March 12, 2002
Open your eyes, folks.
have a love affair with Tolkien. People I admire and respect, not just
bozos either, people who know good books and good writing and who say
Tolkien works are the be-all and end-all of fantasy. Open your eyes.
might have been true when his works were first published. Tolkien
deserves all the credit for putting fantasy on the map, for legitimizing
the epic quest subgenre. But today, his books fall short when compared
to contemporary works in the field.
I think the reason for all the
love is that people read The Lord of the Rings when they were young, and
therefore look back at Tolkien with longing and nostalgia of better
days. I read The Fellowship of the Ring when I was twenty-three, and
The Two Towers when I was twenty-five, after having received a BA in
English and beginning an MFA in Creative Writing. I can't, in good
concious, say that any of his works match up with the powerful stories
of George R. R. Marting and Terry Goodkind.
Let's look at this book
specifically. The one thing I liked were the Ents. Aside from that,
the structure of the book is all whacked. The first half is spent
entirely with Aragorn and his crew. Frodo doesn't even make it on stage
until close to the last third of the book. Is this considered good,
when your main character is not even present for the majority of the
book? The effect of Tolkiens structure is disorienting. Once getting
to a certain point in time with one group of characters, he moves to the
next group and recounts what happened to them through the same period
of time. Why not intersperse their chapters and weave the events
Once we finally do get to Frodo, the same problem persists
as did in Fellowship: Frodo can't really do anything. He takes one
significant action, and that's to spare Gollum and bring the little runt
with him and Sam. Sam does more than Frodo, saving him from a huge
spider-demon. That was a great scene, by the way, but scenes like that
are few and far between in this and the previous book.
To sum up,
after reading Fellowship, I swore off all Tolkien's books, but the movie
got me excited again. I thought, well, maybe I was wrong, let's give
it another shot. I did, and struggle mightily to finish this book. The
only thing that will get me to read the final book is if the second
movie rocks. Now, I know many of you will consider this review
blasphemy, so go ahead and bash me. But before you do, pick up the book
again, and read it with open eyes.