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Thread: The Prancing Pony - J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle Earth

  1. #1
    Squared
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    The Prancing Pony - J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle Earth

    I read the Lord of the Rings books years ago, but have been surrounded by a lot of stuff to do with the whole Middle Earth legendarium quite a lot lately, and as a result I'm tempted to take a look at them again, and maybe even to have a bit of a wider look beyond the LOTR and to push into some of the other stuff. I know that, thanks to Christopher Tolkien in particular, there's this whole world of genuinely epic proportions that you can get lost in if you have the time and inclination. So yeah, thinking I might try and do just that.

    Smart money is that there are at least a handful of hardcore Tolkien fans out there - am I right?

    PS. Very nearly called this thread 'the Precious'.

  2. #2
    The Brain
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    Yeah, at some point I should really re-read those. My dad read me the books when I was young and then I read them myself later, but it's been ages. I remember enjoying the hell out of them, I know some people say there's too much description and "walking" but I don't remember minding that at all. It all just made the world bigger to me. I've also gone through the Silmarillion and a bit of the stuff his son put out there and found it interesting, though generally it feels a lot dryer. If you do pick them up again, I'd be interested to hear any thoughts you had!

  3. #3
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    I never minded all the build in LOTR either. Every character having nine names was more challenging!

    Never looked at The Silmarillion before. Heard it's hard going. Wouldn't mind a quick look to see how I get on, though.

  4. #4
    Samuel Plan
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    I'll be perfectly blunt here: I loathe the way the LOTR books are written. Reading the Council of Elrond chapter in Fellowship was like pulling teeth; thirty pages of pure exposition with only a tenuous link to what was actually about to happen! It's obviously an amazing, incredibly influential and timeless story. I don't necessarily consider them well written though....

    Is that heretical?
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  5. #5
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    I like them, but you have to in the moment and not getting ahead of yourself or worrying about what's to come. Think they are definitely for an era when signposting was less required.

    I think that opinion is not uncommon, though. It's not like there is a critical consensus on Tolkien, either.

  6. #6
    Samuel Plan
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    I would describe them as "ponderous tomes." There's no denying their place atop the pantheon of world-building in the history of fantasy fiction, but there's a reason it was a three year slog for me to get through them I think. I also hate the way that they set the trend of the kind of dialogue you only ever find in fantasy fiction.
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  7. #7
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    Oh yeah, there's a fucking wealth of stuff that has copied Tolkien's dialogue without having his ear for words and how to make them work.

    I'm not sure I'd call them ponderous, exactly, but they probably seem that way up against the pace of today's world. What there is, is a good deal of story for the sake of story. If you don't like the way it's told then you won't be fully committed to the story and, consequently, you're probably not going to be into that and will want them to get on with it. Especially as, if you do come out of being in the moment, it's fairly obvious that he's getting the ring there and it's going in the hot drink.

  8. #8
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    So I'm having a go at reading the Children of Hurin at the moment. For the first couple of chapters I found it very hard going, and I wouldn't have recommended it to anyone. The style was very much like an old Norse epic, or even like reading some of the Old Testament, in the way it related the who, what, why of things. After the first couple of chapters it has settled down into something that is much more like a typical book, which has made it much easier going.

    Long story short, if you aren't especially into the LOTR and don't like the style of things like Beowulf or the Bible, you probably don't make it through to where the story proper starts to begin. I only stuck with it because it's a Middle Earth book, on the one hand, and I don't like stopping until I've finished (especially with novels).

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