Lord of the Rings (Review)

Labels: Great Works


The Lord of the Rings (Complete Trilogy)
J.R.R. Tolkein, 1937-1949
432; 352; 432 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
October, 2012
It's preposterous to even attempt a review of Tolkein's classic trilogy. So I won't. What I'll do is write about my experience reading it—all three volumes.

Why I even started...
It was late at night, I couldn't sleep, and I'd run out of books. So I trotted into my daughter's room, rummaged through her bookshelves and found...tah dah!...the entire "Lord of the Rings" series. Why not, I thought. Don't like fantasy...so surely this will put me to sleep.

Okay, I was right: pretty dull...but also kind of cute what with all the hobbits. Then Frodo and Sam set off on their journey with the ring. We go up a hill, down a hill, around a hill, up another hill, and back down again. We cross a field, pick up two more companions, hide from the terrible dark horsemen...and keep going up hills and down hills—all about as interesting as my 7th-grade geography book.

More hills...
We meet Strider in a tavern. Now it starts to get interesting: Strider's a hunk—tall, dark and handsome. And he's more than he seems. So...we continue our journey, this time accompanied by Strider. We go up more hills, and down them, and around them. Then up even more hills.

But wait...
Just when I think I can't go up one more damn hill, we arrive at Rivendell—the mystical, beautiful city of elves. It's perched on...you guessed it, a hill. But. It. Is. Gorgeous. I want to live there.

And more hills...
Sadly, we have to leave Rivendell—Frodo has agreed to carry the ring to Mordor and destroy it. So here we go again...up more hills and down. This time Gandolf the Wizard is with us, as well as Strider and a host of others—all to protect Frodo.

We reach a vast mine in the center of a hill. This time we go through the hill, not up it. Nice. And guess what? At some point—I can't tell you when—I become thoroughly invested, not in the hills, but in the characters and their quest. I care! Oh, yes, I CARE!

It's magical...
Middle Earth comes alive—it's captivating. I can't put the book down. I finish the first volume, pick up the second. Read straight into the next night. Lose sleep. Finish the second, pick up the third, The Return of the King. It's Strider all the way. He's Aragorn now. He's the Dude, the King, the Hunk. I'm in love.

The war...
There are battles; there are even more battles than hills...but some battles are fought on hills...some on plains and others in caves. More battles than you can shake a sword at.

The end...
I finish the trilogy. It's over. I feel empty, bereft. I thumb through the pages of the appendices at the back of the book. I pour over the maps. I read the background stories. I am pathetic. I can't leave Middle Earth—the elves, orcs, dwarfs, hobbits, wizards, and Aragorn/Strider. Why, oh why, must this end?

Why would book clubs read The Lord of the Rings?
It would be fun. You could dress up in funny costumes and romp around as elves, dwarfs or hobbits. You could carry swords and shields and magic lights. You could learn to speak Elvish (it's an actual language...really). You could drink ale aplenty, and eat bread and cheese and cold meats. You could watch the movies...or you could get serious and discuss the books. So much to do!

See our Reading Guide for The Lord of the Rings, the complete trilogy, book by book.

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