And Gimli Said

I’ve been re-reading The Lord of the Rings for a while now. I don’t get much time to read anymore, and I’m often too tired to read when I go to bed. But I’ve been making steady, if slow, progress, and have now reached the middle of the The Two Towers (the end of Book 3). I’ll write a long and ridiculously detailed post about my thoughts when I reach the end of the whole novel, but here are two things that I keep noticing.

The first thing is that The Lord of the Rings is such excellent literature. People talk so much about the setting and the constructed languages that they forget the sheer aesthetic beauty and literary depth of the novel. It’s not a great fantasy novel, it’s simply a great novel. I wish more readers would understand and appreciate this, including “fantasy readers” – so that maybe all these shitty hacks who can’t put two sentences together will stop selling a billion books on the basis of writing “fantasy.” (And yes, there are also contemporary novelists who write fantasy and are great – like Peter S. Beagle, or Patricia McKillip, or Steven Erikson.)

The second thing is that The Lord of the Rings is funny. By which I mean that there are many humorous passages and dialogues, and they are genuinely funny. Which just underscores the absurdity of the Peter Jackson films and their crass, immersion-breaking jokes. If you want Gimli to be funny, you don’t need to turn him into a clownish caricature; the character in the book has many funny things to say – without making any references to other movies or to anachronistic medical knowledge – and is loveable to boot. The same goes for Merry and Pippin, who are witty and charming and immensely likeable, instead of overly goofy and dumb. Or Legolas! Legolas isn’t just a series of stoic looks and CGI stunts; he is often quite funny, and his conversations with Gimli are beautiful, because they really are friends (and not just caricatures of the Other Races). Jackson and his screenwriters had all that and more to choose from, and instead they gave us dwarf-tossing jokes.

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9 Comments

  1. I may have to try picking up the books again. Read what I did (I think only the first “Book”, and a bit into the second) in late middle school or early high school, and found it hard reading. IIRC, it rambled on and on, getting tangential while on the trail. But I may be remembering it wrong, or may be able to get past how it reads and perceive what’s it’s talking about.

    All I really know is that, dammit, I LIKE Tom Bombadil. That, and I was able to read The Hobbit easily enough (got to liking Gollum right before it was obvious to do so).

  2. I used to think Tom Bombadil was dreadful and embarrassing. Upon re-reading the book, I didn’t think so at all.

  3. Tom Bombadil ftw.

  4. Ah, yes, but but what is Tom Bombadil? http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html

  5. Indeed he is…

  6. I probably should try reading this again. I read this when I was in high school and found it ridiculously difficult to concentrate on.

    why doesnt gandalf just fly there with the eagles though? It has to be asked.

    Also, cant remember what happens in the book, but in the film when the gigantic horde flees cause sauron dies….you do not flee when you outnumber a surrounded enemy 5billion to one…..

    I preferred the hobbit as a child…probably makes sense seeing as its a childrens book n all

  7. “why doesn’t Gandalf just fly there with the eagles though? It has to be asked.”

    Well the fellowship of the ring did had to remain incognito, and the eagles even with Gandalf backing them up could not of withstood the ring wraiths.

    “Also, cant remember what happens in the book, but in the film when the gigantic horde flees cause sauron dies….you do not flee when you outnumber a surrounded enemy 5billion to one…..”

    Well in the movie the earth split in twain and all or mordor and the mordinians were destroyed.
    But assuming this did not happen I think sauron was supposed to be using magic as well as fear to control him minions so with him gone they are not really allied any more and numbers are not everything, it is all about skill, control, and moral (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Watling_Street).

  8. why doesnt gandalf just fly there with the eagles though? It has to be asked.

    Apart from the fact that the flying Nazgûl would stop the eagles, Gandalf is powerful enough to personally beat down the Black Gate – but that is not why he has been sent to Middle Earth.

    Also remember that Gandalf is afraid of taking the Ring – for good reason.

    Also, cant remember what happens in the book, but in the film when the gigantic horde flees cause sauron dies….you do not flee when you outnumber a surrounded enemy 5billion to one…..

    That would be because the movie is an absurdity and that scene is generally more absurd than most.