The Lord of the Rings isn’t actually a trilogy—it was written
as one continuous book. That’s why the books just start and stop with no
preparation or wrap-up, and that’s why the page numbering continues from
The Fellowship of the Ring to The Two Towers to The Return
of the King. It’s also why it’s nearly impossible to review just
one of the parts. So I didn’t try.
Ah, how to drag the plot of this thousand-page classic set in another world
down into a couple of paragraphs, when the producers of the movies were barely
able to squish it into 10 hours or so worth of movies? Well, here goes….
Sauron, the Dark Lord, is regaining his power, which he had lost years and years
before. At that time a Ring he had put his power into had
been taken from him.
This ring ruled other rings he’d given to men, elves, and dwarves, which
gave them powers, but corrupted most of them and bent them to evil, even if
their intentions were good.
The Ring that ruled the others lay dormant for years and years, until Bilbo
Baggins, a hobbit, found it (as told in The Hobbit, the prelude story:
read my review). The Lord of the Rings tells how Sauron finds out
that the Ring was found and tries to get it back. It also tells how Frodo, Bilbo’s heir, journeys a long
hard path, seeking to destroy it before the Dark Lord can get it back. The story
also tells about his companions on the journey and their fight against Sauron
and his forces—men, dwarves, elves, wizards, and other hobbits, among others.
This is indeed a marvelous book, and worth all the hype, though it can catch
you a bit breathless at times when cultural and linguistic complexities mix
with a fast-moving plot. (The movies, incidentally, make the plot even more
fast-moving than the book does—the book is definitely slower with more
quiet, happy moments in spite of the dark times.) It’s hard to learn about
a whole new race and their history, for instance, in the middle of a battle
(and sometimes you’re required to do just that).
But this book is well worth a few confusing moments—and worth reading
again to catch the other layers you missed. Just don’t try to read only
one of the books and then wait before reading the rest—it can be hard to
pick up again where you left off, so it’s best to read all the way through.
The movies, too, make more sense if you’ve read the whole thing first.
Interested in the movies? Read Brian's review of the first one:The Fellowship of the Ring.