I am about to come at you with an unpopular opinion. I haven’t read Lord of the Rings, I watched the films but was completely lost and hated them so much. I’ve tried to watch them so many times and simply gave up.
This is a series that I want to love so so so bad. I have multiple copies of the books but I am afraid to read them because I hated the movies so much and feared I would find the books boring.
Having discovered audiobooks recently, I thought this would be a good time to try my hand at reading this classic series especially with this fantastic narrator. After all, Tolkien is like the inventor of the modern fantasy genre so it’s basically required reading in my opinion!
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkeness bind them
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 into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit.
In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose (summary from Goodreads).
Ok so let me just say that the narrator was fantastic. He read with such enthusiasm and heart that I feel the need to commend him. Plus it was nice to have someone else pronounce the odd names and places rather than me making things up in my head as I go along. However, the one thing I have noticed with audiobooks is that I don’t know that I fully pay attention or absorb the story in the same way I would if I was reading. Especially a story like this where locations and maps are important. I think I needed to physically read this one rather than listen to it.
That said, I found the story so boring. It basically seemed like one long walk where nothing really seems to happen except that we meet other random characters and keep right on walking and debating about what to do with the evil ring. I all honesty, I fell asleep so many times listening to this book and I had to go back and read the Sparks Notes summaries as I went along so that I made sure I knew what was going on. I don’t know how much of that was narration/listening versus physically needing to read the book—-but either way I found myself happy that it was over.
However much I found this book boring—-I want to love it so bad still. Tolkien is an incredible writer with beautiful descriptions and prose. His influence is easily recognizable in a number of modern fantasy like the Game of Thrones books and Harry Potter. I spent a lot of time reflecting on why I didn’t like the book as much as I had hoped. What it came down to for me was it was quest driven rather than character driven.
So much of the story seems to be about the ring itself and the journey—what to do with the ring and how to destroy it. Where as books like Game of Thrones (I know I am comparing apples to oranges here but just go with it). focus so much on the characters and their flaws and strengths and how they respond to conflict and the ‘call to action’. In this book, I don’t seem the same level of development (at least at this point in the series) and I found the journey simply boring. I felt like I needed much more in the way of character evolution and development.
But even if I struggled to like this one, I soldiered on and kept listening and trying to pick out areas of the story that I found interesting. I feel the need to keep reading the series but this time rather than listening to an audiobook, I am going to physically read the second book and see if that helps me to become invested in the charters and world more or not.
I am also going to give the movies another go. I just simply want to love this series so much because so many others do and I hate that I am not gushing over this book. Please tell me the story picks up!