Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #12: Why The Lord Of The Rings Is ‘My Precious…’

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: my love for The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

When I was ten years old, I picked up this huge fantasy book that I’d never read before. I was (and still am… obviously) an avid devourer of fantasy fiction, and here was one I hadn’t yet read! It was written by the same author who wrote The Hobbit – I’d read that a few years before and loved it. I’d also heard there was a film version of it coming out next year, and it’s always more fun to read the book first. That book was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and it changed my life.

It wasn’t long before I’d finished all three books, and I was obsessed. It didn’t really help that the films were coming out soon, which meant there was merchandise EVERYWHERE. I bought countless movie guides, guides to Tolkien, books about Tolkien himself, art books, the video games, posters, trading cards, figures… I even had one of those huge cardboard promotional cutouts. Seriously. My local video shop sold off cutouts and posters so I ended up coming home with a Two Towers one, which took up the majority of my tiny bedroom at the time. Totally worth it. I did tons of fanart (a lot of which I still have), I learnt to write ‘like a hobbit’, I tried (and failed) to learn Sindarin, I ran several different Lord of the Rings websites and fanlistings. I didn’t hide my love for it either, everyone at school knew my obsession. Sometimes I felt that it alienated me from others and that they looked down on me for being so passionate, but eh.

Pretty much how I felt when being judged by my peers. (image source)

It’s difficult to give a toss about how people perceive you for liking something, when that something is so important to you. Reading, particularly the fantasy genre, has always been a HUGE part of my life. From a young age I was encouraged to read: to my parents, by myself, before bed, whenever I could. The Lord of the Rings only made me delve deeper into the fantasy genre, and I have so much to thank it for.

I know it doesn’t appeal to everyone. Tolkien’s language is old-fashioned, but that’s what I LOVE about it. I love the archaic words, the feeling that somehow this could have been our past in an alternate universe, the hobbits and their country bumpkin lifestyle – it sounds pretty idyllic. It’s a tale with unlikely heroes: within the Fellowship we’ve got an heir to the throne of Gondor, the Gondorian Steward’s son, an Elven prince, an Istari (or wizard), a Dwarven warrior (who is of the royal line, however distant) – and four hobbits. Two of which prove to be the strongest of them all, and we can’t forget what Merry and Pippin went through either.

Growing up is tough, guys. (image source)

Tolkien turned the traditional ‘epic quest’ tale on its head when he made his bumbling country folk – who’d normally rather spend the day fishing or farming, followed by an evening with a mug of ale – the true heroes. Despite the fact that Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mount Doom will most likely kill them and their chances of ever seeing the Shire again are slim, they carry on. That very thought of their beautiful home pushes them through. The message is clear: it’s not who you are that matters, it’s what you do. You don’t need to be the long lost heir to the throne, a rich prince or a grizzled warrior to have an impact. It’s essentially, when stripped to the bare bones, a story of good overcoming evil and how even the littlest person can change the future. To me, it also speaks of overcoming prejudices: it’s well known that elves and dwarves do not get along. But Legolas and Gimli end up forging a strong friendship, although they were distrusting of each other at first. There’s so much more within the books than a tale of nine people going on a long and arduous journey.

But you know what impresses me even more than the positive message Tolkien sends out through The Lord of the Rings? His sheer and utter dedication to thoroughly creating the world of Middle-earth. He invented entire languages, and not just the words and sentences he used in the books, but an entire new vocabulary and syntax. A whole history of Middle-earth was written, cultures and peoples that the reader barely catches a glimpse or even mention of were created. Inspired by myths and legends of other cultures, Tolkien sculpted this beautiful world that feels so real to me. I’m pretty heartbroken that I can’t just move to Middle-earth, to be honest.

To round it all up, The Lord of the Rings is a series that breaks my heart – in the very best way – yet simultaneously every time I read the books I feel like I’m at home. There just isn’t another like it.

(image source)

If you didn’t see it last month, I was also interviewed at Pages Unbound as part of Tolkien Week.

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #8: Fancy A Holiday?

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: fantasy holiday destinations.

No, not places that you’d love to go on holiday to, but fantasy locations and what they would be like if you visited them. I’m not sure some of them are perfect holiday material, however… I’ve just picked a couple this time, as this Fantasy Friday may reoccur more than once. So take a look at this brochure, and pick your destination!

Middle-earth, from the works of Tolkien

middleearth

  • Climate: ranging from temperate to very, very hot and lava filled, depending on where you choose to go. The northern lands of Forochel and its ice-bays are perhaps some of the coldest parts of Middle-earth. For more information on Middle-earth weather, please watch this video (thanks to Ana for the link!).
  • People: You’ll find the hobbits of the Shire to be very accommodating and fond of a party, whereas the elves of places such as Lothlorien may be a little more… hostile. Dwarves may be a little distrusting of slightly taller tourists, but can definitely hold their drink and show you a good inn or two.
  • Language: the common tongue (Westron), Sindarin, Quenya, Khuzdul, Entish, Black Speech and many more.
  • Notable landmarks/places to visit: The gorgeous little town of Hobbiton in the Shire is sure to give a friendly welcome, if you’re lucky you might catch some fireworks shows! The Golden Wood or Lothlorien is certainly a sight to see, but difficult to enter. You might be better off visiting Rivendell, which is known as the Last Homely House and is much more open to visitors. Those into horseriding may want to give Edoras a visit. And if you’re a bit of a thrill-seeker, why not go whitewater rafting down the Falls of Rauros, or visit Mount Doom?

Hogsmeade, from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

hogsmeade

  • Climate: temperate, but it never fails to snow each winter!
  • People: no Muggles allowed. If you’re a Muggle, then – OBLIVIATE! Good, that’s all the Muggles gone. Hogsmeade is the only all-wizarding village in all of Great Britain.
  • Language: mostly English.
  • Notable landmarks/places to visit: the village of Hogsmeade is located right next to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a beautiful example of wizarding architecture: very confusing. Staircases never lead to the same place, rooms appear and disappear, and watch out for that Disappearing Cabinet! Within the village itself, there is Honeydukes, the infamous sweet shop; the Three Broomsticks, owned by the very lovely Madame Rosmerta; Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop, a cosy get-away for adoring couples and many other wonderful places. There are even rumours of a branch of Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes opening up soon!

Westeros, from the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

westeros

  • Climate: variable, from the boiling hot desertlands of Dorne to the freezing North, and everything in between.
  • People: Westeros has many noble families with very delicate alliances, as well as lesser nobility. Much of the population is not quite as fortunate. And if you dare venture beyond the Wall, there are the terrifying Wildlings!
  • Language: Low Valyrian (common tongue), Asshai, Summer Tongue, very occasionally High Valyrian.
  • Notable landmarks/places to visit: King’s Landing is the capital of the Seven Kingdoms, and the Red Keep within is certainly a sight to see. For those unafraid of heights or after an adrenaline rush, the Eyrie is highly recommended. Far to the North lies Winterfell, home to the Stark family, and if you travel even further north you will come across the Wall, a formidable defense between the Seven Kingdoms and the Wildlings. And if you cross the Narrow Sea and leave the land of Westeros, you will come to Essos, home to the Dothroki horselords and many great and beautiful cities. And perhaps a few dragons.

Do you fancy visiting any of these places? Where would your ‘fantasy holiday’ take you?