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 G. Connor Salter’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
I was just over 5 years old when Fellowship of the Ring came out, so my early childhood was full of Burger King toys and Lord of the Rings movie tie-in games. Since my father was a diehard fan of the books and enjoyed many of these games, I grew up knowing the characters for as long as I could remember. By age 11 I had read The Hobbit multiple times, and by age 15 I had read The Lord of the Rings trilogy in full. Shortly after reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I saw the movies.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
I enjoy the wide range of his work. Whether it’s the quaint Father Christmas Letters he wrote for his children, the more complex children’s literature of The Hobbit, or the tragic stories for adults in The Silmarillion, Tolkien always told the story well.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
I often think of the moment in The Fellowship of the Ring where the group is attempting to get through a snowy mountain pass, and Legolas pokes fun at the others as he treads lightly on it. It’s a lighthearted moment that shows how the characters have bonded during the quest, learned to joke with each other.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
As I have read more fantasy literature from Tolkien’s period (from Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories to T.H. White’s The Once and Future King), I have noticed how much the genre dialogues about whether might equals right. It’s interesting to me that Tolkien gives complex answers to that question – Faramir’s comment about not loving the sword, loving what it protects. I particularly find that position interesting in light of Tolkien’s World War I service.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
I would definitely recommend Tolkien’s work to readers who want an introduction to fantasy. The Hobbit provides a great way to enter the genre without feeling too challenged, and transitioning from that into The Lord of the Rings gives a gradual dive into more complex work. I also love how Tolkien’s work is enjoyable but can never be accused of “juvenile escapism,” a label that gets thrown around a lot when dismissing fantasy literature.
You can find more from G. Connor Salter on his blog!