I Think

Lord of the Rings

Reading Lord of the Rings was like drinking filter coffee, it has rich flavour, i was caught in two minds, unsure whether to gulp it down fast or to take it in slowly savouring it sip by sip, finally when i was done, it left me with that great feeling, you know, the lip-smacking, obscenely-burping, contented-yet-wanting-a-bit-more feeling. Finished the book a week back and since then every walk to the newspaper shop has been a worthy quest, every ride to work – a battle on the pelennor fields, beautiful girls are fair and elvish, biscuits are elven bread, i have even named my 60cc tvs xl super as shadowfax, the swiftest of coursers to roam the streets of middle-chennai. Ok ok, i need to grow up. One of the things the novel does best is to open the doors of imagination in our heads and let us revel in the vicarious pleasures of a fantastic world.

I wish I hadnt seen the movie first. Apart from getting the facts wrong, missing out some of my favourite characters and casting most incorrectly as either weak, stupid or pathetic, the movie paints an incomplete picture and in my opinion regiments imagination. I know i am comparing apples and oranges, but whoever said that 'a picture is worth a thousand words' did likewise, the adage should have the addendum '… but of course there are obvious exceptions' with LOTR being one of them.

The novel also helped me solve the mystery about the identity of the lady in the song 'Stairway to heaven'. The song goes something like
…. and as we wind on down the road,
     our shadows taller than our souls,
     there walks a lady we all know,
     who sheds white light and wants to show,
     how everything still turns to gold…

That is Frodo and the fellowship leaving the forest of Lothlorein with heavy hearts, the forest where autumn turns the leaves to gold, and the lady who sheds the light is none other than the fair lady of Lorein, Galadriel. (Google confirms this, turns out Led Zeppelin were 'high' on LOTR, a number of their songs mention gollum, the misty mountains, wringwraiths etc.)

The biggest flaw in the book has to be the unreasonable dichotomy of good and evil. The protagonists of good and evil are rigidly good and bad respectively, one can spot who is which a mile away. Of all the characters only Boromir undergoes a mental conflict under the lure of the ring. One can make a case for MPD-infected-gollum, but it is easy to guess which side he is on. The book also suffers from lack of perspective and provides only one side of the story. There is an almost circular argument for the evilness of Sauron. Now why is he evil? He wants to rule over all middle earth. Why does he want to do that? Because he is evil. That sounds a bit like religion. Despite all these, reading the book was hell a lot of fun, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy/sci-fi, there are few books better than LOTR in that genre.

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