I mean, I guess I get it. Tolkien is your stereotypical swords and horses fantasy, yeah? [yawn]
Okay, so – swords and horses DO feature prominently, but I kind of hate fantasy that doesn’t have one or the other. What is the point? Swords? Good! Horses? Good! Swords AND horses? GOOOOOOD!
However, Tolkien is way more than the slash and hack you’re probably expecting.
1. Epic Fucking Romance – Beren and Lúthien. Poetry and shit. I say this as a woman who is a fan of neither romance nor poetry. Read the Lay of Leithien and tell me you don’t feel ANYTHING and I’ll call you a goddamn liar.
2. World Building to End All World Building – Whether you appreciate his work or not, you have to admire that the dude invented more than 20 languages during his lifetime. MORE THAN TWENTY. AND MAPS! Oh, the maps. Unlike so much of the other fantasy stories you’ll read, Middle-Earth is FULLY FUCKING REALIZED. He thought of everything. Everything. You wanna know what grows on the south slopes of a particular mountain? There’s an answer for that. But it somehow manages to not bog everything down, it actually serves to LIFT IT UP. You could do far worse than being inspired by Tolkien. I read his work and am filled with joy and sadness in equal measure. Joy because I get to live in a world where this work exists, and sadness because I know that no matter how good I eventually become, I can’t possibly hope to ever achieve this greatness.
The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinúviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering.
3. Friendship, Friendship, Friendship – Of all the things that piss me off regarding PJ’s
fanfic adaptations of these books, the butchering of Samwise Gamgee’s character is perhaps the most egregious. Everyone should be so lucky to have a friend as steadfast and kind as dear Sam. He is (in my oh so very humble opinion) the true hero of Lord of the Rings. But to tell you why would delve into spoiler territory, and I’m trying to convince you to read these, so I won’t tell you now. I know, I totally suck. But read it. You will love him, too. I promise. He’s not a bumbling buffoon. He’s true of heart and spirit, and you’ll close the book with a wistful sigh, wishing you had a Sam in your life.
There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
5. Because I Wrote 20,000+ Words About These Books Last Summer – And I’m pretty sure it’s some of the best writing I’ll ever do. I want you to read the books and then go back and join in the conversations we had. Who cares if they’re a year old? I’m always down to discuss Tolkien, and I know so many other people are, too.
In fact – I think I’m going to read some of it this afternoon, just because. The other books can wait.