I don’t think I do, of course I don’t but here’s my take on the well-worn subject anyway. Maybe it will inspire people to read or reread it though, so my time will not have been spent in vain.
The immediate thing that fascinated me and was, on reflection, the facet of the story concerning the myths and legends that the story is based around.
Containing Norse and Germanic references there is a lot to look on in this work for a fan of classic literature, taking certain themes from such great works as the Saga of the Volsungs and the Nibelungenlied.
Tolkien’s scholarly background in philology – the study of written languages combining literary criticism, history and linguistics – helps the book ooze that old feeling, giving it a somehow familiar and more, well, natural quality. Like his fellow friend, writer and member of the Inklings C. S. Lewis, he creates a world that feels epic and old and that hints at more stories and wonders than are chronicled herein.
To the backdrop of this epic quest and all round dramatic, not to mention noble nature of the characters and their enterprise, this book hints at the history of Middle Earth and it is this vast and layered feeling that makes you care for more of the cornucopia of the world’s fables than is herein told. For more chronicled sagas check out amongst others of Tolkien’s work The Silmarrilion foremost, which coupled with the appendices of TLotR give a depth of vision that few fantasies truly capture.
The characters are polarised to either good or bad, excepting Gollum of course and it is he and the Ring’s relationship that is the most fascinating aspect of the book. The ring, like the island in the TV show Lost, is a character in and of itself and has the distinction of perhaps being the pivotal mover – and shaker – of the plot as a whole.
There aren’t many female characters in the book which seems to be anathema these days, especially in the world of films but for the arena the book is based in it makes sense. I find it refreshing that unlike the films there isn’t a need to tick a box just because it’s politically correct to have strong female characters. The films did in all fairness, (and for a sense of balance), make you appreciate the beauty we have in our own world.
For the book that really threw me into reading, it does have some fairly uneven pacing due to the splitting into parts but this is offset with the stories continual and gradual, evolving of the ideas of heroism and a childish land that grows to an adult world that irrevocably and subtlety changes the characters.
On a side note, that perhaps says something about either me or life in general: it is interesting that you can get so lost in Tolkien’s tales but take less interest in some real life countries with epic tales of their own and maps…l love a good map,