LOTR-Is it just me that doesn't get it?

I am an avid fantasy fan. But for some reason LOTR just didn’t wow me like other series. I never felt any connection to the characters. Is is just me that feels this way?
Tolkien fans, please refrain from blowing smoke rings up my ass.
Give me Thomas Covenant!

Tolkien was the first to write “modern” fantasy, ignoring such predecessors as Lord Dunsany and E.R.R. Eddison. As such, later fantasy writers (like Donaldson) borrow heavily from the mythos that Tolkien created.

I can understand that you don’t connect to the earlier writers. It’s kind of like saying that Shakespeare is very trite, he writes cliche after cliche after cliche.

The “wow” factor probably also depends on what you encountered first. One’s first encounter with a genre tends to set the standard.

In all candor, I suspect it’s a matter of whatever floats your personal boat.

I liked LOTR a lot.

A friend insisted I read the Thomas Covenant books, and I didn’t much care for them. While I liked the Land, and some of the ideas and concepts and characters, I disliked the main character a lot. Somehow, this guy who whines and pules his way through no less than six books just didn’t flip my switch the way Frodo and Aragorn did.

Matter of taste, I guess.

I loved all three movies, and the books. I agree that it’s probably a matter of taste, but I think from a character developement point of view, that the heroes in LotR are extremely endearing and likeable, no matter whether you’ve read or seen other works of fantasy first.

But again, it absolutely is a matter of what floats your boat. Mine was floated. And continues to float. It even sails. Sometimes bobs a little. Though occasionally eventually crashes into rocks in ruin…much the way this post seems to have.

Time for my Ridlin. - Freewill39.

I read all three trilogies multiple times. I liked them both, but the first Unbeliever trilogy was my absolute favorite. There was real darkness in Donaldson’s writing. Frodo never raped anybody.

My only real problem with the Urlord was that after finishing all 6000 pages for the third time, I clicked on the tv and saw a Struthers-esque commercial asking for donations to help get the cure for leprosy out to third world nations.

My gut reaction was “teach 'em the VSE, goddammit!” Then I felt gipped that I got so emotionally invested in the disease that I was led to believe was incurable. (Probably was when Donaldson wrote it.)

I think the character development was far deeper in both of the Chronicles. Hile Troy with his blindness, Elena/Lena with their horrible ordeal and longing for their very own halfhand, and of course Lena’s father, whose name escapes me at the moment. (Haven’t read them since I was a teenager.) Suppressing the horrific crime committed against his naive daughter for the sake of the land. And her mother, who continues to guide the Unbeliever even after she finds out, IIRC.

Hell, I think the backstory had deeper character development than LotR…Kevin Landwaster’s despair seemed to leap off the page, solidified by his reaction to being resurrected.

Also it was connected to the real world, which made suspension of disbelief a bit easier. And the titles. No book has the cache of the titles our intrepid antihero earned. “Ur-Lord Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever and White Gold Wielder” just has a nice ring to it.

Eh, enough reminiscing. I agree with the OP, though I do still like LotR. And Tolkien never wrote anything as uneven as The One Tree. But then again, Donaldson never wrote anything as shockingly awful as the Silmarillion.

I just read the first Thomas Covenant book, and I thought it was just awful. He just bitches and whines throughout the entire book. I did hear that he improves in the later books, but I’m not going to bother reading about a character that I hate.

Give me LotR any day of the week.

Well… the Silmarillion wasn’t intended as a narrative. It was basically Tolkien’s backstory for the LOTR books. Supposedly, he hadn’t intended to publish it originally, but changed his mind after the LOTR books hit it so big… and spent the rest of his life assembling the thing (and didn’t live long enough to finish).

Thinking back, I rather liked Donaldson’s books… the world, the characterization, and so on… EXCEPT for Thomas Covenant. This guy is just totally worthless, and nearly impossible to identify with.

I tried to read the books again, a few years back, and was struck by how wonderfully thought out the Land was… and how I still didn’t like Covenant. I remember thinking that Hile Troy was one of the best characters in the story, in fact… because HE’s sick of Covenant’s whining and bitching within hours of meeting the man, and says, “Fine, give ME the damn white gold thingy, and let ME save the damn world, if YOU don’t believe in it!”

THAT, I could understand!

Then again, the reader has to put up with Covenant a lot longer than Troy does…

On the flip side, the main characters of the LOTR series are the hobbits… humble, ordinary, homebodies who are thrust into extraordinary events, against their will, same as Thomas Covenant… and are forced to rise to the occasion, to become something that CAN deal with all hell breaking loose, as opposed to refusing to believe in it, or that anything matters.

THAT, I can identify with.

Frodo and the Fellowship have to fight long and hard and deal with their tribulations. They have to work hard, persevere, and get lucky on occasion.

Covenant, on the other hand, just screws up and screws up and screws up and whines and blubbers and screws up and screws up and screws up and screws up and whimpers and screws up and screws up and screws up for three books…

…and then, suddenly, due largely to the efforts of those around him, he succeeds and becomes a hero. And even then, he can’t really believe it.

Maybe it’s great literature, but it didn’t do much for me.

Hmmm, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it great literature. As far as literature goes, Tolkien has him beat hands down.

Mirror, if you don’t like the first one, definitely do not keep reading. It’s more of the same.

Bear in mind that his disbelief is a necessary survival mechanism. If he gets accustomed to not doing his VSE, he will die when he returns home. (This is not a factor in the second trilogy, which IMO dilutes the story.)

It is the struggle of a flawed human trying to survive as best he can. He makes mistakes, and has to try to live with them.

Tolkien’s story is about perfect creatures who have no flaws.

I see absolutely no humanity in hobbits whatsoever, and therefore identify far more easily with Covenant.

I wouldn’t say Tolkien is about perfect, unflawed creatures. To give just a few examples: Frodo himself is, eventually, overpowered by the Ring, and the destruction of it in fact requires the intervention of Sam & Gollum. Gollum is far less than perfect. Saruman, once I’m certain a far more pleasant wizard, once he realizes the extent of what the Ring could bring him, is transformed into a power-hungry thing etc etc

Other, less tired users will I’m sure give more detailed examples.

All examples of being corrupted by external, evil, mystical forces. There is no innate flaw in any character. Even Sauron is perfectly evil. All characters are perfect, until polluted by Sauron (or Sauron’s ring), and that is the source of all conflict. How is being overpowered a flaw?

Thus, my statement that I see no humanity. Humanity is all about being innately flawed.

Where is Legolas’ inner conflict? Aragorn has no real struggle in the novels…Peter Jackson gives him way more humanity than Tolkien did. Gandalf? So perfect as to boggle the mind. Gimli? Frodo? Samwise?

I loved the LOTR books when I first read them. After I read other authors that took what he did and expanded upon it I found I couldn’t go back. Reading LOTR books now I’m bored, annoyed by certain characters and scenes, and can’t plow my way through them.

ahh well another childhood joy bites the dust.

hehheh, that assessment is spot on. But you forgot to add “and his ultimate success condemns this world we have grown to love to 5000 years of pain and suffering, which will be brutally driven home for the first 300 pages of the next trilogy as we see everything that was good corrupted into the sickest, most vile perversion a truly evil devil-figure could think up. And now that Covenant finally believes, he is literally in hell.”

That’s some hardcore darkness.

Have you ever been asked to do anything that you didn’t feel up to, or qualified for, or deserving of? That’s the allegory of Thomas Covenant.

Have you ever had your flawless character corrupted by external evil, forcing you to face an insurmountable task alone because it is your self-appointed duty to vanquish it, and asking others for help might endanger them, so against all odds you go it alone? That is the allegory of Frodo.

Thomas Covenant = Pressed into political/military service, do the best you can while screwing up left and right due to your own limitations.

Frodo Baggins = Diagnosed with cancer, you kill the cancer by yourself with meditation instead of going to a doctor and getting chemo.

Ellis Dee, would you consider posting your “Tolkien’s story is about perfect creatures who have no flaws” comment as a separate thread? It’d be a bit of a lightning rod for book-fans, but I’d also hope it might begin a discussion about character development (or lack of) in the trilogy.

Sure, I’ll take the fall for you. :slight_smile:

The second Thomas Covenant trilogy is much weaker than the first, but I do much prefer the first to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I agree wholeheartedly.

Here’s that new thread, squeegee

I have to say, Ellis Dee, I’d also love to see a discussion on the character developement (or lack there of, depending upon your POV) of Tolkien’s characters.

If you do in fact start such a thread, be sure to let me know! :wink:

Whoops! Guess I should refresh a given page before I actually respond to it, eh? That’ll learn me. I’m off to check out the new thread. (-:

FWIW, I’d take the opposite side of your proposition. For the most part, I’m satisfied with the growth of the main characters in the novels. Your milage did vary, which I find interesting.