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The Lord of the Rings (novel)

J.R.R. Tolkien's classic, epic fantasy sequel to "The Hobbit", originally published in three volumes in 1954-1955.

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The Inspiration for the Final Fantasy Games (Part 1)

  • Dec 14, 2001
Pros: Will whisk you off to a wonderful fantasy world and never bring you back.

Cons: Don't start reading it during finals week.

The Bottom Line: Middle-earth is a very nice place. I suggest you vacation there sometime.

Over 50 years, 50 million sold copies and many times that number in readers, it's amazing that J. R. R. Tolkien's much-beloved Lord of the Rings trilogy is still being read and enjoyed by so many people around the world, especially in an age dominated by television, video games and the internet.

Then again, maybe it isn't so amazing. Lord of the Rings is one of those rare books that will draw you right in and never let you go until the end.

Lord of the Rings begins in the fair land of Hobbiton about 50 years after the events of it's prequel, The Hobbit. Bilbo Baggins, the hero of The Hobbit, is celebrating his hundredth birthday party, after which he dissappears in a flash of light using the ring that he attained in The Hobbit. He goes off on a journey and leaves the ring to his young nephew, Frodo, who is later informed by the wizard Gandalf that this isn't just any ordinary ring, but it is the One Ring that enables the user to rule over everything in Middle-earth (it had to be. Otherwise there wouldn't be a story). The ring's creator, Sauron, is after the ring, and it is up to Frodo to destroy it. Which won't be as easy as it sounds, seeing as how the only way to destroy it is to throw it into Mount Doom, in the center of Sauron's kingdom, Mordor.

So Frodo sets out on what he thinks will be a simple if long journey to destroy it. But Sauron really wants the ring back (it's his, he created it, after all) and is pulling out all the stops to get it. He has nine dark horsemen and an army of orcs after Frodo. At the beginning of the journey, the thought of fighting never enters Frodo's mind, but in the end, he finds himself carrying Bilbo's sword.

Fortunately, he is not alone in his journey. He sets out with his friends Sam, Pippin and Merry. Along the way, he recruits Aragorn, who becomes something of an all-purpose guide for the group; Boromir, another human warrior; Legolas, an elf who happens to be an archer; Gimli, an axe-wielding dwarf; and Gandalf catches up to the group later on. All of them pledge loyalty to Frodo, saying that they will go along with every decision he makes. And they are all as good as their words, particularly Sam, who is still with Frodo even as the fellowship breaks up in the end.

It is a journey every bit as dangerous as it is fantastic. The Fellowship contends with the dark riders, a living forest that tries to kill them off, a deadly snowstorm, and an underground maze inhabited by orcs. Throughout the way, the fellowship proves their loyalty again and again, often risking their own necks to save Frodo.

In Lord of the Rings, Tolkien created not just a few characters and backgrounds to suit a few situations, but a new world altogether. He created countries complete with their own legends and histories, invented a language for all the different kinds of creatures, and fixed the kinds of lifestyles that they live. In the beginning, we learn that the Baggins family is an odd lot among hobbits because hobbits like to stay at home, while the Baggins clan likes to go out on long walks to places far away. Frodo is the perfect unassuming hero because hobbits are supposedly small creatures. Also, even with all the outside dangers Frodo has to contend with, the greatest threat to the fellowship is Frodo's sometimes obvious temptation to keep the ring himself and use it for his own purposes. We learn later on that elves and dwarves don't get along very well. Tolkien's narrative style could be compared to a PG-13 rated movie, meaning that book uses language used mostly for little kids these days, and it doesn't go into graphic descriptions even in the most violent parts.

The first part of Tolkien's classic is a fantastic trip through a wonderful world. Maybe it's a bit slow at times, but the book is very descriptive, and every part of the book is needed for you to see what's going on. It is a journey by turns funny, dramatic, and suspenseful. Any day in Middle-earth will not be a day wasted, so why not read this while you wait for the movie?

By the way, I'm aware of the fact that Lord of the Rings is a three part epic. I just started the second book, and I intend to post reviews of both the second and third books. So keep an eye out.


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More The Lord of the Rings (novel) reviews
review by . June 17, 2010
I must confess that I didn't read the Lord of the Rings trilogy until after the first movie was released. Now it's one of several books that I re-read often, and I wish I'd read it long ago. The story is a classic one--the constant war between good and evil. The telling is where Lord of the Rings differs from similar plots. The setting is comprised of vast, largely unexplored lands divided into small regions occupied primarily by their own particular type of inhabitant. Tolkien has woven …
Quick Tip by . November 05, 2010
They read the Hobbit to me at school; I think I didn't like being read to so I refused to read Lord of the Rings till I was at college and a friend recommended it. Good friend. I was hooked.
review by . June 26, 2010
Lord of the Rings- The Standard for All Fantasy Writing
There are many great fantasy writers. You have to like older guys like Sir Walter Scott and Michael Moorcock (which caracterizes how diverse the books really are). then there are the modern guys like Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind.      The best of these guys write in a fantasy world, but tell stunning real-life human tales. Moorcock's Elric struggled with inner demons and presented the question of how much of your own humanity is already written in and how much we …
Quick Tip by . August 08, 2010
Okay. Don't get mad that this is popular. Take a read. Develops a love of words and worldbuilding, and a truly deep sense of mythology, one infused with moral and elemental significance.
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
Doesn't get much better than this.
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
This book was way ahead of its time. It's too bad the genius of it wasn't realized until after he died. With the exception of the first 30 or so pages on pipeweed, the book is very difficult to put down.
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
What a wonderful fantasy! This ranks in my top ten fantasy books.
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
the origional epic of the greatest stories out there
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
I didn't particularly enjoy his writing style but I can understand why it's a classic!
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
another excellent book..... the movie was okay too.. but the much better
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Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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About this book


"One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all
And in the darkness bind them"

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.

About the Author
J.R.R. Tolkien (1892–1973), beloved throughout the world as the creator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, a fellow of Pembroke College, and a fellow of Merton College until his retirement in ...
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Author: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Genre: Classic Literature, Fantasy, Novel, Epic Adventure, Mythopoeia
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, Ballantine Books, Houghton Mifflin
Date Published: 1954 and 1955
Format: Novel
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