Quite a lengthy one to start with, eh?
The Lord of the Rings is one of the most successful fantasy stories of all time. It has become so ingrained in our culture that it’s hard to find someone that doesn’t have at least a general idea of the plot, characters and setting. That being said, there are still quite a few pleasant surprises in store for anyone who actually decides to pick up the thousand-page epic and dive in. Tolkien created an entire universe for his characters to trek across. A big part of what makes it so great is simply absorbing every detail like an as-seen-on-TV super-sponge, and just losing yourself in Tolkien’s world.
Tolkien’s writing is incredible. He truly is a master wordsmith; one of the best parts of this book is simply how greatly each sentence is built. If you enjoy a book with tons of extra detail, this is the one for you, because he definitely makes a point to paint as vivid a picture as the English language will allow him. His world-building skills are off the charts, and you really feel like you know what Middle Earth looks and feels like once you’ve made it through the whole thing.
While I found a few characters to be a little underdeveloped, a lot of characters (Sam, Merry and Pippin in particular) were really fascinating and well-written. In a story like this one, the ensemble is much more important than the individual characters, so I can definitely understand a couple flat characters thrown into the mix. In a sprawling, world-encapsulating monster of a book such as this one, the group itself is a character, and each individual a facet of its personality. That said however, I still felt that there was a bit of a disconnect between the story and the characters, and with some exceptions, it didn’t really feel like there was that much emotion other than fear, determination, etc. Maybe this just isn’t really the type of story for me. I’ve always enjoyed feeling invested in the book, and I just didn’t feel that with this one.
So in all, this was a worthwhile read. I loved the world Tolkien conjured, and the journey truly was an experience. There was so much to be found that simply can’t be experienced through only watching the films. And while I didn’t feel as much of a connection to the characters as I would have liked, I would still say that this was a very good book, and a novel I would recommend to almost anyone.
Next novel up: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie