I’m reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time since I was a child and I’m writing blog posts about the book when I feel like it.
I’m most of the way through LotR now and what keeps blowing my mind is how much Tolkien ends his chapters with intimations that the future is going to be pretty bleak. There’s more than one instance in which a character is “never again seen by mortal men,” meaning that they are super dead.
“Rohan had come at last” or “All the lands were gray and still; and ever the shadow deepened before them, and hope waned in every heart.” These are classic methods of page-turner writing that border on a thriller, and if you told me that these sorts of lines were in this novel before I actually read it I would have laughed.
Is this something that accounts for the huge fandom that the books have maintained over the years? At some point Tolkien switches from this brutal, overbearing worldbuilding (almost the entirety of The Fellowship of the Ring) and then spirals into a strange Tom Clancy riff that keeps you wondering what is going to happen next.
What’s really surprised me the most from this is that you can really see a lot of Tolkien in Stephen King’s writing. King is a huge fan of the “mythical hint,” the intimation that something is going to happen to a character in the future (which might or might not be in this book). King is also very successful (particularly in The Dark Tower novels) in getting the reader to understand the size and scope of thing without overexplaining, which is also something that Tolkien is successful at during The Return of the King but not so much in the earlier books.
In any case, I keep getting surprised by these books. Do you see the same things in them, or am I just pulling ideas out of nowhere?