“Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.”
I don't even know how to start this, so I might as well start with a story.
I was about 8 or 10 years old and sick again (I was a very sickly kid), with either a very bad flu or a very bad cold (there was a lot of coughing). So my dad borrowed from his coworker 4 books and brought them home to me (I grew up in times when people borrowed and shared, not just shopped and shopped). The books obviously were The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings "trilogy" (it's one book really, just split into 3 upon publishers intent). So I started reading. Suddenly I wasn't sick in my room anymore, I was in The Shire, I was guessing Gollum's riddles, I was running from Smaug I was in Rivendell bound under elven beauty and all I needed to do, all I must do was get that ring to Mordor to be destroyed. I was in love. Then many years passed and after all of 3 movies were released they were showing them on TV. I remember sitting at the foot of the couch and waling for 10 minutes at the Boromir scene, I just couldn't stop.
I don't remember how many times I read the books, but this is my very first time reading it in English. And anyone who says that the books are hard to read because of the way they are written, honestly needs to purchase a dictionary because they really are not. The language is beautiful. Sure, Tolkien gets off topic and could ramble a bit, but that doesn't make it hard to read at all.
“Three Rings for Elven-Kings under the sky
Seven for the Dwarf-Lords in their halls of stone
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie”
Here is what Tolkien in his own words had to say to those who dislike his books:
"Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer."
He was a sassy sweet old man! :)
Lord of the Rings (and all of the books set in that world) are not just books. They aren't something to be submitted to publisher because of the due date, or not something to be filled and stretched out because of the word count requirements. He spent 12 years writing Lord of the Rings. They are a labor of love - and it shows. It shows in every word, every description - it doesn't feel like fiction (which was Tolkien's true intent), it feels like a historical recollection of fantastical things that truly happened. That's why you don't just read the books, you go to Middle Earth and you live it.
I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that P.Jackson adopted that same approach to making his movies - he didn't just make them, he lived them, which also shows in every second of the three films.
In the diverse universe of different races my favorite are the elves. And not because they are so ethereal and graceful, but because of their affinity and relationship with nature. Elves are always sad because they know that earth is dying and the they won't be able to slow and stall that process forever. They respect nature above all and they live in harmony with it. Unlike orcs and goblins who only see nature as materials for making their weapons and other scary things.
Tolkien himself disliked technology and how fast it was advancing. He liked things true and simple. He liked the countryside, he liked his old house set in the greenery of nature - his haven in a fast changing world.
Next after elves were hobbits in their love for nature. Hobbits didn't like technology either, and in the Shire they truly lived in their own world. If you read the prologue you will learn that except the plow and a windmill hobbits really didn't have any other advanced tools (I know a windmill is not a tool, but it's a means of making things). Hobbit's philosophy is simple and beautiful - give a hobbit a garden and he's happy. They liked their comfort, and they liked there tea, they also liked to eat 6 times a day, which I totally get on board with. I won't go into any other races, except this two that are my favorite, because then my review will be half as large as the first book.
“He loved mountains, or he had loved the thought of them marching on the edge of stories brought from far away; but now he was borne down by the insupportable weight of Middle-earth. He longed to shut out the immensity in a quiet room by a fire.”
The book starts with an extensive genealogy and history of hobbits, which is important to know to understand them. Because even with danger at the front door a hobbit will still want his second breakfast. If you read the books and watched the movies they are quite a few differences, especially in the first part of it. I like both ways of starting up - one sets you up with a lot of information which you really need to truly grasp the feel of the things, and the other creates a very fast paced chase which glues you to your screen.
The scope of Tolkien's creation is tremendous - he had so much material that it's still being published. He created a separate language for his books, he created a whole world of extensive mythology - I honestly don't know how he kept his notes straight. The man, and his works are pure genius. Also, all of this was done before google. Just let that sink in.
I feel like modern fantasy authors should strive to write more like Tolkien did. And I don't mean in the same style or anything. But with love. Treat their books as if they were real, not merely a fiction. Step into the world they create and live the story, not just write it. Nowadays authors try to either shock the reader, or to trick the reader - and while it often works, it shouldn't always be the case.
The first book doesn't bring much in a sense of human interaction, or much action, due to it being weirdly split at a point - remember to threat the books as one. It's a one long and epic journey, and book one is merely a set up for it. Lord of the Rings itself is merely a drop in the vast ocean of Tolkien's universe, and I plan to drink the whole thing. Or swim in it.
"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king"