Writing on a Dwarf Lord's grave
Tengwar script, an alphabet of Middle-Earth
The Lord of the Rings
Part I. The Fellowship of the Ring

Review of J.R.R. Tolkien's Novel
   Bilbo is unlike most of his kind, for he left his home country and had an adventure many years ago, a very unnatural thing for a Hobbit! As he is getting old, he decides to leave again and bequeathes most of his possessions to his adopted nephew, Frodo. Amongst all the wealth he inherits is a small ring of very simple appearance. Soon however, it is revealed to be an old magic jewel wielding terrifying power and sought by its maker, Sauron, an ancient evil who has recently awakened again. If the Dark Lord was to retrieve his ring, it would give him uncontrollable destructive power over all. Soon Bilbo's well-meaning gift turns into a great burden for his young nephew whose life becomes inextricably linked to the ring. Forced into exhile, Frodo must flee from danger to danger, in a seemingly hopeless attempt to escape Sauron's servants, who are forever hunting him. But his most difficult fight may be against himself, as he must resist the poisonous corruptive influence of the malignant ring upon his own soul and face the huge responsibility that he carries as bearer of the One ring towards all the Free people of Middle-Earth.
   One of, if not THE, most beloved fantasy novel of all times, Tolkien's enchanting masterpiece is definitely a fantasy tale in essence, but it feels also at the same time both historical and mythologic, realistic and dreamlike, harsh and sweet, simplistic and intricate, classic and original. The world of Middle-Earth and its people are given so much cultural and historical background that they seem absolutely real, though at the same time, completely otherworldly since it is inhabited by immortal elves and other imaginary beings and creatures, mostly inspired from Nordic mythology. The plot seems very simple and so does the author claims in his preface, that no allegory should be assigned to his words, that his work is merely en entertaining tale, its success maybe lies in the fact that it it is still more subtle and touches people universally. It is said in the novel that Sauron was not always evil and some good characters can become corrupted, not to mention that even the most likeable sweetest characters occasionally have strong violent impulses, for instance when Frodo feels a desire to strike his dear uncle Bilbo. So though it seems at first merely a story about good versus evil, it is about people very much like us and about a world very much like ours in many ways too. Friendship, love, war, fear, racism, class, loss, death, responsibility, doubts, pain, joy are all themes that all readers can relate to. Lord of the Rings is a celebration of courage, friendship and selflessness above all differences; above class, cultures, family feuds, races, age etc.
   There was a great tradition in most cultures to share from one generation to the next certain values and ideals through the telling of tales and songs. This cultural heritage has now been diminished to a genre, fantasy, favoured only by a few adepts and not often worthy ot its origins. Stories rarely have now the particular quality of these tales of old, told around a fire. But Tolkien's work does and this is actually how the author first created the novel: in the telling of stories to his family. Tales played an important role in moral, cultural, philosophical and political education but also satisfied the human need for stories that take you away on a journey to stranger, beautiful and terrifying lands, from which you return somehow changed, with an everlasting memory, having learnt and felt many things which you can bring back to the real world.
   So just like the fictitious people from Middle-Earth who enter Tolkien's imaginary Lothlórien do come out changed, most earthly readers who finish his novel feel enriched in a way, though of course it varies from one person to the next. Some even only seem to experience little more than great boredom but the patient readers are well-rewarded. This is not like most 'commercial' art when often little or no effort is required of the receiver, when it is purely meant to entertain so it is a bit more difficult at first, but the readers come out with much more to feed their minds afterwards. Tolkien's work is extremely rich and varied, the language is quite poetic, both in its use of literary and made-up dreamlike words, as well as in their carefully arranged sonorities. The extensive descriptions are so meticulous and detailed that they bring vivid clear images to the mind of the amazing world of Middle-Earth.
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