The Pleasures of Re-Reading “The Lord of the Rings”

Much as I love reading (and books), there are very few works that I read more than once. I'm not really sure why that it is; maybe it's just my relentless desire for something new, some exciting frontier to explore. There are a few books, however, that I return to again and again (and sometimes … Continue reading The Pleasures of Re-Reading “The Lord of the Rings”

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“Nine for Mortal Men, Doomed to Die:” The Tragedy of the Nazgûl

At first glance, it might seem counterintuitive to argue that the Ringwraiths of The Lord of the Rings are anything other than evil. They are the ones who lead the attack on the good guys, and they are terrifying as they hunt the hobbits in the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring. They are Sauron's most powerful … Continue reading “Nine for Mortal Men, Doomed to Die:” The Tragedy of the Nazgûl

Reading “The Lord of the Rings”: “The Choices of Master Samwise”

We have finally come to the concluding chapter of The Two Towers, and one of my very favourite chapters in the entire The Lord of the Rings. In it, we learn that Sam, confronted with the awful reality that his master has been struck down by the horrid spider Shelob and that the task of taking the Ring to … Continue reading Reading “The Lord of the Rings”: “The Choices of Master Samwise”

Reading “The Lord of the Rings”: “Journey to the Cross-Roads,” “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol,” and “Shelob’s Lair”

In today's entry, we follow Frodo and his companions as they make their way beyond Ithilien and cross into the dark Morgul Vale, where they see the fearsome Lord of the Nazgûl ride out at the head of an army that has at last been unleashed upon the forces of the West, before encountering the … Continue reading Reading “The Lord of the Rings”: “Journey to the Cross-Roads,” “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol,” and “Shelob’s Lair”

Reading “The Lord of the Rings”: “The Window on the West” and “The Forbidden Pool”

Having met the noble Gondorian captain Faramir and his men, we now get to see them in more detail, as Frodo and Sam are welcomed into their abode and treated as guests of honor. They are also treated to the beauty of the land of Ithilien, including the cave where Faramir and his company have … Continue reading Reading “The Lord of the Rings”: “The Window on the West” and “The Forbidden Pool”

Through a Glass Darkly: The Diminution of Heroism in Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy

After recently rewatching Peter Jackson's rightfully famous and well-regarded The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, it occurred to me that Jackson's heroes are remarkably less lofty than their counterparts in Tolkien's novel. If Tolkien's heroes seem to exist in a time wherein heroes were larger than life figures that seem to defy the laws of humanity, … Continue reading Through a Glass Darkly: The Diminution of Heroism in Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy

Reading “The Lord of the Rings”: “The Taming of Smeagol,” “The Passage of the Marshes,” and “The Black Gate is Closed”

For a long time now, I've always preferred the first part of The Two Towers to the second. Maybe this has to do with the way in which I remain profoundly dissatisfied with Jackson's interpretation of it in the film version, or perhaps because it lacks the big action set-pieces of the other half. Whatever the reason, … Continue reading Reading “The Lord of the Rings”: “The Taming of Smeagol,” “The Passage of the Marshes,” and “The Black Gate is Closed”

Why Are Tolkien’s Villains So Compelling?

Every time I re-reard The Lord of the Rings, I'm struck anew by how absolutely compelling Tolkien has made his villains. In many ways, these formidable foes--Saruman, Sauron, the Witch-king--threaten to overshadow the protagonists of the novel. While we know a great deal about the heroes, their motivations, their ancestries, a great deal remains shadowy and unknown … Continue reading Why Are Tolkien’s Villains So Compelling?