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For Readers: Talk About Tolkien

Tolkien

FOR WRITERS

Today’s writer topic comes from QSFer Kari Trenten:

Kari says: “Also, I’d love to have conversations about specific authors, whether it’s Plato or J.R.R. Tolkien, their particular works.”

Sounds like a great idea to me. Let’s kick it off with a look at J.R.R. Tolkien. How did he achieve such in-depth worldbuilding? What are your favorite works of his? Do you like his work? Hate it? Why? Why did he have three initials?

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3 thoughts on “For Readers: Talk About Tolkien”

  1. I was introduced to The Hobbit as an older kid and I become a LotR superfan soon after! For me, LotR really resonated with me because the main character- all hobbits really- captures the essence of the ‘everyman’. So many of the struggles I could relate to, not in a literal sense obviously, but in emotion. And I adored Eowyn and never felt left out as a woman reader because of her.
    As for Tolkien’s strengths in worldbuilding… Well, first he was a linguist, which fives a pretty deep knowledge of culture building, and he developed Middle Earth around the language almost more than anything else (not an approach many of us can do! haha.) And of course he was versed in the classics, a great appreciator of Norse epics and mythology. And good myth building greatly helps in worldbuilding, I believe. The original Star Wars trilogy was built around myth and archtypes, and it’s definitely one of it’s best aspects.
    Anyhow, that’s my two cents! Looking forward to reading other people’s takes on it!

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  2. Tolkien was my first adult fantasy read. I’ve got an especial soft spot for the first half of ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. The Shire, Frodo’s interaction with Sam, Pippin, and Merry, the visit to the Old Forest, Bree, and the dark turn things take when the Lord of the Ringwraiths nearly claims Frodo with his deadly knife blow…it all took my breath away. My husband and I used the ‘All that’s not gold does not glitter’ speech in our marriage ceremony. Plus, our matching wedding rings are the One Ring. :)

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  3. I read the Hobbit and LOTR in high school (confession: not yesterday…) and was captivated and enamored. I’d read plenty of science fiction, but at the time fantasy wasn’t much on my (or anyone’s) radar.
    One thing that I find interesting is that there is little or no romance in the Hobbit and LOTR; I’m sure others have written about this extensively. LOTR has couples, from Sam and Rosie to Faramir and Eowen to Aragorn and Arwen, but their love stories are barely mentioned. And Gandalf, Bilbo and Frodo are single throughout. Perhaps that is firmly in the tradition of the Quest, where the hero(es) are alone, perhaps with the mention of a love interest at home.
    As for three initials – Tolkien had two middle names (Brit tradition, a way of honoring multiple ancestors) His full name was John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. No wonder he used his initials for his pen name, although I’m thinking I might find room for a Reuel in a story sometime.

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