As we finish up the last book in the course I’ve been looking back at the other trilogies we’ve read, and after reading Donaldson and Pullman, I feel like a little light has been shed on J.R.R. Tolkien. I first read the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was around 12 or 13, and I have to say I was somewhat underwhelmed with the story. I remember having a problem with the pacing of the books and how long it took to get through certain passages. It just seemed that the style that Tolkien was writing in was too droll and boring. Of course this was back when I was a kid, and my views on Tolkien have changed drastically since then.
When reading the trilogy the second time around, I started to appreciate not only the story more, but the way that it’s written. This time around I started to pay more attention to the lush details that Tolkien fills the pages with, which at times was almost intoxicating. He has such a command over his style that he can seemingly pull these incredible descriptions out of nowhere. The world that he creates is so massive yet so complete in its history and evolution, with each race and civilization having their own language and culture, as if they had been around this whole time. This goes with the idea that Tolkien wanted to create a mythical representation for Britain. Creatures seem familiar yet strange and new at the same time.
One of the things that I noticed after reading the other two trilogies was how Tolkien handles his characters differently than Donaldson and Pullman. Since the world he created is so large, it almost feels like his characters feel much smaller and insignificant compared to the scale of Middle Earth. This sort of lessens the impact of the story, which in itself is amazingly written. There seems to be a greater distance between the narrator and the characters, as if the narrator cares more about details and descriptions than getting inside the character’s head. That’s not to say there isn’t any emotional connection or character development, the many different personalities are rewarding on their own, but it’s more that there is a greater focus on the big picture. It operates on such a large scale that naturally some characters are going to get sacrificed for additional descriptions and details about the bigger story, which revolves around Sauron and his dark power.
These are just a few things that I noticed after finishing all of the trilogies for the class. The Lord of the Rings is still a fantastic series which I can appreciate more after reading it a second time as well as comparing it to other works of fantasy. Tolkien himself is a master at what he does and should no doubt be considered a major author, seeing as how this series influenced so many other books that came after.