One of the projects I have been working on since the end of summer was re-reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien. Last spring I read The Hobbit for Carl’s Once Upon a Time Challenge and when I finished I decided that I should tackle his other works before the end of the year. The trilogy is on my 1001 list of books and considering that only two other books, A Tale of Two Cities and The Little Prince, have sold more copies worldwide it isn’t surprising. The Hobbit is the fourth best-selling novel.
It took him over ten years, from 1937 to 1949, to complete his story. A good chunk of it was crafted during World War II. Since The Hobbit was extremely successful, the publishers asked Tolkien to write a sequel. The author informed the publishers that it would take him years to finish. They were not deterred. When he was forty-five, Tolkien started writing The Lord of the Rings. He finished more than a decade later. The novels were not completely published until 1955, when he was sixty-three. At first he wasn’t sure of the storyline he would follow for the trilogy. Initially he toyed with the idea of Bilbo squandering all of his treasure and setting out on another grand adventure in search of more wealth. Fortunately he remembered the Ring that Bilbo discovered. He changed course and wrote about the Ring and its powers. During World War II he would send parts of the story to his son Christopher Tolkien, who was in the Royal Air Force in South Africa.
The story of the four hobbits, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, along with their companions, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir, is timeless. The fellowship of the ring sets out to destroy the Ring so the Dark Lord Sauron, will never again have possession of the Ring and its powers. It can only be destroyed by returning it to the place where it was created, Mount Doom in Mordor. Given the power of Sauron and his ally Saruman, a powerful wizard, the fellowship is beset with troubles from the start. Along the way, the reader is introduced to a great cast of supporting characters, including the ring-crazed Gollum.
I won’t go into too much detail about the story since so many people are already familiar with it either through the books or the movies. What I would like to say is that if you haven’t read the novels I encourage you to do so. Tolkien is a powerful storyteller. I loved the action, the twists and turns, the friendship of the companions, the trials and tribulations, the splendid cast of characters, the evil guys, the good guys, and most importantly, the hobbits.