I had started reading The Lord of the Rings at least twice before, but this summer I was determined to get through it. I felt that I SHOULD love these books and that once into the story, I wouldn’t be able to put it down.
As my middle son might say: Fail! I couldn’t do it. I found the writing verbose and contrived and, while some of the characters were likable enough, I didn’t fall in love with anybody. When the big G kicks it, I didn’t feel any of the pain that the other characters said (but I didn’t believe) they felt. In other legendary pseudo-deaths (e.g, Dumbledore, Aslan, Obi-Wan Kenobi), even after you know the character returns to the story, you still feel the pain of the other characters. Not so with Gandalf; at least, not for me. “We must do without hope,” says Aragorn, which is the way I was beginning to feel myself.
I did make it through the first book of the trilogy*, but fruitless did I call this victory alone, I must go on! And I did go on… for a little. Halfway through the second book, I gave up for the final time. I fear I shall never return to The Lord of the Rings. I hope Frodo succeeds in destroying the ring, but if Gollum bites off his head, steals the ring, and becomes lord of all, I’m okay with that too. My youngest son is 20 pages from finishing the final book, after which we’ll watch the final movie together and I’ll know all.
*According to Tolkien’s Letter 165 in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, a fascinating read I’m sure, the book is not a trilogy: “The book is not of course a ‘trilogy’. That and the titles of the volumes was a fudge thought necessary for publication, owing to length and cost. There is no real division into 3, nor is any one pan intelligible alone. The story was conceived and written as a whole…”
Lord of the Rings Movies
There are movies, of course. I saw them all before and have watched the first two since trying to read the books. They are much easier to watch than the books are to read, but I didn’t love them. Sorry.