The second volume of Tolkien's epic trilogy never even wavers. If anything, it seems steadier and more controlled than "Fellowship of the Ring," as several characters become more central and the plot focus widens to envelop all of Middle Earth. It suffers from a bit of sequelitis in places, but the overall book is just as enthralling as the first.
Aragorn finds that Merry and Pippin have been abducted rather than killed -- for what reason, no one knows. Frodo and Sam have left on their own. So Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli race to find the orcs and retrieve the hobbits, but are stopped by the fierce Riders of Rohan, and then by an old and dear friend: Gandalf, who has been resurrected in the new form of a White wizard. Elsewhere, Merry and Pippin must use all of their wits to escape the orcs, and then find a strange band of allies that no one could have hoped for.
Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam head into Mordor -- with an eerily familiar figure, Gollum, following them. Frodo subjugates Gollum, forcing him to swear on "the precious" that he won't harm him. In return, Gollum promises to guide the two hobbits through Mordor, straight to Mount Doom. But the Ring is weighing more heavily than ever on Frodo, and is starting to reassert its old sway on Gollum...
One of the most noticeable changes in this book is the shift of focus. "Fellowship" was Frodo-centric, since the narration revolved around him, as did all the events and thoughts. But with the breaking of the Fellowship, the narration falls into three categories: Frodo and Sam; Merry and Pippin; Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. This triple style allows individuals to shine more brightly, when they are called on to do more than hike with Frodo.
Tolkien also presented a wider view of Middle-Earth in general. While the slow slog through Mordor doesn't really tell or show readers much -- aside from what a hellhole Sauron is the middle of -- it's shocking to see the the effects of the orcs, Saruman and Sauron on places such as Gondor and Rohan.
Changes can be seen in Frodo even in this book, and which become more pronounced in the third book of the trilogy, "Return of the King." He becomes sadder and more introspective, and the Ring's growing hold on him can be glimpsed at times. Aragorn is also changing. He is no longer merely the rugged outcast Ranger, but displays the hints of a future great king, if he can only get to his throne.
Merry and Pippin also change: these two innocent young hobbits have to suddenly Sam is more promiment in this book, as Frodo's friend and personal pillar of strength.
But where Tolkien really outdid himself is Gollum. Gollum returns, in a substantially different state. Oh, he's still addled and addicted to the Ring, but he displays a dual love/loathing for the Ring, a weird affection for Frodo (who, from his point of view, is probably the only person who has been kind to him), and displays a Ring-induced multiple-personality syndrome. Very rarely can bad guys elicit the sort of loathing and pity from the reader that Gollum does.
One noticeable aspect of this book is friendship. When the Fellowship sets out from Rivendell, virtually everyone is a stranger, with the exception of the hobbits. However, in this book we get our view of how much Sam loves Frodo and wants to help him. Sam is fully aware of how much Frodo needs emotional support, and he's quite willing to be a pillar of strength for his friend. We see Gimli and Legolas's affection for Merry and Pippin; and Legolas's willingness to kill Eomer if Eomer hurts Gimli shows how far this Elf and Dwarf have come.
This book is substantially darker than "Fellowship." Frodo is starting to stumble under the weight of the Ring, and other characters die or are seriously hurt. The scene where Pippin's mind is trapped by Sauron is a very disturbing one, as is a violent and saddening scene late in the book. But there is also some wry humor: Gandalf's joke as he hears Saruman throttling Grima Wormtongue, Legolas's snippy comments about pipeweed as Gimli and the hobbits smoke up a storm, and Sam's debate with Gollum about whether they should cook the rabbits.
Tolkien's second Lord of the Rings novel is a thrilling fantasy adventure, exploring more of his invented world than "Fellowship of the Ring" did. A truly enthralling experience.
on October 26, 2012
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is so iconic, so wide in its scope, so vivid in its imagery, so unprecedented that writing a review of it is a colossal undertaking. As C.S. Lewis said, "here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron. Here is a book which will break your heart."
Just the thought of it is enough to scare anyone off the job. Yet, reading over the other customer reviews, I felt I needed to step up to the challenge and write a long review, one that contained an honest opinion and a factual analysis.
This review is long, but is logical, informational, and spoiler-free, I encourage you to read it all, thoroughly.
This is that review:
LOTR [abbreviation: Lord of the Rings] is the magnum opus of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien: an Oxford professor and author. It is actually a trilogy of three books:
--The Fellowship of the Ring
--The Two Towers
--and The Return of the King
JRRT spent over 12 yrs writing the LOTR trilogy, which was released in 1954. It has since gone on to become one of the most loved, respected, and greatest novels ever written.
After a wildly successful and brilliant film adaptation from New Zealander Peter Jackson, the LOTR now has an immense fan base, a slew of parodies, paintings, and music left in its wake, and a legacy greater than any single work of fantasy in the history of writing.
The first thing I must write about is the land LOTR takes place in: Arda, also known as Middle Earth.
Middle Earth is the greatest fictional world ever created. Period.
I DEFY anyone to prove otherwise. Take it up with me in the comments.
The main works of Tolkien, from the Silmarillion to the Lord of the Rings take place in Middle Earth, and cover everything from its creation at the hands of Illuvatar, to the beginning of the Fourth Age.
Tolkien meticulously planned, invented, and imagined EVERY detail of Middle Earth. Middle Earth is so full, so rich and detailed, that many say that Tolkien was more interested in the land his characters were in than the characters themselves.
I beg to differ!--Tolkien was certainly interested in his maps and landscapes but his characters are the real stars.
There are not enough adjectives in my vocabulary to describe how mind-bogglingly detailed Middle Earth is.
Tolkien named and placed over a thousand mountains, rivers, towns, cities, fortresses, islands, and forests, so many, in fact, that encyclopedias and dictionaries have been filled with them.
In addition, Tolkien invented over a dozen languages, the most complete of them is Quenya--the Elven language. Tolkien wrote over 1,000 names, words, and phrases for the Elven languages. Tolkien is not the only author to make up a fantasy language, but he is the best. Young Christopher Paolini's attempts at constructing a language are downright laughable.
If you have time, check out the following link, which includes an Elvish Dictionary:
I am in no way detracting from other great fantasy worlds such as Westeros, Narnia, Randland, and Gormenghast, but here Middle Earth far surpasses all other fantasy worlds.
The detail adds to the LOTR by adding a sense of realism and a distinct Middle Earth-type feel. For the most part, the more detailed your world is, the more your audiences will relate to the characters.
Enough about the real world, I'll turn to the book.
--Lord of the Rings is long, over 1,000 pages. But this is not long at all compared to Eragon, Game of Thrones, Eye of the World, and the Way of Kings.
-- Plot: Thanks, to Peter Jackson, you probably already know the plot. But the movies are not the book, and here is the plot again.
It is the third age of the world, and darkness is looming over Middle Earth.
The Dark Lord Sauron has gathered to him the 20 Rings of Power, the means by which he will enslave Elves, Dwarves, and Men. Only one thing is missing - the One Ring, which has fallen into the hands of...a hobbit.
Deep in the peaceful Shire, young Frodo Baggins is entrusted with an immense task - to take the Ring and destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom, deep within the Enemy's territory. So, with a Fellowship of 9 valiant members - 4 hobbits, 1 wizard, 2 men, and elf, and a dwarf, Frodo must embark on an impossible journey. One from which he may not return...
--The Fellowship: These are the members of the Fellowship of the Ring, and their races:
Frodo Baggins: Hobbit.
Frodo Baggins was the Ringbearer. He was fifty when he set out from Hobbiton. Notably he never killed anything on the quest, the most he did was stab the foot of a Cave Troll. He has been likened to a Christ figure.
He wore a coat of mithril and carried Bilbo's sword Sting. Galadriel gave him the light of Earendil.
Samwise Gamgee: Hobbit.
Samwise was Frodo's gardener, servant, and closest companion. He bore the ring in Mordor for a time. Galadriel gave him a box of earth from Lothlorien, and elven rope.
Gandalf the Grey: Wizard.
One of the five Istari sent to Middle Earth. Gandalf, a.k.a. Olorin, Mithrandir, Greyhame, was instrumental in forming the Fellowship, and played a large role in the downfall of Sauron. He also appeared in The Hobbit.
He carried a sword called Glamdring. He wore grey robes, and later white.
Aragorn son of Arathorn: Man.
Aragorn was descended from the Kings of Numenor, and was a member of the Dunedain. He was blessed with long life. He went by the name Strider in Bree. He carried the sword that was broken - Anduril.
Boromir son of Denethor: Man.
Boromir was the son of Denethor, Steward of Gondor. He was the older brother of Faramir. He carried a great horn.
He saved the Fellowship's lives at Carvahall, where he instructed each of them to carry a bundle of firewood. He was tempted by the Ring.
Legolas son of Thranduril: Elf.
Legolas was the only Elf in the company. He was light on his feet, quiet, and was good with horses. He carried a bow, which he used prodigiously.
He did NOT shoot an oliphaunt.
Gimli son of Gloin: Dwarf.
Gimli was a dwarf. He conflicted with Legolas at the beginning, but became friends. He wielded an axe.
Meriadoc Brandybuck: Hobbit.
Meriadoc, also called Merry, was a hobbit from Hobbiton. His knowledge of the Old Forest was crucial to the hobbits.
Peregrin Took: Hobbit.
The youngest of the group, Peregrin, known as Pippin, was Merry's best friend, and a good singer.
My favorite member of the Fellowship is Samwise. Yeah, laugh all you want and post your little comments about "Fat old Sam". But until you've read The Choices of Master Samwise, or the Tower of Cirith Ungol, or Mount Doom...you haven't seen ANYTHING yet.
Samwise Gamgee is easily the greatest, most courageous character in the Fellowship.
Next would be Gandalf.
Read this passage from The White Rider, and tell me...
"And this also I say: you are our captain and our banner. The Dark Lord has Nine. But we have One, mightier than they: the White Rider. He has passed through fire and the abyss, and they shall fear him. We will go where he leads."
...that doesn't give you shivers!
Many people like to say Tolkien's characters are "black-and-white". This means that all his characters are easily divided into Good and Evil. That's not true.
Today, fantasy authors like to paint their characters Grey. Look at G.R.R.M.'s writings:
Characters like Tyrion, Jaime, Theon, the Hound, and Daenerys. Are they good or evil...Whose side are they on...What are their true intentions...?
Whereas in Tolkien's writings:
Aragorn - Good, Sauron - Bad, Gandalf - Good, Saruman - Bad, Elves - Good, Orcs - Bad. It's simple, Right?
Look at Boromir - he's fought against Sauron, yet he tried to take the Ring from Frodo. He wanted to defeat Sauron, but he opposed destroying the Ring.
And Sméagol - he was Frodo and Sam's guide, yet he wanted the Ring for himself. He led them into Mordor, yet he ------------------- (Spoiler).
Those are grey characters.
The legacy of Tolkien's works, especially LOTR, CANNOT be overstated.
LOTR has been voted "The Greatest Book of the Millennium", by Amazon.com and appears on almost EVERY list of greatest books ever written.
It is the 3rd bestselling book of all time, selling over 150,000,000 copies.
The Peter Jackson Trilogy alone has grossed over $2,947,978,376, and has been voted the greatest Motion Picture Trilogy of all time by Empire Magazine.
The three films are some of the most famous, iconic, and greatest adaptations of a fantasy novels ever made, appearing on Wikipedia's List of Highest Grossing Films, Empire Magazine's 500 Greatest Movies List, AFI's 100 Greatest Films List, IMDb's 250 Best Films list, and Metacritc's Best Movies of This Decade.
LOTR's impact on high, epic, heroic, and quest fantasy, is enormous. It revitalized the genre. No, it REWROTE the genre.
LOTR is the father of modern fantasy. Believe it or not, even today's fantasy (A Song of Ice and Fire, The Inheritance Cycle, etc) is influenced by Tolkien.
Tolkien's character's Frodo, Gandalf, Gollum and others have entered popular culture.
While Tolkien may not have invented Elves, Dragons, Dwarves, or Orcs, his vision of those creatures shaped the characters into what we recognize them as today.
Science Fiction authors such as Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey) and Frank Herbert (Dune) and George Lucas (Star Wars) have been influenced by Tolkien.
It is easy to see how fantasy authors are influenced by Tolkien. Terry Brooks, Stephen R. Donaldson, David Eddings, and, yes, Christopher Paolini all ripped LOTR off.
George R.R. Martin has been called "The American Tolkien", and claims JRRT as a huge influence.
J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, is truly, a Masterpiece!
As the Sunday Times famously said:
"The English speaking world is divided into those who have read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and those who are going to read them."
Which camp are you? If you have not read the Lord of the Rings - The Greatest Book of the Millennium, The Most Influential Work of Fantasy - do so immediately.
I'm not joking. If I haven't given you enough incentive already, how about some more:
Do you like fantasy? Do you like good, no, great books? Are you a fan of books that contain Action, Adventure, High, Epic, Heroic Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Romance, Large, Epic, Thrilling Battles, Journeys, Strong, Heroic, Likeable Characters, Evil, Hate-able, Scary, and Disgusting Villains, Thrills, Chills, Laughs, and Cheers?
Then you'll love the Lord of the Rings.
Do you like Hobbits, Elves, Men, Dwarves, Orcs, Barrow-wights, Dragons, Giant Spiders, and Wizards?
Then The Lord of the Rings is for you.
And until then, I hope you've enjoyed this review. Give it a like and post a comment. Read my other fantasy reviews.
Mára mesta, I Melain berio le.
Goodbye, May the Valar Keep You!
The Hobbit - The Enchanting Prequel
The Silmarillion - The Glorious Beginning
The Children of Húrin - The Moving Tragedy
The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring / The Two Towers / The Return of the King Extended Editions) [Blu-ray] - The Brilliant Adaptation
J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography - The Best Biography