Adventures often begin inauspiciously. Robinson Crusoe was on his way to make a bunch of money when he was shipwrecked and abandoned; Lemuel Gulliver was traveling when he wound up on the shores of Lilliput; and Frodo Baggins was enjoying his coming-of-age birthday party when he was dragged into the War of the Ring as Sauron sought the Ring he'd lost.
Tolkien's love of rural England pervades his masterwork. We tend to remember the adventurous parts, but even when Frodo and Sam are stranded on the side of Mount Doom it's gardens and rivers and the Shire that Sam remembers, not swords and fire and goblins. The earthy origins of Frodo's adventures actually set, rather than belie, the tone of these novels.
The Lord of the Rings movies give the impression that these are just action-packed fantasy tales. Those elements are present, but Tolkien never glorifies war, and he never loses sight of the fact that we experience hardship, not because there's inherent value in it, but in order to preserve and value the quiet country life.
These are excellent adventure stories, of course. Attacks from the Black Riders, the Battle of Helm's Deep, and Frodo and Sam's journey inside Mordor are pure literary adrenaline. And, far from being a tacked-on sequence of small importance, the Scouring of the Shire is both glorious and sad, the perfect ending to a story about the love and preservation of good things.
Readers often ignore or miss entirely the Christian elements of the story. But given the fact that Tolkien was responsible for first bringing critical attention to Beowulf, particularly its Christian elements, and the fact that his essay On Fairy Stories was a defense of the Christian imagination, it seems necessary to recognize the Christian symbolism in The Lord of the Rings.
It's not too much to say that everyone should read these books. Whether you're looking for a rousing fantasy adventure, an homage to courage and nobility, or simply a very good book, The Lord of the Rings is appropriate. The fight of good against evil has nowhere been so well portrayed, and the reason we fight for goodness has never been so lovingly demonstrated.
This hardbound boxed set includes:
- Fellowship of the Ring
- Two Towers
- Return of the King
- 20% discount
The discount on this item cannot be combined with other discounts or specials.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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