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

Four stars, read in fall 2011.

I haven’t finished this yet, but being close to the end of The Two Towers—and already knowing the story from the movies—I feel like I can safely review at this point.

For once in my life, I’m really glad to have seen the movies before I read this book. Or maybe, now that I’m an adult and know that Tolkien is one of the staples of classic English literature and also have been introduced favorably to the fantasy genre in other ways and am therefore not totally averse to it like I used to be, I would have eventually become interested in it even if I hadn’t seen the movies. All I know is that the first time I tried, somewhere in the early years of high school, I got bored and quit. But I did see the movies, and I loved them; I think it’s very lucky that they were funded well enough to have been done as fantastically as they were, because that’s part of what made the book exciting for me.

The movies followed a lot of things about the book really well; I was pleased to see that several of my favorite lines were actually Tolkien’s and not the addition of a screenwriter. It always irritates me when people find a book interesting enough to make a movie out of it, but don’t think the author’s words are good enough to use.

Terrible picture from an old cell phone


 Anyway. If a movie is done well, it can be fun to see it before reading a book, because then the book is like an extra treat (since it usually contains scenes and storylines that got omitted from the movie for the sake of time). The problem is that you can’t tell until it’s too late, and if a movie is bad, then you’re stuck with those actors in your head when you try the book. That’s why my book-first policy is generally pretty stict, but in this case I’ll admit, I’m glad I deviated. If you haven’t read this book, do, even if you don’t like fantasy. It’s clever and often funny in addition to being an exciting, engaging story with wonderful characters. And if you’re a fan of the movies, it will make you want to watch them again, too.

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