Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien

How do you review the most important fantasy trilogy of all-time, particularly the scene-setting second book?  Easily – Tolkien’s not for me.

Cover image courtesy:
I was advised by my parents, whose reading preferences often mirror my own, that I shouldn’t bother with the first two books of the Lord of the Rings and read only the praecy at the start of the third book, Return of the King.  However, after being given the trilogy as a gift by my wife, I felt I had worked up enough interest to attempt the second book (having read the first in April 2010).   

I should have listened to Mum and Dad.

Tolkien’s skills are with words and creating realistic fantasy worlds.  In theory, this should present as a well-realised work of literature but there’s just too much crap surrounding the story to make this an interesting read for me.  I don’t care much about the poetry, the ever-repeated histories of Middle Earth’s races and finally, I don’t care at all about most of the characters or their plight.

This is almost certain to be a firestarter, due to the renown of both Tolkien and his works; but I don’t care.  The Lord of the Rings has been described as the best, most groundbreaking, archetypal fantasy series of all time – leading the potential reader to expect more than just words thrown willy-nilly at the page and a believable society.  Personally, I’d like some plot.

In any work of fiction – and indeed real life – the most important aspect to creating an enjoyable diversion is pacing.  And this is where the books have severely let me down.  I haven’t seen the movies, not wanting to waste ten hours of my life watching what I perceived from publicity/previews as a slow-moving, self-aggrandizing attempt-an-epic.  After ploughing through two of the books, I’d be quite happy to watch the trilogy to get back the hours I spent reading The Two Towers.

Probably worthwhile to have read it, but it just doesn’t feel like it.  Marbles.

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