Reviews

The War of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

leesmyth's review

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5.0

I don't really get into the chronology or the maps, but development of the plot and characters is often fascinating. Théoden's afterlife under the green mound, flowing forth gold or silver, and warning his people's descendants in times of peril? Legolas -- rather than Gimli -- freaked out by the Paths of the Dead? Éowyn and Merry riding openly into battle, with Théoden's knowledge and consent? Denethor actually speaking to Faramir with some sensitivity? All the things that seem so inevitable, so right, in The Lord of the Rings were once up for grabs.

Sadly, I didn't see any real evolution in specific details I've been paying attention to recently (certain aspects of the Mouth of Sauron scene and Gollum's near-repentence). But that sure as heck isn't due to any lack of diligence of Christopher Tolkien's part! It might be that those details sprang fully-formed from Tolkien's pen, or they were overwritten, illegible, or otherwise lost. We may never know. But still, what we have is a gem.

roseh's review against another edition

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adventurous informative reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

neilrcoulter's review against another edition

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5.0

It will probably work out very differently from this plan when it really gets written, as the thing seems to write itself once I get going, as if the truth comes out only then, only imperfectly glimpsed in the preliminary sketch. (219)

This is what [a:J.R.R. Tolkien|656983|J.R.R. Tolkien|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1383526938p2/656983.jpg] wrote to his son, [a:Christopher |9533|Christopher Tolkien|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1235772383p2/9533.jpg], as he was working out the ending to The Lord of the Rings. This volume, [b:The War of the Ring|15279|The War of the Ring The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part Three (The History of Middle-earth, #8)|J.R.R. Tolkien|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1354552632s/15279.jpg|2964209] (Part 3 of [b:The History of The Lord of the Rings|2329|The History of the Lord of the Rings (The History of Middle-earth #6-9)|J.R.R. Tolkien|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1322037593s/2329.jpg|6340] series, and Volume 8 of [b:The History of Middle-Earth|214175|The Complete History Of Middle-Earth (Middle-Earth Universe)|Christopher Tolkien|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1334597698s/214175.jpg|18608966] series), shows Tolkien's drafting of much of what became [b:The Return of the King|18512|The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3)|J.R.R. Tolkien|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1382151152s/18512.jpg|2964424]. And indeed, as Tolkien wrote in the letter, it really seems that the story is created through the process of writing it, though he devised a number of different outlines for the conclusion of the story. It is uncomfortable at times to see Tolkien confidently stating that he is only a handful of chapters from the end--knowing as we do now that there was so much yet to write, and so much revision yet to happen before the final form was reached. But what a journey, looking over Tolkien's shoulder as he wrestles the ever-emerging story into its full, final version.

This volume follows the format of Christopher Tolkien's previous entries in the History series, by now very familiar to anyone who has read even just the first two parts of the History of The Lord of the Rings. Many of the chapters in The War of the Ring, especially in the first half of the book, are very short, which psychologically helps me read the book faster. Christopher is still very concerned with the developing chronology of the story, and I continue to find it less interesting than he does. But in this volume most of his chronology commentary is removed to the end of each chapter, where it can be read, skimmed, or skipped. Here is an example of what those sections sound like:

It will be seen that in their dating these time-schemes proceed from the schemes A and B (see p. 118), in which the day passed by Frodo among the slag-mounds was February 4, and in which he came before the Morannon at dawn on February 5. (141)

To my reading, not the most enthralling parts of the book. But that's only personal preference and interest. The book as a whole, like the entire series, is incredible, and I enjoy it more with each volume I read.

My reviews of the other volumes in The History of the Lord of the Rings series:

The Return of the Shadow

The Treason of Isengard

Sauron Defeated

iamleeg's review

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4.0

I find the HoME books pretty useful in understanding the material at hand. Lots of Tolkien's drafts are more focused and faster paced than the finished matter although not internally consistent.

dorynickel's review

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3.0

Wow it's so interesting how different Tolkien's creative process for LOTR was from his other works. HoLOTR is a pleasure to read.

reuben_books's review against another edition

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I enjoyed the first two books in this series and learning about LOTR's beginnings. 
 
However, this one is so much more about timeline intricacies and locations, and less about the development of the narrative and characters, which was what really interested me in the first two books. I also don't know the latter half of the story as well as the first half, so I could hardly ever tell the difference between what was actually included in the published works and what wasn't.
 
No judgement on the book itself, it’s just not for me.    

rohini_murugan's review against another edition

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4.0

Omg, Pippin dies!!
Wth, Pippin dies!!
Nooooo, God, nooo!

Yeah yeah, it was a nice read. A tad too stretchy but did not see the ending coming. Now I've got to be off, to the next book. Does Pippin come back!? Please tell me he does!

slferg's review against another edition

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challenging informative reflective medium-paced

5.0

A further look at Tolkien’s shaping of the Lord of the Rings, the changes, trials and efforts to build an amazing story. 

rohini_murugan's review against another edition

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4.0

Omg, Pippin dies!!
Wth, Pippin dies!!
Nooooo, God, nooo!

Yeah yeah, it was a nice read. A tad too stretchy but did not see the ending coming. Now I've got to be off, to the next book. Does Pippin come back!? Please tell me he does!

regitzexenia's review

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4.0

Even though he has now gotten a better handle on the begging of the story, the middle and the end seems to keep changing and it’s nerdy and fascinating to follow closey. Christopher Tolkien does a marvellous job at guiding the reader through the strange and twisted roads.