Monday, April 6, 2009

For Those Who Love Tolkien (And People Who Don't Read)

So when I was much younger I read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I think I was probably in sixth grade. That's a young age to read those books but I had always seemed starved for novels as a kid so a story that spanned three books, how could I pass that up?

Since that time I've reread that series several times. It's just that good. Tolkien creates an entire history of a universe, several languages, many civilizations creating a depth to write from that hasn't been reproduced since.

So it's pretty safe to say that I love fantasy and sci-fi novels. Now when I say that, if you are uninitiated in these genres or have been reading some horrible examples of work within them then you probably get pictures of the following in your head: Men in huge wizardly robes hurling lightning bolts at each other and saying their thees and thous while Knights ride by hacking at dragons. Or for sci-fi you may get images of Star Trek (although I love Star Trek so screw you).

Fantasy, at least good fantasy is not at all like that. It is sort of like my friend and fellow blogger said in his post about plays. He writes, "The Arts are so powerful when they are made the right way. And by the right way I mean, letting the viewer or audience imagine for him or herself." I don't enjoy when things are thrown in my face in a story, especially not magic. Hint at it, tease me with it, let me guess at what it really is. And unless it's extremely important or interesting that I know, don't explain how it came to be.

So, for you Tolkien fans that are still searching for the next best thing I've discovered a series written by an Author with a strangely similar name to J.R.R. Tolkien himself. It is the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin and begins with the book A Game Of Thrones.
In it Martin leads you along in a very realistic fantasy. By that I mean that there is very little magic (though what little there is will keep you intrigued and wanting more) and a lot of suspenseful realism. Do not get too attached to any one character because, in the words of the man himself, "...when my characters are in danger, I want you to be afraid to turn the page, (so) you need to show right from the beginning that you're playing for keeps." Anyone can die in any chapter, much like real life. The chapters themselves are written from several main (though no less protected) character's points of view. If you loved the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, you'll love these books and I highly recommend them.
*As a side note. If you are in anyway put off by or uncomfortable with realistic situations or sex then you may want to proceed cautiously. Martin describes everything in detail from battle to romantic encounters.

Now, on to my second recommendation and with it a side topic. People who do not read. I've never understood you. If you are reading this then you probably aren't one of those people and if you are then you must just read short things like blogs and newspapers. You are an enigma to me.

To me books are like movies that you get to stretch over a much longer time instead of the 3 hour max movies are made at today. A story that takes as long as you take to read it is able to develop much more fully and the images are not spoon fed to you, you are free to imagine them as you want. That's whenever a friend or acquaintance informs me that they "just aren't into books" they usually continue with "why are you looking at me like that?". I think the real problem with people who do not enjoy reading is one of three things.

A. They have some sort of learning or vision impediment making it difficult or unpleasurable for them to read.

B. They do not have patience. They cannot sit still long enough and let a story develop. They need flashing and moving images on a screen in an hour and a half venue to tell them a story.

C. They just haven't found something they can really get into.

If you or someone you know falls under B or C then I can recommend a fantasy series for them that I am certain they/you will love. It's author may surprise you seeing as he is mainly known for the horror genre that he has come to dominate. His departure from horror into this fantasy series is very impressive and entertaining. I'm speaking, of course, about the one and only Stephen King. His Dark Tower series is awesome in it's scope but still written by the man who can pull "Easy Readers" into his tales with his vivid and suspenseful writing style. The first book in the series is The Gunslinger.

So, I've done the legwork, you can just read. If you want to argue and say that you just aren't into reading because it's boring or whenever you hold books in your hands the pages burst into flames because you are possessed I only have one thing to say.


  1. How many people do hear today say, "Oh they messed that movie up bad?" Why is it bad? Because those people's expectations were based off something written, like a comic or a book. And as history shows us, people have always enjoyed stories because we like to imagine things ourselves.

    I've always hated it when I read a book first before the movie and when we go out to see the movie, I say to my friends, "Eh, the book was better." It's not even like I say it in a condescending way either because the fact is the book IS better than the movie. I read Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith before seeing it and I was simply blown away. The struggle I saw in Anakin in the beginning as Palpatine was using both Anakin and Dooku for his own means. The confusion inside Anakin in deciding whether or not to trust the Jedi Counsel versus Palpatine and so on were more vividly expressed in the writing and my imagination than being shown in the movie.

    When it comes down to it, a few years from now, a lot of us will be the same except for the books we read and the people we meet.

  2. You are about the seventh person to recommend I read that guy. I guess I better do it now, because seven is the number of holy creation.

  3. Hear, hear! We need more readers in the world.