Books that Matter: The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

I remember the day I started The Fellowship of the Rings. I was thirteen years old, in the seventh grade. It was mid-December, just before winter break. The first Lord of the Rings movie had just been released, and my family planned on going to see it on Christmas Even.

I had just over a week to read it. I finished The Hobbit the day before. I couldn’t wait to start.

My Language Arts teacher lent me the book. That afternoon, I started to read. The book was dense, but I devoured every word. I finished on December 23, 2001. For Christmas that year, my parents gave me the trilogy. Those copies are dog-eared now, the covers ripped and peeling, the pages still in tact (somehow). I am not certain how many times I read them, but the number is probably close to 20.

The stories captivated me. They entranced me. The elves, the hobbits, the orcs and the men of the West. Gollum. Gandalf. After many readings, my favorite characters have changed. These days, I am very fond of Faramir and Eomer, and Eowyn as well. I will always be fond of Sam as well.

The Lord of the Rings inspired my writing. I discovered it about the time when I determined that I could write novels if I really wanted to. Naturally, my first attempts were blatant rip-offs as I attempted world building, but I soon realized that I could take inspiration from the world. Already a mythology nut, I delved deeper into the Nordic, Irish and Welsh stories, learning and reading.

I also realized, importantly, that making up a language is tough. It wasn’t just random words thrown together. There needed to be continuity, traceable roots, rules, etc. You can’t just chuck vowels together and call it a day. At this time, I also began learning German, followed by Spanish. Seeing how these languages worked gave me great respect for Tolkien’s linguistic capabilities; I’ve resolved to stay away from creating my own languages.

It’s been years since I have read the trilogy, must be senior year of high school. The stories, the characters, stay with me fondly. I look forward to reading them again some day, to bask in the epicness of it all.

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6 thoughts on “Books that Matter: The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

  1. I also read those books at school and they influenced me a lot. What struck me even more than the language was the characters. I’ve read novels that are beautifully written but dry whereas Tolkien created characters that you really care about. When I’m writing character always takes top priority. How about you?

    1. Character takes priority. I’ve had problems with my own writing if the character isn’t one that I care about. I can’t get into the story.
      I think that’s why I love books and movies so much; I love the characters.

  2. How far did you get in your German studies?

    And I’m with you both in regards to the character. I don’t have to like them per se. But they must be interesting so I care to find out what happens to them.

    1. I only studied German for a year; unfortunately, I don’t remember too much. Only about half of the 12 Days of Christmas and some random phrases.

      Exactly. A challenge of mine is to come up with a character who is interesting, not necessarily a likeable person. We’ll see how that goes.

    1. I will always have a fondness for Sam. He’s such a wonderful character.
      I’ll read a book until I get sick of it–which is rare. There are some books–most of the ones that I’ll be writing about–that I have reread many times.

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