The Lord of the Rings has been a huge influence not only in the epic high fantasy genre but in the literature in general. The Lord of the Rings has sold over 150 million copies, meaning it is one of the best-selling novels ever. J.R.R Tolkien wrote a masterpiece which, funnily, was created because his publishers requested him a sequel for his previous book, The Hobbit.
Everybody know The Lord of the rings. Once (when the books were published) The Sunday Times stated the following “the English-speaking world is divided into those who have read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and those who are going to read them” this may have changed a bit, since a lot of people watched the movies first and decided they didn’t need to read the books. If you like this saga and you want to read similar books, to might like to check this post by the way.
Worry not, I will warn you before there are spoilers. Reading is safe, for now…
But do you know everything must be known about this saga if you only watched the movies?
Absolutely not. Don’t get me wrong, the movies were amazing. Peter Jackson did a great job writing and directing The Lord of the Rings movies. But it’s only an adaptation, an impressive one, but still an adaptation. The movies, of course, use the novels as a basis but, as most of the movie adaptations, there are elisions, character changes, and inventive adaptations. Still, this movie adaptation has changest, but not as many as others like Ready Player One (massive changes in this one, just take a look at this post)
Of course, it is normal that movies based on books are not literal adaptations, would you imagine how long movies would be? Just take this example, In 1924 Erich von Stroheim attempted a literal adaptation of the novel McTeague (written by f Frank Norris) with his movie Greed, the resulting film was more than 9 hours long! And this was for a 123,250 words novel, now imagine (or feel free to calculate) how long it would be for the 481,103 words the Lord of the Rings saga has. The best is to consider both works of art as separate entities, so you will enjoy both of them.
What kind of details are different from the books?
Warning: this section contains minor spoilers
As every movie adaptation, there are in fact elisions, character changes, and inventive adaptations. Some characters as Tomb Bombadil do not appear or are mentioned at all. Others, like Glorfindel, have their role featured by another character (Arwen).
There is also some inventive adaptation in the books, for example, in The two towers movie elves came to help the defense of Helms Deep, this never happened in the book. According to Peter Jackson, he included the elven company lead by Haldir of Lothlórien he wanted the audience to know that it wasn’t just Men fighting and dying for the free people in Middle Earth at the time. In my opinion, this worked great, you actually felt some kind of support from the elves, but I remember watching the movie and thinking “I don’t remember reading anything like this?”
Details that don’t happen in the movies
Warning: this section contains massive spoilers
If you are curious and want to know some things or characters that were not included in the movies, here are some of them:
This charismatic character appears in the first book of the Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the ring. Although he is not mentioned in any film, he plays a very important role, saving the hobbits not once but twice. First, he saves Merry and Pippin from the Old Man Willow, another character not included in the book. Second, he also saves the hobbits from the Barrow-wights, wraith-like creatures that are also absent in this movie trilogy.
If that was not enough, Tom Bombadil was able to see Frodo despite him wearing the One ring and also was able to wear it with no effect. The One Ring had no effect on him, a reason why during The Council of Elrond it is suggested that Tom kept the Ring, having Gandalf refusing the idea saying Tom would not find the Ring important and would misplace it.
Oh! Did you know that Sam also wears the ring in the books?
This region is located to the northwest of Middle-earth, where Frodo left to begin his journey. In the third novel “The Return of the King” when the hobbits return home they find it has been corrupted and controlled by criminals led by Sharkey, which you may know by his other name: Saruman the White.
One of the most understandable changes in this adaptation. In the movies Gríma Wormtongue kills Saruman on top of the famous Orthanc tower. It is true that something similar happens in the book, however, there are crucial differences since, as you just read, he is alive and faces the hobbits when they return to The Shire.
The fragments of Narsil, a sword forged by Telchar in Nogrod during the First Age, gave rise to Andúril (also known as The flame of the West), the sword of Aragorn. This sword is famous because it was awarded to him after Helm’s Deep battle. But this sword hides much more, and saves Aragorn more than once, something that is not included in the films. How? In the book, there are more details of the strong bond that exists between Lothlórien, Galadriel, Narsil and Aragorn himself (you might have to read the book to know more 😊 )
The Dead in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields
You probably remember Aragorn appearing with a huge Army of dead men in the Pelennor Fields, this was not exactly like that in the books. The Army of dead repaid their debt previously, in the battle of Pelargir defeating the Corsairs from the Gondor city of Pelargir. Therefore, it was not them who were Aragon’s reinforcements but it was the Grey Company (a group as Dunedain, such as Aragorn) instead.
The other Rings of Power
The other Rings of Power, despite being mentioned, are not as relevant as they are in the books. The movies don’t even mention that Gandalf carries one of the Three rings of the Elves, Narya (the ring of fire). The original owner, Cirdan, gave it to Gandalf to help him. This is better explained in The Tale of Years, a chapter included in The Peoples of Middle-earth (one of thetwelve-volumee series of the books compiled by Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien’s son)
“Take this ring, Master, for your labours will be heavy; but it will support you in the weariness that you have taken upon yourself. For this is the Ring of Fire, and with it you may rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill. But as for me, my heart is with the Sea, and I will dwell by the grey shores until the last ship sails. I will await you.”
Here you had some reasons why you should read the books, despite the movies. I hope it was convincing enough, keep reading!
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