The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I recently finished reading The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien—all six books, a Kindle edition purchased May 9th, finished reading around August 14th.
Here are some of the things that impressed me about book(s).
The contrast between good and evil. Good characters and settings were beautiful, wholesome, verdant, fragrant, admirable, while the evil characters and settings were creepy to grotesque, debauched, barren, in some cases smelled vile, and were frightening and repulsive.
That said, characters were still complex. Though the good characters were essentially white, they still had the capacity for foolishness, made mistakes etc. This made for my continued interest.
My favourite character was Frodo’s servant, the loyal Sam Gamgee. Through him Tolkien illustrates the values of love, faithfulness, perseverance, courage etc. in the face of insurmountable odds.
The hobbit characters retained their love of hearth, home and a good meal. Their reminiscences about these things and their appearances in the story even when situations were at their worst (a good meal cooked when making a fire was a dangerous act; the singing of a lullaby during captivity by evil orcs) kept me hopeful that the good would win.
As I looked for Christian allegorical themes, and knowing that Tolkien and C. S. Lewis were contemporaries and literary buddies (the Inklings), these jumped out at me.
1. The fight between good and evil—a biblical theme if there ever was one.
2. Saruman and Sauron as types of Satan.
The wizard Gandalf says of Sauron:
“… I found our fears were true; he was none other than Sauron, our Enemy of old, at length taking shape and power again” – p. 250.
Treebeard says of Saruman:
“He is plotting to become a Power. He has a mind of metal and wheels; and he does not care for growing things” p. 473.
3. King Aragorn as a type of Christ:
In a scene with the hobbit Pippin:
“’King! Did you hear that? What did I say? The hands of a healer, I said!’ And soon word had gone out from the House that the King was indeed come among them and after war he brought healing.” P. 286.
This wasn’t my favourite book in the world. The language is more descriptive and flowery than I’m used to, though I felt it suited the story genre well. I also found the use of words and phrases in Tolkien’s made-up language confusing in that they slowed me down, though again, they made the story feel like an authentic middle earth tale.
All in all, this was a very long but worthwhile read. If you haven’t read it maybe you should for aspects of this story (in book and film) are now woven into the imagination and fabric of our culture.