With libraries and bookshops closed I decided to reread The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I first read them in my early teens and perhaps more than once since, however I had watched the films more recently. With no rush to return books to the library I read more slowly than usual and took time to digest a chapter or two.
Apart from many details of the stories I had forgotten the wonderful descriptions and the (deliberately) old-fashioned style of writing. I hadn’t previously noticed some of the hidden depths to the writing with echoes of phrases and concepts from the Bible. JRR Tolkien (which I struggle to remember is pronounced Tolkeen) was a Christian and a member of The Inklings along with CS Lewis.
The maps included in each volume are works of art helpful in understanding the journeys made by the characters*. The original maps for the Lord of the Rings were created by his son, Christopher Tolkien , according to Wikipedia. The appendices in The Return of the King are extremely detailed with the background to the stories – history, family trees, alphabets, calendars, a timeline of the story and more. Even so there is a publisher’s note in my copy apologising that it hadn’t been possible to publish and index of names promised in the Fellowship of the Ring!
There is a downside to reading really good literature: a free book I downloaded to my Kindle app couldn’t compete with these amazing books and will not be reviewed here!
*In case any readers are not familiar with these books, they are works of fantasy. The characters include creatures from mythology such as elves and dwarves and a species invented by the author – hobbits. A touch of humour is that in the folklore of some, hobbits were missing.