Literary Confessions: Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

So, I am sorry to say that until now I have never sat down and read Lord of the Rings. It doesn’t really make sense – I have always been a huge fan of books and of fantasy. I have been in complete awe of J.K. Rowling since the age of 8. And yet I never really got into Lord of the Rings. I remember reading the first book on a plane many years ago now, but if I remember correctly, I started with the prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring, which is an in depth history of the hobbits and the shire. Unfortunately, I was unable to enjoy it as much as I could have since I was most likely jetlagged at the time.


I have also seen the movies, but I don’t believe I have ever seen one from beginning to end, which means I know a lot about the series, characters, and plot, but not about how it all comes together. The Lord of the Rings is everywhere, and not just because of The Hobbit movie (more on that in a bit). It has been hugely popular since its publication in the 1950’s, and since it is so instilled into our culture, I feel like it is easy to forget how impressive it actually is. 

I read The Fellowship of the Ring this past summer, but then didn’t post a review because I went to camp and did not have time to read The Two Towers. Last week, however, I went to see The Hobbit with a group of friends at midnight, and thought it was a-mazing! Anyone who has not gone to see it yet should definitely plan to do so. I am a fan of Martin Freedman as Waston on BBC’s Sherlock, and I thought he did an excellent job playing Bilbo. It is a very long movie, and The Hobbit is being released in three parts, but I did not find the pacing to be slow or drawn out. The cinematography and scenery are beautiful (as they are with the other movies) and they used much of the same soundtrack from the original trilogy, which I feel like was a must.

Anyway, after being transported fully to Middle Earth during The Hobbit, I decided that now was as good a time as ever to continue my journey and delve into The Two Towers. I will most likely finish it within the next couple of days and am looking forward to getting The Return of the King for Christmas. There are many many things that impress me about this series. First of all, Tolkien has written one hugely long epic of a story that spans the course of 3+ books. Keeping the story going for that length of time, and keeping the interest of his readers is an impressive feat on Tolkien’s part.  What’s more is that he has created a full and extensive history of Middle Earth, along with details about each race of dwarf, elf, hobbit, and human, and created the entire language of elvish, along with many other partial languages to include in the story. Can we just think about that for a second? It fits in with Tolkien’s interests as a Philologist and Anglo-Saxon scholar, but he created a language. Wow. He also proves himself as a writer and a poet through the fine use of language and the poems, songs, and ditties he creates for his characters to sing or recite, which adds another level of history and tradition to his creation. I enjoyed the humor Tolkien puts into his writing as well. I suppose that was not something that I was expecting when I started The Fellowship, but is very witty and cleverly done. It is hard to portray humor in writing, but I would say Tolkien does just that without overdoing it, so that it adds to the atmosphere and character of Middle Earth.


Speaking of Middle Earth, Tolkien has created probably the most detailed map of a fantasy world that I have ever seen, but that should no longer be a surprise. The fact that a reader can track Frodo’s journey with such detail makes the story even more real than it would be otherwise. It gives the reader a stronger sense of their journey and its length. Something I learned from work is that a writer, editor, and agent have to treat a fictional book world as a real entity for it to be a success. I feel like this was something that I already knew, but I look upon it differently now from seeing it in action. Fantasy won’t become real until it’s creator makes it real. I feel that Tolkien is one of the ultimate examples of this feat. Middle Earth is about as real as it can be without physically existing. I feel the same way about Hogwart’s and the Wizarding World as well, I have just been accustomed to it for much longer. Part of me is excited that I am just reading Lord of the Rings now, and finding out all it has to offer, while another part of me wishes that I had stumbled upon it much earlier. Still, it is something that I plan on revisiting in the future.

I find this impressive, especially now that I am working on my story. I have about two scenes right now that I might post on here once they are ready, and still have tons of question. I am not creating an entire world out of scratch like Tolkien did (at least not at the moment), but there are still questions as to how much fantasy or fiction I am using as compared to historical fact, what kind of book is it, and so on. Dealing with these questions have given me a deeper appreciation for writers like Tolkien or Rowling who create their own worlds. There is so much detail and backstory that must be created, whether the reader sees it or not, for such worlds to become plausible. It is not an easy feat to accomplish, so I just wanted to put my thoughts out there on what Tolkien has created.


3 thoughts on “Literary Confessions: Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

  1. Tolkein really is marvelous. His illustration of the struggle between good and evil illustrates his strong roots in Christianity. His best friend, C.S. Lewis also has some fantastic literature out there as well. Thanks for the post! I agree, Martin Freedman plays Bilbo very well. I’m excited for the next 2

    • Yes, Tolkien was very Catholic, but he did not want his works to be seen as allegorical, and even though he and CS Lewis were best friends, he was not a fan of Narnia because it was CLEARLY an allegory.

      What he was setting out to do with his whole Middle-Earth mythos was to create a mythology for England. The Norse, the Finns, the Russians, everyone else had their very own mythology for their country, but there wasn’t one for England.

      So that’s what he wrote.

  2. I have heard about the Christian themes in Lord of the Rings, and I definitely agree with the clear good versus evil, but I see more of a Christian allegory in Lewis’s work. It makes sense that they were friends though – both fantasy writers and both at Oxford.

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