Meet my friend Kalyna. She is a wonderful wife, an incredible mother of three boys, and a missionary to Moldova. I’ve mentioned Kalyna in some previous posts, because she also happens to be one of my favourite bookworms. In this guest post, she is sharing about The Lord of the Rings, the beloved fantasy trilogy. Enjoy!
When I read a book, it is my escape from reality. Not that reality is bad; on the contrary, I have a wonderful life; but if I am feeling stressed, or frustrated, or grieved, or even just bored, I long to travel to a faraway land and have adventures there with new and exciting characters, or with a few old friends. A good book is the perfect way to obtain this escape. This is, I think, why I find particular enjoyment in fantasy books, for what could be further from reality than a world which exists solely in imagination?
Of all the fantasy books out there, two are my particular favorites: “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Lord of the Rings.” While the former will always hold a special place in my heart, here I will focus on the latter and why it brings such enjoyment to me.
The author of the “The Lord of the Rings,” J. R. R. Tolkien, has been referred to as the father of modern fantasy. This is because his books, and, consequently, Middle-Earth, the fictional world he created, were so involved, so detailed, so real, that they became somewhat of a prototype for all fantasy books and worlds that have been developed since.
There are many reasons why “The Lord of the Rings” is hailed by many as the greatest fantasy book yet written, but what, for me, really sets it apart from the rest? It is the innocent characters of the hobbits, and their quaint home in the Shire, that have endeared this story to me.
The culture of the hobbits reflects what many of us, I think, desire, when we say we would like a “simple life.” Hobbits love a well-ordered countryside, good tilled earth, and the peacefulness of nature. They are fond of food and drink, and partake of both in abundance. They also take great pleasure in parties, both in giving and attending them. The world outside the Shire is little known to them expect in legend, for they take no interest in the big, often frightening things that take place beyond their borders, preferring to live in peace and contentment, assuming that if they leave well enough alone, the world outside will not intrude on their daily lives. All together, life in the Shire consists of a near perfect combination of hard work, enjoyment, and community, for hobbits are little inclined to disputes and dissension. “The Lord of the Rings” begins in this lovely land, and so picturesque is this country and its little furry-footed inhabitants, that I fell in love with it at once, as I believe most readers must.
So it is, when the evil Ring of Power is found, and the threat of doom and destruction looms over the world, the reader is ready instantly to rally with the hobbit, Frodo, to do what he can to protect the Shire. Thus, from the beginning, your heart is tied to these characters and you become determined to see them through all the hardships of their journey as they encounter things no hobbit has ever experienced. As the four hobbits in this story face each new trial, you discover with them that, though hobbits, as a race, have grown fat and content through centuries of peace, deep within them lies a courage, a sturdiness, and a strength that shines brightly through when put to the test.
So, although “The Lord of the Rings” has many fascinating elements that make it a great fantasy – a thrilling quest, epic battles, sword-wielding heroes, magic of elves and wizards, the fight of good against evil – it is the characters of the hobbits, from the perseverance of Frodo and the steadfast loyalty of Samwise, to the valiance of Merry and the carefree innocence of Pippin, that keep me returning to this story again and again.
And I will admit that I love the fact that they are only three and half feet tall and have big, furry feet. Somehow, that makes them more endearing.
Note: To those who would like to read “The Lord of the Rings” but are not avid readers, or generally fond of fantasy, a warning. This book is over a thousand pages long and extremely involved. Tolkien wanted to make his world seem real, so the culture of the different peoples (elves, men, hobbits, dwarves, etc.) are often expounded upon, including pieces of their history, examples of poetry, and information on their language and customs. While this is fascinating to a nerd like me, it can be a source of boredom for those who just want to “get on with the story.” So, if you get stuck in the house of Tom Bombadil, or start nodding off during the Council of Elrond, know you’re not alone. Know also, though, that if you stick it through, I think you will be justly rewarded. However, I would advise you to begin, rather, with “The Hobbit”. Actually, even if you are an avid reader, you can begin here, since it is, after all, the first book in the series and sets the stage for the following trilogy. It is a much shorter, faster-moving book, full of adventure without all the background. It is also less dark and sinister and still gives you a wonderful introduction to the land of the Shire and its people I have come to love.
Any other Lord of the Rings fans here? Tell us why you like it!
featured photo by Chris J Bowley
p.s. I’m currently halfway through The Hobbit – and enjoying it, as Kalyna said I would.