At the beginning of each year, I usually dedicate my evening reading to one of my favorite series, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Right Now i am reading this adventure to my 5 year old. This though is usually preceeded by the Silmarillion which is followed by the Hobbit. I enjoy reading them in order. The whole process takes about 3 weeks, usually in the evening. Yet, the question, really one would ask is why?
I mean why would I choose to dedicate 3 weeks of my time to a mythological fight over a tiny ring and a bunch over dramatic elves?
Well, like everything I do, there is usually a reason and the main reason is remind me, why I write and draw fantasy.
I enjoy the works of Tolkien for many many reasons. It also gives me hope in my own works through his own journeys and how he was 50 when the Lord of the Rings was first published. So as I approach 40 I realize there is still plenty of time for me in getting the bean completed how I envision it.
The next thing is the depth of the story he created. Tolkien wanted to create a mythology of his homeland. He was a professor, who loved history, poetry and languages. He drew from his experiences and his love for mythology and crafted that into a tale, that is in my opinion one fantastic read.
He is the first true fantasy writer of elves, dwarves, goblins, wizards and fallen angels. His works have influenced thousands of writers, artists and film makers. Many other great series of books came about from their authors reading Tolkien as well a whole generation of gamers.
Yet to be honest it took a long time for me to actually enjoy the books. My parents had them when I was a teen and as I tried to read them, I found myself struggling to even get through the hobbit. So I put them down.
It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I found my appreciation for his works. I read the LOTR first. I was blown away, I did not realize how much I had missed. It was quite inspiring to see how much depth was in his books and his world. I found myself hungering for more.
Being a history nut, I found myself looking for more and more on what his world was about. I found it in the The Silmarillion. It made sense and helped me as I started to create my own world together.
Tolkiens work showed the importance of detail, cultural differences, legends, realistic settings and drawing on personal experiences.
His characters were enjoyable and I enjoyed the fact that many were noble, and though flawed still were able to overcome their difficulties. (something the movie felt it needed to take away).
He surprised us with the real hero of his tale, the humble sam, as well as the insanity of gollum, and the pride and vanity of Feanor, he was a real jerk. He set a standard that in my opinion has rarely been repeated.
The movies, are incredibly visual, yet I wish they had spent as much time developing the story as they had on creating the authenticity of the races and locations. I am so glad I found the books first before the movie.
I am not a nut. I rarely draw fan art, and I don’t feel a need to dress up. Yet I do draw on the creative influence he helps establish. I appreciate that. I pay homage to him and I am reminded that it is perfectly ok to take time to craft my story. I also understand not everyone gets it. That is ok, I am fine with that. He can be a difficult read, but when you finally get it… man… you will see the true gem hidden within his work.
So in a nutshell- that is why I read Tolkien once a year…. to stay inspired.