I will be the first person to admit that as a child and maturing adult, I did not read works by Tolkien. To be honest, I found them unreadable and uninteresting. I couldn’t get into The Hobbit to save my life and I don’t ever remember trying Lord of the Rings. I can honestly say that has all changed at age forty-five. Better late than never has never been more accurate.
J.R.R. Tolkien himself, happy and looking very much like a modern day, very dapper Gandalf.
A couple of years ago, I started playing the Lord of the Rings Online game but while it was enjoyable I never really had that connection to the lore or characters I wanted. We landed on a role playing server, don’t ask, and the other players had a much more evident and deep connection to the story than I did. Yes I admit, I love the setting and beauty of the game much more so than the movies but I still didn’t connect to the story. I played on and off, never really advancing my characters which is unusual for me but something kept drawing me back into that created world. I didn’t really understand the draw until I finished The Hobbit. The game follows the story and supplements the story seamlessly where it needs to for game play. The modern day additions don’t, in my opinion, detract from the original at all.
Moriareth enjoying a snow flurry in the Misty Mountains in the Lord of the Rings Online video game.
I finished The Fellowship of the Ring yesterday afternoon. The book was amazing which I’m sure is not a news flash to many people but for me it was a surprise. As many of you know, I did not enjoy the movie trilogy at all. The first book, and I’m sure this will hold true for the second and third books, was nothing like the movie. Oh sure, it follows the same basic story with the characters we all know but it doesn’t come close to the amazing detail in the book.
I will admit to being more than a little of awe of the complex, detailed, and enormously rich world J.R.R. Tolkien created. He created not just the setting and backstory for the immediate past for the settings of events of Middle Earth, but rather a vast and detailed history going back thousands of years from events that take place in trilogy. I probably knew this on some level during college literature courses but it isn’t a fact that stuck in the memory banks for whatever reason.
Now my inner historian is all fired up and interested in the history created for Middle Earth by Tolkien. There is so much I don’t know about Middle Earth but I want to know. I admit, I’m fascinated about this complex, fantasy world Tolkien built and what so much modern fantasy and fairy tales are built from. I am beginning to recognize Tolkien’s influence in other games we play and books I read. I can see the common threads beginning to run through these stories, where they draw from Tolkien or how their interpretations vary from the original.
So much of what we take for granted regarding fantasy characters is derived from Tolkien, even if we don’t understand those origins. Dwarves are also portrayed, well almost always, as miners with a great affinity for metalwork. They usually live and work deep underground. Think of a dwarf, I bet you thought of a short, chubby guy with a pick axe chipping away at some great stone structure. The dwarves in Snow White perfectly fit the image and I’ve loved them all of my life. I never, not once, I attributed their inspiration or beginnings to Tolkien but now I can so clearly see his influence on Walt Disney. The Dwarves of video games fit the image too, be it World of Warcraft or Dragon Age. Same goes for elves, we know them as tall, graceful humanoids.
Walt Disney and the Seven Dwarves
I will start my adventure into the second book of the trilogy, The Two Towers, probably next week. I need to let the first book sink in and my brain do some more preliminary research into the history of Middle Earth. Of course, every link I read leads to another link and another fascinating aspect of Middle Earth. I’m enjoying every minute of exploration and learning. I’m also loving how the book and the game are making the other a fuller experience.