This is a bit late as I finished this book about a week ago, but better late than never. Since my departure from regular book reviews, I was about 3 books behind and I thought of no better way to catch up then some good ol’ fiction novels. I bought the Lord of the Rings Trilogy awhile back and thought it was the most impeccable book series to get back on track by trying to read all 3 of them in one week. I almost succeeded, too, but I picked up a new book that I quickly became enamored with after I finished The Two Towers (book review coming soon). I suppose I should put it down and finish the trilogy!
This book is unique in a couple of different ways: for starters, I have never read the trilogy but I have attempted to read this book before (without success). I thought that now my reading level has increased, I would be able to get through it with more ease and that, for the most part, is true. However, it is still a difficult book to read: the prose is sophisticated and antiquated which makes certain passages not easily digestible. One thing that stuck out more than anything was the fact that it is almost essential to understand landmark nomenclature before attempting to read this book. So many times he does not describe the land but simply refers to it as a “gully” or a “bluff;” without knowing firsthand what those things look like, one may be confused quite a bit!
What is more perturbing to me is I am seeing every scene play out as it did in the movies instead of letting my imagination take over and create a world for myself. While I was surprised at how much was the same, I was equally surprised at how much was different. The differences were even more annoying knowing that I could not see that scene as it played out in the movie. That’s what I get for not reading it first!
I do not think it is necessary to divulge the plot of this book because of how accessible the movies made this story. I will say this: for anyone who has not read the book, I think it is worth reading solely for the character of Tom Bombadil. He is an intriguing character that was intentionally left out of the movies. Tolkien said about Bombadil,
“I might put it this way. The story is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless ugliness, tyranny against kingship, moderated freedom with consent against compulsion that has long lost any object save mere power, and so on; but both sides in some degree, conservative or destructive, want a measure of control. But if you have, as it were, taken ‘a vow of poverty’, renounced control, and take your delight in things for themselves without reference to yourself, watching, observing, and to some extent knowing, then the questions of the rights and wrongs of power and control might become utterly meaningless to you, and the means of power quite valueless…”
Just like the movie, the book starts out a bit slow and picks up towards the end. For those of you who have tried to read it with no success, I would highly recommend you try again. This is such a beautifully written story and I admire Tolkien’s writing style; I can see why it was and is so enigmatic in our culture today, 60-70 years after it was written. In the future, I can see myself reading this out loud to my children someday as many have done before.