This time last year, I was busy declaring my undying love for a certain movie trilogy. And now it seems I've come full circle. In a way, it only feels natural to talk about both versions of the Lord of the Rings in this order, since I saw the movies well before reading the book. But my first journey to Middle-earth was actually through a 1990 computer game. This one to be precise:
It's amazing to think that this game was once heralded as having state-of-the-art graphics. What I remember most fondly about it though was that it featured clips from the 1978 animated film, and I think that was what ignited my current love for the Lord of the Rings. The video I posted does a pretty decent job of laying down the foundation of the book's plot, so I think I can go straight to the facts and my thoughts.
The Lord of the Rings is often regarded as the definitive fantasy novel by fans of the genre. It was first published between 1954 and 1955 (in three separate volumes, even though it was written and intended to be read as one king-sized novel). Since then, it has gone on to sell more than 150 million copies, making it the second best-selling novel of all time (bested only by the Charles Dickens classic, A Tale of Two Cities).
I didn't start reading the book until fours years after the last of Peter Jackson's movie adaptations was released in 2003. And it took me another four years just to get to the end of it. Why? I don't know exactly. Maybe it was the fact that I already knew how everything would turn out. Or perhaps the long-winded passages describing every mountain, river and valley down to the last detail. But considering the fact that the book took twelve years to write, I'd say I didn't do too bad.
It was only after going back to read the book could I fully appreciate the amount of work Peter Jackson put into the movies. He took something that was already epic in its own right, then somehow managed to make it even more so. Most of that came at a price though, since he had to cut out a lot of the source material in order to make the narrative in the movies tighter.
The most memorable omissions were some of the few laugh-out-loud moments to be found in the book. Like the conversation between Gandalf and Saruman after the destruction of Isengard. And the playful banter between Gimli and Faramir about the fairness of the Lady of the Wood. It was these little things that made going back to read the book worthwhile in my opinion.