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The Fifth The Lord of the Rings Discussion Reading Room

May 2010 - December 2011





The First The Lord of the Rings Discussion of March 2000 - July 2001

The Second The Lord of the Rings Discussion of September 2002 - February 2004

The Third The Lord of the Rings Discussion of February 2005 - June 2006, with Footarama, and QUANT!

The Fourth The Lord of the Rings Discussion of October 2007 - March 2009

The Sixth The Lord of the Rings Discussion of December 2014 - January 2017

AND YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO READ: The First Bored of the Rings Discussion!

The Fellowship of the Ring - Book I

One might think that authors start off with a flash of 'inspiration' and as it dies away keep things going with 'invention'. In Tolkien's case it looks very much as if he worked the other way round: he got started on relatively laborious 'inventions', and found as the story gathered way that the inevitable complications of these brought him 'inspiration'. - T. W. Shippey. (2003). The Road to Middle-earth (2nd ed.). 104-05.


The Fellowship of the Ring - Book II

Tolkien cannot allow his cosmic order to be a fixed, mechanistic, unchangeable chain of causes and effects. The order must be built flexibly around creaturely free will and possibly personal providential interventions from on high. ... Nothing could be plainer than Elrond's rejection of chance as the cause of the Council, however much on the surface it may seem to be so. - P.H. Kocher. (1972). Master of Middle-earth: The Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien. 39-41.


The Two Towers - Book III

...Finally, deciding to follow the young hobbits, [Aragorn] says, "now may I make a right choice and change the evil fate [my emphasis] of this unhappy day."... Aragorn's words constitute the closest the narrative comes to making explicit the interaction between the two forces [of Fate and Free Will], and is the only direct reference I can think of in The Lord of the Rings to the power of Men to go beyond the Music. It is significant for its clear implication that Aragorn is aware of this power.. - V. Flieger. (2009). "The Music and the Task: Fate and Free Will in Middle-earth". Green Suns and Faerie: Essays on J. R. R. Tolkien. 32.


The Two Towers - Book IV

In the lair of Shelob, ...Frodo encounters another cloud of terror, "a black vapour wrought of veritable darkness itself that, as it was breathed, brought blindness not only to the eyes but to the mind, so that even the memory of colours and of forms and of any light faded out of thought."...There are grounds to suspect that Tolkien was influenced by his experience of poison gas as he devised a symbolic shape for battlefield trauma, demoralisation, and despair. - J. Garth. (2004). "Frodo and the Great War". The Lord of the Rings 1954-2004: Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder. 46.


The Return of the King - Book V

In his presentation of the dangers, virtues, and duties of kingship, Tolkien has advanced Shakespeare's discussion and raised issues as important in the twenty-first century as they were in the seventeenth. Are we to dismiss King Lear because its source is a silly folktale? Obviously not. And we would be equally foolish to dismiss The Return of the King from a discussion of the treatment of politics by twenty-first century writers, even though Tolkien's work resides fully within the fantasy genre. - M. D. C. Drout. (2004). "Tolkien's Prose Style and its Literary and Rhetorical Effects". Tolkien Studies I. 149.


The Return of the King - Book VI

... The eucatastrophe [miraculously happy ending] is aesthetically compelling not because it is predetermined -- on the contrary, it is essential to its emotional impact that we should regard the outcome as resting on a knife-edge -- but because its optimism is emotionally consonant with the work's pervasive sense of a universe hospitable to the humane. - B. Rosebury. (2003). Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon. 71.


The Appendices