Fantasy Friday #12: Why The Lord Of The Rings Is ‘My Precious…’

Posted 25 April, 2014 by Rinn in Fantasy Friday / 28 Comments

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: my love for The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

When I was ten years old, I picked up this huge fantasy book that I’d never read before. I was (and still am… obviously) an avid devourer of fantasy fiction, and here was one I hadn’t yet read! It was written by the same author who wrote The Hobbit – I’d read that a few years before and loved it. I’d also heard there was a film version of it coming out next year, and it’s always more fun to read the book first. That book was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and it changed my life.

It wasn’t long before I’d finished all three books, and I was obsessed. It didn’t really help that the films were coming out soon, which meant there was merchandise EVERYWHERE. I bought countless movie guides, guides to Tolkien, books about Tolkien himself, art books, the video games, posters, trading cards, figures… I even had one of those huge cardboard promotional cutouts. Seriously. My local video shop sold off cutouts and posters so I ended up coming home with a Two Towers one, which took up the majority of my tiny bedroom at the time. Totally worth it. I did tons of fanart (a lot of which I still have), I learnt to write ‘like a hobbit’, I tried (and failed) to learn Sindarin, I ran several different Lord of the Rings websites and fanlistings. I didn’t hide my love for it either, everyone at school knew my obsession. Sometimes I felt that it alienated me from others and that they looked down on me for being so passionate, but eh.

Pretty much how I felt when being judged by my peers. (image source)

It’s difficult to give a toss about how people perceive you for liking something, when that something is so important to you. Reading, particularly the fantasy genre, has always been a HUGE part of my life. From a young age I was encouraged to read: to my parents, by myself, before bed, whenever I could. The Lord of the Rings only made me delve deeper into the fantasy genre, and I have so much to thank it for.

I know it doesn’t appeal to everyone. Tolkien’s language is old-fashioned, but that’s what I LOVE about it. I love the archaic words, the feeling that somehow this could have been our past in an alternate universe, the hobbits and their country bumpkin lifestyle – it sounds pretty idyllic. It’s a tale with unlikely heroes: within the Fellowship we’ve got an heir to the throne of Gondor, the Gondorian Steward’s son, an Elven prince, an Istari (or wizard), a Dwarven warrior (who is of the royal line, however distant) – and four hobbits. Two of which prove to be the strongest of them all, and we can’t forget what Merry and Pippin went through either.

Growing up is tough, guys. (image source)

Tolkien turned the traditional ‘epic quest’ tale on its head when he made his bumbling country folk – who’d normally rather spend the day fishing or farming, followed by an evening with a mug of ale – the true heroes. Despite the fact that Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mount Doom will most likely kill them and their chances of ever seeing the Shire again are slim, they carry on. That very thought of their beautiful home pushes them through. The message is clear: it’s not who you are that matters, it’s what you do. You don’t need to be the long lost heir to the throne, a rich prince or a grizzled warrior to have an impact. It’s essentially, when stripped to the bare bones, a story of good overcoming evil and how even the littlest person can change the future. To me, it also speaks of overcoming prejudices: it’s well known that elves and dwarves do not get along. But Legolas and Gimli end up forging a strong friendship, although they were distrusting of each other at first. There’s so much more within the books than a tale of nine people going on a long and arduous journey.

But you know what impresses me even more than the positive message Tolkien sends out through The Lord of the Rings? His sheer and utter dedication to thoroughly creating the world of Middle-earth. He invented entire languages, and not just the words and sentences he used in the books, but an entire new vocabulary and syntax. A whole history of Middle-earth was written, cultures and peoples that the reader barely catches a glimpse or even mention of were created. Inspired by myths and legends of other cultures, Tolkien sculpted this beautiful world that feels so real to me. I’m pretty heartbroken that I can’t just move to Middle-earth, to be honest.

To round it all up, The Lord of the Rings is a series that breaks my heart – in the very best way – yet simultaneously every time I read the books I feel like I’m at home. There just isn’t another like it.


(image source)

If you didn’t see it last month, I was also interviewed at Pages Unbound as part of Tolkien Week.

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28 responses to “Fantasy Friday #12: Why The Lord Of The Rings Is ‘My Precious…’

    • I understand Mel – I can see how it could be quite difficult to read. There is one scene that I sometimes skip when I read the books, because I’ve read them so many times that I know how the scene goes (the scene is The Council of Elrond if you’re interested :P). I guess that’s when the book feels it’s ‘stuffiest’ for me. But the rest of it… <3

      You see, this is why the films are great. People who can't or don't want to read the books can still get the story 😀

  1. I remember the first time I ever heard of these books was when my high school English teacher (also one of my favorite teachers) was tired at school one day because he said he went to the midnight showing of the first LOTR film. And since he was one of my favorite teachers I knew I had to read the books. And I loved it! You are right – the world-building is incredible, and Tolkien’s dedication to it is inspiring! I remember being so surprised to that there were languages created for it (and I tried to learn one, but failed).

    But it does help that the movies are so fantastic too – it’s great to be able to experience the story in two ways and be just as moved and awed by it. Great post Rinn! Fangirl on! 😀
    Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy recently posted…Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

    • Haha, what an epic sounding teacher! I wish I could’ve gone to one of the midnight showings, but as I was between the ages of 11-13 (I think?) when the films came out, I would’ve needed a parent present and I doubt that’s their idea of fun 😉 I did see The Two Towers three times in the cinema though…

      Yes, your point is exactly what I was trying to say to Mel – but you put it much more eloquently 😉

  2. Great post Rinn! 🙂 I love and agree with everything you mentioned about what is amazing about the books and why they endure as an epic, as a story. And Tolkien’s dedication in creating a fully-realised world is just astounding.

    Hehe, your experience is sort of similar to mine in that after reading the books I pretty much just devoured everything Tolkien and related to the movies: tried learning Sindarin as well (to date I remember but a handful of works), poured over the maps, plastered my desk with images from the movies (still have it!), ran a website in high school dedicated to my 3 favourite characters <3 Good times 🙂
    Lianne @ caffeinatedlife.net recently posted…Review: Burial Rites

    • Thanks Lianne =) I’m glad you agree, I thought you might share the same viewpoint! 😉

      Do you still have loads of the stuff from that time? I have most of it (ALL the books) though I don’t have my figurines any more… but I do still have trading cards, haha!

  3. Wow, I must be one of the few people in the universe that prefers the movies to the books o_O

    Tolkien’s songs really rubbed me wrong, and given I’d seen the movies first, I really plunged into them expecting something as breathtaking and action-packed. Tolkein’s prose was actually a bit of hard reading for me at times [I was 11, at the time].

    After I’d read the trilogy, I never really looked back at an adult fantasy book until maybe 5 years ago when a friend had me check out A Game of Thrones. I’d seen there was a forthcoming one in it, A Dance with Dragons on the B&N website, so I figured why not. That was where my fantasy addiction began 😀
    Rabindranauth recently posted…Genghis: Bones of the Hill by Conn Iggulden

    • If that’s how you prefer to see/hear the story, then that’s fine! This is what I mean about the films being great, it means that so many more people can follow the story of The Lord of the Rings. 😀

      I love the songs, I was a bit sad they mostly got left out of The Lord of the Rings – although I’m really glad they included some in The Hobbit. Pippin’s song in the film at Gondor makes me cry, although it’s actually somewhere totally different (and sung by someone else, if I remember correctly) in the book.

      I suppose that if you’re looking for an action-packed fantasy, it’s not right, no. Lots of talking and brooding 😛

      Well thank goodness for A Song of Ice and Fire too then! 😉 Another of my favourite series.

  4. I also read Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit when I was about 10/11 years old. I actually had made a bet with a fellow classmate about who could read them the fastest before the first movie came out. Needless to say I finished the whole series before he was halfway through Fellowship *dusts off shoulder in true nerd girl fashion*

    I tried SO HARD to teach myself Sindarin in middle school but utterly failed, much like my attempt to read The Silmarillion. I love Lord of the Rings for the exact same reason that you mentioned, the average person that no one would give a second thought to becomes the true hero of the story. Ever since reading this life-changing series, I’ve been searching for another fictional world to dive into but have yet to find anything. I guess Tolkien has spoiled me for fantasy books 😉
    Christina @ My Life In Books recently posted…Bout of Books 10.0 Sign-Up

    • Haha! Amazing 😀 I hope they treated you to cinema tickets to see the films for winning 😉

      Oh gosh, Sindarin was difficult, wasn’t it? I’ve tried to read The Silmarillion a couple of times, but so far haven’t managed it. One day, I will! I want to re-read Unfinished Tales next, and in more depth this time. Last time I read it (I think I was about 14/15) I think I flicked between stories.

      I’ve found a couple of series that have really pulled me in, but you’re right – it’s hard to compare!

    • Haha, I read it every year too =) I even bought the Kindle editions so I can read it when I go to the Netherlands… and they were in the sale 😉

  5. I have so much respect for Tolkein and the world he created. You’re right – he put so much detail into the world and I’m sure I don’t even know the half of it because I’ve only read the books! I also love the message of how it’s our actions that matter, not who we are or what people expect of us. Great post!
    Kritika recently posted…Review: Red Seas Under Red Skies

    • I can’t even begin to imagine creating a world, let alone all the history, cultures and languages to go along with it – huge respect for anyone who can do that.

      Thanks Kritika 🙂

  6. Reading this post made me so happy. Had we gone to the same school, I’m pretty sure we would have become immediate friends over our love of LotR.
    I actually didn’t read the books until after seeing The Fellowship of the Ring in theatres (Though I had read The Hobbit twice already before. I had just decided to wait for the film first, I guess…? Don’t really remember my rationale now haha).
    But anyway, I relate to all you said. I’m one of those people who made my love of LotR super clear. I had all the merchandise, all the behind-the-scenes books and films, all those criticism/review books…everything. And it was glorious.
    I just love how Tolkien not only made fantasy accessible to large numbers of people, but how he also showed everyone that fantasy can be intelligent and thought-provoking and as worthy a genre as any other.
    So, yes, reading your post here made me super happy. 🙂

    • If only we had! I had a couple of friends who loved it too, but most people didn’t really get our love for it…

      Do you still have lots of that stuff? Loads of my behind the scenes books are falling apart, not very good quality! 😛 And I have this special mini magazine from Empire still, I think it was from an edition that came out when Return of the King did. It has interviews with each actor plus Peter Jackson and some of the other crew, with full page portraits and it’s just gorgeous.

      Glad you enjoyed the post so much 😀

  7. Great topic to talk about! I, like you, was completely obsessed when the LoTR movies came out and tried to buy EVERYTHING! I also remember doing a few LoTR themed websites and such too! Although, I did not read the books until years after the films had finished and even then they took me like 5 years to get through, but was worth it and I too love what Tolkien wrote and gave to us.
    O I actually marathoned LoTR last night, extended edition of course! ^_^
    Alex recently posted…Top 5 Wednesday

    • Haha, there was so much stuff to buy! I even had LotR pajamas…

      What were your websites on? Specific characters or the whole series? I had a fanlisting for hobbits, and a graphic website which went from being information to graphics to awards and reviews. Plus a general graphics site which had lots of LotR stuff anyway 🙂

  8. This is such a beautiful post. I too love his words and the sense that this story cold be our archaic past. It’s so beautiful and so sad.

    Have you read Tolkien’s letters? There’s this great, giant book of letters he wrote – some right at the end of WWI (if I recall correctly) and through the writing and publishing of the Hobbit and LotR and to his sons and publishers and after LotR came out. It’s a fantastic book that lends that extra layer of depth and history to the story, for me.
    Annie recently posted…London

    • Thank you Annie, it’s definitely something I’m very passionate about! 🙂

      I haven’t actually, I may have to look into it.

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