Lord of the Rings: The Best Books, Movies, Games, and Merchandise for Fans
Lord of the Rings: A Guide to the Epic Fantasy Series
If you are a fan of fantasy literature, chances are you have heard of Lord of the Rings. This epic series by J.R.R. Tolkien is widely regarded as one of the most influential and beloved works of fiction in history. But what makes Lord of the Rings so special? How did it come to be? And what can you expect from reading it?
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What is Lord of the Rings?
Lord of the Rings is a fantasy novel that consists of three volumes: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. It was written by J.R.R. Tolkien, a British professor and author, between 1937 and 1949. It is a sequel to his earlier book, The Hobbit, which was published in 1937.
The story of Lord of the Rings is set in a fictional world called Middle-earth, where various races and creatures live, such as humans, elves, dwarves, hobbits, orcs, trolls, dragons, and wizards. The main plot revolves around a powerful ring that was created by the Dark Lord Sauron to dominate all life in Middle-earth. However, the ring was stolen by a creature named Gollum, who lost it to a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo passed the ring to his nephew Frodo Baggins, who was entrusted with the task of destroying it in the fires of Mount Doom, where it was forged. Along his journey, Frodo was accompanied by a fellowship of nine companions: Gandalf the wizard, Aragorn the ranger, Legolas the elf, Gimli the dwarf, Boromir a human warrior, and three other hobbits: Samwise Gamgee, Meriadoc Brandybuck, and Peregrin Took.
Lord of the Rings is not only a thrilling adventure story but also a rich and complex work that explores themes such as friendship, courage, loyalty, sacrifice, free will, fate, good and evil, power and corruption, war and peace, and environmentalism. It also draws inspiration from various sources such as mythology, history, linguistics, religion, and folklore.
Why is Lord of the Rings so popular?
Lord of the Rings has been widely praised by critics and readers alike for its literary merit, artistic vision, and cultural significance. It has sold over 150 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 50 languages. It has also won several awards such as the International Fantasy Award in 1957 and the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 2009.
One of the reasons why Lord of the Rings is so popular is because it appeals to a wide range of audiences. It can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, by fans of fantasy and realism alike, by casual readers and scholars alike. It offers something for everyone: action, romance, humor, suspense, mystery, philosophy, poetry, history, and more.
Another reason why Lord of the Rings is so popular is because it creates a vivid and immersive world that captivates the imagination. Tolkien spent decades crafting Middle-earth with meticulous detail and consistency. He invented languages, maps, histories, cultures, genealogies, calendars, and more for his fictional world. He also populated it with memorable and diverse characters, each with their own personality, background, and motivation. He made Middle-earth feel like a real place that readers can explore and discover.
A third reason why Lord of the Rings is so popular is because it has a timeless and universal message that resonates with people across generations and cultures. It tells a story of hope, courage, and love in the face of darkness, despair, and evil. It shows how ordinary people can make a difference in extraordinary circumstances. It celebrates the values of friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, and compassion. It inspires readers to seek the good in themselves and others, and to fight for what they believe in.
The Books of Lord of the Rings
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Fellowship of the Ring is the first volume of Lord of the Rings. It begins with a prologue that explains the history and nature of the One Ring, and how it came to be in the possession of Bilbo Baggins. The main story starts with Bilbo's 111th birthday party, where he announces his intention to leave his home in the Shire and passes the ring to his nephew Frodo. Gandalf, a wizard and friend of Bilbo, reveals to Frodo that the ring is actually the One Ring, and that Sauron, the Dark Lord who created it, is seeking it to conquer Middle-earth. He advises Frodo to leave the Shire and take the ring to Rivendell, an elven refuge, where a council will decide what to do with it.
Frodo sets out with his loyal gardener Sam and his cousins Merry and Pippin. Along the way, they encounter various dangers and allies, such as Farmer Maggot, Tom Bombadil, the Barrow-wights, the Black Riders (Sauron's servants who are hunting for the ring), Strider (a mysterious ranger who is actually Aragorn), Glorfindel (an elven lord who helps them reach Rivendell), and Elrond (the master of Rivendell). In Rivendell, Frodo meets other important characters such as Boromir (a human warrior from Gondor), Legolas (an elven prince from Mirkwood), Gimli (a dwarf from Erebor), and Bilbo himself.
The Council of Elrond decides that the only way to stop Sauron is to destroy the ring in Mount Doom, where it was forged. Frodo volunteers to take on this task, and is joined by eight companions: Gandalf, Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas, Gimli, Sam, Merry, and Pippin. Together, they form the Fellowship of the Ring.
The Fellowship leaves Rivendell and travels south through Hollin and Moria, an ancient dwarven kingdom. In Moria, they are attacked by orcs and a Balrog, a fiery demon from the ancient world. Gandalf confronts the Balrog on a bridge and falls into an abyss with it, apparently sacrificing himself to save his friends. The rest of the Fellowship escapes Moria and reaches Lothlorien, a beautiful elven forest ruled by Galadriel and Celeborn. There, they are given gifts and advice by Galadriel, who also shows Frodo her mirror, a device that can reveal possible futures.
The Fellowship leaves Lothlorien and travels down the river Anduin by boat. They are pursued by orcs and a group of Uruk-hai, a new breed of orcs created by Saruman, a wizard who has betrayed Gandalf and allied with Sauron. They reach Parth Galen, a grassy lawn near Amon Hen, where they have to decide whether to go east to Mordor or west to Gondor. Boromir tries to persuade Frodo to go to Gondor and use the ring against Sauron, but Frodo refuses. Boromir then tries to take the ring from Frodo by force, but Frodo puts on the ring and escapes. He decides to go to Mordor alone, but is followed by Sam, who insists on accompanying him.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Fellowship is attacked by orcs and Uruk-hai. Merry and Pippin are captured and taken away by the Uruk-hai. Boromir tries to rescue them but is mortally wounded by arrows. He dies in Aragorn's arms after confessing his sin and asking for forgiveness. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli decide to pursue the Uruk-hai and rescue Merry and Pippin. The book ends with Frodo and Sam crossing the river Anduin The Two Towers
The Two Towers is the second volume of Lord of the Rings. It is divided into two books: Book III and Book IV. Book III follows the adventures of Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli as they pursue the Uruk-hai who have captured Merry and Pippin, and their encounter with Gandalf, who has returned from death as Gandalf the White. Book IV follows the journey of Frodo and Sam as they make their way to Mordor, guided by Gollum, a former owner of the ring who has become corrupted by it.
Book III begins with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli tracking the Uruk-hai across Rohan, a land of horsemen who are under threat from Saruman and his army. They meet Eomer, a captain of Rohan, who tells them that his men have killed most of the Uruk-hai in a battle, but that he has seen no hobbits among the dead. He also informs them that King Theoden, the ruler of Rohan, is under the influence of Grima Wormtongue, a spy of Saruman who has poisoned his mind. He lends them horses and tells them to go to Edoras, the capital of Rohan, where they might find Theoden.
Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli reach Edoras and confront Wormtongue, who tries to turn Theoden against them. However, Gandalf arrives and breaks Wormtongue's spell over Theoden, restoring his health and courage. Gandalf also reveals that he has fought and defeated the Balrog in Moria, and that he has been sent back by a higher power to complete his mission. He advises Theoden to gather his people and move to Helm's Deep, a fortress where they can resist Saruman's attack. He also tells Aragorn that Merry and Pippin are alive and have escaped from the Uruk-hai.
Merry and Pippin have indeed escaped from the Uruk-hai during the battle with Eomer's men. They have fled into Fangorn Forest, where they meet Treebeard, an Ent or a tree-like creature who can talk and walk. Treebeard is the leader of the Ents, who are angry at Saruman for cutting down their trees and destroying their forest. He takes Merry and Pippin to an Entmoot, a meeting of Ents, where they decide to go to war against Saruman. They march to Isengard, Saruman's stronghold, and besiege it with their strength and magic.
Meanwhile, Gandalf, Theoden, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and the people of Rohan reach Helm's Deep and prepare for battle. They are outnumbered and outmatched by Saruman's forces, which include Uruk-hai, orcs, wolves, and explosives. They fight bravely, but are on the verge of defeat. However, Gandalf returns with Eomer and a large army of Rohirrim, who charge into the enemy ranks and turn the tide of the battle. They also receive help from Huorns, a kind of living trees that are allied with the Ents. They manage to rout Saruman's army and win a decisive victory.
Gandalf, Theoden, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and some Rohirrim then ride to Isengard, where they find it flooded and ruined by the Ents. They also meet Merry and Pippin, who have been enjoying Saruman's food and drink in his tower. They confront Saruman on his balcony, but he refuses to surrender or repent. He tries to persuade Gandalf to join him, but Gandalf breaks his staff and casts him out of the order of wizards. He also reveals that he has taken Saruman's palantir, a seeing-stone that can communicate with other palantiri or show distant events. He warns that Sauron also has a palantir, and that he is preparing for war.
Book IV begins with Frodo and Sam following Gollum through the Dead Marshes, a swampy area where corpses of ancient warriors float in the water. Gollum leads them to the Black Gate of Mordor, but they find it heavily guarded by orcs and trolls. They decide to look for another way into Mordor, and Gollum suggests that they go to Cirith Ungol, a secret passage that he knows. However, he also plans to betray them to Shelob, a giant spider that lives there.
On their way to Cirith Ungol, Frodo and Sam encounter Faramir, the younger brother of Boromir and the captain of Gondor's rangers. He captures them and takes them to his hidden base in Henneth Annun, where he questions them about their mission. He learns that they have the One Ring, and that Boromir is dead. He also sees Gollum fishing in a pool that is sacred to his people, and orders his men to shoot him. However, Frodo saves Gollum by claiming him as his guide.
Faramir is tempted by the ring, but he resists and lets Frodo and Sam go. He warns them of the danger of Cirith Ungol, and advises them to go to Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, where his father Denethor is the steward. He also tells them that war is coming, and that Gondor needs the help of Rohan and Aragorn, the heir of Isildur and the rightful king of Gondor.
Frodo and Sam continue their journey with Gollum, who leads them to the stairs of Cirith Ungol. They climb the stairs and reach a tunnel where Shelob lurks. Gollum betrays them and leaves them to be devoured by Shelob. However, Frodo and Sam fight back with their swords and the light of Earendil, a star that was given to them by Galadriel in Lothlorien. Frodo manages to wound Shelob and escape from the tunnel, but he is attacked by Gollum, who bites off his finger and takes the ring. Frodo fights with Gollum and recovers the ring, but he is then stung by Shelob and falls unconscious.
Sam, thinking that Frodo is dead, takes the ring and his sword Sting, and decides to continue the mission alone. However, he overhears some orcs who have captured Frodo's body and learn that he is still alive. He follows them into the tower of Cirith Ungol, where he rescues Frodo from their torture. He returns the ring and Sting to Frodo, and they disguise themselves as orcs to escape from the tower. The book ends with Frodo and Sam heading towards Mount Doom, where they hope to destroy the ring once and for all.
The Return of the King
The Return of the King is the third and final volume of Lord of the Rings. It is also divided into two books: Book V and Book VI. Book V follows the events in Gondor and Rohan, where Aragorn, Gandalf, Theoden, and their allies prepare for the final battle against Sauron and his army. Book VI follows the journey of Frodo and Sam as they reach Mount Doom, where they face their ultimate challenge.
Book V begins with Gandalf and Pippin riding to Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, where they meet Denethor, the steward of Gondor, who is grief-stricken by the death of Boromir and the news of Faramir's capture. Denethor is also in possession of a palantir, which he has used to communicate with Sauron, who has shown him false visions of despair. Gandalf tries to persuade Denethor to prepare for war, but Denethor refuses to listen. He also rejects Gandalf's claim that Aragorn is the rightful king of Gondor.
Meanwhile, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry, and a group of Rangers from Arnor take a different route to Minas Tirith. They pass through the Paths of the Dead, a haunted road where they summon an army of ghosts who owe allegiance to Aragorn as the heir of Isildur. They use this army to defeat a fleet of Corsairs who are sailing to attack Gondor from the south. They then take their ships and sail up the river Anduin to reach Minas Tirith.
At the same time, Theoden, Eomer, and a large army of Rohirrim ride to aid Gondor in its hour of need. They are joined by Eowyn, Theoden's niece, who disguises herself as a man named Dernhelm. They also meet Merry along the way, who joins them as a squire.
Minas Tirith is besieged by a vast army of orcs, trolls, wargs, and other evil creatures led by the Witch-king of Angmar, the leader of the Nazgul or the Ringwraiths. The defenders of the city are outnumbered and overwhelmed. Denethor loses hope and tries to burn himself and Faramir alive on a pyre, but Gandalf and Pippin intervene and save Faramir. Denethor dies in the flames.
The Rohirrim arrive and charge into the enemy ranks, breaking their siege. Theoden leads them bravely, but is wounded by the Witch-king and his fell beast. Eowyn, who is revealed to be Dernhelm, confronts the Witch-king and slays him with the help of Merry, who stabs him from behind. However, both Eowyn and Merry are injured by the Witch-king's black blade.
Aragorn and his companions also arrive with their ships and join the battle. They bring reinforcements from southern Gondor and other allies. Aragorn reveals himself as the king of Gondor and rallies the troops with his banner and his sword Anduril, which was reforged from the shards of Narsil, the sword that cut the ring from Sauron's hand. He leads a final charge against the enemy and drives them back.
Gandalf then receives a message from Sauron through a captured messenger. Sauron taunts Gandalf and shows him Frodo's mithril coat, which he claims to have taken from him. Gandalf refuses to surrender or negotiate with Sauron, and sends back the messenger with a warning. He then realizes that Frodo is still alive and has reached Mordor.
Book VI begins with Frodo and Sam making their way across Mordor, disguised as orcs. They are exhausted, hungry, thirsty, and tormented by Gollum, who follows them secretly. They reach Mount Doom, but are confronted by Gollum at the entrance of the volcano. Gollum attacks Frodo and bites off his finger with the ring on it. He then dances with joy, but loses his balance and falls into the fire with the ring. The ring is destroyed, and with it Sauron's power.
The destruction of the ring causes a great earthquake that shakes Mordor and topples Sauron's tower of Barad-dur. The orcs and other evil creatures flee in terror or are killed by the eruption of Mount Doom. Frodo and Sam are rescued by Gandalf and the eagles, who fly them to safety.
The war is over, and Sauron is defeated. Aragorn is crowned as the king of Gondor and Arnor, and marries Arwen, the daughter of Elrond. He reunites with Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, Eomer, Eowyn, Faramir, and other heroes of the war. He also pardons the remaining enemies who surrender and offers them peace. He restores the lands of Gondor and Rohan, and establishes friendship with the other peoples of Middle-earth.
Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Gandalf then return to the Shire, where they find it changed by Saruman and his men, who have taken over and ruined it. They lead a rebellion against Saruman, who has taken the name of Sharkey, and drive him out. They also restore the Shire to its former beauty and prosperity.
However, Frodo is still wounded by his ordeal with the ring. He suffers from pain, nightmares, and sadness. He decides to leave Middle-earth with Bilbo, Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, and other elves who are sailing to Valinor, the Undying Lands across the sea. He bids farewell to Sam, Merry, Pippin, and other friends, and gives them his belongings. He boards a ship at the Grey Havens, and sails away.
The Legacy of Lord of the Rings
Adaptations and influences
Lord of the Rings has been adapted into various media, such as films, radio, television, video games, music, and art. The most famous and successful adaptation is the film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, which was released between 2001 and 2003. The films won 17 Academy Awards out of 30 nominations, and are among the highest-grossing and most acclaimed movies of all time. They feature a large cast of actors, such as Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Andy Serkis, and many more.
Other adaptations include a 1955-1956 radio series by the BBC, a 1978 animated film by Ralph Bakshi, a 1981 radio series by the BBC, a 1980 animated television special by Rankin/Bass, a 1999 musical by A.R. Rahman and Värttinä, a 2001-2003 musical by Kevin Wallace and Christopher Gunning, a 2017-2021 Amazon Prime Video series by J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, and various video games by different developers.
Lord of the Rings has also influenced many other works of fantasy literature, such as The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, and The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss. It has also inspired many writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, and fans to create their own stories, artworks, songs, movies, and fan fiction set in Middle-earth or based on its themes and characters.
Cultural impact and fandom
Lord of the Rings has had a significant impact on popular culture and society. It has been widely recognized as one of the greatest and most influent