This is one in a series of posts where the content is provided by a guest who has graciously answered five questions about their experience as a Tolkien fan.
To see the idea behind this project, or if you are interested in sharing your own, visit the project homepage. If you enjoy this series, please consider helping us fund the project using the support page.
I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his artwork for this project. Prints are available on his website!
Now, on to Nick Polk’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
My parents were fans of Tolkien, as was my oldest brother. The earliest experience of Tolkien that I remember was a dramatized audiobook adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, complete with sound effects and music. I remember it as very dramatic and exciting, and listening to the audio dramatization led me to pick up the book. Even before that, though I don’t remember it because I was very young, my eldest brother read the books to the whole family, complete with sound effects, voices, and even a tune for the songs.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
It is very difficult to pick a favorite part of Tolkien’s work, as there is so much that I love: the prose and Tolkien’s beautiful language, the poetry, the unfolding of the story. If I had to pick one element, it would likely be the sense of hope even in the darkest parts of the story. No matter how dark the world seems, there is always light, and good will always prevail, no matter how long and difficult the path to that victory. There is a sense of goodness and faith that pervades the story, and I love it. It gives me hope. If I did have to pick a single scene, it would likely be the Charge of the Rohirrim.
It is a scene charged (pun intended) with hope, men and women keeping faith with one another. It is a stirring action-piece, and I get chills every single time I read it. The way the scene is interwoven into the narrative, with what comes before and after it, is incredible.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
Immersing myself into the world Tolkien created, staying up far too late to read one more chapter, listening to Howard Shore’s otherworldly score, and finding myself drawn into Middle-earth as into no other fictional story.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Yes, it has. I studied English in college, including literary analysis, which gave me a toolkit for reading literature. My English degree gave me a greater regard for Tolkien’s skill and a better understanding of how he crafted The Lord of the Rings. Additionally, I have joined Tolkien communities and learned more of how others read and experience Tolkien’s writings. I have gained appreciation for different perspectives and interpretations of the text.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
Absolutely! I recommend Tolkien to fantasy fans, literary fans, and readers who want beautiful language and themes of hope, courage, and love. I don’t always recommend Tolkien; in addition to literature’s highly subjective nature, some readers find Tolkien’s lyrical prose frustrating, or dislike the pace of the narrative. However, The Lord of the Rings is undoubtedly the fantasy book I have recommended the most often.
You can find more from Mary Reid on Goodreads!