The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Even today, almost six decades since its first publication, J.R R. Tolkien's magnificent work of fantasy is still attracting readers and scholars — more so now due to the publicity surrounding Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Perhaps for the first time ever, the movie release of a book adaptation has actually boosted sales of the book involved. And this can only be considered a good thing, as one cannot claim to be a literary reader without exploring Tolkien's Middle-Earth at least once in their lives.
To outline the story seems almost redundant, but here goes: in the idyllic pastoral land of the Shire lives the hobbit Frodo Baggins, who is entrusted with an immense task. The magical Ring that his uncle brought back from his adventuring is revealed by the wizard Gandalf to be none other than the ruling Ring of the D... Read More
The Tolkien website (maintained by Harper Collins) has lots of nice wallpapers and avatars. Here’s the Tolkien Society website.
The Lord of the Rings — (1954-1955) Publisher: In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins. From Sauron’s fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion. When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom. The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.
Available for download at Audible.com
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Two Towers is the second third of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, and begins right where the previous book left off: the Fellowship has been sundered, with the death of Boromir, the escape of Frodo and Sam, the capture of Merry and Pippen, and the chase that ensues on the part of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. Like the other two installments in the series, The Two Towers is split into two books, in this case it is Book Three and Book Four.
Book Three alternates between the journey of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in their cross country race across forest and plain in order to rescue Merry and Pippen. Their pursuit takes them into Rohan, the province of King Theoden and his people, known as the Horse-Lords due to their skill and affinity w... Read More
The Return of the King by J.R.R Tolkien
There are many opinions and discussions that one could have on Tolkien's great epic, but one thing is for certain: he saved the best for last. Even Peter Jackson, the director of the film trilogy was heard to say: "I made the first two movies so that I could make the third." Everything that has been building in the first two installments now explodes across the pages: battles, intrigues, madness, escapes, disguises, rescues, chases — it's all here as the allied forces of Middle-Earth (Hobbits, Men, Elves, Dwarves and Ents) make their last desperate stand against the converging forces of evil.
Like the previous volumes, The Return of the King is divided into two books: Book Five and Book Six. Book Five concerns the reunion of most of the Fellowship and the lengths they take in order to draw the Dark Lord Sauron's eye away from Frodo and... Read More
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit is just good clean fun, delightful for children and adults. If you've read LOTR and wondered how Bilbo got the ring, here's the story. I enjoyed Tolkien's omniscient narrator style in this book — somewhat like Thackeray's Vanity Fair, and more recently Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell — which I suppose he adopted because he was writing for children. I think it's charming.
I highly recommend the audiobook, read by Rob Inglis. He's a Royal Shakespeare company actor and the best audiobook reader I've ever heard (and I've heard a lot of them). He has a different voice for each dwarf, and he does a great Gollum, too. He actually sings the songs (nice voice... Read More
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
I'm going to come right out and say what will make most people think I'm slightly crazy: I enjoyed reading The Silmarillion more than I enjoyed reading The Lord of the Rings. Why? I haven't the faintest idea. Maybe I was too young to properly appreciate The Lord of the Rings. Maybe my love of mythology made The Silmarillion a shoe-in. Maybe the lack of three-dimensional characters was more understandable in a book this vast. Maybe I'm just weird.
In any case, The Silmarillion is challenging, beautiful, epic reading and well worth the time and effort it'll take to fully appreciate the work Tolkien has put into his secondary world. Published after Tolkien's death and edited by his son Christopher Tolkien... Read More
The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
Long before Bilbo Baggins left his hobbit hole, the Men and Elves of Middle Earth struggled valiantly against the Great Enemy, Morgoth (the fallen Valar and master of Sauron, the eventual "Lord of the Rings"). One man in particular, Húrin, brazenly defied Morgoth, who imprisoned him and laid a dire curse upon his children. First told — in a lesser form — in The Silmarillion, this tale chronicles their efforts, especially those of Húrin's son, Túrin, to defy the curse — driven largely by the malicious dragon Glaurung — and, perhaps, to escape it.
In this instance, it is worth reviewing both the story and the form in which it is published. With regard to the former, the tragedy of Túrin is a beautiful and powerful tale, told as by a master-bard in a classical, omniscient voice well-suited to descriptions of nature and events that span decades... Read More
Tales from the Perilous Realm by J.R.R. Tolkien
There is a passage in one of the stories collected here that accurately sums up the content of the book itself. In "Leaf By Niggle," J.R.R. Tolkien describes a painting that the artist Niggle has been working on:
It had begun with a leaf caught in the wind, and it became a tree; and the tree grew, sending out innumerable branches, and thrusting out the most fantastic roots... Niggle lost interest in his other pictures; or else he took them and tacked them on to the edges of his great picture. Soon the canvas became so large that he had to get a ladder, and he ran up and down it, putting in a touch here, and rubbing out a patch there.
If the great tree on the canvas is Tolkien's master-work, The Lord of the Rings, then the other little pictures that are "tacked on... Read More
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, the "new" book by J.R.R. Tolkien put together by his son Christopher, is a translation-slash-"unifying" of the great Norse story of Sigurd the dragon-slayer and what happens to his wife and his murderers after his death. The story is told in verse form, two "lays" surrounded by commentary that Christopher Tolkien has taken from his father's notes and lectures dealing with the Norse legend. Christopher also adds some of his own commentary, placing the translations into some context with regard to his father's writing as well as adding some historical and literary/critical context, often dealing with the source material Tolkien used.
The fact that the story is in verse will, I'm sure, be off-putting to many fantasy readers. Even more of an obstacle, though, is that the form isn't simply verse but an attempt to ... Read More
The Histories of Middle-Earth, Volumes 1-12 — (1983-1996) Publisher: Christopher Tolkien, who formerly taught at Oxford University, is J.R.R. Tolkien’s son and literary executor. Contain Tolkien’s ideas, notes, poems, drawings, etc which he began in 1916 and which explain the entire conception of Middle-earth and Valinor. Die-hard Tolkien fans love these — they show how much thought and time when into the creation of Middle-Earth. Here is a synopsis of each book:
The Battle for Middle Earth by Fleming Rutledge
Fleming Rutledge may be the ideal critic of The Lord of the Rings. An ardent student of English literature, an orthodox (Episcopal/Anglican) priest, and a gifted writer, she brings to bear impressive resources in analyzing an often- or over-analyzed work. In doing so, she builds an impressive case in support of a seldom-heard conclusion: Tolkien's masterpiece is a masterpiece not only of storytelling, but also of theology and, perhaps, evangelism.
In making this case, Rutledge relies not only on her careful reading of the text (including its prequel, The Hobbit), but also on Tolkien's letters (as indicated by extensive and informative footnoting). In particular, she challenges commonly held ideas about the epic, including but not limited to the following: (1) it is a tale of pure good versus absolute evil... Read More
Hobbits, Elves and Wizards: The Wonders and Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" by Michael N. Stanton
There are very few better qualified to write an introductory book on J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings than Michael Stanton, a scholar who has studied and taught the trilogy for twenty-five years. He's obviously a great fan of the book (that is, he does not seem to be simply trying to cash in on the recent popularity that the movies have caused) and writes in a simple, chatty style that is easy for most non-academics to understand. For those who are more experienced in reading essays and critiques, Hobbits, Elves and Wizards may come across as either too simplistic or repetitive, and I admit that there was very little here that I hadn't already come across in more comprehensive essays on this subject.
But Stanton is well aware of this, and has no delus... Read More