Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On Tolkien

I find it fitting to put a plug in for the defining epic tale of the fantasy genre. I first read the Lord of the Rings when I was in eighth grade, still a year or two before the Peter Jackson movies came about. It started with my friend, William, buying the trilogy from the monthly Scholastic book club. The books were passed among William, Adam, and me, and soon we had all read them. I remember loving the story, excitedly reading through the books. I remember it taking a few months to get through all of them, as they were thick, intense novels for a young, busy lad.

There are so many reasons why the Lord of the Rings is amazing. Originally coming out in the mid 1950’s, Tolkien was one of the pioneer fantasy authors. His work has inspired so many writers that it is impossible to list them. His creatures and their stereotypes have been used as gospel, and many subsequent fantasy authors have borrowed from this. The themes explored in the trilogy—friendship, trust, love—are universal themes that everyone can relate to. The development of several intricate languages shows Tolkien’s genius of linguistics, not to mention the countless fans that have learned one of the languages.

I loved the books as a youngster, and I intend on reading them again. Likewise, The Hobbit is equally compelling, though I typically include it when I refer to the saga.

Tolkien undoubtedly influenced the types of books I read. For instance, parallels to the Lord of the Rings can easily be seen in Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara. However, I really like reading Terry Brooks novels, and I’ve read everyone except for Hook . It was Terry Brooks I read after finishing LOTR , and I fell deeper and deeper in love with fantasy fiction.

The reason I bring up the topic of Tolkien is the music came on shuffle today on my iPod. I have all three soundtracks, you see, and listening to the music fills my mind with scenes from the movies. Peter Jackson’s rendition of the movies was beautiful. The books I so loved were brought to life on a giant screen with fitting accompanying music! So I’m sitting at work, listening to my iPod, and a song from Fellowship comes on. I decide to listen to the soundtracks for the rest of the day, which in turn makes me want to watch the movies and read the books again. This cycle seems to repeat itself quite often.

With the publication of the Lord of the Rings , J.R.R. Tolkien changed the world of fantasy, and subsequently (and cheesily), my reading life. Thank you, Mr. Tolkien.


Sailor Matt said...

Lord of the Rings, eh? I'll have to check that one out...


Krista said...

Yep, Tolkien is Awesome! I actually just finished Tolkien's The Children of Hurin, loved it! I also commend Alan Lee for his Illustrtions in all of Tolkien's work. Alan Lee is a wonderful artist and really catches the essence of Tolkien's worlds, huh?

marky said...

Yup, I second that. Tolkien is the daddy!

logankstewart said...

@Matt: You made me giggle.

@Krista: Hurin is on my bookshelf, but I've not read it yet. And Lee's work is awesome.

@Marky: You made me giggle, too.