Things have been fairly quiet around here lately. I’ve been here – reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, but I haven’t had a lot to say for myself. I’ve still been busy reading though. Since mid-June I’ve been working on the Lord of the Rings read-along run by Robert Bruce at 101 Books.
If you don’t have a basic idea of the story, where on earth have you been? I thought everyone in the English-speaking world must have seen Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy by now! What’s that? You haven’t seen it? You’re missing out. Seriously, go and borrow it from a friend, because I guarantee you’ll know someone who has the DVD’s. In the meantime, here’s a summary:
Bilbo Baggins is preparing to celebrate his 111th birthday. Among the invited guests is Gandalf, a wizard who was responsible for sending Bilbo on a fantastic journey with a group of 13 dwarves, a journey from which he returned with a life-time supply of treasure and a magic ring that he found on his journey. (The full story of that journey is told in “The Hobbit”.) Gandalf has always had some concern about the origins and power of Bilbo’s ring, and when Bilbo decides to go traveling once again, Gandalf insists that the ring should be left behind with his nephew Frodo. After some research, Gandalf discovers that the ring is actually a dark object that was thought to be lost hundreds of years ago, but now the original owner (Sauron) has become aware that the ring still exists and has a pretty good idea where to find it. Frodo is forced to flee from his home, pursued by the servants of Sauron, but although there are a few holdouts where elves and elders still live protected deep in ancient woodlands, the wider world will not be safe unless Frodo and his friends can find a way to destroy the ring.
The Lord of the Rings is not actually a trilogy, but a single novel published in three volumes.
- Books 1 & 2 – The Fellowship of the Ring, covers a period of about 17 years from Frodo’s inheriting the ring through the first 6 months of his journey across Middle-Earth.
- Books 3 & 4 – The Two Towers, picks up exactly where the first volume leaves off, and covers an action-packed 2-3 weeks in the middle of the war.
- Books 5 & 6 – The Return of the King, covers the conclusion of the war and the aftermath for the main characters.
This is high fantasy at it’s best, there are wizards, elves, dwarves, men, and a variety of other creatures, magical and non-magical. There are clearly defined good-guys and bad-guys, but also a few characters who allowed themselves to be corrupted by evil. We see individual characters dealing with their own stories, played out against the vast troop movements of a world-wide war.
The plot is fantastic, with twists and turns in all the right places, but to be totally honest, Tolkien’s writing style is quite out-dated (deliberately so) which makes The Lord of the Rings quite a difficult read at times. Still, there is a reason that this is a classic, and definitely worth the effort if you haven’t already read it.