Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I read the e-book version

Right after I closed the last page of LOTR, I said to myself: "Finally... I have conquered thee!!" Indeed, LOTR has been one of books I dreaded most because of its length; but most of all, because fantasy is not my cup of tea. Someone told me to read it as myth, not fantasy; but even myth is my less favorite genre. Then too, people praised it so much that I felt I must at least give it a try. In fact I have tried years before, reading the Indonesian translation, but only after the first pages. I got bored, and gave up. So this time I 'forced' myself to read all the three books from first page to the last. And I did, yay!

As everyone seems to have read LOTR, I need not taking effort to write the summary. In short, a group of nine delegations was assigned to destroy a dangerous ring, lest the Dark Lord, who was rising in power, found and used it to rule the Middle Earth. Curiously, from the nine members, the fellowship composed of four hobbits—creatures that were famous of being weak and lazy (they were also called 'halflings'), one wizard, two men, an elf, and a dwarf. Trusting a job so crucial against such powerful enemy to some hobbits seems absurd. That Frodo is the ring bearer—because his uncle, Bilbo Baggins, was the latest owner and has bequeathed the ring to him—it was understandable that he was one of the delegations. Sam Gamgee is his esquire, so he too must go. But Merry (Meriadoc) and Pippin (Peregrin), why must they? But that is one of the most important points that lay behind this adventurous epic: minority and diversity.

While there was a wizard and a valiant knight and Lord (Aragorn), yet in the end, the greatest heroes were these halflings, who often hindered them during the journey, while complaining about food or pipes, aka the hobbits! I am glad that though people regarded them as "nobody", Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli treated and respected them equally. That is why, I think, Boromir must go very early, because he was no team player; he was too much into himself.

Of the four, my favorite is Sam Gamgee. Here is a simple, warm, and honourable man.. err... hobbit. Heroism is when you face terrible danger, you are horrified and hopeless, yet you force yourself to go through, for the sake of something (or someone) dearest to you. And Sam is simply the highest hero here!

My favorite part is everytime Merry or Pippin was around. I enjoyed the comical or emotional side of their journeys, and how they fit completely with each other. Frodo, on the other hand, is too dreamy and felt a bit unreal to me. At least his hundred-years-old uncle Bilbo was much more vigorous (in The Hobbit) than him.

Finally, of the three books, I liked Book 3 (The Return of the King) the most. Book 1 (The Fellowship of the Ring) is full of flat narration on Middle Earth and its people, and it instantly bored me. The names of the houses, mountains, lands, country, and I don't know what else, overwhelmed me from the first, that I neglected them altogether since Book 1. Book 2 (The Two Towers) was more enjoyable, but the best was Book 3. Overall, LOTR is the modern version of epic fantasy written in poetic prose. Despite my satisfaction of finally reading it, the journey has been rather a struggle—I skipped most of the songs and description of woods or lands. Again, fantasy is not yet my cup of tea (Harry Potter is the only exception), and through the book I have longed for ordinary lives!

And for all that...

3,5 to 5 is my fairest verdict

6 comments:

  1. I am glad that you ultimately liked this. I do not read much fantasy myself. I find so much of it to be a bad retelling of this series. But Lord of the Rings is exceptional and different.

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    1. I can't say I liked it, perhaps 'admire' is the word. It is not mere fantasy, it's a poetic prose, and an epic. I can see the genius Tolkien behind it, but unfortunately I couldn't enjoy it.

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  2. Good for you for finishing this!! LOTR is a long and sometimes tedious book, no question about it. Even though you didn't care for the books, I highly recommend watching the movies if you haven't seen them... they're some of my favorite films of all time, and many scenes come across better on the screen than in the book.

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    1. Good advice, Marian! In fact, during the reading, I've been thinking that seeing this in movie would have been much nicer. I own the DVD, so I might watch it soon. :)

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  3. Yay for you! Sadly, I didn't make it past the halfway point of Two Towers. I had such a difficult time enjoying it. (I'm not a fan of fantasy either.)

    But I agree, from what I did read, that Sam was a unique character and definitely the (unsung) hero.

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    1. Two Towers is indeed the most depressing of the three, especially on Frodo & Sam's adventure with Gollum. But if you have passed it, book 3 is more fast-paced and epic. Nevertheless, it was a quite tedious read for non-fantasy readers!

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