An Epic is a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the past history of a nation.
The book Lord of the Rings is an EPIC by JRR Tolkein, it was first published in 1954. The Lord of the Rings is a book I have treasured. I have gone back to it many times and read parts of it. The book creates a magical ‘other’ world. It is a fantasy world that touches you and transports you there. It consists of three separate books , The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. After reading it for the first time, I found it to be a tale of friendship, love and heroism. Over the years I have come to realize that this book became the benchmark for all fantasy fiction/ film to come. Tolkien’s descriptive narrative beautifully depicts Middle-earth and the journey that the Fellowship undertakes will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
I believe this is the best fantasy book of all time. This is the gospel of the genre of Fantasy Fiction. I know Harry Potter fans will jump up against this claim. But know this that the influence of The Lord of the Rings is so universal that everybody from George Lucas to Led Zeppelin has appropriated it for one purpose or another. Not just revolutionary because it was groundbreaking, The Lord of the Rings is timeless. I was introduced to Tolkien before I read his epic, through his work as a distinguished linguist and Oxford scholar of dead languages. Perhaps that is why his epic has a new language in it including a script for it.
During my reading of the epic, I found a couple of themes which were recurring in the 3 parts. The theme of Power which corrupts and becomes and addiction, the one of Fate and triumph of free will , the theme of loss and farewell and of course, courage in the face of insurmountable odds. These make this story so universal and timeless and therefore a classic. In fact, I think the reason LOTR is such a huge influence on contemporary fantasy fiction and popular culture is because of these themes which are timeless and they touch the reader.
The book went onto being adapted into a major motion picture having three parts and it was a feast for the eyes. This is one adaptation where I can say I have not been disappointed with the outcome. I have re watched the entire series many times. There have been occasions when after watching one part I have gone back to reading the book simply because a tiny details which had escaped me in my several viewing had caught my eye. I have often been asked whether reading the book is important in order to understand the movies better. My view on this has been that LOTR the movies is complete in itself and does justice to bring the ‘story’ that Tolkein had written. But, if you want to discover more about this fantasy world that the author had created, reading the book will always leave you in awe of the epic task he had undertaken to bring forth the story.
While talking about LOTR many would bring up the comparison with George R R Martin, another visionary whose epic Game of Thrones has caught on with popular culture. But it is too soon to say whether Martin’s GOT goes onto become what LOTR is, a classic. LOTR has survived more than 60 years and generations have read it finding a fantasy land in it yet finding strains of human struggles and turmoil tugging at their heart while they were invested in the characters of the book. Whether GOT goes on to survive the fanfare partly because it’s TV version is more popular than the book and the fact that Martin has yet to publish his next book ( already delayed), makes me wonder whether this will survive and go on to become a classic. But the comparison aside, I would re-read LOTR any day of the week over any of the GOT books same goes for watching the movie over the TV series.
Sources: Wikipedia, Google ( Image).