Thursday, June 3, 2010

"...not another elf"

Okay. I'll admit it. I suppose some of us who consider ourselves geeks have to say this sooner or later.
My name is David and I've never read Lord of the Rings all the way through. I don't like The Lord of the Rings.
There. I've said it. I feel better now that it's out in the open.

Why? Well... that's harder to pin down. The Hobbit enchanted me though I haven't re-read it in decades. The Lord of the Rings didn't enchant me at all when I tried to read it. Sure Tolkien could build a world... sort of... but I don't need to read a book he essentially only wrote for himself. I've heard complaints about Harry Potter that say that J.K. could have used a good editor to help tighten up some of the later books. When it comes to J.R.R. a good editor wouldn't have left him enough for a single novel let alone a trilogy.

And don't get me started about his world building. Middle Earth is a masterpiece in many ways. From the languages up to the historic details. Did you know Tolkien worked on the Oxford English Dictionary? His love of words and etymology must have helped the OED a great deal. I read once you could see his handwriting on the card for the word walrus for example. Middle Earth is a wonderful achievement but he could have used that world as the backdrop to a story instead of as one of the main characters. I like my mythical histories as much as the next person but enough is enough.

Turns out I'm not the only one with criticisms and complaints. I'm biased because the books never caught my imagination so people who love the books will discount anything I say outright. What happens when they are confronted with a critical review from someone who still loves the books despite the problems?

Andrew Rilstone wrote a critique called Is Tolkien Actually Any Good? and it's fun to watch someone who likes the books also rip them to shreds. Even more fascinating is reading a review of the Peter Jackson movie adaptations by a serious fan of the books:
As I said I'm not a fan of The Lord of the Rings. Even so it's interesting to find out why someone is a fan of the books. I may not see the appeal of the trilogy but at least I now know what others find in it.

P.S. Dig around on Andrew's Arts page for a series of reviews of the Star Wars prequels. Check out Little Orphan Anakin 3: A certain point of view in which he skewers Lucas' history of what he intended the movies to be and Little Orphan Anakin 6: The Hero With at Least Two Faces. The latter shows how the Star Wars movies are completely different when we see them now. When it first came out "Star Wars" was a single movie with an engaging plot and wonderful characters. Now it's "Star Wars IV: A New Hope" is the beginning of the second trilogy of a story that is about Anakin/Vader and not Luke.

Even before the new special effects and other changes to the movie, George Lucas has forever changed how audiences will see what was one of the pivotal films in most geeks' lives.

1 comment:

Lene Andersen said...

This was one of the first things I loved about you. Because although I thoroughly enjoyed The Hobbit, I have more than once tried to read The Lord of the Rings and never gotten past p.70. And everyone around me thinks it's magical and wonderful and re-read it over and over again and it makes me feel as if I'm committing heresy to say it bores me to tears. And then I met you and now I feel more like the boy in The Emperor's New Clothes.

There's safety in numbers.