Review: The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien

Originally read November 2013


As somebody who claims that Fantasy is my favorite genre, it feels sacrilegious to only give this series three stars.  If I'd read it when I was younger, or at least before I had begun reading modern fantasy regularly, I think I'd have enjoyed it more.  Part of my problem was that, after reading more modern fantasy stories, this series didn’t hold anything new for me.  That is of course unfair since Tolkien created and inspired many of the fantasy staples that I've enjoyed in other books.  But knowing this doesn't make the story feel newer or more exciting.  I like what I like, regardless of whether or not I think I should like it.


The story was a little too slow and meandering for my tastes.  I’m embarrassed to say that it took me an unknown number of weeks (maybe even months?) to get through it. I was admittedly very busy at the time but, when a book is really good, I find time to read even if it means giving up some sleep. I was already very familiar with the story as it's portrayed in the movies, so perhaps that was part of my problem -- there wasn't any suspense because I knew what was going to happen.  However, I had actually read the first book by itself a few years before watching the movies and it didn't grab me then either, although I did enjoy parts of it.


I loved the movies, and I enjoyed seeing the differences between the books and the movies.  It was also fun to read some of the parts that weren’t included in the movies.  It’s still a good story, even if I found it to be slow going, and I made it through all three books this time.  The setting was rich and detailed, and it was clearly well-thought-out.  But I think what I was really hoping for when I decided to try this series again was to get inside the characters’ heads beyond what’s possible in a movie.  I'd become attached to the characters through the movies, and I wanted to learn more about what made them tick.  These books didn’t meet that need for me.  I usually feel like I get to know characters better in a book than I do in a movie but, with The Lord of the Rings, I didn’t feel like I knew the characters any better after reading their story than I had from just watching the movie.