Brett Rants

Lord of the Rings
Your Guide to Middle Earth

I'm surprised that JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is as popular as it is. I'm not saying that it doesn't deserve to be popular, just that I'm surprised that it is.

The Fellowship of the Rings is a Travelogue

Seriously, have you read the books? They are pretty mundane, dare I say it, even boring.

Don't believe me? Here's an excerpt:

The Fellowship of the Ring
Part 1
Chapter 4
A Short Cut to Mushrooms
60 odd pages into the story and our 'heroes' are still walking through the Shire one step at a time:
It was already nearly as hot as it had been the day before; but clouds were beginning to come up from the West. It looked likely to turn to rain. The hobbits scrambled down a steep bank and plunged into the thick trees below. Their course had been chosen to leave Woodhall to their left, and to cut slanting through the woods that clustered along the eastern side of the hill, until they reached the flat beyond. Then they could make straight for the Ferry over country that was open, except for a few ditches and fences. Frodo reckoned they had eighteen miles to go in a straight line.

He soon found that the thicket was closer and more tangled that it had appeared...
That is an amazing amount of detail concerning the terrain that is being crossed. And this isn't an isolated example. It's basically what the entire series is about. That and decent folk sharing good conversation -- mostly about the Ring War -- over a light meal, mug of ale, or smoke of the weed (the kind from the Shire, of course).

Or in other words, Mister Tolkien wrote about what he wanted to write about and market forces be damned -- a sentiment I can respect.

Or maybe he was worried about not having enough content and so sort of dragged it out at the beginning (a theory that is supported by the fact that the pace quickens as the series progresses).

Of Course, It's Not All Traipsing Through the Tulips

Here's another excerpt:

The Fellowship of the Ring
Part 2
Chapter 5
The Bridge of Khazad-Dum
Four hundred odd pages into the tale and we are finally in the thick of it. A Balrog is described in the only way such a being may be described: in terms of shear horror
But it was not the trolls that had filled the Elf with terror. The ranks of the orcs had opened and they crowded away, as if they themselves were afraid. Something was coming up behind them. What it was could not be seen: it was like a great shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form, of man-shape maybe, yet greater; and a power and terror seemed to be in it and to go before it.
Truly, that is good writing and reminiscent of The Heart of Darkness -- to my ear, anyway.

Truthfully, having recently reread the series, I was pleasantly surprised. I found it amazingly boring as a child and now I know why. For an action adventure series, there's a decided lack of action. Don't believe me, read the sucker. You'll see.


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copyright © 2013 Brett Paufler
Brett@Paufler.net

Personally, I like that JRR Tolkien capitalized 'Elf', whereas both 'orc' and 'hobbit' are always lower case: fitting, if you ask me. So, 'hobbit' not 'Hobbit', and certainly not 'The Hobbit'. Besides, 'There and Back Again' is clearly a better title for that particular tome, because once you are through reading it, you will indeed know how to get 'There and Back Again' in excruciating detail.