Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Lord of the Rings ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

I am rather behind on posting book reviews (I finished reading this back in April, if that's any indication), so I'm playing catch-up this week.  I committed myself to reading the entirety of  The Lord of the Rings for the Classics Challenge (counted as only ONE book, not three), as well as The Hobbit.  I actually read The Fellowship of the Ring back in high school and liked it, but got caught up by the Ents in The Two Towers and never finished the series.  It's one of those series I felt like I should read though, as a serious reader who occasionally delves into fantasy.  It's a classic of the genre, yes?  This time around, I decided to listen to the whole series on audiobook because a) I had a long commute and b) my brother gave me all of the audiobooks.  I listened to it over the course of the school year, because I couldn't bring myself to start each book immediately after the previous one and I have to say, this was one of the least successful audiobooks at keeping me conscious while driving that I have ever read.

Can we all just take a minute to discuss the whole conspiracy that is people claiming that this series is good?  Because I found it to be incredibly dull.  I admit, I didn't quite finish it.  I skipped over some of the songs (ugh, all of the singing) and stopped The Return of the King a little early and read the Wikipedia page instead because of all the monotony.  The entire series is essentially a series of changing dyads wandering around, meeting new people with names lacking individuality and therefore memorability, and then sometimes dying.  I honestly don't remember all of my complaints about the series, but I shall bulletpoint that which comes to mind:

  •  The lack of women - seriously, there's only one, right?  Or two?  Galadriel and Arwyn are the only two my husband and I can come up with off of the top of our heads and that is far too few women for an epic.
  • The lack of character development.  None.  There is none.
  • The hobbits are children.  I'm pretty sure that according to hobbit protocol, all four hobbits are adults but all act and are treated like children.  What really got to me was how the other characters would physically pick them up and move them about and that never gave them a sense of shame.  Not that it should but come on now - if you were being picked up like that, you'd be embarrassed, right?  Yeah you would.
  • The strict good/evil dichotomy.  Gollum and Boromir complicate this a little bit, but not enough.  The world is not so simple.
  • None of the good guys die.  You could say that Boromir did but he slipped up, so he obviously had it coming.  I guess some of the good guys introduced later on, but I couldn't keep track of any of them so they clearly don't count.
I've read some interesting stuff on Goodreads about how the series is technically good, with all the careful world-building and that's all well and good, but without a substantial story it was just one long yawn-fest.  All I really liked about it was the friendship between Legolas and Gimli, because they are adorable and rise above prejudices and all that jazz.

At least I can say I've read it and can check a seventh book off of my Classics Challenge list.  Please feel free to tell me what people like about this series so much, because I really don't get it.


  1. Aw. I am not the most passionate fan of this series, but I'm fond of it. I think my affection for it stems from its mythic qualities -- does that make sense? Its shortcomings and strengths are pretty similar to those of myths, and I love myths. I would never ever ever listen to it on audio.

  2. "Can we all just take a minute to discuss the whole conspiracy that is people claiming that this series is good?" bahahahaha THIS

    I read the books after being surprised by how much I loved the Fellowship movie. I planned on reading the whole series before the next movie came out and was so bored by FotR. I didn't give up on the series yet but I decided I would let the movies surprise me with what's coming. I finished the second book and really tried to make it through the third but couldn't do it.

    The lack of character development is what killed it for me. He could have switched around the names at any point I wouldn't have noticed. Because everyone was pretty much the same, save for a couple physical features.