Wednesday, July 28, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 5

This is the fifth part in an ongoing series looking at the books that have influence me as an author.

The Fellowship of the Ring
by J.R.R. Tolkien

Like many young readers in the 1970s, The Hobbit was my introduction to fantasy literature. And growing up in small towns where finding books was no easy task, it was quite difficult to get my little hands on a fantasy novel. But after discovering The Hobbit, I was hooked. And I had to have more.

Lord of the Rings, The: The Fellowship of the RingThe next logical course was to follow up The Hobbit with more works by J.R.R. Tolkien. Again, this was the 1970s. This was back in the day before Tolkien's son Christopher had come along an reworked a bunch of his father's material and published it. Heck, even Tolkien's The Silmarillion was just coming out in book stores.

The Lord of the Rings was the only choice. Not that that was a problem. The Hobbit was considered children's literature, but The Lord of the Rings was the adult stuff. And adult stuff was risque and exciting. At least that's how I saw it as a kid back then.

So I spent a summer reading The Lord of the Rings. I suppose, looking back on it, the first book in this trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, was what I considered my first adult fantasy reading.

Again, as with The Hobbit, I was hooked. But even more so. The plot was more dangerous. The characters were more indepth. The writing was more ... uh, Tolkieny.

It was great adult reading for me, reading about this group of hobbits who were one this great big mission to save the entire world. What could be of more importance?

The Fellowship of the Ring has always been my favorite of all Tolkien's work. It's also my favorite of the Peter Jackson movies based upon The Lord of the Rings. I seem to be in the minority here. Many readers of Tolkien with whom I've been in contact tend to enjoy the third book, The Return of the King, as their favorite. My experience has also been the same with the movies. Admittedly The Return of the King is where everything is wrapped up, but I've always felt the character development in The Fellowship of the Ring was top notch. And it was the characters, the good and the evil, who made me fall in love with Middle Earth.

Market saturation has given trend recently to an anti-Tolkien feeling among some fantasy fans and writers. To some extent this can be expected. What's popular often becomes passe. It's also true that today's reading and viewing audiences have different expectations than those of Tolkien's day, from roughly the 1930s through the 1950s. But no one can deny the influence Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings has had on fantasy fiction in particular and mainstream fiction in general.

Up next: Thieves' World, edited by Robert Lynn Asprin

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I think book 3 and movie 3 were the best for me too, but Fellowship had that great introduction to the riders. Eerie and cool.