The Book of the Month series returns to fiction this July, with a novel that sits at the top of my “all-time favourites” list. So journey with me to Middle Earth for a story that has defined a genre, spawned a successful film series, and still inspires countless authors and imitators more than seventy years after its publication. This is… The Lord of the Rings.
For many readers (me included), The Lord of the Rings changed their entire concept of literature. I still remember vividly the first time I read the book as a teenager, reading under an IKEA lamp light until the early hours then dragging myself out of bed the following morning for school. I was hooked, and could not wait to see what happened next to Frodo, Gandalf and the Ring of Power. It solidified my life-long love for fiction of all kinds. And there is no doubt that Tolkien (along with Pratchett and Dahl) inspired me to become an author.
But isn’t it really long?
Sure, The Lord of the Rings is a very long book and those who prefer brevity will hate it. But for the Millennials who can’t handle detail, here is a handy single-sentence plot summary:
The Lord of the Rings is a story about a small fella with hairy feet and an old wizard who travel across their world to destroy a golden ring that has a tendency to cause hassle for anyone who touches it.
OK, so that doesn’t sell it particularly well… But stay with me.
Despite its length, the novel keeps readers hooked with constant twists and turns. It is intriguing, exciting, sad, funny and scary. The characters are plentiful and interesting – Frodo, Gandalf and Treebeard have to be some of the most likeable characters in fiction. But it is the world that Tolkien creates – known as Middle Earth – which leaves me in awe. Remarkable in its depth, its people and its history, it feels real – if you ignore the elves, trolls and various other mythical creatures, of course.
The Lord of the Rings is ultimately a story about good and evil. About courage in the face of adversity. About friendship. Kindness. It champions the best of humanity and its ability to overcome and rebuild. And although Tolkien himself always said that the novel was not an allegory for our world, it achieves this anyway. It is as relevant in 2021 as it was when it was first published in 1954.
And for fans, it is ultimately not long enough…
The road goes ever on and on…
I’ll put my hands up and admit it. I love the world Tolkien created so much that this article probably sounds like I am on commission. I can live with that – I am a proud Tolkienite (if that is a word). The escapism and enjoyment his stories have given me over the decades have no comparison.
But if you think yourself a fantasy fiction aficionado and have never read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, maybe it’s time to give the books that defined the genre a try. And even if you’re not a fantasy fiction fan, take my advice and follow Frodo into Middle Earth. The Lord of the Rings is a book you will never forget.
You can buy The Lord of the Rings in paperback or digital download from the Tolkien website by clicking this link (CLICK HERE).
And if you liked this article then check out the rest of my Book of the Month blog series. This free, informal book club introduces a variety of fiction/non-fiction authors and genres to keep you entertained. You can access the series on my website (CLICK HERE).