For the first time ever on Stuff Devon Likes, I’m reviewing a book! Back in January, I watched The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and really enjoyed it. In my review of the films, I said that I hoped to read the books soon and write a review of them. Well, I’ve spent the past four months reading the books, and I finally finished this week! So here’s my review of The Lord of the Rings, the book series, not the film series.
First of all, I really enjoyed these books. They were fun to read. I was afraid they may not be as enjoyable after watching the movies because I knew what was going to happen, but that wasn’t the case at all. I still felt the suspense and shock while reading that I would have felt if I hadn’t see the movies before. The story is told so well, and it’s so compelling that I didn’t mind experiencing it again.
But the books tell a slightly different story than the movies do. People always say that a movie is never as good as the book that it’s based on, but I’m not sure that it’s really fair to compare The Lord of the Rings books to the movies. While they follow a similar plot line, there are some pretty major differences that make both work really well for the medium they’re in.
Tolkien didn’t approach The Lord of the Rings as fiction that he was writing. He approached it as a history of what our world was like a very long time ago, and he based his history on a book that he claimed to be written by Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins, and Sam Gangee, the main characters of The Lord of the Rings and its prequel, The Hobbit. I think this approach is really cool because it allowed Tolkien to not only tell a story, but to create a whole world. It allowed him to write appendices about Elvish language and how the hobbits have different calendars than the rest of the world and so on, and I think that’s pretty cool.
I really liked the way the LOTR books are structured. Each of the three books (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King) is split into two halves. The first book tells the story chronologically, but in the second book, the main characters split into two groups. The story of one group is told in the first half of the book, and then the second half of the book goes back and tells the story of the other group, making occasional references to where the other group would be at that time. I think it says a lot about Tolkien’s writing that he can spend half a book telling us about what are thought to be side characters, but we still care enough to keep reading.
The books also contains some interesting stories that had to be cut from the movies. The two stories that really stuck out to me were the hobbit’s run-in with Tom Bombadil in The Fellowship of the Ring and The Scouring of the Shire chapter at the end of The Return of the King. These were both cool stories that added to overall narrative but weren’t considered necessary enough to be included in the (already lengthy) films. If anything, the books are worth reading just to experience those extra stories.
My one complaint about the books is that they can be flowery sometimes. Just as Tolkien was invested in developing the characters and the history of Middle Earth, he was also interested in the way it looked. He goes into great detail about the terrain of the land that the characters travel, and these are the parts of the story that I struggled to get through. My mind just doesn’t work like that. I’m sure a lot of people enjoy imaging this world that Tolkien has created, but I prefer to just stick to the plot. Maybe I’ll invest in an abridged version for my next LOTR reading experience.
But that one complaint aside, I really loved reading these books. I got completely sucked into the story and invested in the characters. Even though I knew how the story ended, I still enjoyed re-experiencing it in a different way. I would suggest The Lord of the Rings books to anyone interested in the movies or just in fantasy stories in general. Thank you for reading my review, and check back next week for another installment of Stuff Devon Likes!