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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comment on the product
While a Lord of the Rings fanatic myself, I don't see a reason to write an extensive commentary on the trilogy. If you want a review on the book there are more than sufficient amounts of widely varied opinions below my own that should satiate one's curiosity as to the virtues (or lack thereof) of Tolkien's most acclaimed work.

I feel it more important to note...
Published on Oct. 11 2006 by S. Peters

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This Edition is a Disgrace!
This is not a critique of Tolkien's work; rather it is a condemnation of Houghton Mifflin's hardcover boxed set. Thirty years after first reading "The Lord of the Rings" I decided to read it again. Besides the engrossing and detailed story, I had a renewed interest in the technical aspects of Tolkien's craft and his use of the English language. I am not...
Published on Nov. 6 2000 by Robert S. Truesdell


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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent radio adaptation, Aug. 12 2003
By 
Christopher Baum (Astoria, NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings (Audio CD)
A few minor quibbles aside, this BBC radio presentation (in thirteen one-hour episodes) is a magnificent adaptation of Tolkien's masterpiece.
The cast is superb; interestingly, it features prominent connections to both film versions of the story. Ian Holm, who plays Bilbo in Peter Jackson's films, makes a fine Frodo, only occasionally betraying the fact that he is perhaps a little too old for the role. Meanwhile, Peter Woodthorpe builds interestingly on the conception of Gollum that he first presented in Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated version. Woodthorpe's characterization is wonderfully effective, giving full expression to the pathos, the menace, and the humor of this extraordinary and complex character.
The pivotal roles of Gandalf and Aragorn are both brilliantly - one might even say definitively - played by Royal Shakespeareans Michael Hordern and Robert Stephens. Their performances could scarcely be bettered. William Nighy, an actor who, on the evidence of his work here, deserves to be far better known in this country, is excellent as Samwise, nicely delineating the character's growth from a simple gardener into a truly heroic figure. The other hobbits are also very well played. Further standouts in what is truly a first-rate cast include Peter Howell as Saruman, David Collings as Legolas, Andrew Seear as Faramir, Jack May as Theoden, and Peter Vaughan as Denethor.
Brian Sibley's adaptation of Tolkien's masterpiece is as good as any we are ever likely to encounter. With the exception of the the Old Forest/Tom Bombadil/Barrow-Downs loop (which, let's be honest, is not likely to be missed too keenly), all of the major plot threads are preserved. Better still, Sibley and his co-writers have presented the tale largely in Tolkien's own words, taking much of the dialogue and narration verbatim from the books. In a few places, especially early on, Sibley does deviate from Tolkien's text - not by changing the story, but rather by staging scenes which are only hinted at in the books. Not surprisingly, these are among the production's weaker moments. The Ringwraiths, in particular, suffer from their extra scenes; the dialogue (and, in some cases, the voices of the actors playing them) makes them rather too solidly human, and they lose some of the spectral menace that Tolkien sustained so beautifully by keeping them mainly in the shadows. But these brief additions are nearly all confined to the first two episodes, and do not detract much from the overall impact of even these installments. After Episode Two, nearly every scene comes directly from Tolkien. Apart from a handful of misjudged moments, everything comes off quite splendidly, and overall the adaptation is really as good as anyone could have wished. Among its many delights, perhaps the most unexpected of all is that the destruction of the Ring takes place around halfway through Episode Twelve - leaving fully an episode and a half for Tolkien's long and very satisfying denouement.
Stephen Oliver's music is lovely and effective, and there are some particularly fine settings of Tolkien's own poetry. The sound effects are generally fairly good, though they could have been used less sparingly in places; however, this economy allows the marvelous cast to come through that much more clearly, so it is difficult to object.
On the whole, this is an intelligent, exciting, and superbly acted dramatization of "The Lord of the Rings." It is unquestionably a must-have for all Tolkien fans. One final word of warning, however: please do not confuse this brilliant BBC adaptation with the abominable American version produced by The Mind's Eye. The latter adaptation, which was apparently aimed at developmentally challenged toddlers, is to be avoided at all costs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection., May 7 2004
By 
Cubelodyte (A dingy cubicle farm) - See all my reviews
Inglis' delivery was very nearly flawless. He also has an excellent singing voice; I was astonished to find there were so many songs written down in the books. The only major problem I had with this set is that it was finite.
I had never heard of Mr. Inglis before listening to this set. He actually made me look forward to an hour-long commute. If someone were to publish his reading of the Zip code directory, I would purchase it immediately. He's that good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A laymans review, Sept. 22 2003
By 
Cindy (Edmonton, Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
This Millenium Edition Lord of the Rings 7 volume set is amazing. It has black binding with red and gold Eye of Sauron and has JRR Tolkien's signature on the inside front page. It is by far the best version to date and very hard to find. The UK version comes with a CD which has JRR Tolkien reading exerpts from the story. Each volume binding has a letter of Tolkien's name. A must have if you can find it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best book ever, Sept. 6 2004
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings (Paperback)
The Lord of the Rings has a different view of life than its prelude, The Hobbit. The Hobbit is very comical and features an adventure, while The Lord of the Rings is very serious and features a quest.
The Lord of the Rings is a great story, but some of the parts may seem a bit boring and confusing to those who have not read The Simarillian.
The best part of the book (which the movie dosn't really show) is the "Moralistic" parts. Without friendship,freedom, trust, pity and hope the story would have ended tragicly.One part that made me think was how Men envy the Elves' immortality , while Elves envy Men because they hate to see all that they love fade. This contridicts a lot of people's thinking.People who have watched the movie will also note many wonderful characters and scenes never even shown. Also, although there is a bit of love between Arwen and Aragorn, the whole story is not about their love!!!! ( the movie also leaves Eowyn and Faramir at loose ends while they fall in love in the book) The violent war scences depicted in the movie THE RETURN OF THE KING do not take up half of the story, either.
The Lord of the Rings is my favourite book, and I think that it would be wise to devout a few hours of your time to read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Audio Adaptation of Tolkien's Classic, April 30 2004
By 
Neil Leslie (Charlotte, NC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings (Audio CD)
I admit it. I'm a Tolkien addict. I've read the LOTR books at least 4 times, seen all the Peter Jackson films, and I have listened to this radio adaptation more times than I can count. In fact, as good as the films are (and they are, for the most part, very good) this radio version is in many ways superior. True enough, it lacks the stunning visuals of Jackson's films, but this leaves listeners free to imagine the fantastic creatures and landscapes of Middle Earth for themselves--to create theater for the mind.
One of the many strengths of this production is its extended running time--13 1-hour episodes for the radio series versus three 3-hour movies. This allows for greater character development and, more importantly, greater fidelity to what Tolkien actually wrote. The producers rearrange, compress, and eliminate certain events to make for a smoother narrative flow on radio, but they do not omit anything essential to the plot and, unlike Jackson, they DO NOT add anything to the book. Jackson adds an extended bloody battle with Wargs and a dream sequence to "The Two Towers" that are not in the original. As a result, he has to change the ending of the film, and, in my opinion, lessens its emotional impact. The producers of the radio version wisely avoid this kind of tinkering.
The producers of the radio version use more of Tolkien's original dialogue, which has a much higher and more exalted sound to it than most of Jackson's phrases. Ian Holm's radio Frodo is much more robust than Elijah Wood's film version, seeming to discover a nobility and courage that not even he knew he had. Wood's responses to crises for Frodo seem to be limited to screaming, passing out, and falling on his backside. The radio version treats Merry (Richard O'Callaghan) and Pippin (John McAndrew) with the respect and affection they deserve, rather than simply using them for comic relief, as Jackson seems to do. Other standout cast members in the radio production include William Nighy as Sam and Peter Woodthorpe as Gollum, both superior to Sean Astin and Andy Serkis, their film counterparts. Michael Hordern gives Ian McKellen a run for his money as the radio voice of Gandalf. Only Robert Stephens, the radio voice of Aragorn, comes up short compared to the movie's Viggo Mortensen. Unlike the movie's conflicted and self-doubting Aragorn, Tolkien and the radio version portray Strider as absolutely sure of his identity and destiny, and give him an air of supreme self-confidence. Unfortunately in Stephens's performance, what is meant to sound like regal self-assurance and a kingly air of command come out dangerously close to pomposity and arrogance. Mortensen's more restrained, quiet Aragorn who rises to greatness as a result of his trials, is a welcome improvement.
In short, if you want a real Tolkien experience, read the books, listen to this audio version, and see the movies, in that order. You can listen to the audio version while doing the dishes or driving to work. Doing those things while reading the book or watching the movie could be dangerous :-).
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5.0 out of 5 stars The grandfather of all fantasy, April 25 2004
By 
Amanda S. Killgore (houston, tx USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings (Paperback)
Without the Lord of the Rings, we wouldn't have any great fantasy; not Star Wars, Thomas Covenant, or the Shanarra books. Reading the trilogy, you see how Tolkien has been borrowed from by so many of the great authors. The range of emotions encapsulated herein are far and wide. There is the warmth of the Hobbit's hominess, the nobility exhibited by most of the characters; Aragorn, even Boromir, and yes, the Hobbits. The power of evil is great, but in the face of such love and courage, it is rendered nothing, and all the sadness becomes untrue. Even if you have seen all the movies, you can't say there's no point in reading the books. While Peter Jackson's films are magnificent, they are not the books. The books have unusual turns of phrase and poetry, insights into the characters that film just cannot convey. See the movies and read the books both. While in most cases, the only way the movie can equal or surpass the book is if the book merely adapts the movie, in this case, the two are equals, complementary to one another.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A World of His Own, March 19 2004
By 
J C E Hitchcock (Tunbridge Wells, Kent, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings (Paperback)
I have come late to Tolkien's works, despite (or rather because of) the fact that they were cult reading when I was at school. One of my classmates, then aged about sixteen, proudly boasted that he had read the entire work about fifty times, and ever since I have tended to associate Tolkien with obsessive fanatics. I was, however, eventually persuaded to read the books by Peter Jackson's excellent trilogy of films.
The plot of "Lord of the Rings", a novel of well over 1,000 pages, is too complex to be summarised here in any depth. At its centre is a magic ring (a motif Tolkien seems to have borrowed from Wagner). This ring can give its owner immense power, but can only be used for evil purposes. At the beginning of the work the ring is owned by the elderly hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who acquired it many years before (the story of how he did so is told in "The Hobbit") and has no idea of its power. He is warned, however, by the wizard Gandalf that the evil Dark Lord Sauron, who originally forged the ring, is trying to regain it in order to enslave Middle-Earth (the imagined world in which the story is set).
The story has two interlocking themes. Firstly, there is the journey of Bilbo's nephew Frodo to destroy the ring, something that can only be achieved by casting it into Mount Doom, the volcano in which it was eventually forged. (During the early part of his journey, Frodo has a number of companions- the "Fellowship of the Ring"- but only one of these, his faithful servant Sam, stays with him to the end). The second is the war that is waged by Sauron and his allies against the peoples of Middle Earth- humans, hobbits, elves, dwarves and ents (walking trees)- and of their courageous resistance.
The book is much more than a fantasy adventure. Many have tried to read hidden meanings into it, both religious and political, even though Tolkien explicitly stated that it was not an allegory. Certainly, it is not an allegory in the sense of "The Pilgrim's Progress" or "Animal Farm"- a book where every detail has a symbolic meaning or can be related to an actual historical event. (Sauron, for example is not simply another name for the Devil or a disguised portrait of Hitler). This does not, however, mean that there is no symbolism in "Lord of the Rings". The main symbol is the ring itself, which represents evil and its power to corrupt the human spirit. The heroes such as Gandalf and Frodo do not dare to use the ring against Sauron because they fear that if they do they will be corrupted by its power and become as evil as he is. The various races who people Middle Earth also have symbolic functions, especially the Elves and the Orcs. The former, in Tolkien's world, are not small fairy-like creatures but an ancient race, beautiful, wise and noble who represent the higher, spiritual side of human nature. The brutal and aggressive Orcs, by contrast, represent its lower, bestial side.
The theme of good versus evil is one that is capable of either a religious or a secular interpretation, but Tolkien himself was a devout Christian, and some of the themes of the book seem to be directly related to Christian ideas. There is no single Christ-figure, but three of the heroes have Christ-like attributes. Frodo, the ring-bearer, symbolically bears the sin of the world. Gandalf the wise and benevolent sage rises from the dead after dying in a struggle with an evil adversary. The final part of the book is entitled "The Return of the King"; this relates to the reappearance of Aragorn, the lost heir to the throne of the kingdom of Gondor, but can also be taken as a reference to the Second Coming.
So far, I have discussed the work in largely abstract terms, but it is not principally a book about abstractions. What sets it apart from many other fantasy works is that Middle-Earth is brilliantly imagined in all its concrete reality. It is a world that is in some respects a familiar one. Its geography, climate, flora and fauna are closely based on those of Europe. The hobbits, for all their small stature, hairy feet and habit of living in holes, are also reassuringly familiar; conservative and phlegmatic by temperament, they seem like the Middle-Earth equivalent of tweedy, pipe-smoking Englishmen. In other respects, Tolkien's world is highly exotic one. He spent many years of his life developing his ideas about the races who inhabit it, working out full details of their cultures, their histories, their mythologies and (most important from his point of view as he was an academic philologist) their languages. Many of these details are set out in the Appendices which, although they do not form part of the main story, are nevertheless a fascinating part of the work.
Against this background, Tolkien creates a cast of characters who, even when they have a symbolic function, also come to life as individuals. (Something else that sets him apart from many other fantasy writers). Besides those mentioned above, I should also mention Sam, Frodo's loyal and steadfast servant, Saruman, a former colleague of Gandalf who was tempted by cynicism and self-interest to throw in his lot with Sauron, and especially Gollum. Gollum is the mysterious creature from whom Bilbo originally won the ring, and whose life is dominated by the desire to recapture it. He is vicious and treacherous, and yet at the same time capable of arousing pity. He both desires the ring and fears its power; at the end he will play an ironic yet vital role in its destruction. From evil, good can sometimes spring.
Having read the work, I can now understand why it has such a fascination for many people, even if I have no immediate plans to read it another forty-nine times. In some literary and academic circles there may be a prejudice against the heroic fantasy genre, which is regarded (with some justification) as tending to produce shallow, one-dimensional works. The miracle of "The Lord of the Rings" is that Tolkien has taken this unfashionable genre and used it to produce a rich, multi-layered work, one which has taken its rightful place among the masterpieces of twentieth-century English literature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless masterpiece!, March 17 2004
By 
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings (Paperback)
The Fellowship of the Ring tells the story of the Hobbit Frodo Baggins and of how he discovers that the invisibility ring handed down to him by his uncle Bilbo is in fact the One Ring of Power, the most dangerous of artifacts, forged by the evil lord Sauron to ensnare all the peoples of Middle-Earth and bent them to his will. It has to be destroyed! Following Gandalf the old Wizard's advice, Frodo leaves his quiet Hobbit hole in the Shire and with three of his friends, makes for Rivendell to seek the Elves' counsel. There he volunteers to be the Ring-Bearer, the one who must destroy the Ring by casting into the very fire in which it was forged, in the furnaces of Mount Doom. With eight companions, he sets off on a most perilous quest, over mountains and under them, on rivers and through forests beautiful beyond words, to the heart of Mordor.
The adventure goes on in The Two Towers. The Fellowship has just been broken, and as the Hobbits Merry and Pippin are captured by Orcs to be brought to the traitor wizard Saruman, now the ally of Sauron, Frodo and his friend Sam are slowly making their way through desolate plains and treacherous bogs, to Mordor. Soon they realize that Gollum, a nasty creature who once possessed the Ring, is following them. Captured, and still under the irresistible lure of the Ring, the twisted wretch agrees to become their guide to the forsaken land. Meanwhile Aragorn the Heir of Kings, Legolas the Elf and Gimli the Dwarf are running across the grassy plains of Rohan, the domain of the Rohirrim horse masters, to rescue Merry and Pippin and later help Théoden, King of Rohan, defend his people against Saruman's army in the battle of Helm's Deep.
In The Return of the King, as Frodo and Sam are ineluctably treading closer to the heart of danger, putting the goal of their quest in jeopardy every day a little bit more as Frodo's mind threatens to give in to the power of the Ring, Aragorn and his companions must defend the beautiful white city of Minas Tirith, capital of Gondor, in a hopeless struggle against Sauron's reckless army of berserkers.
How does one go about writing a review of such a masterpiece, now that The Lord of the Rings is not only the second most read book of the twentieth century (after the Bible), but also a blockbuster movie trilogy? How does one do it justice? One just can't. That's it, I admit defeat. I simply lack superlatives to describe the tidal waves of emotions that overwhelm me each time I read this book. So I'll just say this: read it. And re-read it. And again.
The Lord of the Rings is timeless, atemporal. Even though Tolkien himself was notoriously not fond of allegories, I can't help seeing that, in these dark and sad days of our time, it stands as a beacon, a bright message of peace, telling us that even when evil and fear threatens to drown us all, there's still hope... May it be tomorrow's Bible.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless masterpiece!, March 17 2004
By 
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings (Paperback)
The Fellowship of the Ring tells the story of the Hobbit Frodo Baggins and of how he discovers that the invisibility ring handed down to him by his uncle Bilbo is in fact the One Ring of Power, the most dangerous of artifacts, forged by the evil lord Sauron to ensnare all the peoples of Middle-Earth and bent them to his will. It has to be destroyed! Following Gandalf the old Wizard's advice, Frodo leaves his quiet Hobbit hole in the Shire and with three of his friends, makes for Rivendell to seek the Elves' counsel. There he volunteers to be the Ring-Bearer, the one who must destroy the Ring by casting into the very fire in which it was forged, in the furnaces of Mount Doom. With eight companions, he sets off on a most perilous quest, over mountains and under them, on rivers and through forests beautiful beyond words, to the heart of Mordor.
The adventure goes on in The Two Towers. The Fellowship has just been broken, and as the Hobbits Merry and Pippin are captured by Orcs to be brought to the traitor wizard Saruman, now the ally of Sauron, Frodo and his friend Sam are slowly making their way through desolate plains and treacherous bogs, to Mordor. Soon they realize that Gollum, a nasty creature who once possessed the Ring, is following them. Captured, and still under the irresistible lure of the Ring, the twisted wretch agrees to become their guide to the forsaken land. Meanwhile Aragorn the Heir of Kings, Legolas the Elf and Gimli the Dwarf are running across the grassy plains of Rohan, the domain of the Rohirrim horse masters, to rescue Merry and Pippin and later help Théoden, King of Rohan, defend his people against Saruman's army in the battle of Helm's Deep.
In The Return of the King, as Frodo and Sam are ineluctably treading closer to the heart of danger, putting the goal of their quest in jeopardy every day a little bit more as Frodo's mind threatens to give in to the power of the Ring, Aragorn and his companions must defend the beautiful white city of Minas Tirith, capital of Gondor, in a hopeless struggle against Sauron's reckless army of berserkers.
How does one go about writing a review of such a masterpiece, now that The Lord of the Rings is not only the second most read book of the twentieth century (after the Bible), but also a blockbuster movie trilogy? How does one do it justice? One just can't. That's it, I admit defeat. I simply lack superlatives to describe the tidal waves of emotions that overwhelm me each time I read this book. So I'll just say this: read it. And re-read it. And again.
The Lord of the Rings is timeless, atemporal. Even though Tolkien himself was notoriously not fond of allegories, I can't help seeing that, in these dark and sad days of our time, it stands as a beacon, a bright message of peace, telling us that even when evil and fear threatens to drown us all, there's still hope... May it be tomorrow's Bible.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Way better than 5 stars, a classic, Feb. 29 2004
By 
P. A Gaudet "Matthew Gaudet" (Ipswich, MA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lord of the Rings (Paperback)
The Lord of the Rings in my opinion is the single greatest piece of literature to be written and conceived by a single man. Tolkien was am absolutely brilliant Philologist and was way ahead of all the scholars back then (when he was at oxford), and still is even after his death. He had a noble heart and was generous with his time to others. And Most of all he loved the natural world as god had created it untainted by industry. He was a lover of trees. He was and still is the greatest English Literary scholar of european and germanic languages, and read more than most people read in a lifetime. On the whole he knew the entire history of English literature, Could speak fluent anglo saxon, German and Greek and Latin. He knew the great tales of men's past not in their modern english translations but as they were originally written and conceived. Like the Iliad anf the odyssey, in greek, the kalevala in finnish, and beowulf in the original saxon. He had also read the Elder Edda and Younger Edda, sometimes known as the poetic edda and the prose edda, in original ancient german. He had read the whole corpus of Icelandic Sagas in their original language, and was a lover of the latin translation of the bible which he recited at catholic mass. Here is a book that should be taught in English classes in middle school and high schools and colleges. But the literary elite does'nt want that to happen because of their preference for post-modernism and reality based fiction. Plus he knew good literature, and not that snobby tripe they shove down our throats in school.
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