Author: JRR Tolkien
First Read: 6 or 7 years old.
I can’t remember when I first read the Hobbit. I do know when I first read LOTR. It was when I went with my mom to the eye doctor. She started reading it to me, and when she couldn’t continue because of the eye drops, I started reading it on my own. About four years later, I received my own illustrated copy of the Hobbit (with Hague illustrations, so he is my first LOTR artist), and then a few years after that, I brought my own copies of Fellowship, Towers, and King. When the movies came out, I caved and brought hardcover editions of the trilogy. Additionally, it is one of the few books where I own multiple versions – not only physical books, but kindle version, audio cassette versions, and Audible files.
And that’s not counting the movies.
But let’s not count those because I will keep bitching about the lack of a thrush.
I have read the books so many times, that I got a little po’ed when I reviewed the kindle version of LOTR and somebody thought it was the first time I read the books.
When I first read the books, I found everything before the Council of Elrond boring and after the first two times I read the story, skipped it for a bit. I liked the bit at the Ford, but the Council of Elrond was where it was at because it had Elves. I loved Elves because they had bows like Robin Hood. Flynn’s Robin Hood was the first movie I saw, the Pyle version of Robin Hood was one of the first books I owned. Bard was my favorite character in the Hobbit because he had a bow. You see how it goes. I also couldn’t figure out why Arwen married Strider because she didn’t do anything but sew.
While I agree with Pratchett -that if you think LOTR is the greatest book every, you haven’t read it enough, I love this book. It isn’t perfect, but it holds up well. And yes, there are parts that don’t quite fit – Tom Bombadil for instance, but their friendship and bonds that run though the novel are the joy of the novel.
As I got older, I grew to love the Arwen story at the same time I got angry with how it set such a standard of elven maiden giving up immortality to marry a human man, something in reverse that you tend not to see too often. I realized that there are aspects of the Prof in many characters, perhaps mostly in Eowyn when she complains of being left to burn in the hall when men have more use for it.
What the Prof did was not only give Britain a saga, a story that Milton wished to do. He didn’t just simply set the standard for world building or create a template that writers like Terry Brooks would “borrow” (or steal) for years to come.
It’s humanity. Really.