The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

A review of the epic fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.

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The Lord of the Rings has quite an interesting history behind it. Because of the popularity of Tolkien’s The Hobbit, his publisher requested a sequel. Tolkien told them that it would take him a while and offered a few alternatives. The publisher wasn’t particularly interested in those; they wanted more hobbits. Tolkien started writing the Lord of the Rings, which took twelve years to write and a further six years to be published.

It was originally written as one book that was broken up into six separate sections. For cost reasons, it was initially published as three books: the Fellowship of the Ring, the Two Towers and the Return of the King. Tolkien also, originally, envisioned the Lord of the Rings being the first part of a duology with the Silmarillion, but that idea was rejected by the publishers. The Silmarillion was eventually published posthumously by Tolkien’s son.

The Lord of the Rings has also left behind it a considerable legacy. It helped bolster the fantasy genre in the 60s and 70s, a boom that is still felt today, as well as influencing the games market with titles like Dungeons and Dragons. This, and others, went on to influence further modern games like the Elder Scrolls and Warcraft series.

The reason I haven’t mentioned anything about the book itself yet is because, whilst it is a vast epic, it is dense and difficult to pick apart. Tolkien did a fantastic job world-building and it arguably holds great literary merit. It’s very high-quality writing. But it’s such a big book and because of all the exposition that has to take place there are significant sections where not a lot is happening.

The Lord of the Rings is well worth reading if you like high fantasy books and you have a spare couple of months—or years—especially as the story is somewhat different than the films, but, honestly, I struggled to get through the book. It’s not often that a film adaptation is more enjoyable than the book, but I’m inclined to recommend the films in this case.

Cassidy grew up in Thanet and lives here with her family.

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