I KNOW, it’s hard to believe that I haven’t read these yet. What kind of book nerd am I, anyway?
Interestingly, for every fantasy geek that adores these books, there’s someone who mutters about them being overrated. They mutter it because they fear the wrath of the fantasy geeks, and rightfully so. Those people have no sense of humor about it.
The net result of listening to both sides was that I went into these books with an open mind, equally willing to believe that it is the epitome of fantasy and that it’s overrated.
All in all, I think I side with the fantasy geeks here.
As indeed with many other trailblazers, coming to a classic long after it is written presents some issues. The widespread imitation and emulation of classics by later (and often lesser) authors can make the original seem less innovative. You say, oh, I’ve seen this before, without fully appreciating how unique it was when it was created.
This is the situation with the Lord of the Ring books. Many have replicated the basic feel and scope but without the efficiency and effectiveness of Tolkien. I’m looking at you, Robert Jordan.
What I really appreciated about this book wasn’t the story line, since (like the rest of the world) I’ve seen Peter Jackson’s movies. I knew what I would get, although of course there are minor changes and alterations.
What pleased me with this book is the efficiency of his storytelling. This despite at least one person telling me the descriptions were too long for them. I suppose they haven’t spent time with Tolstoy. Tolstoy will harden you to description bloat.
The pace was deliberate but effective. You get the feel of long summer days and frigid winter nights that stretch on and on but the story continues to move forward. Unsurprisingly, even in the first book you develop a strong appreciation for Sam.
These are cornerstone books in the fantasy world. The form the basis of much of the current catalog of fantasy and are the gold standard that fantasy writers still aspire to meet. I recommend this first book at the very least to fantasy fans and even to non-fantasy readers who enjoyed the movies.