on October 11, 2006
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 that the item you will be receiving is NOT the one portrayed in the image, but rather a boxset of the three individual novels from the relatively recent Harper Collins reprinting. These three novels are the mass market stylized black ones which have a ring of yellow, red or green on the covers, distinguishing one novel from the next, as well as the glossy black background markings. Unfortunately, I had ordered this item thinking that it was a different printing (due to cover art) that I didn't yet possess and upon receiving the product, I was a little put out to discover that I now have two identical boxsets of black covers. The second will still make a great gift for someone else, but you should be aware that this item is inconsistent with the picture.
on September 15, 2008
While the books are awesome and I, a huge fan, I ordered this edition over a year ago from this site. this particular edition, with the cover art done by one Geoff Taylor was the first edition I ever read, therefore has sentimental value. I'm surprised to see amazon has not changed the picture of this to account for the complete change in cover design. This particular edition portrayed above contains three books, covers run from Green, to Blue, then Red. The Edition you will actually be recieving is the very common Black covers with the coloured circles. Attractive, but ultimately completely different. I would ahve thought amazon fixed this when I was refunded over a year ago... Hardcore fans beware!
A single volume is more impressive; yet a little hard to wield. You may want to look up the reviews for the individual books (The Return of the King/the Two Towers/the Fellowship of the Ring.) Note one book or three that this is one story and not a trilogy. The work was artificially split for convenience. Also if you listen to a recorded version you can hear how to pronounce the names and places. Listening also allows time to digest the story as it progresses.
I read several notes on the works and find that it is smarter to read the work first; then if you want to you can compare your view with the notes. You don't want to stop and say "Oh a shadow. What can that mean?" Also even thought J. R. R. Tolkien is quite explicit in the beginning that this is not an allegory or even a reference to events in the real world, some people try to equate the RING with the BOMB.
There are several things that I found pleasing. One is that no one goes off and has any unrecorded adventures. This is each group especially in "The Two Towers" is completely tracked even though the events are parallel; Tolkien does not have to use flash backs to do so. I am also impressed with the fact that even though you see several references to good and evil, that every being in the story had a purpose and a destiny that was not strictly black and white. Gandalf reminds Frodo to spare Gollum as Bilbo did. At other times as in Bible stories evil intentions can bring about good situations. Well, enough philosophizing just read it and enjoy it on the story level. You may find that only drawback is that it ends too soon.
A new wave of readers have discovered "The Fellowship of the Ring," thanks to the arrival of the epic movie hits. And that is definitely a good thing, because this trilogy not only spurred the fantasy genre into a respectable position, but also provided the template for virtually every elf, dwarf, lost king, and medieval fantasy world since. It's also a wicked good read.
We open some sixty years after the events of "The Hobbit" -- Bilbo Baggins is older, not much wiser, substantially wealthier, and quite eccentric (one not-so-affectionate nickname is "Mad Baggins"). He has also adopted his bright young cousin Frodo, who was orphaned at a young age and had led a rather fractured life since then. On his 111th birthday, Bilbo suddenly vanishes, leaving behind all his possessions to Frodo -- including the golden ring that allows its wearer to become invisible.
Seventeen years later, Gandalf the wizard shows up again on Frodo's doorstep, and informs the young hobbit that his ring is in fact the One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron. It inevitably corrupts those who have it, and most of Sauron's power is invested in it. Trying to deflect danger from the Shire, Frodo leaves with his best friend Sam and his loyal cousins Merry and Pippin. But Frodo has only the slightest idea of the hideous and dangerous journey ahead of him, that will take him across Middle-Earth to the evil land of Mordor.
Many fantasy cliches were spawned from this book (although they weren't cliches when Tolkien used them). Orcs, elves, dwarves, halflings, sprawling medieval kingdoms, dethroned kings, gray-bearded wizards and evil Dark Lords. But no one will feel that these are stale; on the contrary, they feel fresh and unused, because that is what they were when the book was first penned.
Narrative-wise, this book begins on much the same note as "The Hobbit": it's lighter and more cheerful, since it opens in the Shire. But darker undertones begin to crop up in the very first chapter, when Bilbo begins clutching at the Ring and speaking in a Gollum-like manner. The pace is pretty slow and gradual until the hobbits reach Bree, at which point it becomes darker, faster and harsher in tone and pace. The matter in it also becomes more mature, particularly in the chilling scenes after Frodo is stabbed by a Nazgul.
One of the things that Tolkien did exceptionally well is atmosphere. With a minimum of words, he conveys the menace of the Black Riders, the beauty of the Elves, the decay of the ancient kingdom of Moria, the mystery of such characters as Aragorn. In some areas, he deliberately didn't elaborate on the such things as the Balrog, leaving the visualization up to the readers.
Another strong point is a sense of epic proportions. Too often a fantasy writer TRIES to write an epic, at the expense of individual character development. Tolkien managed to balance both of them, by focusing on the individuals in the center of epic struggles.
Frodo himself is the quintessential "little guy" hero, one of the last people whom you'd expect to be on a mission to save the world. He's prone to moods of either cheerfulness or sadness, a little immature and bored at the beginning, but incredibly brave and stout-hearted when the pressure is put on him. He has no astounding destiny or special powers to help him. He's simply an ordinary person.
We also have Gandalf, who is fleshed out from the pleasantly crabby wizard of "Hobbit" -- we see more of his hidden sides and powers here. And Frodo is surrounded by a well-rounded cast of characters, including his loyal gardener Sam and his charmingly sneaky cousins, as well as a rich fellowship of ethereal Elves, mysterious men and doughty dwarves.
Tolkien wasn't the first fantasy writer, but he can rightly be described as the first noted fantasy writer, and he remains top of the heap today. "Fellowship of the Ring" is a must-read -- and then go watch the movies again.
on June 17, 2003
I just finished reading "The Lord of the Rings" and am trying to gather my thoughts about it. It is long! And there are parts that are boring. But there are parts that are soaring and beautiful and bring tears to your eyes. Elves, dwarves, hobbits, wizards, and monsters of various sorts fill the pages as Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry wind their way to the Crack of Doom to rid the world of the ring that would give ultimate power to the evil lord. The creative imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien boggles the mind as the reader becomes involved in episode after episode of danger and intrigue, such as the attempts of Gollum to steal the ring, the giant spider that would crush the life out of Frodo, and the orcs and black riders and other strange enemies that are constantly appearing out of nowhere to threaten the hobbits' mission. Filled with folklore, magic and enchantment, "The Lord of the Rings" also speaks to the need we all have to participate in a great quest, to rise above our ordinary existence and do a great service for mankind. We identify with Frodo, an average middle-aged hobbit, who, like his Uncle Bilbo before him (in "The Hobbit"), enjoyed his peace and quiet and comforts, and yet, when he was selected to go on this amazing quest, through no choice of his own, rose to the occasion and became immortal.