The Third and Final novel in the Trio, and it all comes to a head! The preceeding novels, and indeed much of Tolkien's own works, culminate in This Book.
It, litterally, all comes down to this! And the ensuing novel is like watching a huge arrangement of dominoes slowly fall all over middle earth. Even to be seen time and again from different angles, and through different eyes.
If I had a favorite, this would have to be it.
Not only do both, and All the storylines begin to get into the really meaty parts; travel after travel is brought toward its end and things that are 'to be done' become things that are 'now over'...
Aside from the more interesting material events, Tolkien also seems to have better woven this last book, having far more effective and clear connections made between the multiple stories, and managing to repeat events and timelines without seeming to repeat himself. Large sections of story left untold from the film interpretation are covered, and All the loose ends ultimately get tied up.
The book ends, then, and the enormous addative materials begin.
I found the first reading of this sort of in depth material to be a bit daunting and overwhelming, but found it enlightening and revealing on my second read.
Whereas the council held in the first book covers much depth quickly in the first book, the ensuing materials make that short reading seem a brief introduction.
The enormous times and various events and references seem thick on the ground and I cannot help but feel it is this sort of depth that keeps fans comming back and continuing to be interested for years to come.
I found the Dwarf History particularly interesting, as well as the completely seperate love story which also seems to cover more cohesively a running narrative that may have been lost if put substantially into the greater story.
I have heard of his other publications on the subject and may concidder looking into them as well. In the meantime, I enjoy most that the novels do what I most admire in a writer's writing, which is to say, they end in such a way that the reader knows the Rereading of the novel will then be read in a whole new light, as a New Novel all over again!
I certainly think the series is designed to get better and better over time... a tactic I find particularly applaudable in any writing. I knew going into this that it was a much loved and engaging book, and I am left agreeing with that proposition.
Anyone with a Love for the Fantastical and Quixotic realms of Childlike Fairytales will Love this novel, and ask themselves how So Much could have gotten Left behind for So Very Long. Having grown up with the film version I Thought I knew what the story was all about, and which characters were involved, but with the novel version in hand I come to realise the depth and complexity of nuance which I missed.
While much of youth oriented fiction can suffer from a lack of dynamism and depth, only occasionally surpassed in a form worthy of repetition and continuity between the generations, This Book has joined the rather short list of books I think would be Imperative to read to my future children every night around the ages of 8 to 10 years old...
While the characters can seem simplistic in their catagories at first, time and again each presumption of simplicity is destroyed.
I often judge my most favorite Fantasy on that, and one other main point. I look for characters and situations not presented as cliche and shallow composition, and I have a particular interest and personal metric of the quality of an author by looking to the Names Chosen for each 'imaginary part'... Ironically, the second metric is not only satisfied, but proven in some ways integral to the story itsself.
In fact, the whole of the story reaches a level and depth of alagory and symbolism which not only demands rereading, but feels continually expositional in a way I think all the Best Fantasy does.
While I am continually disappointed that (American) film adaptations continually fail to depict Describedly and Integrally necessary 'frumpy characters' as main characters in their stories, (Somebody get me a cutesy child star!) certain other aspects are evocatively presented, and I found myself returning to their itterations for other characters...
for the first half of the book...
I am left to wonder if there was some Intention to continue the story later, a total abandonment of the second part's alagory, or if Peter Jackson just hasn't heard of it yet...
Lets hope it can, at least for this preciously short period, still continue to be a Truely Unique Find, and a Powerful Mutual Experience between parents and their children, or young readers stumbling upon the novel in passing...
Among the Best of young fiction, and a powerfully evocative departure from the formulaic tolkienian, or rowlingnian method otherwise dominant currently...
I love each new take and each evocative result and This is certainly Among the Best!
Fight club is a novel that presents a lot to think on... it begins by exploring things you find yourself surprised to not have noticed, and runs on to assertions you cheer and champion, and then slowly carries those assertions to a conclusion you find yourself disagreeing with - without really knowing why... without really knowing When it all goes wrong..
A brilliant telling of a truely sad flaw in our society... far too true... it speaks volumes to those of us who are young men stuck in just the sorts of dead end, underappreciated, abusive Bullshit lives... it champions their deepest feelings of misuse and exposes so brilliantly the fundimental breakdowns in our societal aims... but it doesn't offer a perfect world in return. It choses instead to leave the solutions up to you, the reader... no easy answers here.
I gotta love Big Bob... Everything about the guy just makes him the only angel in the book and it is perhaps the eventual downfall of his 'honest' striving that begins to expose the hidden flaw in what had up to then seemed such a 'better' system...
Tyler is great... I always find the 'crazy' characters more of a challenge to convey... but his careful excecution brings his 'Brad Pitt' persona Completely alive... I don't think they mention Tyler's blonde hair till the end, but somehow you just 'Know' it the whole time... right?
I am left, after finishing this book, with both the complete assertion that there is some truth which Tyler misses that would disprove his false logic and the systems it creates And Yet I find myself unable to actually wrap my fingers around it... Disregarding with disgust the sugary cutesy koombaya bulshit answers of soccer moms and sunday schools...
A problem for sure, but not a simple answer.. Where Does it all Actually go wrong? I know it does, but I don't know Where! How! or WHY!
I do somewhat worry that readers of this book might think it ultimately argues in Favor of the systems and realities Tyler constructs... that the space monkeys out there will continue to buy it hook line and sinker... that they will forever be sitting in circles, in black, with shaved heads, reciting passages... and I can't help but think that is NOT the author's point...
Mind you, there is much here to quote, and far too much truth in statement to disregard... but there remains Something Tyler ultimately misses... and I think That is the Novel's Key..
I would strive to encourage All Readers to think on this point... and not simply cheer the system...
Problems need to be solved to be sure... problems Excelently exposed... but ultimately Somewhere along the way, it goes off the rails...
I would encourage Each New Reader to try and find out just Where that happens...
I'll be damned if I can pin it down... sure tho I am that it is there...
While I've spent more time and fallen more deeply in love with other books available on audible, this book will continue to be one I concidder a Must Read for absolutely Everyone. Short, self contained, and deeply representative, it is a novel that is within Everyone's powers to understand on some level and is one I would concidder every acknowledged 'Authority' lesser for having never read.
Much attention is given to the suggestivity of using this novel to investigate the Russian Revolution, and indeed it is perhaps deeply congruous with those events, but I cannot help but feel that anyone who sees it as Only Representative of that event Miss the deeper, universal connotations.
While I find myself wondering at exactly which age such a novel would carry the most impact, I cannot help but think it worthy Required Reading for Anyone.
Not a distinction I can make of many novels I love, but one which this novel so completely embodies that I cannot think of it in any other light.
I find the novel unique in alagory in that None of the characters are entirely without faults. Every Animal, and indeed even the human characters are shown to have both positive and negative traits... While many animals Try to act in ways that appear to be the most goodly, many of them fall prey to their own predictability and ignorance. Likewise, the slow corruption and evolution toward evilness by the 'bad' characters can likewise be explained and forgiven...
I suppose I am left instead with a respect and identification with the donkey, who's long life and fatalistic approaches, while frustrating at first, prove to be in the end the most accurate.
I take issue with the cynicism that he represents, and am discouraged by his vindication through the eventual outcome, but cannot help but find myself seeing him as the only riteous character...
the rock that remains unchanged in the tummult...
I had not a favorite, but I found the Vanity of the Horse character to be well embodied... while she hid from danger, spirited away goods, and spent far too long looking at herself and wanting frivolities to aid her vanity, I found myself more and more hating her 'kind' in general... portreying a vain horse so clearly is not an undertaking I would choose to take on myself and is one he accomplished admirably.
Which Kind of Animal are You?
It seems that the whole gambit of human reaction and social type manages to get represented in the novel, despite the incongruity of using so very many different shapes and skills of animal to do so, and I, as a reader, find myself wondering what sorts of traits I would myself exibit... which side indeed would I be on?
The novel begins with a relatively short and dense introduction which delves into the symbolism of the novel and it's catagorisation... I would have preferred that to have been moved to the end... while I had been somewhat familliar with the book ahead of time, it made for a lot of dense data to absorb first thing and somewhat distractedly seguayed right into the book... if you weren't careful you'd miss it... moreover, the discussions raised and points covered so early on tended to be lost on me later in the novel...
Perhaps skipping ahead to the novel and returning to that portion afterward would be a better way of addressing it... perhaps not... just a thought...
An excelently done bit of writing and Never Ever to Be Missed!!
Having read 'Valley of Horses' as a stand alone novel in my teens, I was surprised and pleased when It Finally showed up on Audible. Having only a vague recollection of the meat of the story, I was excited to hear the series the whole way through.
At first, I found the narrator's voice a bit wearing... a little too Texas at times for a story I had rather read from a european standpoint, but tward the end of the novel, I found it acceptable, and believable... not my favorite, but not horrendous.
I found the start of the novel a little hard to begin. The story just kinda Starts with very little preface or firm references... 'a girl in the woods' could be the beginning of any number of situations, and I would have enjoyed a little bit of framing so as to give me an assured sense of imagining the scenario correctly on a first try.
I think the author intended to give the reader a sense of the abrupt change and fundemental ignorance that began the main character's life, but I couldn't help but think a general introduction in some way to establish the background events we come to see later in the novel as far as Time, Place, and Forces at work would have helped.
We come to see more and more of the time and place of the story as the novel progresses, and ultimately it is this other world which draws the readers in. But, as a reader, I find the author too often represents the character's limmited knowledge by keeping the reader themselves in the dark. A narrator can so easily convey the broader contexts without losing the singular voice in other novels, yet this seems to be either a technique the author cannot achieve, or one which is speciffically omitted.
I also found the novel's writing style a little simpler than I had remembered. Comming just off of reading the Tolkien novels, most author's work may seem more simplistic (he's a far harder read) but I did find a certain simple mindedness in the characters and scenarios in some indeffineable quality. Again, perhaps this is to represent their primative lives, but I found a certain lack of deffinition in the greater picture. The novel could, in my mind, have taken place Anywhere... in pre history... I have no clear concept of the landscapes beyond simple destinations, and again, the greater picture eludes me.
This may make the novel an 'easier' read than others, perhaps I was more on par with its level when I first read it, but as a more accomplished reader these days, I found the first half of the novel just a tiny bit simple... un-nuanced in some subtextural way.
That being said, I think the story really picks up in the latter half, and once more of the world the characters inhabit is defined, the overall story exposes itsself for the good escape and fascinating new perspective it offers.
I first read the 'Valley of Horses' novel out of context and order, and I cannot help but think it made for a better pickup and read... it doesn't feel the need to keep the readers in the dark for the first chapters 'like the character is', and instead begins streight away with the Complete story... However, as an understanding of the character at the story's heart, this first of the series is a powerful backstory.
As a discussion on the particular concepts and motivations behind the actions of The Second World War, I think this Modern Scholar is particularly insightful.
Whereas there is little or no actual discussion of speciffic incidents or stories, (no gory details) The Speaker does an excelent job in addressing and discussing the speciffics of what made the resultant actions Possible in a 'Modern Society'.
From the original concepts that formed in Hitler's youth that enabled the relegation of an entire peoples to a status that would necessitate extermination, to the design and structure of the death systems used to enact that 'Solution', to the perceptions of the Jews themselves to be led into a death system... this Modern Scholar delves more deeply into the mechanics and systems which made the tragedy and zealotry of the Holocaust a reality than other accounts I've read.
While I fould this approach vastly different and uniquely insightful, I did find the overal coverage a bit shorter than I had expected, and Over before I had anticipated.
With such a unique approach to the thing, I had rather wished it could have gone on a bit longer or indeed covered more areas of The War than it did... tho it does cover speciffically 'the Holocaust' in its technical entirety.
Still, in such a global incident, I'd liked to have heard more...
After a while, the speaker's rhythms and forms of speech can also get a bit wearing... The speaker tends to fall into a jaunting and rather repetative diction which often had me wishing he'd just Spit It Out already... a subtle nuance of rhythm and use of terms that perhaps that wouldn't be noticable to everyone, but one I fould tiring...
Overall, I'd say this is one of the better Modern Scholars I've read. It is inciteful and interesting... not perfect, but worth the time and money... and that's not a bad thing.
The second in the series is called 'The Two Towers', and lots of discussion has gone into exactly which two 'towers' that is meant to refer to. While there are many opposing strongholds, and many more than two towers in middle earth, I cannot help but think the reality is more likely that it refers to the two completely seperate stories which this portion of the series contains.
While we're familliar with the breaking of the fellowship at the end of book one, the second in the series almost behaves as if the two stories that follow are all but unrelated... A good book, and exciting in the first tale, the second goes on to be more of a slog, but such is the reality of the story. I suppose ultimately I was just a bit disappointed that Tolkien so seldom has any congruent experiences between the two.
Having read stories of two seperate narratives before, I had expected more interlacing between the events, but Tolkien choses instead to tell one, and then tell another. A technique I found, at first, difficult because the two stories are referenced not only geographically but also chronologically seperated in place AND Time respectively.
The narrative moves between the stories at dates and times unrelated to each other meaning the 'last time' you heard about the characters elsewhere could also now be a time either in the future or the past of the characters who you are now hearing about.
Thankfully, there is little or no singing in this one, but the bleak nature of the latter parts can make one remaniscent of the stupid singsong of Tom Bombadil... for a minute or two...
The performance of Golem is also well done. Once the ear adjusts to the different interpretation, it can be quite evocative and subtextural. Crazy talk can always be a tricky part to perform well, but it is quite well done in the end.
Take a Long Walk through middle earth, and chose between the paths knowing well that they are destined to reconnect in the end... opposing sides of the two faces of war perhaps... The precarious balance before the axe falls, the two forces rise...
I have often heard it said that the first book in the series is the slowest to get underway. Indeed, it does take a long while comparatively to get Out of the shire and begin the journey, which in my opinion, doesn't really get rolling till The Prancing Pony a good deal of the way in... That being said, I cannot help but feel that the slow beginning helps to make the journey itsself more real in feeling. As you plod stumbling through the woods on the way to The 'Pony, you get a much more visceral feeling for the slow pace and difficult makings of travel in middle earth which I think adds a more realistic understanding of what exactly is entaled in the more rapidly covered traveling done later on.
By covering the grunt work at the beginning, you are allowed to move more rapidly through the travel once the situations get more tense and hectic without underrepresenting the toil that doing so actually involves.
That being said, I very much Do Not like the tendancy for Tolkien to not be capable of passing a field, forrest, or mountain without waxing endlessly about its name, its past, its geographical context, etc... Such data is good to have, but as a first time reader I was left doing a lot of mental work to remember all that data before eventually realising that None of it Really Mattered to the Actual Story Right Now... Likewise, there are several asides into stories and tales (and SONGS) of things that, while also not without their own merrit, also Did Not factor into the story right then...
Time and again I found myself (as a FIRST TIME reader) struggling to keep clear names, events, geography, and characters which are Extensively delved into, to only find later that None of it was Needed to complete the story in the end...
Mind you, these are all the same things that those who read the story time and time again will find most valuable and intriguing in the long run, but as a reader, I'd prefer an author to somehow hint at their non applicability in situ to save me the needless effort.
That being said, I think this story is uniquely better than the next two at providing the key backstory for all that Does Matter. Short passages by Elrond for example cover Vast Spans of Time and move far too quickly over fundamental events that underly the whole situation as it now rests. Indeed, most Everything that happens at the Council Meeting is extremely interesting. Most of this is Not returned to later on in the series and is Important to Catch and Understand!
In fact, I would say this first book in the 3 (tho Tolkien himself divided it differently) is actually the more coherant. A Single Narrative where events progress one after another which is Not the case always in the books to come. Making this book perhaps the most well devised of the 3...
In many ways I very much Love the audible version of the books, for the majority of the time the narration is transparent and characters not only self identify, but seemlessly blend into conversation... but there remains 1 SERIOUS FLAW in the spoken form that Continues to Bother me Time after Time - to the point of loathing their occurrance (Fast forwarding even) - The SINGING is Loathsome to me.
Not that the voice is terrible, but the voice is ever the same for dwarves as elves and hobbits... while Speaking this is not a big deal, but Singing, and especially the choirs of singing, it becomes loathsome.
Moreover however, as one who is hoping to hear and experience the original text as Tolkien presents it, The Tunes and rhythms are completely the contrivance of the narrator and producer and are Not in any way Represented by Tolkien in the original format!
As a musician and composer, I am left Hating the domination of their own whims over the possibilities I might Make Myself as to their performance if the original Data ALONE was given. I cannot help but think that the tunes and rhythms of Dwarves, Elves, and Hobbits would be FAR more Differently structured in Reality than they are here - when presented as the singular whims of the same persons time after time.
Even the lyrics, when I struggle to hear beyond the added absurdity Suggest to me a different itteration... yet the insistance of the ear and the presumption of the reader exert a far stronger pull on the mind.
While I found at first the sections of Tom Bombodil horribly unpleasant and cheezy (he's the Jarjar Binks of middle earth) I wonder afterwards what difference it would have made if the reader had not Imposed on those sections his own 'flumpy doodley doo' approach.
The character as presented would take me about 5 minutes to punch in the face they're so annoying, yet the particular Power and Magic of his song makes me think it Must have been In Actuality far more effective and enticing.
I continue to wish - in vain I suppose - that the material could be presented SIMPLY SPOKEN, yet even then the rhythms might be corrupted... I had even thought of reverting to a TEXT representation for them - thus presenting them as Tolkien intended.
Text can, by use of poetic arrangement, Suggest Possible organisations - in the same way Dr. Suess can, without Emposing a perception on the reader where the author chose not.
In this way I not only dispise the song passages as uninteresting, poorly moving, and similar, but I Regret and Loathe the lasting effects they might have on the interpretations of the songs I might try to make in future of my own sort...
Novels are Loved and Powerful because of their abilities to allow readers to bring their own experiences and memories to bear on the information presented... it simply feels presumptive and imposing for a narrator and a producer to Decide For me that which was Purposefully left open to interpretation in the original form.
Nevertheless, this is the best (and Only) option for an audio form I have yet found, and thankfully the musical passages are less in this book than in the Hobbit... indeed they happen far less even throughout the series. Thankfully.
An annoying and needless flaw to an otherwise excelently made rendition. Not perhaps a book ruiner, but certainly something I wish I had known to disregard Beforehand rather than spend so long listening and wondering if that was as Tolkien had actually heard it... or indeed intended it...
Here's hoping that this foreknowledge in your own case on both counts will allow your first experience of the book to far exceed my own! The potential is yet there, and the fundemental narrative is indeed powerfully evocative and engrossing!
Good luck! and Enjoy!
I'm glad to finally get the chance to hear Tolkien's own words, in its entirety. For what has become such an Epic of literature, I find the first of the series a cleverly contained little tale... I always find a novelists First Book interesting in the usual writing of it with the possibility that the One book itsself may ultimately have to stand alone. It is Intriguing for me to hear the book pass Through so much of the Greater World from a singlularly contained perspective. The View of Middle Earth from a single person within its so much greater narrative... as Gandalf so cleverly aludes to.
As many of Tolkien's fans may agree, I enjoy all of the Descriptions of Speciffics of various places, objects, and species. For what goes on to be such a vast universe, I take real pleasure in getting clear-cut Speciffic descriptions 'Streight from the Horse's Mouth' so to speak. These are the gritty facts of brick which build his universe, and I find each fascinating.
English... and well defined. I smile at a few times Bilbo speciffically is given a certain English Coloquial tone, which I would think not far from the way Tolkien himself Heard the voices. and Despite the variety of flowery language and different voices, I seldom found myself struggling to hear the text... appart from the singing, which I'll discuss later...
I fould the book to be one that had FEW Easy Stopping Points...
Despite the length, I can only remember a couple of times where the Narrator actually bothers to SAY "Chapter 3:"... because of this, I tended to read On and On without a clear idea of where I COULD stop - since the actions melt into eachother too much to stop hardly.
That being said, I certainly Wanted to keep reading... but there's always those points when you HAVE to go to sleep, or work, or something... sadly.
I am a big fan of the Animated Version I've known for So Long and therefore, my main object for comparrison Must be that. And, in terms of Total Storytelling, this is the better version. Fact Is, the film leaves out much of the story, However...
In terms of Tolkien's Use of SONG, I'm afraid I am a die hard LOVER of the film's Songs.
I therefore Did Not Like the Singing portions of this copy.
I understand Tolkien often included lyrics, and that he often Described the singing... but I would MUCH have Prefered the Narrator to SIMPLY SPEAK the lyrics and not attempt to Sing them all the time. Not only does One Voice singing for a Multitude Not capture the true sound, but the Same Voice singing for Elves, trolls, Goblins, and Dragons simply Fails to Carry the song in an effective way to my ears.
Moreover, It is not my knowledge that Tolkien actually Includes the 'tune' behind each song to be sung in a way that could be Realistically Reproduced... which leaves me listening to a Single guy makeup a tune singing a song which I Only Really Care about in lyric form...
Especially in my case, where I've already gotten affectionate for Distinctly Different Variations. Sadly, this turned the songs into late night karaoke for me to try and hear Through to the underlying words instead of the deeply more descriptive nature in the Structure and Content of the songs which I feel was Tolkien's Real Intent.
I had worried about a series so long, glad to find the middle still entertains and pleases! I'd reccomend it to anyone with any interest in the sea or period history... quite good!
Similar to the last book in style of course, but they also both end abruptly with tense sailing action! Another good one in the series!
Killick is always my favorite in all the books... his grumbling always makes me laugh!
much tho I'd be tempted to say Jack or Steven, tho he might get tedious, I'd probably most enjoy dinner and drinks with the midshipmen... it would be neat to see them outside of their forced formality with members of rank and I bet they'd tell the best stories!
Glad to see this one get back more to the sea side of things... it got bogged down there for a while with ladies, laws, and finances while all my favorite parts are at sea. Glad to read this one as more of a return to the more adventurous and discovering aspects... with some heated battles to get your blood pumping! Much Better By Me!
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