Hello again honeybees! I usually jump right into the review but since this is a bit of an unusual one. J.R.R. Tolkien is such a masterful writer but he’s also very wordy and info-dumpy and it takes a long time for these novels to get going anywhere (if you’ve read The Hobbit and Fellowship, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about). Instead of doing a full review for each book, I’m going to do a mini review for each. I also listened to ~75% of this series as abridged audiobooks, which I’ll get into later.
*I’ll also be trying to make this as spoiler free as possible. Anything that leans into spoiler territory will have a bold and highlighted warning.*
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R Tolkien
As much as I loved The Hobbit, this was much more of a slow start. I almost feel like nothing happened for half the book? The only character I really vibed with was Sam. Frodo is cool and all, but Sam is a star. There was anticipation and suspense with the whole Black Rider thing, which kept me going, but it was such a slow going read. I ended up switching to the abridged audiobook produced by the BBC radio for the last hundred or so pages and it worked out really well. The dramatization makes it so much more interesting and they cut out all of the extra bits that don’t necessarily need to be read to enjoy the story. (Sorry Tolkien but sometimes I really just want to get to the point!) Kind of disappointed that I didn’t enjoy this more.
The Two Towers by J.R.R Tolkien
Look I’m going to be really honest with this one, I don’t really know what exactly happened. I understand the beginning and the end but the middle bit got so muddy with a thousand different names and events. Even the great performance by the BBC radio couldn’t keep me concentrated with this one. I’m usually really good with audiobooks as it’s my favorite way to read, with my disabilities and chronic illnesses, but Tolkien got me fucked up with this. There might have been a war?? I should SparkNotes it.
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
Okay so I definitely liked this book a lot more and followed it better than The Two Towers. I almost cried two separate times. I don’t think this will be super spoiler-y but lets do a big SPOILER warning anyway. The line about Bilbo being in the trees and then the interaction between Sam and Frodo at the very end literally had me in tears. I did not expect to get so emotional over these Hobbits. SPOILER END.
The ending was a bit confusing for me. I’m not sure if it’s the edition that I read (the abridged audiobook) or my brain not processing all of the info, but I had little idea what was going on and why it happened. I think I would definitely reread these physically and take more time with them, but I would need to carve out a lot of time for them since it’s about double the reading time I would normally spend on any other fantasy.
I’m kinda bummed I didn’t love the series the way some people seem to. I’m not super obsessed or anything. I did thoroughly enjoy what I read and could understand, but for some reason I was confused for a majority of it. Maybe watching the movies will make the overall story clearer. This series has been on my TBR since I became a “serious reader” and it feels really good to have read them. Regardless of my lukewarm feelings for the books, I do really love the hobbits, and can’t wait to watch the adaptations of this series and reread it in the future.
If you’ve read the Lord of the Rings series, I would love to hear your thoughts! Are you a die-hard fan or did you simply enjoy them like me? OR, do you absolutely loathe the books? (I have yet to hear this opinion but it would definitely be interesting to have this convo!) Who are your favorite characters? (Mine are Sam and Bilbo <3)