Lord of The Rings trilogy by J.J.R. Tolkien is the greatest piece of fiction till date. Even though it was first published more than fifty years ago (1954-55), its popularity is still unquestionable. Its three volumes include The Fellowship of The Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of The King. Belonging to the fantasy genre the author employs the technique epic writing to create a whole new world which grasps the reader the moment he reads the first page. Tolkien can be said to be the father of ‘high fantasy’ or modern fantasy literature, and till date no modern fantasy author has managed to make fantasy as believable as Tolkien did.
He is also famous for his other works like the The Hobbit, The Silmarillon, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and The Children of Hurin. Lord of The Rings is actually the sequel of his earlier work The Hobbit, where the ring is first mentioned and which explains how the ring came into the possession of Bilbo Baggins – Frodo Baggins’ uncle and the central protagonist of The Lord of The Rings.
The most common reaction to the book is that it is very long. Indeed it is so, in comparison to our modern fantasy novels. However, before dismissing the book because of its sheer length, one needs to first understand the task taken by the author in making his fantasy world as alive as it is. Tolkien himself said the book is in fact too short as compared to the task he had at hand. The appendix that he has provided at the end of the novel is evidence enough to prove how long the book should have actually been, had he decided to include everything he had in his imagination.
The vivid and meticulous description of every place, character and thing gives the novel a secure context. Tolkien further provides geographical maps at the end of every volume to illustrate the places he has described in each volume. Writing fantasy is actually a very hard task for the very reason that if it is not coherent enough the novel would fail to submerge the reader into the fantasy world that the novel offers. So really we can’t just judge this particular novel by its length.
For a book which is so lengthy, one would also expect the author to get carried away from time to time. Tolkien, however, never strays too far away from the main plot. His descriptions, though lengthy, are necessary for the very fact that it breathes life into the book but not as lengthy as to put the reader off to sleep or to render it unbelievable. Even though he employs magic as central to his story, Tolkien makes sure that it does not get out of hand or disrupt the underlying logic of his world. In short he does not allow magic to control the story for the simple reason that he does not want to drive the reader to delusion.
The book has gained immediate literary popularity and is still studied till date in schools and colleges across the world. It allows various readings and analysis but its major contribution is to the realm of fantasy itself. Studies show that Tolkien was majorly influenced by mythology, philosophy, religion, experiences of World War I (as it was written during that period), the effects of industrialization and Tolkien’s distaste towards it.
…One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them…
The novel is set in the imaginary world of Middle Earth, a world of hobbits, elves, dwarfs, wizards, orcs and other magical creatures. The plot revolves around Frodo and his friends’ journey to the Cracks of Doom, which is situated in the Dark Lord’s domain, in order to save the world from complete destruction by destroying the ‘One Ring’. Their fellowship consisted of Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee (Sam), Meriadoc Brandybuck(Merry), Peregrin Took(Pipin), Gandalf, Aragon(Strider), Gimli, Legolas and Boromir but as the journey proceeds the fellowship breaks and only two reach the destination.
They are surrounded by danger all around yet they manage to find a silver lining, which gives them hope to proceed with the task at hand. This ‘One Ring’ is the ring that has been forged by Sauron, the Dark Lord, whose only ambition is to rule all the realms of Middle Earth. The Dark Lord, who has been once been overthrown, is now rising to power and all he needs is the ‘One Ring’ to make him unconquerable. Hope lies only in the destruction of this ring. Will the forces of evil be overthrown once again or will they gain total dominion? Only the novel can reveal this fatal truth.
Though purely a fantasy novel, it does not fail to show the morality Tolkien believes in. The book cries out loud with the message of hope amidst the hopelessness of danger and destruction, fighting evil not with their own weapons of destruction, fear and hate but with reason, wisdom and fellow-feeling. The purpose of the quest itself is the triumph of good over evil, life over death, happiness over misery which should ideally be the purpose of our own lives.
Badakynti Nylla Iangngap