is described by Treebeard as his mind becoming "metal and wheels"? And how Ted Sandyman foolishly loves the modernized mill that Sharkey's men install over top of the old mill? Industrialization was bad. I wouldn't deny that in the least.

I think every character — every good character, that is — in the tale has at least some medieval element. Some are almost wholly medieval in inspiration, like Aragorn and Arwen. But you can't deny the modern elements either... Tolkien himself, whether he liked it or not, was modern in the sense that he lived in the 20th century and, knowingly or not, he could not help but approach medieval texts with that mindset. I think we all do — we as readers inevitably bring our own lives with us to whatever texts we read (or write).

Hope I was coherent. I'm dying of a nasty headcold over here... *sniffle*

Dez. 14, 2007, 8:19pm

Need a tissue? Too excited about LoTR?

Bearbeitet: Dez. 20, 2007, 5:35pm

I loved the movies; finished (barely) the first book, but haven't been able to force myself to read the rest. Tolkien certainly had something to say, I'm not denying it, and it's something worth hearing. I just don't care for his manner of saying it. I'm sure I miss out on a great deal of his message by only watching the movies, put I have to say: I'm glad Peter came along to say it for him!

(edited to add: I will admit to saying, on several occasions, "If I have to watch one more frame full of Hobbits running across the hilltops of New Zealand...")

Bearbeitet: Apr. 4, 2008, 11:19pm

When I was 13 a friend told me it was the best thing since the invention of the wheel and I should get right on it. Needless to say, it fell far short of that. I slogged through 90% of the first volume, then dropped it in disgust (and was annoyed at my friend). It starts with a precis of Hobbit history, genealogies, and customs, for God's sake!

Think about it this way: One of the more common remarks by fans is that they really like the elf linguistics or whatever. These are the people who like the books! If that's one of the fans' major selling points...yikes!

These days, it would never get past the filtering process in the publishing industry. If you're lucky, an agent or editor will be patient and read 3 pages of a submitted manuscript; if nothing grabs him/her...sayonara. Three pages of history...OMG...JRRT is so lucky he got it published!

Anyway, in the last year (decades later) I started reading it to help myself unwind before bed. Since I was treating it like a sleeping pill (and since I knew enough to skip the ridiculously boring opening pages), I was happily surprised. I actually read the whole first volume. However, it wasn't sufficiently "compelling," as people say these days, to make me read the other two volumes.

So for this one it's all about expectations management.

Apr. 5, 2008, 1:41am

I agree that some of the LOTR drags. The journey from Bree to Weathertop was tedious, but the battle on Weathertop and the flight from there to Rivendell was riveting. The journey of Frodo, Sam, and Gollum through the wastes on the outskirts of Mordor wasn't my favorite either. But I really enjoyed how Tolkien split the story into three parts in the last book each part following different hobbits.

I must say though that, although I enjoyed the movies they seemed so rushed. All the action strung together without the slower interludes to savor the story. One of my favorite chapters is Flotsam and Jetsam where nothing much happens, just old friends getting reacquainted.

Mai 27, 2008, 12:06pm

I have tried to read LOTR. I have tried to listen to LOTR. Blech. Boring. Too long, too everything.

However, I enjoyed the movies. They're pretty good. Parts of them, actually. Well, just the battle scenes, and any scene with Orlando Bloom. Having said that, I can't see spending any time watching them again. My husband and 14-year old daughter watch them once or twice a year. I leave them to it. Same with Dune and Children of Dune.

Tried The Hobbit. Tried The Silmarillion. Tolkien just doesn't grab me. I have learned to live with the shame.

Jun. 15, 2008, 12:30am

Well, there certainly are books that I couldn't get through like MiddleSex and The Time Traveler's Wife but LOTR wasn't one of them. I thought the language was unusually beautiful, I guess that's what you'd expect from an author who studied linguistics. And I adored the way the story was married to geography and the seasons. But I admit I couldn't get into the books until after the first movie.

So if someone wasn't into wallowing in wonderful prose I can see where LOTR would be a real drag.

Jun. 15, 2008, 1:33am

I really enjoyed LOTR. It's been several years since I read it, although I've seen the movies more recently and enjoy them, too. I love reading the ideas all of you bring to this discussion! I don't think I can add anything so intelligent, though...I'd have to say the reason I love LOTR is because my dad loves it so much, and reading the books is a way to share that world with him. :)

Bearbeitet: Jun. 21, 2008, 6:16pm

Can the Fogies lay a professor trip on y'all? A technique that is supposed to be very la-di-da but that every reader can make practical use of is deconstruction. Ask questions like, "Why does the author say this?" "Why say it in this way?" "What does the author want from me?"

In that vein, consider two suggestions: first, the plot of LOTR is the same as that of Watership Down: the UK in WWII.

Second, in the schoolboy slang of Tolkien's school days, "ring" meant the human anus as an object of sexual desire.

Anyone reminded of Greenmantle?

Mrz. 3, 2014, 11:55pm

> 1

The Lord of the Rings is symbolic of life: life and death, renewal and decline - the things that our world needs to continue. Tolkien created a mythological world that filled out everything around these basic foundations. But the idea is very simple and a reflection of our life.

Mrz. 8, 2014, 1:49pm

If it's not great, it's not great. There's nothing wrong with not liking a book. Everyone has a unique background and different things appeal to different people. I found the LOTR movies extremely long. There were too many characters. I couldn't make it through the first LOTR book (I gave up at around page 50) and ended up giving all three books away. Maybe Thrillers would be more suited to you. They're very gripping and fast-paced.

Mrz. 17, 2014, 6:54am

Quite a few years ago I finally persuaded my father, a college English professor and expert in modernist fiction, to read The Lord of the Rings. He plowed through the whole thing dutifully, but I could tell he wasn't enjoying it. At the end, he offered only one comment. "It will become a classic."

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 18, 2014, 1:07pm

Very well put, dchaikin. I appreciate your explanation. A lot of what you say echoes my thoughts regarding LOTR.

For me it is a very deep read and I am astounded every time I think about how much time and thought Tolkien put into his writing LOTR. Truly amazing.

I read it originally as a college student and loved it. Now that I am a "grown-up" I enjoy it from a Christian viewpoint. It's one of those books I can read again (when I am ready to sink into a long story) and again and see new pearls each time.
After I read LOTR in college, I did try other fantasy/sci-fi books and nope--couldn't do it.

But as far as not liking the classics go, I totally understand. I hated Wuthering Heights. To each his own. Time is too short to waste on a book you don't like.