1.) When and how were you first introduced to Tolkien? What did you read first?
I read The Hobbit in sixth grade, after I’d seen The Fellowship of the Ring movie (which I admit to not fully understanding without the context of the book). And…I didn’t love The Hobbit at first. A friend had to persuade me to continue on to The Lord of the Rings by reassuring me they have very different writing styles and tones. I have since come to appreciate The Hobbit more, but it’s taken time and several readings.
2.) What attracts you to Tolkien’s writing?
So much about Tolkien’s work speaks to me and inspires me. His writing and his use of language are particularly unique; he has a knack of wording each sentence in a particularly effective way, and of creating sentences that truly sound as if they are from some faraway time.
I also enjoy Tolkien’s world building, his subcreation. I concur with the critic who said Tolkien’s books read not as if he invented Middle Earth, but as though it really exists and he simply discovered it.
3.) What would you say to those who haven’t read any of Tolkien’s books yet?
You don’t have to love fantasy to love Tolkien’s books. It helps, of course, but I think that the magic and the epic swordfights aren’t the real reason people love Tolkien’s works. They fall in love with the spirit of them, the philosophy. So, it’s worth giving them a try. And if f you don’t like one book, read another, because that’s how I became a Tolkien fan.
4.) What is your favorite Tolkien book? What makes it special?
When I invited readers to answer this survey, I was hoping at least one person would mention a book besides The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. However, I’m going to join the bandwagon and say my favorite Tolkien book is The Lord of the Rings, or, more specifically, The Return of the King. I love the language and the world building and the characters—so much that it’s difficult to explain in a short answer. I do have a review of The Return of the King coming up Monday, however, which I hope touches on its merits a little more.
5.) Can you share one of your favorite Tolkien quotes with us?
One of my favorite quotes is from the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in The Return of the King. It’s not one of Tolkien’s philosophical quotes (though I have lots of love for those, as well); it’s just part of the plot. However, I am always so moved by this little ray of unexpected hope and defiance in the darkest of times.
(Spoiler Warning for The Return of the King!)
“Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. ‘But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, If you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.’”
-Eowyn, speaking to the Witchking of Angmar