on November 27, 2001
I am a huge LotR fan, and bought this particular edition about a year and a half ago. For the most part, I was very happy, but once I read through the books, I saw dropped words, words that had been left out and then copied in later, so the print of the one word is sideways on the page, and there are many places where the ink is horribly smudged. Also, I have noticed many typos, some which make the sentence difficult to understand. Because of the quality of the actual literature, I got my money's worth, but beware this edition. :)
on February 9, 2004
I'm a big LOTR fan. I hoped to find this a way to enjoy the books while walking, etc. And up to now it has been wonderful.
The production of this audiobook is great (five stars)--the care in putting it together physically is nil stars--so I've opted for three.
Inglis manages to bring Middle Earth and its inhabitants to life--and while some say he sounds bored at times, I think it may be that curious "story-telling" inflection, not boredom at all. It's like having someone tell you a rousing good story without being over dramatic and loud. No musical distractions No bombast, no sound effects. Just a warm, jolly voice telling me a great tale. Although I must say I was disappointed not to hear the prologue.
However, I am missing disk 16. I see someone else is missing disk 15. I wonder if the makers were in a rush to get some product out there after the success of the films, and were a bit lax in quality control.
I wish to make it clear that in NO way do I blame AMAZON for this problem. They have been more than fair...and I am quite happy with their service and wouldn't hesitate to deal with them again. I will also say that the package arrived almost a full month before I expected it! I will put it down to a freak of packaging.
Still...one anticipates, and I am disappointed.
on February 16, 2003
This full-cast abridgement of THE LORD OF THE RINGS is The Mind's Eye version produced for American radio in 1979, several years before the infinitely superior BBC version with Ian Holm. The eleven-hour-plus dramatization deserves recognition as a sincere, pioneering attempt to bring J. R. R. Tolkien's epic fantasy to imaginative life for an American audience in a way that the animated films of the period could not. The production was very well-received at the time and appreciated as a folk-culture event. Radio drama has been a rarity in the United States since the early 1950's whereas it has always thrived in the United Kingdom. (There had been an early British radio broadcast of LotR of which Tolkien, who disliked dramatic forms in general, disapproved.) While the subsequent 1981 BBC masterwork is a lavish, technically dazzling production sporting internationally acclaimed actors, the humble Mind's Eye version, utilizing a small cast of local-theatre players, is a low-budget, no-frills affair reputed to have been recorded in a bathroom in Pittsburgh with the microphone taped to a rubber duck. Most of the voices are wrong and pronunciation awkward, but everyone makes an enthusiastic effort, which is the main reason that the marathon show remains so endearing despite its uneven quality. Scriptwriter Bernard Mayes had his task cut out for him, considering that it no doubt was a labor of love which had to be done quickly for little or no money. According to the conventions of the radio drama format, the adaptation emphasizes dialogue over description, and while the merest sketch of the novel, Mayes' script is generally an effective condensation, highlighted by the inclusion of the beloved Tom Bombadil episode. Scripter Mayes also plays Gandalf quite splendidly and his fine, robust performance make this version worth a listen for all but the most cringing of purists. Gale Chugg (a notable cartoon voice) gives a spirited and straightforward account of the narration and doubles as a delightfully creepy Gollum. Other voices do not fare so well, but weaknesses among the supporting cast would mean little if the protagonists were not so drastically miscast. Samwise (Lou Bliss) is energetic and cheeky but sounds like a contemporary Noo Yawk street kid; while Frodo (James Arrington) starts out with an appropriate clear-speaking earnestness, only to become a monotonous, whining drone when crushed by the terrible burden of the evil One Ring. This means that THE RETURN OF THE KING, which places an inordinate burden of its own on these young actors, is rendered a painfully draggy conclusion to the epic narrative. The overall result would not seem such a travesty if so much better had not since come from Ian Holm, Martin Shaw, Rob Inglis and of course the Peter Jackson films. For all its gross imperfection, The Mind's Eye LORD OF THE RINGS maintains a nostalgic charm for listeners who can be forgiving of the primitive circumstances of the little production and focus on its historocity and ambitious, well-meaning intent.
on April 27, 2002
Everyone knows at least some of the plot, so I won't go into that.
I found Fellowship of the Ring to be rather dull, except for a few scenes.
I found Two Towers to be little better, and by the beginning of the Return of the King I was sick of the whole thing. The biggest problem had to be their change of speech.Did anyone else notice that in the beginning they talked just about the same as one might hear walking down the street, and that by the end of The Return of the King the characters sounded like they were quoting Shakespeare?
Also, some times Tolkien had his characters say very strange things, for example:
Sam says "Ninnyhammer! Noodles! My beautiful rope!" something like that, but.. honestly, NINNYHAMMER??
And then, before that, when discussing the elven rope, Sam also says "the rope is as soft as milk" or the like.
Anyways, overall, a great book, Tolkien really started off the entire Fantasy genre, but just because he was the first, doesn't mean he's the best. I prefer Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series, but then again, several of Jordan's stuff came from The Lord of the Rings, so.. I just don't know..
By the way, I liked the movie better, which almost NEVER happens.
on April 5, 2002
I remember reading The Hobbit 20-some years back. I felt it was a good book, but not a great one. Rereading it a few days ago, I still feel the same.
Others have mentioned how Bilbo develops as a character. This is done well, and should be the standard in any book.
I particularly liked the treatment of Gandalf. While many a wizard is treated no more as an accompanying artillery tank, Gandalf truly has levels of responsibility commeasurate with his power. He has other work he must attend to, making Bilbo's otherwise straightforward journey a dangerous, calculated risk. Yet, interestingly enough, Tolkein provides enough hints and evidence that Galdarf is a resourceful person, more than a powerful wizard.
The book, however, has its weaknesses. The most obvious ones are Bilbo's companions, fourteen dwarves, named Thorin, Blorin, and a few other 'orins. While Bilbo is well-fleshed out and develops through the story, the dwarves are little more than the Keystone Cops. (The dwarves may be a commentary on greed. It still detracts from the story.) The power of the ring's corruption is hinted through Gollum himself, yet The One Ring seems to have no effect on Bilbo, who wears it quite a bit through the story. (Perhaps it hasn't awakened yet.) And there's all that wretched singing. Ugh. (:
My favorite part is actually towards the ending, before the last climax. It's an interesting comment about how those who should be allies can almost declare war amongst themselves in peace.
I'm now reading the trilogy itself. I particularly enjoy the painstaking realism Tolkein is putting into the culture and history of the hobbits. It **does** read like a history text, but at least it's not singing!
on March 28, 2002
Now, this is probably going to be an unpopular review because people will see the three stars and think, "What, is he out of his mind? The Lord of the Rings is one of the best books ever written". And it is. But this is not a review of the book, it is a review of Rob Inglis' READING of the book. And the editorial raves not withstanding, I am sorry to say that this is not a reader that EVERYONE will like. Before I get lynched, here's why I think so.
I have listened to HUNDREDS of audio books. All unabridged. Inglis falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. He has a deep voice -- this would not normally be an issue were he reading a historical work. But Inglis is one of those readers who does "voices". NOw some people are genius at this. For example, the incomparable Frederick Davidson. But for Inglis, the deep voice is a liability when he tries to pitch it high to do an elf voice or, good heavens, a woman's voice. The result is very annoying.
Also, fans of the Trilogy will know that it is filled with song. Inglis' rendering of the songs was grating (at times almost embarassing) -- and got my fast forward finger working over-time. He is over-matched by this, particularly when it comes to Galadriel or Legolas.
Next there is the manner, or tone, in which Inglis has chosen to pitch his reading. He has adopted a wistful, elegiac, far away manner -- it is almost pretentious, I have to say. And it becomes tedious because he almost never varies it. He is, as the saying goes, "a bit one paced". Now, some people will like his voice and manner, I do not deny this -- because it does, as one of the editorial reviews says, emphasize the fairy tale aspect of the Trilogy.
But to me is drains some of the manliness and power from some of the dialogue. Aragorn, to me the quintessential man of action and mystery, a true hero, comes across as a man obessesed with what has been lost; a man trapped in the past. Which he clearly isn't.
Some examples. Aragorn and Boromir are virtually indistinguishable. The Hobbits (apart from Frodo), Sam in particular, are rendered in a country bumpkin voice that is out of all keeping with what I see as the inherent dignity of the Hobbits. It also serves to underscore Sam as the servant of Frodo, rather than his friend. Legolas ends up with a reedy, strained voice, because Inglis can not get into the higher register. I was left thinking, "who ever made the rule that Elves had little high voices?"
HAVING SAID ALL THAT, this is the ONLY unabridged version. And as such, falls into the "must have" category. For all of the foregoing quibbles, Inglis' reading is serviceable and entertaining. Buy it -- you will enjoy it -- but do not expect the definitive reading -- that awaits us! Which is an ocassion for celebration I suppose. Because surely it will come.
on March 13, 2002
I have read all the books in the L.O.T.R. series, and have also seen the movie. These books had their good and bad aspects. I think they had a great plot, and I thought it was really cool how Tolkien was able to create all the elvish lore ect... However, there were many aspects I didn't like. I thought that some things about the relationship of Frodo and Sam were a little odd. I think that it was a bit sick that although Sam and Frodo were friends, Sam was also Frodo's servent, really more of a willing slave, because Sam was not payed for his services. I also thought that although it would have been on a subconsious level, I think that Sam may have had some repressed homeosexual feelings towards Frodo. For example, in other books that I have read of the same genre, a man might speak about how great his love is for a woman. Sam doesn't usually talk about how much he loves his wife, but he often talks about how much he loves Frodo. I do not have any problem with homosexuality, or men loving other men, as brothers, but I really wish that it wasn't kept in such a way it seemed to me like a dirty secret. I also didn't like how Tolkien represents women. Arwen is a total sap. Eowyn I really admired, because she was a girl making a differnece and showing she could be just as good as men. Then she decides that this is WRONG, and becomes an Arwen clone! I also hated how Tolkien represented women with Shelob, the black spider, threatening and menicing. I also have to say that although I loved the plot, I cared nothing for any of the characters. When Frodo "dies" in Shelbo's lair, meant to be a moment of sadness, I was compleletly unmoved. In Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, when Coll died, I cried. Frodo on the other hand, was not at all loveable. The only charaters I did like were Gollum and Shelob. Ironicly, they were the most human characters of all instead of just cookie-cutter sterotypes like the rest. Like I said, dont' get me wrong, this book has a great plot, but if your looking for a book about lovable characters, with guys and girls on equal grounds, leave this book alone and pick up Narnia or Prydain Chronicles.
PS: If you're looking for some laughs, read Bored Of The Rings. It's EXCELLENT!
on March 3, 2002
with all of the hype recently regarding the new trio of movies coming about, i figured i should like to see the first of the three. i do however, have an aversion to seeing a movie before reading the book it is taken from. thus, i decided to make my way through the trilogy in prose form first. prior to doing so, i thought it wise to read the book which acts as a prologue, the hobbit.
i was quite dissappointed. for the following reason.
everyone loves this book. anytime people hype something so much, you are bound to have high expectations.
yes, there is a very good reason it is well loved. the book has many interesting charecters, and sets the scene for the lord of the rings trilogy.
one big thing to keep in mind though, this was written as a childrens book, where as the trilogy is not.
the book meanders on, in an odyssey like form, going from one adventure to the next.
there is not a lot of charecter development, (again, think childrens book, and you will be fine with this when you read it)
i do not mean to bash this book. the book does what it sets out to do, tell an entertaining story.
it is however, oftentimes, quite predictable, and uses what seem like cliche charecters.
keep in mind though, that these are the charecters, that the cliches were based on. tolkien's gandalf, was the first wizard, that looks like the the wizards we think of. (robes, large pointy hat, long white beard, magical staff)
go into this book with an open mind, rand emember that is was not intended to be a great piece of literature, but rather a good story for younger readers, and you will love it.
excellent book to read with your kids. or, if you want to remember what it was like to be one.
on February 7, 2002
I got this massive thing for christmas and I must say I was a bit daunted. I've read a lot of books in the 600 to 700 page realm but very few this long. So I figure it can't be to difficult, so I dove right in and what did I find?
What I found was a great concept delivered in a pretty dull fashion. The Lord of the Rings is a 1000 page epic adventure, which if you narrowed it down could have probably been a lot shorter, a lot more concise and a lot easier to read. I don't know about anyone else, but I found the endless pages of descriptions of then walking around and where the hills were in comparison to their location a bit tiresome. After a while I began to just skim over those parts and hope for some action to come.
And when the action came, it was horribly underwhelming. It was hard to realize when it should be exciting.
For example, in the climatic scene with Gollum, Frodo, and Sam in Mordor, when the climax finally happened(I don't want to go into the details and spoil it for anyone wanting to read it) I didn't really feel anything about it. Nothing at all. It sort of just went through me. Was I susposed to feel excited or something?
Anyway, I still think this book was worth reading, if not for the fact that it's one of those cultural standards that everyone has read. I give it three stars because the story is well thoughtout and Mr. Tolkien was definatly not lazy, hell he created a whole language and all those family trees. It was just more than a little dull for my liking.
By the way, i'm reading The Hobbit as we speak and finding it a much better read. Theirs no endless stream of names that I have no idea about, or endless descriptions of things I don't care about, and (gasp), I actually feel suspense in certain parts, eh gad.
on January 18, 2002
I have just yesterday finished reading the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "the Hobbit". After being incredibly intrigued by
"the Hobbit", I can honestly say this book disappointed me. A precaution though: I loved "the Two Towers" and "the Return of the King", but "the Fellowship of the Ring" is the worst book in the series.
To begin with, lots of stuff we learn in the beginning seems irrelevent. I confess, I eventually gave up on the seemingly inconsequential prologue and skipped right to chapter 1. While this problem doesn't taint the rest of the book too much, the prologue is just too long and showcases this flaw too much to just ignore.
Even once the story begins, you still have to deal with the slow pace that I'm sure you've read about in the negative reviews. Tolkien just takes too much time describing things. Basically, the problem runs through almost the whole book, but especially in the early going. I realize some description is needed, but "the Hobbit" was just as descriptive, yet had far less space devoted to descriptions.
But there's good stuff as well, Namely the charactor interactions. Scenes like Gandalf revealing the truth about the Ring to Frodo and Frodo's chat with Gimli's father Gloin really redeem this book.
But that doesn't change the fact that this is the worst of the trilogy. I'd give it 31/2 stars, rounded down. It is true "the Fellowship of the Ring" will be remembered as the book that started the original fantasy series, but being there first only holds so much credibility. Thankfully though, "the Two Towers" and "the Return of the King" were giant steps up from this book.