Finished Lord of the Rings! At last!

An era has ended for me, for I have just finished the Lord of the Rings! That’s right, after about half a year of on/off reading, I have finally got to the end of those devilishly hard-to-read books.

Why did it take so long? I really don’t know. The truth is that the Lord of the Rings are excellent books, excellently written and following an excellent storyline. And when you consider to wealth of background detail which has gone into these stories, you’d be hard placed not to find someone who would not be amazed. However I think that the reason it took me so long to get through these books was that, despite being amazing, they took a lot of concentration to get into the words, to take in the story, which meant that I could only really read a few pages at a time. Another thing that added some 2 months to the process, was the fact that at the back of the last book is the Appendices. These are 100 pages of background information to the Lord of the Rings, half of which is good, a quarter is ok and the last quarter is incredibly boring.

Now, most of my thoughts were ‘How is this book the same or different to the films’. Well the answer varied. At some points Peter Jackson’s films followed the book to the word wheras at other points it differed intensly with scenes being dropped out or put in. Mostly this was for the better however there were a few occasions when it was not (see old posts).

I would defiantly recommend these books to anyone who loves reading, reading fantasy and reading fantasy for months on end.

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Flooding of Isengard

It seems a good way to continue reading Lord of the Rings with your sanity intact is to every now and again, put it down and try to forget about it. This I recently did and yesterday recommenced the story at what I must describe as ‘quite a cool part’.

It was the flooding of Isengard where I returned, a saga which spawned 2 chapters and recall the vents where Gandalf and his company return to Isengard to converse with the evil wizard Saruman, only to find him imprisoned in his tower with the area surrounding flooded by Ents.

I particularly enjoyed these two chapters. The events of the battle are told from the perspective of Merry and Pippin in the first of the two chapters; ‘Flotsam and Jetsam’. This certainly worked well for me as I felt that other battle sequences written from the 3rd person perspective seemed to focus too much on the very minor details rather than the whole picture of the battle (especially the Helms Deep scene). The second chapter; ‘The voice of Saruman’ is where we finally meet the so-much discussed White Wizard. Throughout the book, and indeed the Fellowship of the Ring, we have heard much about the character and exploits of this guy, made all the more mysterious by the fact that we have never seen him until this point. When you do meet you really feel how powerful he is and how is presence resonates and affects those around, even the reader. It is here that you realise that Gandalf, who seems mighty and has returned from the dead, is nothing compared to this guy.

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Of course my view was shaped slightly by the film. In Peter Jackson’s film trilogy the actual flooding bit was in the Two Towers movie however the encounter with Saruman was only available to those with the extended cut of the Return of the king.

The flooding bit was certainly excellent, a chance for Jackson to show off some of his CGI creations hurling rocks at a dam (much more epic than I make it sound). However the encounter with Saruman was a let-down after reading the book. Here Jackson thought it appropriate not to have Saruman to be standing on a first floor balcony but instead on top of a sixty floor building. And he’s not shouting and  his voice inst magnified, how the hell can they even hear each other? I remember when I first watched that thinking ‘I bet somebody is gonna’ fall off that tower’.

Oh I love being right. Jackson had moved Saruman’s death which takes place in the Shire in the book to this point and had Saruman falling of the building. Yep, I’m definitely with Tolkein on this one.

Saruman with the Stone of Orthanc

The Battle of Helmsdeep

McKayla2towersIt’s been an everlasting conundrum for me as I cannot seem to work out whether I prefer the book or film versions of the Lord of the Rings. The film is more concise and the action scenes are better (well of course, you can see them) however the book gives you all the background description to the ways and creatures of middle earth which I think is masked in the film version by the landscape shots.

However a specific scene I am certain about is the Battle of Helmsdeep. The film version is way better, no competition. All that really happened in the book was that Aragron, Legolas and Éomer ran around getting incredibly tried and always looking out of windows at the massive army but not doing much about it. During this Legolas seems to spend pages in deciding where to shoot his last arrow and Aragorn and Éomer get so tired they need to use their swords as leaning post instead of going somewhere and fighting with them.

The battle was very very modified into the film version and considering it’s the best bit of the film, I don’t think anyone can moan. The best thing about the film was that we got to see some tactics. The elven warriors (not in the book but who cares) firing a folly of arrows at the orcs, the Uruk-hai using ladders to scale the ramparts and the last warriors charging out the meet the remainder of the enemy. Gandalf’s role was also changed so that it was more clear that he was the pivotal pillar (oh that is very good) to the Rohans winning the battle.

Definitely the film version, definitely. DEFO!!!

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