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Fandom of the Month: The Lord of the Rings

Well, folks, September is finally here, and that means it’s time to talk about the godfather of all fandoms!

As you may have gathered from the picture above my blog name, Middle Earth is my favourite fantastical place to visit. It became my first nerdy obsession when I read The Hobbit at age 9, and I haven’t looked back since. In my opinion, The Lord of the Rings is the greatest fantasy novel–if not the greatest novel, period–ever written. I’ll explain the reasons why in some future posts.

Oh yeah, and the movies are pretty good, too. 🙂

If you’re not familiar with The Lord of the Rings, shame on you. Go read it right now. But in case you live in a cave in Siberia and have no access to the book or movies, here’s the basic summary: The Lord of the Rings is a book by British writer and linguist J.R.R. Tolkien, which was published in three volumes back in the ’50s. It takes place in the ancient fantasy world of Middle Earth and tells the story of a small creature (hobbit) named Frodo who goes on a journey to defeat the Dark Lord Sauron by destroying the magic ring which is the source of his power. Of course, that’s a major oversimplification. The story is actually very complex and has dozens of main characters who travel to all kinds of scary and wonderful places. And The Lord of the Rings is only one small part of the huge mythology Tolkien created for Middle Earth, which can also be found in books like The HobbitThe Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin.

 

Peter Jackson directed a trilogy of movies based on The Lord of the Rings in the early 2000s, and he’s currently putting out a trilogy based (sort of) on The Hobbit. (More on that later.) The movies made Middle Earth a bigger part of popular culture than it was before, but the LOTR fandom had been around long before that. This has always been a pretty dignified, intelligent fandom, including lots of college professor and author types who like to write books and give lectures on their favourite stories. Which seems appropriate, since that’s the kind of guy Tolkien was. But that doesn’t mean LOTR fans don’t dress up, sword fight and drop movie quotes into casual conversations as often as the next nerd.

Even if you don’t love LOTR, you have to appreciate the impact it has had on nerd culture. J.R.R. Tolkien practically invented geeks as we know them today. Before him, fairy tales were for kids and sci-fi was mostly for the uneducated masses. Nobody really took speculative fiction seriously, and they certainly weren’t dressing up like their favourite H.G. Wells characters and going to conventions. But after LOTR was published, Elvish graffiti started appearing in subway tunnels and fans started dressing up for hobbit-themed picnics. Tolkien made it okay for adults to read fantasy, and not only read it, but make its imaginary world a part of their daily lives.

And that, kids, is how Harry Potter, Game of ThronesStar Wars and every other fantasy or sci-fi epic of the last fifty years came to be. I’m pretty sure you can also thank Tolkien for the existence of ComicCon. Respect the LOTR fandom!

And stay tuned! This month I’ll be posting fun Middle Earth facts, my favourite quotes, a few rants and raves about new developments in the fandom, and of course some recipes and costume ideas.

As the Elves would say, Namarie!

 

 

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