Thoughts on my Lord of the Rings re-read: in no particular order


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I've just finished my first ever re-read of The Lord of the Rings, which I first read in my tweens (around the time the films were coming out) and  really enjoyed. Before I started out again all I really remembered is that the Hobbits take forever to get out of the Shire (but the momentum picks up from the Council of Elrond onwards) that the 'Scourging of the Shire' was a thing and that Faramir of Gondor was a very nice man. I wanted to know whether I'd enjoy the books more or less this time around, and I think on the whole, I liked them much better. Which actually, I really was not expecting. I might do a book to film comparison review at some point (I've finally watched the extended editions) but here are a random collection of my thoughts on the books anyway:

(SPOILERS)


- Faramir is still a babe. The second film really did him dirty. 


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- The female characters that exist are surprisingly well developed, considering their veeeerrry minimal page presence. Rosie Cotton comes across very strongly in her (two?) lines. Arwen is a complete blank - but Eowyn and Galadriel have a bit of something. 

- Some of the dialogue is gorgeous and there's a lot of warmth to the characters and the writing - and more humour than I remember. 

- Gandalf the White (as opposed to original Gandalf, who I love) is really annoying. As is Aragorn on occasion. Swooping in and taking Faramir's throne while he's passed out in the hospital? Not that he minded. But that's not the point. 


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- Some of the descriptions of the enemy - the Orcs, "Ruffians", Haradrim, even black riders - are a bit... uncomfortable. I don't think Tolkien was a racist but he was living in an imperialist sort of culture, and the whole "men of the west" thing is definitely not totally PC. Also there's the class thing (Sam). And the lack of women thing. And why are all the Orcs Cockney? I'm not the biggest fan of Londoners but I'm sure they're not all bad. 

- Aragorn showing up to claim the throne of Gondor is a bit like Danny Dyer rocking up to Buckingham Palace, all 'I am a direct descendant of William the Conqueror and the last true Plantagenet. Hand it over." It may be true, but does the claim really hold up? 


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- It was really stupid to go to Weathertop. A place where you can be seen from miles around, and from which it's very difficult to escape from, once seen? Why not go straight to Rivendell? 

- I thoroughly enjoyed "the scourging of the shire". After the very prolonged good-bye scenes in Gondor, Rohan and Isengard I was ready for a bit of action. It felt like a whole new story tacked on to the end. A bit odd, but I didn't think it was an anti-climax. 

- The best part of the scourging of the Shire, is the utter fury that there are now no inns (or pipeweed). Cracks me up. People have literally been shot and thrown in jail for no reason - but it's really the end of civilisation if you can't have a beer and a smoke. 


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- The ending of Two Towers is so great. How anyone coped with waiting for the third book I don't know. 

- That bit at the black gate where they bring out the mithril shirt - what a scene! They made the right call in cutting it from the films though - it didn't have the same impact there. 

- Hardly any poems after book one! Whoop woop! 

- It really does take them so, so long to get out the damn Shire. Bombadil is totally pointless and boring (fight me). Ditto Goldberry, and please stop describing women as 'slender as a wand'. Elf or not, she would definitely not be slender as a wand when she's feasting like that everyday.  However, I do quite like the Farmer Maggot stuff? 

- When Frodo fails to throw the Ring into the fire and Gollum ends up biting his finger off, it's actually a really interesting ending. First time round I was sure Frodo was going to die before the end of the quest (not having seen the final film yet!!!!) and I love that there's no judgement for his failure. He's only human. Or Hobbit, anyway. 


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- I wanted more dialogue scenes between the fellowship after the fall of Sauron. Not stupid stuff about Aragorn's wedding or even Theodon's burial. I wanted to hear them talk about what they'd all been doing. Proper reunion scenes. But we seemed to skip that in favour of a load of pointless meandering about. 

- I still don't get why Aragorn and Arwen weren't married already. Isn't she hundreds of years old? Do they still need her dad's permission? 

- Boromir is also actually kind of a babe. (My twelve year old self only recognised the superior man that is Faramir.) He's a very well written character too -  you know exactly who he is, he jumps off the page much more than lots of the other primary characters.


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- As much as I prefer the younger brother myself, Pippin naming his son Faramir was bad form (if you ask me). It was Boromir who saved your life mate. Credit where it's due. 

- Saruman really is a pathetic loser. All that Sharkey stuff - going after the Shire is so little and spiteful. 

- Unlike in the films (where they drag) I love all the Sam and Frodo scenes. They're both such lovely characters. 


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- On the other hand, the flight to the ford with Arwen (instead of Glorfindel) and the battle at Helm's Deep, are miles better in the films. 

- The way Tolkien writes is sometimes just really lovely. Occasionally a slog. And enough with the poems. And some of the battle scenes aren't the best written. But some of it is beautiful. 

- Favourite bits overall? Drums in the deep (we cannot get out). The horn of the Rohirrim blowing at the siege of Gondor. Merry and Pippin at Isengard. Faramir and Eowyn in the houses of healing. Rosie Cotton and Sam during the Scourging of the Shire. Aragorn's joke about the healer guy who wouldn't shut up about the Kingsfoil (he made a joke! It was actually funny! He isn't completely boring!) Frodo's song about Gandalf in Lorien (I liked a poem! I actually liked a poem!) Lobelia Sackville-Baggins getting cheered when they let her out of the "lock-holes". (I didn't know I had any emotional attachment to that character, but turns out I do.) Eowyn defeating the Witchking. Sam talking about being put in stories to Frodo, and making him laugh. The "herbs and stewed rabbit" chapter. Legolas defending Gimli from the Riders of Rohan ("you would die before your stroke fell.")  Every time the Hobbits talk about smoking or Inns. Or food.


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Side note: When I was feeling a bit tired, I listened to this audiobook on Youtube. It's all done by a someone called Phil Dragash (phildragash.com) but someone else has uploaded it. The narrator accent was a bit false for me at first, but he does all the character voices really well and he's put in background music from the films and sound effects. It's really well done! And the music. especially, adds so much. 

Have you read The Lord of the Rings? Big fan? Favourite bits? 


Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. To be clear, Faramir is only a babe in the book! haha, I can take him or leave him in the films, it's his book personality i fell in love with. I think what they did with him in the film was the only major mistake and it always annoys me. I liked Eomer a lot more this time around too, he's interesting in the book and I can see the appeal.

    I get that Aragorn is the rightful King technically, but he's been wandering around in the wilderness for years, who's to say he'll be any good as a king? And I don't feel he has the same love for Gondor or love of the people in the way Faramir and Boromir did. I do like him though!

    I feel like cutting out the scourging of the Shire was probably the right decision - but in the book I liked it :) I don't know if I can face reading the Simarillion - maybe one day...
    (oh, I think you might have put some usernames and stuff at the top of your comment - i'd delete it for you to be safe but thought I better reply first!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How like me, not bank info or anything, but can you edit it and delete that part, thanks?!

      Yeah, I had to get over the shock of some of the stuff in the Silmarillion, still might skip parts.

      Delete
  3. I have to confess that I've never read The Lord of the Rings. I tried to read it once years ago, but just couldn't do it for some reason. I've always planned to try again---maybe I'll have to try out the audiobook that you linked to. Several people have told me to try it in audiobook format, and that one sounds pretty spectacular!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  4. I loved this post! I haven't reread LOTR since I was a teenager, and I feel like there would be so much stuff I've forgotten about. I'll definitely have to have a reread soon:)

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