Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

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Mira
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Mira » May 24th, 2010, 2:31 pm

Oh, I'm so glad you're liking them. :)

Yes, this may be heresy, but Tolkein came first, and others improved on some of what he did, especially writing style. I think that's why many nowadays have trouble going back to him.

But the scope of the story is amazing. The world-building alone is awesome. And, I may be wrong, but I believe that was first epic quest where the hero was an everyday person, who just wanted to stay home and be happy and comfortable.

But you're not done yet. I'll look forward to what you think at the end. :)

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Pete » May 25th, 2010, 12:57 am

That's kind of like saying other poets came after Milton but they improved on his writing style. Uh, no.
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Mira
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Mira » May 25th, 2010, 2:38 am

Well, I said it was heresy! They are the books closest to my heart, and I love Tolkein - in all of his wonderfulness. But I'm sorry. You really do not need to take five chapters just to describe a tree.

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by knight_tour » May 25th, 2010, 3:23 am

Don't even attempt the Silmarillion then! I love it, but it goes way overboard with the multiple of naming of each and every thing.

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Nathan Bransford » May 25th, 2010, 4:49 pm

Hoooooooooooooooooooly cow the part where Frodo/Sam/Gollum trudge to Mount Doom is unbelievably amazing. One of the greatest stretches I've ever read in any book ever.

I don't know if you've heard, but this Tolkien guy is pretty good.

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Mira » May 25th, 2010, 5:04 pm

Oh yes, the books are incredible.

Wait. You're getting to one of the very best parts of the book - Mount Doom and the end.

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Nathan Bransford » May 25th, 2010, 10:29 pm

I have made it to Mordor and back to the Shire. Now I'm on to the Havens of other books. What an incredible experience, so glad I read them.

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » May 25th, 2010, 11:40 pm

I'm curious what you think of the double ending (the Mordor ending and denouement and then the Shire ending and denouement)...
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Nathan Bransford » May 26th, 2010, 1:34 pm

Ink wrote:I'm curious what you think of the double ending (the Mordor ending and denouement and then the Shire ending and denouement)...
It kind of worked for me, actually. I feel like for a series as long and epic as LOTR, it almost wasn't enough for it to just fade away quickly after Mordor, and so it was kind of like a staged exit. And I like how it demonstrated how much the hobbits had changed and grown over the course of the books and how they'd turned into warriors. It kind of seemed like Saruman might have had bigger fish to fry than messing with hobbits, but ultimately I thought it worked. What about you?

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » May 26th, 2010, 1:45 pm

I like it for thematic reasons. And I think it's one of the things that so many of the copycats missed. Tolkien had a Dark Lord, embodiment of evil, sort of villain, which set up the whole Good vs. Evil conflict. All the copycats grabbed this and ran with it. But they all seemed to miss the second half of what Tolkien did, and that was to explore the human nature of evil, too. I mean, the One Ring, really, is all about sin and its seductiveness. Do you take up the Ring for yourself or destroy it? And no one is perfect. Frodo is not some embodiment of goodness, and in the end he actually fails. The Ring falls because of Gollum (luck, fate, the will of God/the Valar). And so I think, in a sense, the toppling of Sauron ends the capital "G" Good versus the capital "E" Evil conflict, and the return to the Shire suggests the ongoing good versus evil conflict which we can never escape, not even in glorious little Hobbiton.

It's why, I think, so many of the stories that followed after Tolkien's lacked the same depth and resonance.
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by treeoflife » May 26th, 2010, 1:53 pm

Agreed 100%. After Mordor, I wasn't ready to leave Middle Earth... The Shire part was like hitting the snooze button and being able to briefly go back to a great dream, as opposed to being jolted awake out of it. And yes, it fit perfectly with how the Hobbits grew as characters.

I know some people think that others have taken the style of Tolkien and improved on it. Not in my opinion... I read lots of fantasy, and some is maybe as good, but certainly none of it is better.

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by knight_tour » May 27th, 2010, 1:10 pm

That's a great analysis, INK. Personally I found that the unnatural restrictions on first-time writers were a killer. If I could have allowed the story to unfold naturally I would have certainly done more to humanize the evil in my invented world. I really had ideas of how to do that and wanted to so badly. However, just doing the story without that took 130,000 words (and I am very spare with my descriptions); that word count is the upper limit of what is allowed to us first-timers. If I had done my story as I wanted it would have been around 150,000 words, and it would have been right.

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Mira » May 27th, 2010, 1:22 pm

I've decided I misrepresented myself, and would like to clarify.

I think Tolkein could have used more editing. But the world he created, the charaters he developed, the history, the relationships, the themes in his book - From the Shire to Tom Bombadil to Rivendell to Moria to Lothlorien to the world of men - Tolkein created a vast, detailed and powerful fantasy world that's magnificent.

Okay.....because the last thing I want to do is argue for Tolkein's failings (???), when I treasure his books.

Ink - I really liked your analysis. I was thinking about the twist on Mt. Doom, and I was thinking that Tolkein is rather spiritual at the heart of it. Evil is loud and destructive, but Good is very quiet in his books.

You don't see people doing many 'good' things. Good tends to be represented by beauty - in the elves - and peaceful prosperity - in the hobbits - and honor and nobility in men. But it's the simple acts of kindness and mercy shown toward Gollum - who represents the internal struggle between good and evil - that ultimately save the world.

Frodo's story is one of humanity and Gollum's story is one of redemption.

I've never analyzed the stories before. It's fun. :)

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » May 27th, 2010, 2:09 pm

Mira, I agree, though I wouldn't exactly call Gollum's a story of redemption. He fails in the end, too. But, yes, rising above those failures, in a sense, is Frodo's act of mercy, an act of empathy and understanding. And good is often resistance, perseverence, in the face of evil and despair. Goodness is a matter of faith and hope. And yes, Tolkien was a devout Catholic, and that certainly shows through in his work. I mean, his work is basically wedding mythology to christian ideology. Iluvatar/God, Valar/Archangels, lesser Ainur/angels, Morgoth/Satan, Sauron/fallen angel. He said that he wanted to create a real mythology for England, and yet he certainly wedded it to his own beliefs.
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Mira
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Mira » May 27th, 2010, 2:29 pm

Ink - yes! I was thinking how Tolkein's mythology was so close to Christianity. I didn't realize he was a devout Catholic. Makes complete sense.

I completely agree as well that Tolkein represents good through perseverance in the face of hopelessness and despair. That is well-said and insightful - thanks.

The reason I see Gollum's story as one of redemption is - well two things. First, his internal struggle is what allowed the world to be saved. It's not just Frodo's mercy that saved the world, it was Gollum's love and mercy for Frodo. He could have killed Frodo and taken the ring at many points, and he didn't - partly from fear - but also from love and gratitude. The fate of the world always depended on Gollum as much as on Frodo. Without Gollum, they would not have made it into Mordor. Even his act of evil - Shelob - turned out to be the only real way in. So, you see the hand of Goodness working through Gollum, but it's his freedom of choice - he did not kill Frodo in Shelob's lair - upon which the fate of the world turned.

The other reason I see it as a story of redemption is because Gollum's choices redeemed him. Frodo saved the world, even though he broke at the end, he still gets credit. :) Same with Gollum, who was very much driven by love - love of Frodo vs. love of the ring. It's telling that he only took Frodo's finger - not his life - even though he felt continually betrayed by him.

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