Let’s Get Literal: The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

List Item: Read 100 of the greatest works of fiction
Progress: 23/100Title: The Lord Of The Rings
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Year: 1954-1955
Country: UK

So, I finally got around to reading The Lord of the Rings. In preparation I decided that I would reread The Hobbit to get me into the mindset of Tolkien’s world. Then it turned out that I had not actually read The Hobbit, I just thought I had. So, at least I know for sure that I have read it now! Having properly read it I am now even more pissed off about the movies… but that’s a thought for another time. Let’s just focus on the tome that is The Lord of the Rings.

I have been put off of reading this for many years. Why? Maybe it’s because so many people have told me about how hard it was to read. Maybe it is because I was told that it was written like a stuffy history book. It was probably both.

The thing is, I have read In Search of Lost Time. So no matter how long and dense a book is with hundreds of ridiculous names, it will always pale in comparison. And boy am I glad I finally got to reading The Lord of the Rings, because it was brilliant.

It is really hard to read this without mentally splitting it into the three volumes or the six books. I can say with absolute certainty that whilst my favourite volume was The Return of the King and that my favourite book was Book II. I can also say that, without a shadow of a doubt, the second half of The Two Towers was easily the worst section… but it was still pretty damned good.

eowyn faramir

As someone who loved the movies, and saw them in the cinemas every Christmas Eve for three years, I did find it hard to separate the characters from the actors. I will also hold my hands up to say that the books had a better ending, but I can completely see why the film deviated from it.

One thing I wish had been kept, which shows my inner sap, was the chapter where Eowyn and Faramir fall in love. Whilst the love story of Arwen and Aragorn is lovely, and required its own entry in the appendices! But this is the better of the love stories. In fact, Eowyn is one hell of a character. In a world full of brawny men riding horses she still manages to kick all their arses and probably had to ride side saddle.

I also wish that the film had spent more time with the Ents, but in order to make a profitable movie I can see why they had their parts cut down.


Like most people who have read the books I found myself really loving the character of Sam.  He is the true hero of the hooks and is the light that shines in the lesser parts of the book. He is such an amazing character because he is the perfect architype of the powerless regular man. He has no music, fame or money, but he is the major/sole reason that the world doesn’t fall into the realm of darkness.

Of course I read the books and see him as being in love with Frodo. I know that this isn’t just the gay man in me, it is a very common way to read this nowadays. It wasn’t how he meant to write it. It’s a similar relationship as between Enobarbus and Antony in Antony and Cleopatra. I guess I just find it hard to read characters like that as not gay.

This now leaves me with the question of what I should read next. Maybe a shorter book next time… Or maybe I should try and plough my way through Clarissa. Who knows? That’s the excitement of this list.

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