aparuive's review

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emotional informative inspiring reflective slow-paced

4.5

pennwing's review

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adventurous challenging informative slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? N/A
  • Strong character development? N/A
  • Loveable characters? N/A
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? N/A

4.0

elanorgardner's review

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informative inspiring reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? N/A
  • Strong character development? N/A
  • Loveable characters? N/A
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? N/A

4.5

traveling_in_books's review

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informative slow-paced

marthisuy's review

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5.0

Super interesante y muy recomendable para los frikis de la Tierra Media!!!
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raitalle's review

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4.0

I loved reading this book about the writing of The Lord of the Rings, seeing both how much the story evolved and changed as Tolkien wrote through the drafts, while so much of what he wrote down the first time stayed. You can tell how much time and effort went into sorting through the mountains of notes and writings in order to present everything in an understandable format. I thought it was especially fun when Christopher himself would come up in letters, despite his obvious attempts to keep his own personal memories/biases out of the writing. I'm very much looking forward to reading the rest of these books.

nwhyte's review

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3.0

http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1824549.html

Here we have three-ish drafts of The Lord of the Rings up to the exploration of Moria. It is striking how quickly Tolkien shifted tone from the young-reader-ish style of The Hobbit, which surivives in the very first draft of the first chapter, but really no further, to adopt a more mature voice. But it's also interesting to see the evolution of the character who became Strider, at first a mysterious hobbit called Trotter who turns out to be a long-lost cousin of Bilbo's called Peregrine. The names and characters of Frodo and his friends changed very substantially between rewrites (though the dialogue between them was surprisingly constant). The original Fellowship includes the four hobbits from the Shire, Troter, Gandalf and Boromir but no dwarf or elf. At one point the editor quotes his father's marginal note "Christopher wants Odo kept" but admits that he is unable now to remember why (Odo ends up party Frodo and partly Pippin). The geography and distances between Bree and Rivendell are chopped about a bit, leaving some inconsistency in the published book. It's a fascinating insight into how revising a text can make it stronger, and how sometimes bits in the middle come right almost immediately while you are still tinkering with the beginning.

thoughtsstained's review

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4.0

Originally reviewed at Thoughts Stained With Ink:

Unless you're a die-hard Tolkien fan, you might have no idea what this book is.

But it's a Tolkien fan's wet dream, basically.

One of his children, Christopher Tolkien, took it upon himself to give readers the most intense glimpse into his father's life and works as he could, creating a 12-volume series coined as "The History of Middle-earth," detailing the journey Tolkien underwent writing one of the greatest sagas of all time. It's an incredible story and one that any Tolkien scholar should read.

I loved it because it gives me a glimpse into Tolkien's writing process and provides me insight that otherwise, I could have never gotten, aside from my wildest dreams. Tolkien saved everything--and hand wrote his work, hiring a typist to type up his manuscripts for him, as far as I can remember--which allowed Christopher the chance of such a grueling task of trying to piece together the evolution of his work.

My favorite aspect, I think, is that I was able to see Tolkien as more...human. Anyone who knows me (hell, prolly even people who don't) know that I idolize him more than almost anyone and I will be forever awed by what he was able to do and how his work shaped so much of the writing world, even today; hell, how much he has shaped my life, personally.

So to see him struggle with this world, to know he was still trying to figure out the story and learn it himself--that he didn't always have it figured out and it took him multiple drafts to write this epic, too--was so humbling and inspiring, as a writer myself. But it was also incredible to see how much of his first draft made it into the polished, printed version. Though I shouldn't, comparing my own writing, I can definitely say that I don't have nearly the same level of retention that he still managed to, even with so much of the core of what makes The Lord of the Rings so great still yet to be discovered by the mastermind himself!

It's...incredible, truly.

Some of my favorite facts I learned from this book included:

That Aragorn evolved from a hobbit named Trotter, who had wooden feet (or shoes) because he was tortured and his feet were cut off. (Tolkien wrote LOTR as a response to the acclaim of The Hobbit, which was a happier, more lighthearted tale. But when Tolkien decides to go dark, HE GOES DARK.)

Frodo Baggins was not our protagonist's originally name. He was almost Bingo Baggins. *shudders* He even considered making Bilbo take the ring, instead of enlisting Frodo, which I thought could have been really interesting.

At one point, there were five hobbits embarking upon the quest to reach Rivendell and one of them is known as Odo, spawning the joke, "No Odo!" amongst Tolkien scholars and fans everywhere. Also, there was a time when the Fellowship didn't include Gimli of Legolas, but just the men and the hobbits. I'm glad Tolkien decided to change this!

The Rings of Power weren't even fully introduced in some of the earlier drafts (something that is so mind-blowing to me)! Instead, this was something that Tolkien learned and discovered later, the more he worked on this story.

The toying of the idea that the Elves couldn't resist the power of the ring and introducing Elfwraiths. *shudders harder, but also wants to write fanfict about it*

Plenty of other things (but I did not take good notes), so I will try to do better for the next installment!

Even still, this book is very dense, especially as we're often reading the same scenes over and over again, as they evolve over time, so sometimes, it does feel like a bit of a chore to get through. Nevertheless, the insight that was I was given--and the chance to discuss this novel alongside The Fellowship of the Ring with my fellow Tolkien Society members each month--is worth every hour I spent reading this. I'm excited to continue learning about Tolkien's process in the next volume, The Treason of Isengard.

Read on!
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