A commentary on tackling Tolkien

I am only at waist-level in the waters of the magical prose of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and I’m enveloped, dripping in glorious, rich fantasy. I’ve built up to this enjoyment, training and enduring. I’ve been cutting my teeth on less intimidating texts, but still plowing through a healthy variety of reading this 2022, fiction, creative non-fiction and assorted anthologies included. Somehow, my initial penchant for JRPGs and other some such world-building videogames has manifested into a deeper appreciation for the written word – in and of itself, one of the paragons of my childhood entertainment. As much as I’ve been recently loving Haruki Murakami’s direct and conversational tone, phrases every so often landing a critical hit, or the meandering horror of H.P. Lovecraft’s prose, whose negative, miserable voice is human none the less, the high fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien is the crème de la crème of novel writing, for me. The Hobbit has influenced my life, aesthetic and philosophical sensibilities, and can be found as a forefather in the genealogy of my love for the fantasy genre, offshoots and all.

I’ve read “The Fellowship of the Ring” before, during a personal transitory stage (aged 13-14) of moving from the loud and sticky Quezon City, Philippines to the wintry suburban Toronto. I do not think I was of the mind to fully digest “Fellowship”; I barely remember the reading experience, besides finding Tolkien a hugely descriptive slog, a tortoise in the rabbit sprinting of MTV and my diet of 90’s anthropomorphic YA novels based on bats (Kenneth Oppel’s Sunwing), deer (David Clement DaviesFire Bringer) and spiders (Colin Wilson’s Spiderworld series). In my mind, I remember only the rollicking fields of the Shire, a plodding conversation with Tom Bombadil, and nothing else. I’m prepared to exercise maximum thoughtfulness to fully digest. The Lord of the Rings is the equivalent of fantasy comfort food for me, and this is a full-bodied meal I’ve not savoured for decades.

Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy is tightly wound into my family’s Christmas traditions, full-volumes karaoke and Noche Buena included. Of course, we consider the entire film as one movie, divided as if by the three major meals of the day (more, if we feeling particularly peckish and hobbit-ish). One may enjoy any of the three movies individually, but it is best to consume the feast one after the other, without any other movies choices in between, Netflix/Crave/Amazon Prime be damned. The goal is to find no pause between the books, instead submerging into Tolkien’s Middle Earth, a metaphysical vacationer from the realm of the existing. The Silmarillion waits on the horizon, while Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series and Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry wait even further out, ready for consumption.

Additional reading:

Thoughts on Re-reading The Lord of the Rings” by Audrey Driscoll, for Audrey Driscoll’s blog

“How To Read The Lord of the Rings In Order” by Adrienne Westenfeld, for Esquire

“A commentary on Final Fantasy XII’s Ashe” for Windhill Journal

One response to “A commentary on tackling Tolkien”

  1. […] to plow through this over 900-page epic is because Tolkien’s worldbuilding is bar none. I wouldn’t have felt so invested in Sam and Frodo’s journey had I not been with them sin…. Many complain that the Shire bits of Lord of the Rings can be meandering, but that’s the […]


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