The Lord of the Rings
Overview
 
The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy
High fantasy
High fantasy or epic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that is set in invented or parallel worlds. High fantasy was brought to fruition through the work of authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, whose major fantasy works were published in the 1950s...

 epic
Epic (genre)
An epic is traditionally a genre of poetry, known as epic poetry. However in modern terms, epic is often extended to other art forms, such as novels, plays, films, and video games where the story is centered on heroic characters, and the action takes place on a grand scale, just as in epic poetry...

 written by English philologist
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

 and University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 professor J. R. R. Tolkien
J. R. R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,...

. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit
The Hobbit
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald...

 (1937), but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in stages between 1937 and 1949, much of it during the Second World War. It is the third best-selling novel ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.
Quotations

The prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them.

Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.

The most critical reader of all, myself, now finds many defects, minor and major, but being fortunately under no obligation either to review the book or to write it again, he will pass over these in silence, except one that has been noted by others: the book is too short.

I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse 'applicability' with 'allegory'; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.

J.R.R. Tolkien's epic trilogy remains the ultimate quest, the ultimate battle between good and evil, the ultimate chronicle of stewardship of the earth. Endlessly imitated, it never has been surpassed.

John Mark Eberhart and Matthew Schofield, “After half a century, The Lord of the Rings towers over fantasy fiction — and now the films loom,” The Kansas City Star, 1 October 2000: J1.

I wonder how could he have been able to invent all this stuff. It feels more like Tolkien discovered some sort of long-lost scrolls.

Peter Jackson Morning Edition, National Public Radio, 17 December 2001

Encyclopedia
The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy
High fantasy
High fantasy or epic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that is set in invented or parallel worlds. High fantasy was brought to fruition through the work of authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, whose major fantasy works were published in the 1950s...

 epic
Epic (genre)
An epic is traditionally a genre of poetry, known as epic poetry. However in modern terms, epic is often extended to other art forms, such as novels, plays, films, and video games where the story is centered on heroic characters, and the action takes place on a grand scale, just as in epic poetry...

 written by English philologist
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

 and University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 professor J. R. R. Tolkien
J. R. R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,...

. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit
The Hobbit
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald...

 (1937), but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in stages between 1937 and 1949, much of it during the Second World War. It is the third best-selling novel ever written, with over 150 million copies sold. Only A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. With well over 200 million copies sold, it ranks among the most famous works in the history of fictional literature....

 by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

 and The Little Prince
The Little Prince
The Little Prince , first published in 1943, is a novella and the most famous work of the French aristocrat writer, poet and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ....

 by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry , officially Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint Exupéry , was a French writer, poet and pioneering aviator. He became a laureate of France's highest literary awards, and in 1939 was the winner of the U.S. National Book Award...

 have sold more copies worldwide (over 200 million each) while the fourth best-selling novel is Tolkien's The Hobbit
The Hobbit
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald...

.

The work was initially intended by Tolkien to be one volume split into three sections. However, when Tolkien submitted the first volume entitled The Lord of the Rings to his publisher, it was decided for economic reasons to publish the work as three separate volumes, each consisting of two books, over the course of a year from the 21st of July 1954 to October 1955, thus creating the now familiar Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The three volumes were entitled The Fellowship of the Ring
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Fellowship of the Ring is the first of three volumes of the epic novel The Lord of the Rings by the English author J. R. R. Tolkien. It takes place in the fictional universe Middle-earth. It was originally published on July 29, 1954 in the United Kingdom...

, The Two Towers
The Two Towers
The Two Towers is the second volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's high fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. It is preceded by The Fellowship of the Ring and followed by The Return of the King.-Title:...

, and The Return of the King
The Return of the King
The Return of the King is the third and final volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, following The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers.-Title:...

. Structurally, the volumes are divided internally into six books, two per volume, with several appendices of background material, much abbreviated from Tolkien's originals, included at the end of the third volume. The Lord of the Rings has since been reprinted numerous times and translated into many languages
Translations of The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien appeared 1954–55 in the original English. It has since been translated, with various degrees of success, into dozens of other languages. Tolkien, an expert in Germanic philology, scrutinized those that were under preparation during his lifetime, and...

, becoming one of the most popular and influential works in the field of 20th-century fantasy literature and the subject of several films.

The title of the novel refers to the story's main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron
Sauron
Sauron is the primary antagonist and titular character of the epic fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.In the same work, he is revealed to be the same character as "the Necromancer" from Tolkien's earlier novel The Hobbit...

, who had in an earlier age created the One Ring
One Ring
The One Ring is a fictional artifact that appears as the central plot element in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy novels. It is described in an earlier story, The Hobbit , as a magic ring of invisibility. The sequel The Lord of the Rings describes its powers as being more encompassing than...

 to rule the other Rings of Power
Rings of Power
The Rings of Power in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium are magical rings created by Sauron or by the Elves of Eregion under Sauron's tutelage...

 as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer and rule all of Middle-earth
Middle-earth
Middle-earth is the fictional setting of the majority of author J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place entirely in Middle-earth, as does much of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales....

. From quiet beginnings in the Shire
Shire (Middle-earth)
The Shire is a region of J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, described in The Lord of the Rings and other works. The Shire refers to an area settled exclusively by Hobbits and largely removed from the goings-on in the rest of Middle-earth. It is located in the northwest of the continent, in...

, a Hobbit
Hobbit
Hobbits are a fictional diminutive race who inhabit the lands of Middle-earth in J. R. R. Tolkien's fiction.Hobbits first appeared in the novel The Hobbit, in which the main protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, is the titular hobbit...

 land not unlike the English countryside, the story ranges across north-west Middle-earth, following the course of the War of the Ring
War of the Ring
In the fictional high fantasy-world of J. R. R. Tolkien, the War of the Ring was fought between Sauron and the free peoples of Middle-earth for control of the One Ring and dominion over the continent. The War of the Ring took place at the end of the Third Age. Together with the Quest of Mount Doom,...

 through the eyes of its characters, notably the Hobbits Frodo Baggins
Frodo Baggins
Frodo Baggins is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium.He is the main protagonist of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He was a hobbit of the Shire who inherited Sauron's Ring from Bilbo Baggins and undertook the quest to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom...

, Samwise "Sam" Gamgee
Samwise Gamgee
Samwise Gamgee, later known as Samwise Gardner and commonly as Sam, is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. Samwise is one of the chief characters in Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings, in which he fills an archetypical role as the sidekick of the protagonist, Frodo...

, Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck
Meriadoc Brandybuck
Meriadoc Brandybuck, usually referred to as Merry, is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, featured throughout his most famous work, The Lord of the Rings....

 and Peregrin "Pippin" Took
Peregrin Took
Peregrin Took, more commonly known as Pippin, is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. Pippin is introduced as a Hobbit who plays a major role as one of the companions of Frodo Baggins, in his quest to destroy the One Ring.Peregrin was the only son of...

, but also the Hobbits' chief allies and travelling companions: Aragorn
Aragorn
Aragorn II is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, one of the main protagonists of The Lord of the Rings. He is first introduced by the name Strider, which the hobbits continue to call him...

, a Human Ranger
Rangers of the North
In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the Rangers of the North, also known as the Dúnedain of the North, were the descendants of the Dúnedain from the lost kingdom of Arnor...

, Boromir
Boromir
Boromir is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings , and is mentioned in the last volume, The Return of the King....

, a Human nobleman, Gimli
Gimli (Middle-earth)
Gimli is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, featured in The Lord of the Rings. A Dwarf warrior, he is the son of Glóin ....

, a Dwarf
Dwarf (Middle-earth)
In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Dwarves are a race inhabiting the world of Arda, a fictional prehistoric Earth which includes the continent Middle-earth....

 warrior, Legolas
Legolas
Legolas is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, featured in The Lord of the Rings. He is an Elf of the Woodland Realm and one of nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring.- Literature :...

, an Elven prince, and Gandalf
Gandalf
Gandalf is a character in J. R. R. Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In these stories, Gandalf appears as a wizard, member and later the head of the order known as the Istari, as well as leader of the Fellowship of the Ring and the army of the West...

, a Wizard.

Tolkien's work has been the subject of extensive analysis of its themes and origins. Although a major work in itself, the story was only the last movement of a larger epic Tolkien had worked on since 1917, in a process he described as mythopoeia. Influences on this earlier work, and on the story of The Lord of the Rings, include philology, mythology, religion and the author's distaste for the effects of industrialization, as well as earlier fantasy works and Tolkien's experiences in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The Lord of the Rings in its turn is considered to have had a great effect on modern fantasy; the impact of Tolkien's works is such that the use of the words "Tolkienian" and "Tolkienesque" has been recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

.

The enduring popularity of The Lord of the Rings has led to numerous references in popular culture, the founding of many societies by fans of Tolkien's works
Tolkien fandom
Tolkien fandom is an international, informal community of fans of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, especially of the Middle-earth legendarium which includes The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion...

, and the publication of many books about Tolkien and his works. The Lord of the Rings has inspired, and continues to inspire
Works inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien
The works of J. R. R. Tolkien have served as the inspiration topainters, musicians, film-makers and writers, to such an extent that Tolkien is sometimes seen as the "father" of the entire genre of high fantasy. The production of such derivative works is sometimes of doubtful legality, because...

, artwork, music, films and television, video games
Middle-earth in video games
While an immense number of computer and video games owe a great deal to J. R. R. Tolkien's works and the many other high fantasy settings based upon his, relatively few games have been directly adapted from his world of Middle-earth...

, and subsequent literature. Award-winning adaptations of The Lord of the Rings
Adaptations of The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings, an epic high fantasy novel by the British author J. R. R. Tolkien, set in his fictional world of Middle-earth, has been adapted for various media multiple times.-Film:...

 have been made for radio, theatre, and film.

Synopsis

The story takes place in the context of historical events in North-West Middle-earth
Middle-earth
Middle-earth is the fictional setting of the majority of author J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place entirely in Middle-earth, as does much of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales....

. Long before the start of the novel the Dark Lord Sauron
Sauron
Sauron is the primary antagonist and titular character of the epic fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.In the same work, he is revealed to be the same character as "the Necromancer" from Tolkien's earlier novel The Hobbit...

 forges the One Ring
One Ring
The One Ring is a fictional artifact that appears as the central plot element in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy novels. It is described in an earlier story, The Hobbit , as a magic ring of invisibility. The sequel The Lord of the Rings describes its powers as being more encompassing than...

 in the year 1600 of the Second Age to gain power over other rings held by the leaders of Men, Elves
Elf (Middle-earth)
In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Elves are one of the races that inhabit a fictional Earth, often called Middle-earth, and set in the remote past. They appear in The Hobbit and in The Lord of the Rings, but their complex history is described more fully in The Silmarillion...

 and Dwarves. He is defeated in battle in the year 3434 of the Second Age, and Isildur
Isildur
Isildur is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in the author's books The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales....

, son of Elendil
Elendil
Elendil is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales....

 cuts off the One Ring and claims it as an heirloom for his line. Isildur is later killed by Orcs
Orc (Middle-earth)
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings, Orcs or Orks are a race of creatures who are used as soldiers and henchmen by both the greater and lesser villains of The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings — Morgoth, Sauron and Saruman...

, and the Ring is lost in the river Anduin
Anduin
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, Anduin is the Sindarin name for the Great River of Wilderland, the longest river in the Third Age . The ancestors of the Rohirrim called it Langflood. It flowed from its source in the Grey and Misty Mountains to the Mouths of Anduin in the Great Sea...

. Over two thousand years later, the Ring is found by a river-dwelling hobbit called Déagol
Déagol
Déagol is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. His story is related in The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of three volumes comprising Tolkien's most famous novel, The Lord of the Rings, in the chapter "The Shadow of the Past"....

, but he is strangled by his friend Sméagol, who takes the ring. Sméagol is banished from his community, and hides under the Misty Mountains
Misty Mountains
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy world of Middle-earth, the Misty Mountains is a mountain range, running for 795 miles from north to south, between Eriador and the valley of the Great River, Anduin, and...

, where the Ring transforms him over the course of hundreds of years into a twisted, corrupted creature called Gollum
Gollum
Gollum is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He was introduced in the author's fantasy novel The Hobbit, and became an important supporting character in its sequel, The Lord of the Rings....

. Eventually he loses the Ring which, as recounted in The Hobbit
The Hobbit
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald...

, is found by Bilbo Baggins
Bilbo Baggins
Bilbo Baggins is the protagonist and titular character of The Hobbit and a supporting character in The Lord of the Rings, two of the most well-known of J. R. R...

. Meanwhile Sauron takes a new physical form and reoccupies his old realm of Mordor
Mordor
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, Mordor or Morhdorh was the dwelling place of Sauron, in the southeast of northwestern Middle-earth to the East of Anduin, the great river. Orodruin, a volcano in Mordor, was the destination of the Fellowship of the Ring in the quest to...

. Gollum sets out in search of the Ring, but is captured by Sauron, who learns from him that Bilbo Baggins now has it. Gollum is set loose and Sauron, who needs the Ring to regain his full power, sends forth the Ringwraiths
Nazgûl
The Nazgûl are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium...

, his dark, fearsome servants, to seize it.

The novel begins in the Shire
Shire (Middle-earth)
The Shire is a region of J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, described in The Lord of the Rings and other works. The Shire refers to an area settled exclusively by Hobbits and largely removed from the goings-on in the rest of Middle-earth. It is located in the northwest of the continent, in...

, as Frodo Baggins
Frodo Baggins
Frodo Baggins is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium.He is the main protagonist of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He was a hobbit of the Shire who inherited Sauron's Ring from Bilbo Baggins and undertook the quest to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom...

 inherits the Ring from Bilbo, his cousin and guardian. Both are unaware of its origin, but Gandalf the Grey
Gandalf
Gandalf is a character in J. R. R. Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In these stories, Gandalf appears as a wizard, member and later the head of the order known as the Istari, as well as leader of the Fellowship of the Ring and the army of the West...

, a wizard
Wizard (Middle-earth)
In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Wizards of Middle-earth are a group of beings outwardly resembling Men but possessing much greater physical and mental power. They are also called the Istari by the Elves. The Sindarin word is Ithryn...

 and old friend of Bilbo, learns of the Ring's history and advises Frodo to take it away from the Shire. Frodo leaves, taking his gardener and friend, Samwise ("Sam") Gamgee
Samwise Gamgee
Samwise Gamgee, later known as Samwise Gardner and commonly as Sam, is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. Samwise is one of the chief characters in Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings, in which he fills an archetypical role as the sidekick of the protagonist, Frodo...

, and two cousins, Meriadoc ("Merry") Brandybuck
Meriadoc Brandybuck
Meriadoc Brandybuck, usually referred to as Merry, is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, featured throughout his most famous work, The Lord of the Rings....

 and Peregrin ("Pippin") Took
Peregrin Took
Peregrin Took, more commonly known as Pippin, is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. Pippin is introduced as a Hobbit who plays a major role as one of the companions of Frodo Baggins, in his quest to destroy the One Ring.Peregrin was the only son of...

, as companions. They nearly encounter the Ringwraiths while still in the Shire, but shake off pursuit by cutting through the Old Forest
Old Forest
In J. R. R. Tolkien’s fictional universe of Middle-earth, the Old Forest is a small forested area which lies east of the Shire in Buckland....

, where they are aided by the enigmatic and powerful Tom Bombadil
Tom Bombadil
Tom Bombadil is a supporting character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in Tolkien's high fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings, published in 1954 and 1955. In the first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo Baggins and company meet Bombadil in the Old Forest...

, upon whom the Ring has no effect. After leaving the Forest, they stop in the town of Bree
Bree (Middle-earth)
Bree is a fictional village in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, east of the Shire and south of Fornost Erain. It is thought to have been inspired by the Buckinghamshire village of Brill, which Tolkien visited regularly in his early years at Oxford...

, where they meet Aragorn
Aragorn
Aragorn II is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, one of the main protagonists of The Lord of the Rings. He is first introduced by the name Strider, which the hobbits continue to call him...

, Isildur's heir, who joins them as guide and protector. They leave Bree after narrowly escaping another attack by the Ringwraiths, but the Ringwraiths follow them to the look-out hill of Weathertop
Weathertop
In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, Weathertop is a hill in the Eriador region of Middle-earth, the southernmost and highest summit of the Weather Hills...

 and wound Frodo with a Morgul Blade. Aragorn leads the hobbits toward the Elven refuge of Rivendell
Rivendell
Rivendell is an Elven outpost in Middle-earth, a fictional realm created by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was established and ruled by Elrond in the Second Age of Middle-earth...

, while Frodo gradually succumbs to the wound. At the Ford of Bruinen, the Ringwraiths attack again, but flood waters controlled by Elrond
Elrond
Elrond Half-elven is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is introduced in The Hobbit, and plays a supporting role in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.-Character overview:...

, master of Rivendell, rise up and overwhelm them, saving the company.

Frodo recovers in Rivendell under the care of Elrond. The Council of Elrond reveals much significant history about Sauron and the Ring, as well as the news that Sauron has corrupted the powerful wizard and previous ally Saruman
Saruman
Saruman the White is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. He is leader of the Istari, wizards sent to Middle-earth in human form by the godlike Valar to challenge Sauron, the main antagonist of the tale, but later on aims at gaining...

. The Council decides that the threat of Sauron is too great to ignore and that the best course of action is to destroy the Ring by returning it to Mount Doom
Mount Doom
Mount Doom is a volcano in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. It is located in the heart of the black land of Mordor and close to Barad-dûr, it is approximately high. Alternative names, in Tolkien's invented language of Sindarin, include Orodruin and Amon Amarth...

 in Mordor, where it was forged. Frodo volunteers to take the Ring, and a "Fellowship of the Ring" is chosen to accompany and protect him: Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Gandalf, Gimli
Gimli (Middle-earth)
Gimli is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, featured in The Lord of the Rings. A Dwarf warrior, he is the son of Glóin ....

 the Dwarf, Legolas
Legolas
Legolas is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, featured in The Lord of the Rings. He is an Elf of the Woodland Realm and one of nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring.- Literature :...

 the Elf, and the man Boromir
Boromir
Boromir is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings , and is mentioned in the last volume, The Return of the King....

, son of the Ruling Steward Denethor
Denethor
Denethor II of the House of Húrin is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Return of the King, which is the third and final part of his novel The Lord of the Rings. In the novel, he is the 26th and penultimate ruling Steward of Gondor....

 of the realm of Gondor
Gondor
Gondor is a fictional kingdom in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings, described as the greatest realm of Men in the west of Middle-earth by the end of the Third Age. The third volume of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, is concerned with the events in Gondor during the War of the Ring and with...

.

After failing to cross the Misty Mountains via the pass below Caradhras
Caradhras
In the fictional universe of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, Caradhras, also called the Redhorn , and known in the Dwarves' language as Barazinbar, is one of the mightiest peaks in the Misty Mountains...

, the company pass through the Mines of Moria
Moria (Middle-earth)
In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, Moria was the name given by the Eldar to an enormous underground complex in north-western Middle-earth, comprising a vast network of tunnels, chambers, mines and huge halls or 'mansions', that ran under and ultimately through the Misty Mountains...

, where they are attacked by Orcs & The Watcher in the Water
Watcher in the Water
The Watcher in the Water is a fictional creature in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium; it appears in The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume of The Lord of the Rings...

. Gandalf falls while fighting the ancient and terrible Balrog
Balrog
Balrogs are fictional demonic beings who appear in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. Such creatures first appeared in print in his novel The Lord of the Rings, though they figured in earlier writings that posthumously appeared in The Silmarillion and other books.Balrogs are described as...

, allowing the others to escape. The remaining company take refuge in the Elven forest of Lothlórien. With boats and gifts from the Lady Galadriel
Galadriel
Galadriel is a character created by J.R.R. Tolkien, appearing in his Middle-earth legendarium. She appears in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales....

, the company then travel down the River Anduin
Anduin
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, Anduin is the Sindarin name for the Great River of Wilderland, the longest river in the Third Age . The ancestors of the Rohirrim called it Langflood. It flowed from its source in the Grey and Misty Mountains to the Mouths of Anduin in the Great Sea...

 to the hill of Amon Hen. There Boromir succumbs to the lure of the Ring and attempts to take it from Frodo, who breaks from the Fellowship to continue the quest to Mordor
Mordor
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, Mordor or Morhdorh was the dwelling place of Sauron, in the southeast of northwestern Middle-earth to the East of Anduin, the great river. Orodruin, a volcano in Mordor, was the destination of the Fellowship of the Ring in the quest to...

 alone, though Sam insists on coming to assist and protect him.

Meanwhile, orcs sent by Sauron and Saruman kill Boromir and kidnap Merry and Pippin. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas pursue the orcs into the kingdom of Rohan
Rohan
Rohan is a realm in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy era of Middle-earth. It is a grassland which lies north of its ally Gondor and north-west of Mordor, the realm of Sauron, their enemy . It is inhabited by the Rohirrim, a people of herdsmen and farmers who are well-known for their horses and cavalry....

. The orcs are slain in a surprise attack by the Rohirrim, and Merry and Pippin escape into Fangorn forest, where they are befriended by the tree-like Ent
Ent
Ents are a race of beings in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy world Middle-earth who closely resemble trees. They are similar to the talking trees in folklore around the world. Their name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word for giant....

s. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas track the hobbits to Fangorn, but find not the hobbits but Gandalf, resurrected after his battle with the Balrog and reborn as the significantly more powerful "Gandalf the White". Gandalf assures them that Merry and Pippin are safe, and they travel instead to rouse Théoden
Théoden
Théoden is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings. He appears as a major supporting character in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.-Appearances:...

, King of Rohan, from a stupor of despair inflicted by Saruman, and to aid the Rohirrim in a stand against Saruman's armies. Théoden fortifies himself at the ancient fortress of Helm's Deep
Helm's Deep
In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings, Helm's Deep was a large valley in the north-western Ered Nimrais .The valley was described as being blocked over its entire width by the natural series of hills called Helm's Dike and behind that lay the fortress of Aglarond or the Hornburg, at the...

 along with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, while Gandalf rides off to gather more soldiers. Helm's Deep
Helm's Deep
In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings, Helm's Deep was a large valley in the north-western Ered Nimrais .The valley was described as being blocked over its entire width by the natural series of hills called Helm's Dike and behind that lay the fortress of Aglarond or the Hornburg, at the...

 is besieged by Saruman's orcs, but Gandalf arrives with reinforcements, and the orcs are defeated.

Meanwhile the Ents, roused to action from their customarily peaceful ways by Merry and Pippin, attack Isengard
Isengard
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, Isengard , a translation of the Sindarin Angrenost, was a large fortress. Both names mean "Iron fortress" In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, Isengard , a translation of the Sindarin Angrenost, was a large fortress....

, trapping Saruman in the tower of Orthanc. Gandalf, Théoden and the others arrive at Isengard to confront Saruman. Saruman refuses to acknowledge the error of his ways, and Gandalf strips him of his rank and most of his powers. Merry and Pippin rejoin the others and Pippin is drawn to look into a palantír
Palantír
A palantír is a magical artifact from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy legendarium. A palantír A palantír (pl. palantíri) is a magical artifact from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy legendarium. A palantír A palantír (pl. palantíri) is a magical artifact from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy legendarium. A palantír...

, a seeing-stone that Saruman had used to communicate with Sauron. This leads Sauron to think that Pippin is the Ring-bearer and that Saruman has captured him. For Pippin's protection Gandalf takes him to the kingdom of Gondor.

On their way to Mordor, Frodo and Sam capture Gollum, who has been following them from Moria, and force him to guide them to Mordor. Finding Mordor's main gate impassable, they travel instead toward a secret pass known to Gollum. Gollum betrays Frodo by leading him to the great spider Shelob
Shelob
Shelob is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. She appears at the end of the fourth book, second volume , of The Lord of the Rings.-Literature:...

 in the tunnels of Cirith Ungol. Frodo is left seemingly dead by Shelob's bite, but Sam fights her off. Sam takes the Ring, and forces himself to leave Frodo, believing him dead. Orcs find Frodo's body and Sam overhears them say that Frodo is in fact not dead, but unconscious. Frodo is taken by the orcs to the tower of Cirith Ungol, and Sam determines to rescue him.

Sauron begins his military assault upon Gondor
Gondor
Gondor is a fictional kingdom in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings, described as the greatest realm of Men in the west of Middle-earth by the end of the Third Age. The third volume of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, is concerned with the events in Gondor during the War of the Ring and with...

. Gandalf arrives with Pippin at the city of Minas Tirith
Minas Tirith
Minas Tirith , originally named Minas Anor, is a fictional city and castle in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings. It became the heavily fortified capital of Gondor in the second half of the Third Age...

 in Gondor to alert Denethor of the impending attack. Minas Tirith is besieged
Battle of the Pelennor Fields
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy fiction, the Battle of Pelennor Fields is the battle for the city of Minas Tirith between the forces of Gondor and its allies, and the forces of the Dark Lord Sauron...

, and Denethor, under the influence of Sauron through another palantír, loses hope and commits suicide. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli come to Gondor by the Paths of the Dead
Paths of the Dead
In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the Paths of the Dead were a haunted passage under the White Mountains.The Paths of the Dead started at the Dark Door at the end of the long valley of Harrowdale, beyond the Firienfeld and the forest of Dimholt, wedged in between the mountains Irensaga ,...

, where Aragorn raises an undead army of oath-breakers in fulfillment of an old prophecy. The ghostly army help them to defeat the Corsairs of Umbar
Corsairs of Umbar
The Corsairs of Umbar were a fleet of Men of Umbar in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, allied to Sauron in his war against Gondor.-Literature:...

 invading southern Gondor, and the forces now freed from the south, along with Rohan's cavalry, rally to help break the siege at Minas Tirith.

Sam rescues Frodo from Cirith Ungol, and they journey through Mordor. The mental weight of the ring's corruptive influence weakens Frodo considerably as they near Mount Doom, but he is aided by Sam. Meanwhile, in order to give Sam and Frodo a chance to cross Mordor safely, Aragorn leads the remaining Gondorian and Rohirrim soldiers to march on the Black Gate of Mordor. In the climactic battle the vastly outnumbered alliance of Gondor and Rohan fight desperately against Sauron's armies, with the intent of diverting Sauron's attention from Mount Doom
Mount Doom
Mount Doom is a volcano in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. It is located in the heart of the black land of Mordor and close to Barad-dûr, it is approximately high. Alternative names, in Tolkien's invented language of Sindarin, include Orodruin and Amon Amarth...

. At the edge of the Cracks of Doom, Frodo is unable to resist the Ring, and claims it for himself. Gollum suddenly reappears, struggles with Frodo for the Ring and bites off Frodo's finger, Ring and all. However in doing so he falls into the fire, taking the Ring with him, and the One Ring is thus destroyed. In the instant of its destruction, Sauron perishes, his armies begin to retreat, his tower crumbles into dust, the Ringwraiths disintegrate, and the War of the Ring finally ends. Aragorn is crowned Elessar, King of Arnor and Gondor, and marries his longtime love Arwen
Arwen
Arwen Undómiel is a fictional character in J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium. She appears in his novel, The Lord of the Rings, usually published in three volumes. Arwen is one of the Half-elven who lived during the Third Age.-Literature:...

, the daughter of Elrond.

Unbeknownst to them, however, Saruman has escaped his captivity and enslaved the Shire. The four hobbits, upon returning to the Shire and discovering this, raise a rebellion and overthrow him. Saruman is killed by his former servant Gríma Wormtongue, who is in turn killed by Hobbit archers. The War of the Ring thus comes to its true end on Frodo's very doorstep. Merry and Pippin are acclaimed heroes, and Sam marries Rosie Cotton, and uses his gifts from Galadriel to restore the Shire. Frodo, however, remains wounded in body and spirit after his difficult journey bearing the weight of the One Ring, and some years later, accompanied by Bilbo and Gandalf, sails from the Grey Havens west over the Sea to the Undying Lands
Aman
-External links:*...

 to find peace. After Rosie's death, Sam gives his daughter the Red Book of Westmarch
Red Book of Westmarch
The Red Book of Westmarch is a fictional manuscript written by hobbits, a conceit of author J. R. R...

, containing the story and adventures of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry. Sam is then said to have crossed west over the Sea, the last of the Ring-bearers, though his ultimate fate remains unknown.

Main characters

Protagonists:
  • Frodo Baggins
    Frodo Baggins
    Frodo Baggins is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium.He is the main protagonist of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He was a hobbit of the Shire who inherited Sauron's Ring from Bilbo Baggins and undertook the quest to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom...

    , a well-to-do hobbit
    Hobbit
    Hobbits are a fictional diminutive race who inhabit the lands of Middle-earth in J. R. R. Tolkien's fiction.Hobbits first appeared in the novel The Hobbit, in which the main protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, is the titular hobbit...

     from the Shire
    Shire (Middle-earth)
    The Shire is a region of J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, described in The Lord of the Rings and other works. The Shire refers to an area settled exclusively by Hobbits and largely removed from the goings-on in the rest of Middle-earth. It is located in the northwest of the continent, in...

    , who inherits the One Ring
    One Ring
    The One Ring is a fictional artifact that appears as the central plot element in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy novels. It is described in an earlier story, The Hobbit , as a magic ring of invisibility. The sequel The Lord of the Rings describes its powers as being more encompassing than...

     from Bilbo. Frodo is responsible for destroying the Ring in the fire of Mount Doom.
  • Samwise Gamgee
    Samwise Gamgee
    Samwise Gamgee, later known as Samwise Gardner and commonly as Sam, is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. Samwise is one of the chief characters in Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings, in which he fills an archetypical role as the sidekick of the protagonist, Frodo...

    , gardener for the Bagginses, who accompanies Frodo on the quest to destroy the Ring.
  • Meriadoc Brandybuck
    Meriadoc Brandybuck
    Meriadoc Brandybuck, usually referred to as Merry, is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, featured throughout his most famous work, The Lord of the Rings....

    , or Merry, Frodo's cousin and companion in the Fellowship.
  • Peregrin Took
    Peregrin Took
    Peregrin Took, more commonly known as Pippin, is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. Pippin is introduced as a Hobbit who plays a major role as one of the companions of Frodo Baggins, in his quest to destroy the One Ring.Peregrin was the only son of...

    , Pip or Pippin, Frodo's cousin and companion in the Fellowship.
  • Gandalf
    Gandalf
    Gandalf is a character in J. R. R. Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In these stories, Gandalf appears as a wizard, member and later the head of the order known as the Istari, as well as leader of the Fellowship of the Ring and the army of the West...

    , a wizard
    Wizard (Middle-earth)
    In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Wizards of Middle-earth are a group of beings outwardly resembling Men but possessing much greater physical and mental power. They are also called the Istari by the Elves. The Sindarin word is Ithryn...

    , who aids Frodo in his quest.
  • Aragorn
    Aragorn
    Aragorn II is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, one of the main protagonists of The Lord of the Rings. He is first introduced by the name Strider, which the hobbits continue to call him...

    , descendant of Isildur
    Isildur
    Isildur is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in the author's books The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales....

     and rightful heir to the thrones of Arnor
    Arnor
    Arnor is a fictional kingdom in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings. Arnor, or the Northern Kingdom, was a kingdom of the Dúnedain in the land of Eriador in Middle-earth. The name probably means "Land of the King", from Sindarin Ara- + dor...

     and Gondor
    Gondor
    Gondor is a fictional kingdom in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings, described as the greatest realm of Men in the west of Middle-earth by the end of the Third Age. The third volume of The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, is concerned with the events in Gondor during the War of the Ring and with...

    .
  • Legolas
    Legolas
    Legolas is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, featured in The Lord of the Rings. He is an Elf of the Woodland Realm and one of nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring.- Literature :...

    , an elf prince, who aids Frodo and the Fellowship. Son of King Thranduil
    Thranduil
    Thranduil is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is a supporting character in The Hobbit, and is referenced briefly in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.-In literature:...

     of Mirkwood
    Mirkwood
    Mirkwood is a name used for two distinct fictional forests in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. In the First Age, the highlands of Dorthonion north of Beleriand were known as Mirkwood after falling under Morgoth's control. During the Third Age, the large forest in Rhovanion, east of the Anduin in ...

     and friend of the dwarf Gimli
    Gimli (Middle-earth)
    Gimli is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, featured in The Lord of the Rings. A Dwarf warrior, he is the son of Glóin ....

    .
  • Gimli
    Gimli (Middle-earth)
    Gimli is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, featured in The Lord of the Rings. A Dwarf warrior, he is the son of Glóin ....

    , son of Glóin, a dwarf included in the Fellowship.
  • Denethor
    Denethor
    Denethor II of the House of Húrin is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Return of the King, which is the third and final part of his novel The Lord of the Rings. In the novel, he is the 26th and penultimate ruling Steward of Gondor....

    , ruling Steward of Gondor and Lord of Minas Tirith.
  • Boromir
    Boromir
    Boromir is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings , and is mentioned in the last volume, The Return of the King....

    , the eldest son of Denethor and member of the Fellowship. He tries to take the ring from Frodo by force.
  • Faramir
    Faramir
    In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, Faramir is a fictional character appearing in The Lord of the Rings. He is introduced as the younger brother of Boromir of the Fellowship of the Ring and second son of Denethor II, the Steward of the realm of Gondor...

    , younger brother of Boromir and not favoured by Denethor. He is given the same choice as his brother Boromir: take the ring by force or let Frodo continue his quest.
  • Théoden
    Théoden
    Théoden is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings. He appears as a major supporting character in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.-Appearances:...

    , King of Rohan
    Rohan
    Rohan is a realm in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy era of Middle-earth. It is a grassland which lies north of its ally Gondor and north-west of Mordor, the realm of Sauron, their enemy . It is inhabited by the Rohirrim, a people of herdsmen and farmers who are well-known for their horses and cavalry....

    .
  • Éomer
    Éomer
    Éomer is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in The Two Towers and The Return of the King, the second and third volumes of Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings....

    , the 3rd Marshall of the Mark, Théoden's nephew. Later King of Rohan after Theoden's death.
  • Éowyn
    Éowyn
    Éowyn is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, who appears in his most famous work, The Lord of the Rings. She is a noblewoman of Rohan who describes herself as a "shieldmaiden".-Literature:...

    , sister of Eomer, who disguises herself as a male warrior named Dernhelm to fight beside Théoden.
  • Tom Bombadil
    Tom Bombadil
    Tom Bombadil is a supporting character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in Tolkien's high fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings, published in 1954 and 1955. In the first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo Baggins and company meet Bombadil in the Old Forest...

    , a forest dweller of great power and wisdom. The only character not affected by the ring of power and who seeks no unnatural dominion over any other living creature.
  • Goldberry
    Goldberry
    Goldberry is a supporting character from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Also known as the "River-woman's daughter," she is the wife of Tom Bombadil...

    , "Daughter of the River" and married to Tom Bombadil.
  • Treebeard
    Treebeard
    Treebeard is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings. The eldest of the species of Ents, he is said to live in the ancient Forest of Fangorn and stands fourteen feet in height and is tree-like in appearance, with leafy hair and a rigid structure. Fangorn Forest...

    , an Ent, who rescues Meriadoc and Pippin from orcs and who helps to turn the tide of battle.


Antagonists:
  • Sauron
    Sauron
    Sauron is the primary antagonist and titular character of the epic fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.In the same work, he is revealed to be the same character as "the Necromancer" from Tolkien's earlier novel The Hobbit...

    , the Dark Lord and titular Lord of the Rings, a fallen maia
    Maia (Middle-earth)
    The Maiar are beings from J. R. R. Tolkien's high fantasy legendarium. They are lesser Ainur who entered Eä in the beginning of time. Tolkien uses the term Valar to refer both to all the Ainur who entered Eä, and specifically to the greatest among them, the fourteen Lords and Queens of the Valar...

     who helped the Elves forge the Rings of Power long ago. He forged the One Ring in secret to control all the other Rings of Power.
  • The Nazgûl
    Nazgûl
    The Nazgûl are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium...

     or Ringwraiths, nine servants of Sauron. Men of old, they were enslaved to the One Ring through the Rings of Power.
  • The Witch-king of Angmar
    Witch-king of Angmar
    The Witch-king of Angmar, also known as the Lord of the Nazgûl and the Black Captain among other names, is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings. In Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings, he is the chief of the Nazgûl , the chief servants...

    , the Lord of the Nazgûl, and Sauron's most powerful servant, who commands Sauron's army.
  • Saruman
    Saruman
    Saruman the White is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. He is leader of the Istari, wizards sent to Middle-earth in human form by the godlike Valar to challenge Sauron, the main antagonist of the tale, but later on aims at gaining...

    , a corrupted wizard
    Wizard (Middle-earth)
    In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Wizards of Middle-earth are a group of beings outwardly resembling Men but possessing much greater physical and mental power. They are also called the Istari by the Elves. The Sindarin word is Ithryn...

     who seeks the One Ring for himself.
  • Gríma Wormtongue, a servant of Saruman, a go-between from Saruman to Théoden who poisons Théoden's perceptions with well placed "advice".
  • Gollum
    Gollum
    Gollum is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He was introduced in the author's fantasy novel The Hobbit, and became an important supporting character in its sequel, The Lord of the Rings....

     (named Sméagol in earlier life), who formerly possessed the One Ring, which turned him to evil and gave him unnaturally long life.
  • Shelob
    Shelob
    Shelob is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. She appears at the end of the fourth book, second volume , of The Lord of the Rings.-Literature:...

     is the child of Ungoliant
    Ungoliant
    Ungoliant is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, described as an evil spirit in the form of a spider. She is mentioned briefly in The Lord of the Rings, and plays a supporting role in The Silmarillion. Her origins are unclear, as Tolkien's writings don't explicitly...

     and occupies Torech Ungol

Background

The Lord of the Rings started as a sequel to J. R. R. Tolkien's earlier work, The Hobbit
The Hobbit
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald...

, published in 1937. The popularity of The Hobbit had led George Allen & Unwin, the publishers, to request a sequel. Tolkien warned them that he wrote quite slowly, and responded with several stories he had already developed. Having rejected his contemporary drafts for The Silmarillion
The Silmarillion
The Silmarillion is a collection of J. R. R. Tolkien's mythopoeic works, edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien in 1977, with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay, who later became a noted fantasy writer. The Silmarillion, along with J. R. R...

, putting on hold Roverandom
Roverandom
"Roverandom" is a novella written by J.R.R. Tolkien, originally told in 1925. It deals with the adventures of a young dog, Rover. In the story, an irritable wizard turns Rover into a toy, and Rover goes to the moon and under the sea in order to find the wizard again to turn him back into a...

, and accepting Farmer Giles of Ham
Farmer Giles of Ham
"Farmer Giles of Ham" is a Medieval fable written by J. R. R. Tolkien in 1937 and published in 1949. The story describes the encounters between Farmer Giles and a wily dragon named Chrysophylax, and how Giles manages to use these to rise from humble beginnings to rival the king of the land...

, Allen & Unwin thought more stories about hobbits would be popular. So at the age of 45, Tolkien began writing the story that would become The Lord of the Rings. The story would not be finished until 12 years later, in 1949, and would not be fully published until 1955, when Tolkien was 63 years old.

Writing

Persuaded by his publishers, he started "a new Hobbit" in December 1937. After several false starts, the story of the One Ring emerged. The idea for the first chapter ("A Long-Expected Party") arrived fully formed, although the reasons behind Bilbo's disappearance, the significance of the Ring, and the title The Lord of the Rings did not arrive until the spring of 1938. Originally, he planned to write a story in which Bilbo had used up all his treasure and was looking for another adventure to gain more; however, he remembered the Ring and its powers and decided to write about that instead.

Writing was slow, due to Tolkien having a full-time academic position, and needing to earn further money as a university examiner. Tolkien abandoned The Lord of the Rings during most of 1943 and only re-started it in April 1944, as a serial for his son Christopher Tolkien
Christopher Tolkien
Christopher Reuel Tolkien is the third and youngest son of the author J. R. R. Tolkien , and is best known as the editor of much of his father's posthumously published work. He drew the original maps for his father's The Lord of the Rings, which he signed C. J. R. T. The J...

, who was sent chapters as they were written while he was serving in South Africa with the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

. Tolkien made another concerted effort in 1946, and showed the manuscript to his publishers in 1947. The story was effectively finished the next year, but Tolkien did not complete the revision of earlier parts of the work until 1949.

Influences


The Lord of the Rings developed as a personal exploration by Tolkien of his interests in philology
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

, religion (particularly Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

), fairy tale
Fairy tale
A fairy tale is a type of short story that typically features such folkloric characters, such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, dwarves, giants or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments. However, only a small number of the stories refer to fairies...

s, Norse
Norse mythology
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

 and general Germanic mythology
Germanic paganism
Germanic paganism refers to the theology and religious practices of the Germanic peoples of north-western Europe from the Iron Age until their Christianization during the Medieval period...

, and also Celtic
Celtic mythology
Celtic mythology is the mythology of Celtic polytheism, apparently the religion of the Iron Age Celts. Like other Iron Age Europeans, the early Celts maintained a polytheistic mythology and religious structure...

, Slavic
Slavic mythology
Slavic mythology is the mythological aspect of the polytheistic religion that was practised by the Slavs before Christianisation.The religion possesses many common traits with other religions descended from the Proto-Indo-European religion....

, Persian
Persian mythology
Persian mythology are traditional tales and stories of ancient origin, some involving extraordinary or supernatural beings. Drawn from the legendary past of the Iranian cultural continent which especially consists of the state of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Central Asia, they reflect the...

, Greek
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

,and Finnish mythology
Finnish mythology
Finnish mythology is the mythology that went with Finnish paganism which was practised by the Finnish people prior to Christianisation. It has many features shared with fellow Finnic Estonian mythology and its non-Finnic neighbours, the Balts and the Scandinavians...

. Tolkien acknowledged, and external critics have verified, the influences of George MacDonald and William Morris
William Morris
William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

 and the Anglo-Saxon poem
Anglo-Saxon literature
Old English literature encompasses literature written in Old English in Anglo-Saxon England, in the period from the 7th century to the Norman Conquest of 1066. These works include genres such as epic poetry, hagiography, sermons, Bible translations, legal works, chronicles, riddles, and others...

 Beowulf
Beowulf
Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

. The question of a direct influence of Wagner's The Ring Cycle on Tolkien's work is often debated by critics.

Tolkien included neither any explicit religion nor cult in his work. Rather the themes, moral philosophy, and cosmology of the Lord of the Rings reflect his Catholic worldview. In one of his letters Tolkien states, "The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like 'religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism."

Some locations and characters were inspired by Tolkien's childhood in Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

, where he first lived near Sarehole Mill
Sarehole
Sarehole is an area in Hall Green, Birmingham, England . Sarehole, a name no longer used in addresses, was a hamlet which gave its name to a farm and a mill. It extended from the ford at Green Lane, southwards for about a mile, along the River Cole to the Dingles...

, and later near Edgbaston Reservoir
Edgbaston Reservoir
Edgbaston Reservoir, originally known as Rotton Park Reservoir and referred to in some early maps as Rock Pool Reservoir, is a canal feeder reservoir in the Ladywood district of Birmingham, England...

. There are also hints of the Black Country
Black Country
The Black Country is a loosely defined area of the English West Midlands conurbation, to the north and west of Birmingham, and to the south and east of Wolverhampton. During the industrial revolution in the 19th century this area had become one of the most intensely industrialised in the nation...

, which is within easy reach of north west Edgbaston. This shows in such names as "Underhill", and the description of Saruman's industrialization of Isengard and The Shire. It has also been suggested that The Shire
Shire (Middle-earth)
The Shire is a region of J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, described in The Lord of the Rings and other works. The Shire refers to an area settled exclusively by Hobbits and largely removed from the goings-on in the rest of Middle-earth. It is located in the northwest of the continent, in...

 and its surroundings were based on the countryside around Stonyhurst College
Stonyhurst College
Stonyhurst College is a Roman Catholic independent school, adhering to the Jesuit tradition. It is located on the Stonyhurst Estate near the village of Hurst Green in the Ribble Valley area of Lancashire, England, and occupies a Grade I listed building...

 in Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

 where Tolkien frequently stayed during the 1940s. The work was influenced by the effects of his military service during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, to the point that Frodo has been "diagnosed" as suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or "shell-shock," which was first diagnosed at the Battle of the Somme, at which Tolkien served.

Publication history

A dispute with his publisher, George Allen & Unwin
Allen & Unwin
Allen & Unwin, formerly a major British publishing house, is now an independent book publisher and distributor based in Australia. The Australian directors have been the sole owners of the Allen & Unwin name since effecting a management buy out at the time the UK parent company, Unwin Hyman, was...

, led to the book being offered to Collins
HarperCollins
HarperCollins is a publishing company owned by News Corporation. It is the combination of the publishers William Collins, Sons and Co Ltd, a British company, and Harper & Row, an American company, itself the result of an earlier merger of Harper & Brothers and Row, Peterson & Company. The worldwide...

 in 1950. Tolkien intended The Silmarillion
The Silmarillion
The Silmarillion is a collection of J. R. R. Tolkien's mythopoeic works, edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien in 1977, with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay, who later became a noted fantasy writer. The Silmarillion, along with J. R. R...

 (itself largely unrevised at this point) to be published along with The Lord of the Rings, but A&U were unwilling to do this. After his contact at Collins, Milton Waldman, expressed the belief that The Lord of the Rings itself "urgently wanted cutting", he eventually demanded that they publish the book in 1952. They did not; and so Tolkien wrote to Allen and Unwin, saying, "I would gladly consider the publication of any part of the stuff."

For publication, the book was divided into three volumes: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Fellowship of the Ring is the first of three volumes of the epic novel The Lord of the Rings by the English author J. R. R. Tolkien. It takes place in the fictional universe Middle-earth. It was originally published on July 29, 1954 in the United Kingdom...

 (Books I, The Ring Sets Out, and II, The Ring Goes South,) The Two Towers
The Two Towers
The Two Towers is the second volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's high fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. It is preceded by The Fellowship of the Ring and followed by The Return of the King.-Title:...

 (Books III, The Treason of Isengard, and IV, The Ring Goes East,), and The Return of the King
The Return of the King
The Return of the King is the third and final volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, following The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers.-Title:...

 (Books V, The War of the Ring, and VI, The End of the Third Age, plus six appendices). This was due largely to post-war paper shortages, as well as being a way to keep down the price of the book. Delays in producing appendices, maps and especially indices led to the volumes being published later than originally hoped — on 21 July 1954, on 11 November 1954 and on 20 October 1955 respectively in the United Kingdom, and slightly later in the United States. The Return of the King was especially delayed. Tolkien, moreover, did not especially like the title The Return of the King, believing it gave away too much of the storyline. He had originally suggested The War of the Ring, which was dismissed by his publishers.

The books were published under a profit-sharing arrangement, whereby Tolkien would not receive an advance or royalties until the books had broken even, after which he would take a large share of the profits.

Editions and revisions

In the early 1960s Donald A. Wollheim
Donald A. Wollheim
Donald Allen Wollheim was an American science fiction ' editor, publisher, writer, and fan. As an author, he published under his own name as well as under pseudonyms, including David Grinnell....

, science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 editor of the paperback publisher Ace Books
Ace Books
Ace Books is the oldest active specialty publisher of science fiction and fantasy books. The company was founded in New York City in 1952 by Aaron A. Wyn, and began as a genre publisher of mysteries and westerns...

, claimed that The Lord of the Rings was not protected in the United States under American copyright law
United States copyright law
The copyright law of the United States governs the legally enforceable rights of creative and artistic works under the laws of the United States.Copyright law in the United States is part of federal law, and is authorized by the U.S. Constitution...

 because Houghton Mifflin
Houghton Mifflin
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is an educational and trade publisher in the United States. Headquartered in Boston's Back Bay, it publishes textbooks, instructional technology materials, assessments, reference works, and fiction and non-fiction for both young readers and adults.-History:The company was...

, the U.S. hardcover publisher, had neglected to copyright the work in the United States. Ace Books then proceeded to publish an edition, unauthorized by Tolkien and without paying royalties
Royalties
Royalties are usage-based payments made by one party to another for the right to ongoing use of an asset, sometimes an intellectual property...

 to him. Tolkien took issue with this and quickly notified his fans of this objection. Grass-roots pressure from these fans became so great that Ace Books withdrew their edition and made a nominal payment to Tolkien. Authorized editions followed from Ballantine Books
Ballantine Books
Ballantine Books is a major book publisher located in the United States, founded in 1952 by Ian Ballantine with his wife, Betty Ballantine. It was acquired by Random House in 1973, which in turn was acquired by Bertelsmann AG in 1998 and remains part of that company today. Ballantine's logo is a...

 and Houghton Mifflin
Houghton Mifflin
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is an educational and trade publisher in the United States. Headquartered in Boston's Back Bay, it publishes textbooks, instructional technology materials, assessments, reference works, and fiction and non-fiction for both young readers and adults.-History:The company was...

 to tremendous commercial success. By the mid-1960s the novel had become a cultural phenomenon. Tolkien undertook various textual revisions to produce a version of the book that would be published with his consent and establish an unquestioned US copyright. This text became the Second Edition of The Lord of the Rings, published in 1965. Houghton Mifflin editions after 1994 consolidate variant revisions by Tolkien, and corrections supervised by Christopher Tolkien
Christopher Tolkien
Christopher Reuel Tolkien is the third and youngest son of the author J. R. R. Tolkien , and is best known as the editor of much of his father's posthumously published work. He drew the original maps for his father's The Lord of the Rings, which he signed C. J. R. T. The J...

, which resulted, after some initial glitches, in a computer-based unified text.

Posthumous publication of drafts

From 1988 to 1992 Christopher Tolkien published the surviving drafts of The Lord of The Rings, chronicling and illuminating with commentary the stages of the text's development, in volumes 6–9 of his History of Middle-earth series. The four volumes carry the titles The Return of the Shadow, The Treason of Isengard, The War of the Ring, and Sauron Defeated.

Translations

The novel has been translated, with various degrees of success, into at least 38 other languages. Tolkien, an expert in philology
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

, examined many of these translations, and made comments on each that reflect both the translation process and his work. As he was unhappy with some choices made by early translators, such as the Swedish translation
Translation of The Lord of the Rings into Swedish
The translations of The Lord of the Rings into Swedish have been subject of controversy.- Ohlmarks' translation :Åke Ohlmarks was a prolific translator, who during his career besides Tolkien published Swedish versions of Shakespeare, Dante and the Qur'an...

 by Åke Ohlmarks
Åke Ohlmarks
Åke Joel Ohlmarks was a Swedish author, translator and scholar of religion.He worked as a Lecturer at the University of Greifswald from 1941 to 1945...

, Tolkien wrote a "Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings" (1967). Because The Lord of the Rings purports to be a translation of the fictitious Red Book of Westmarch
Red Book of Westmarch
The Red Book of Westmarch is a fictional manuscript written by hobbits, a conceit of author J. R. R...

, with the English language representing the Westron
Westron
Westron, or the Common Speech, is a fictional language in the fantasy works of J. R. R. Tolkien.Westron is the closest thing to a lingua franca in Middle-earth, at least at the time during which The Lord of the Rings is set. "Westron" is an invented English word, derived from West...

 of the "original", Tolkien suggested that translators attempt to capture the interplay between English and the invented nomenclature of the English work, and gave several examples along with general guidance.

Reception

The Lord of the Rings has received mixed reviews since its inception, ranging from terrible to excellent. Recent reviews in various media have been, on the whole, highly positive and Tolkien's literary achievement is slowly being acknowledged as a significant one. On its initial review the Sunday Telegraph
Sunday Telegraph
The Sunday Telegraph is a British broadsheet newspaper, founded in February 1961. It is the sister paper of The Daily Telegraph, but is run separately with a different editorial staff, although there is some cross-usage of stories...

 felt it was "among the greatest works of imaginative fiction of the twentieth century." The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times (UK)
The Sunday Times is a Sunday broadsheet newspaper, distributed in the United Kingdom. The Sunday Times is published by Times Newspapers Ltd, a subsidiary of News International, which is in turn owned by News Corporation. Times Newspapers also owns The Times, but the two papers were founded...

 seemed to echo these sentiments when in its review it was stated that "the English-speaking world is divided into those who have read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and those who are going to read them." The New York Herald Tribune
New York Herald Tribune
The New York Herald Tribune was a daily newspaper created in 1924 when the New York Tribune acquired the New York Herald.Other predecessors, which had earlier merged into the New York Tribune, included the original The New Yorker newsweekly , and the Whig Party's Log Cabin.The paper was home to...

 also seemed to have an idea of how popular the books would become, writing in its review that they were "destined to outlast our time." W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden , who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet,The first definition of "Anglo-American" in the OED is: "Of, belonging to, or involving both England and America." See also the definition "English in origin or birth, American by settlement or citizenship" in See also...

, an admirer of Tolkien's writings, regarded The Lord of the Rings as a "masterpiece", further stating that in some cases it outdid the achievement of John Milton's
John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

 Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse...

.

New York Times reviewer Judith Shulevitz criticized the "pedantry" of Tolkien's literary style, saying that he "formulated a high-minded belief in the importance of his mission as a literary preservationist, which turns out to be death to literature itself." Critic Richard Jenkyns, writing in The New Republic
The New Republic
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

, criticized the work for a lack of psychological depth. Both the characters and the work itself are, according to Jenkyns, "anemic, and lacking in fibre." Even within Tolkien's literary group, The Inklings, reviews were mixed. Hugo Dyson
Hugo Dyson
Henry Victor Dyson Dyson , generally known as Hugo Dyson and who signed his writings H. V. D. Dyson, was an English academic and a member of the Inklings literary group. He was a committed Christian, and together with J.R.R. Tolkien, he helped persuade C.S...

 complained loudly at its readings, and Christopher Tolkien
Christopher Tolkien
Christopher Reuel Tolkien is the third and youngest son of the author J. R. R. Tolkien , and is best known as the editor of much of his father's posthumously published work. He drew the original maps for his father's The Lord of the Rings, which he signed C. J. R. T. The J...

 records Dyson as "lying on the couch, and lolling and shouting and saying, 'Oh God, not another Elf! However, another Inkling, C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

, had very different feelings, writing, "here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron. Here is a book which will break your heart." Despite these reviews and its lack of paperback printing until the 1960s, The Lord of the Rings initially sold well in hardback.

In 1957, The Lord of the Rings was awarded the International Fantasy Award
International Fantasy Award
The International Fantasy Award was an annual literary award for the best science fiction or fantasy book and, in 1951-1953, the best non-fiction book of interest to science fiction and fantasy readers. The IFA was given by an international panel of prominent fans and professionals in 1951-1955 and...

. Despite its numerous detractors, the publication of the Ace Books
Ace Books
Ace Books is the oldest active specialty publisher of science fiction and fantasy books. The company was founded in New York City in 1952 by Aaron A. Wyn, and began as a genre publisher of mysteries and westerns...

 and Ballantine
Ballantine Books
Ballantine Books is a major book publisher located in the United States, founded in 1952 by Ian Ballantine with his wife, Betty Ballantine. It was acquired by Random House in 1973, which in turn was acquired by Bertelsmann AG in 1998 and remains part of that company today. Ballantine's logo is a...

 paperbacks helped The Lord of the Rings become immensely popular in the United States in the 1960s. The book has remained so ever since, ranking as one of the most popular works of fiction of the twentieth century, judged by both sales and reader surveys. In the 2003 "Big Read
Big Read
The Big Read was a survey on books carried out by the BBC in the United Kingdom in 2003, where over three quarters of a million votes were received from the British public to find the nation's best-loved novel of all time...

" survey conducted in Britain by the BBC, The Lord of the Rings was found to be the "Nation's best-loved book." In similar 2004 polls both Germany and Australia also found The Lord of the Rings to be their favourite book. In a 1999 poll of Amazon.com
Amazon.com
Amazon.com, Inc. is a multinational electronic commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is the world's largest online retailer. Amazon has separate websites for the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and...

 customers, The Lord of the Rings was judged to be their favourite "book of the century." The Lord of the Rings was awarded the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award
Prometheus Award
The Prometheus Award is an award for libertarian science fiction novels given annually by the Libertarian Futurist Society, which also publishes a quarterly journal Prometheus. L. Neil Smith established the award in 1979, but it was not awarded regularly until the newly founded Libertarian Futurist...

 in 2009.

Ethan Gilsdorf, writing for The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe is an American daily newspaper based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Globe has been owned by The New York Times Company since 1993...

 commented that while there are movements within academia to approach The Lord of the Rings as a serious literary work, the 2001–2003 film trilogy has contributed to a dumbing down
Dumbing down
Dumbing down is a pejorative term for a perceived trend to lower the intellectual content of literature, education, news, and other aspects of culture...

 of the reception of the novel by the forces of mass-commercialization.

Themes

Although The Lord of the Rings was published in the 1950s, Tolkien insisted that the One Ring was not an allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 for the Atomic Bomb, nor were his works a strict allegory of any kind, but were open to interpretation as the reader saw fit.

A few critics have found what they consider to be racial elements in the story, generally based upon their views of how Tolkien's imagery depicts good and evil, characters' race (e.g. Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit, Southron
Southron
Southron is a term meaning "a person from the south". It is uncommon in modern usage. It was originally used by Scots to refer to the English. Other notable uses are:* A person from the Southern United States in general...

, Númenórean, Orc); and that the character's race is seen as determining their behaviour. Counter-arguments note that race-focused critiques often omit relevant textual evidence to the contrary, cite imagery from adaptations rather than the work itself; ignore the absence of evidence of racist attitudes or events in the author's personal life and claim that the perception of racism is itself a marginal view.

Critics have also seen social class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

 rather than race as being the determinant factor for the portrayal of good and evil. Commentators such as science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 author David Brin
David Brin
Glen David Brin, Ph.D. is an American scientist and award-winning author of science fiction. He has received the Hugo, Locus, Campbell and Nebula Awards.-Biography:...

 have interpreted the work to hold unquestioning devotion to a traditional elitist
Elitism
Elitism is the belief or attitude that some individuals, who form an elite — a select group of people with intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most...

 social structure. In his essay "Epic Pooh
Epic Pooh
Epic Pooh is a 1978 article by the British science fiction writer Michael Moorcock, which reviews the field of epic fantasy, with a particular focus on epic fantasy written for children. The article has proven controversial amongst fans and writers of fantasy literature, particularly for Moorcock's...

", science fiction and fantasy author Michael Moorcock
Michael Moorcock
Michael John Moorcock is an English writer, primarily of science fiction and fantasy, who has also published a number of literary novels....

 critiques the world-view displayed by the book as deeply conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

, in both the 'paternalism' of the narrative voice and the power-structures in the narrative. Tom Shippey
Tom Shippey
Thomas Alan Shippey is a scholar of medieval literature, including that of Anglo-Saxon England, and of modern fantasy and science fiction, in particular the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, about whom he has written several scholarly studies. He is widely considered one of the leading academic scholars...

 cites the origin of this portrayal of evil as a reflection of the prejudices of European middle-classes during the inter-war years towards the industrial working class.

The book has been read as fitting the model of Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell
Joseph John Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience...

's "monomyth
Monomyth
Joseph Campbell's term monomyth, also referred to as the hero's journey, is a basic pattern that its proponents argue is found in many narratives from around the world. This widely distributed pattern was described by Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces...

".

Adaptations

The Lord of the Rings has been adapted for film, radio and stage.

The book has been adapted for radio four times. In 1955 and 1956, the BBC broadcast The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings (1955 radio series)
During 1955 and 1956, a condensed radio dramatisation of The Lord of the Rings was broadcast in twelve episodes on BBC Radio's the Third Programme. These radio broadcasts were among the first dramatisations of The Lord of the Rings, a book by J. R. R. Tolkien, the final volume of which, The Return...

, a 12-part radio adaptation of the story. In the 1960s radio station WBAI
WBAI
WBAI, a part of the Pacifica Radio Network, is a non-commercial, listener-supported radio station, broadcasting at 99.5 FM in New York City.Its programming is leftist/progressive, and a mixture of political news and opinion from a leftist perspective, tinged with aspects of its complex and varied...

 produced a short radio adaptation. A 1979 dramatization of The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings (1979 radio series)
In 1979 the US National Public Radio broadcast a radio dramatization of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It was produced by The Mind's Eye and has since been made available by several different companies....

 was broadcast in the United States and subsequently issued on tape and CD. In 1981, the BBC broadcast The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series)
In 1981 the UK radio station BBC Radio 4 broadcast a dramatisation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings in 26 half-hour stereo instalments...

, a new dramatization in 26 half-hour instalments. This dramatization of The Lord of the Rings has subsequently been made available on both tape and CD both by the BBC and other publishers. For this purpose it is generally edited into 13 one hour episodes.

Two film adaptations of the trilogy as a whole have been made. The first was J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings (1978 film)
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is a 1978 American fantasy film directed by Ralph Bakshi. It contains both animation and live action footage which is rotoscoped to give it a more consistent look throughout the length of the movie. It is an adaptation of the first half of the high fantasy...

 (1978), by animator Ralph Bakshi
Ralph Bakshi
Ralph Bakshi is an Israeli-American director of animated and live-action films. In the 1970s, he established an alternative to mainstream animation through independent and adult-oriented productions. Between 1972 and 1992, he directed nine theatrically released feature films, five of which he wrote...

, the first part of what was originally intended to be a two-part adaptation of the story; it covers The Fellowship of the Ring and part of The Two Towers. When Bakshi's investors shied away of financing the second film that would complete the story, the remainder of the story was covered in an animated television special by Rankin-Bass. Stylistically, the two segments are very different. The second and far more critically and commercially successful adaptation was Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson
Sir Peter Robert Jackson, KNZM is a New Zealand film director, producer, actor, and screenwriter, known for his The Lord of the Rings film trilogy , adapted from the novel by J. R. R...

's live action The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
The Lord of the Rings is an epic film trilogy consisting of three fantasy adventure films based on the three-volume book of the same name by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are The Fellowship of the Ring , The Two Towers and The Return of the King .The films were directed by Peter...

, produced by New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema, often simply referred to as New Line, is an American film studio. It was founded in 1967 by Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne as a film distributor, later becoming an independent film studio. It became a subsidiary of Time Warner in 1996 and was merged with larger sister studio Warner...

 and released in three installments as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a 2003 epic fantasy-drama film directed by Peter Jackson that is based on the second and third volumes of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings...

 (2003). All three parts received nearly universal acclaim and were each nominated for and won multiple Academy Awards
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

, including consecutive Best Picture nominations. The final instalment of this trilogy was the second film to break the one-billion-dollar barrier and won a total of 11 Oscars (something only two other films in history, Ben-Hur
Ben-Hur (1959 film)
Ben-Hur is a 1959 American epic film directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston in the title role, the third film adaptation of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The screenplay was written by Karl Tunberg, Gore Vidal, and Christopher Fry. The score was composed by...

 and Titanic
Titanic (1997 film)
Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson, Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater and Billy Zane as Rose's fiancé, Cal...

, have accomplished), including "Best Picture
Academy Award for Best Picture
The Academy Award for Best Picture is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to artists working in the motion picture industry. The Best Picture category is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible not only...

", "Best Director", "Best Adapted Screenplay,", and "Best Original Score
Academy Award for Best Original Score
The Academy Award for Original Score is presented to the best substantial body of music in the form of dramatic underscoring written specifically for the film by the submitting composer.-Superlatives:...

".

The Hunt for Gollum
The Hunt for Gollum
The Hunt for Gollum is a 2009 British fantasy fan film directed by Chris Bouchard and based on the appendices of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. The plot of the film is set in Middle-earth, when the wizard Gandalf the Grey fears that Gollum may reveal information about the One Ring to...

, a fan film
Fan film
A fan film is a film or video inspired by a film, television program, comic book or a similar source, created by fans rather than by the source's copyright holders or creators. Fan filmmakers have traditionally been amateurs, but some of the more notable films have actually been produced by...

 based on elements of the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, was released on the internet in May 2009 and has been covered in major media.

In 1990, Recorded Books published an audio version
Audio book
An audiobook or audio book is a recording of a text being read. It is not necessarily an exact audio version of a book or magazine.Spoken audio has been available in schools and public libraries and to a lesser extent in music shops since the 1930s. Many spoken word albums were made prior to the...

 of The Lord of the Rings, with British actor Rob Inglis – who had previously starred in one-man stage productions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – reading. A large-scale musical theatre
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

 adaptation, The Lord of the Rings was first staged in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

 in 2006 and opened in London in May 2007.

Influences on the fantasy genre

The enormous popularity of Tolkien's epic saga greatly expanded the demand for fantasy fiction. Largely thanks to The Lord of the Rings, the genre flowered throughout the 1960s, and enjoys popularity to the present day.

The work also had an influence upon such science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 authors as Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert
Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. Although a short story author, he is best known for his novels, most notably Dune and its five sequels...

 and Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein,...

 and filmmakers such as George Lucas
George Lucas
George Walton Lucas, Jr. is an American film producer, screenwriter, and director, and entrepreneur. He is the founder, chairman and chief executive of Lucasfilm. He is best known as the creator of the space opera franchise Star Wars and the archaeologist-adventurer character Indiana Jones...

.

Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy role-playing game originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. . The game has been published by Wizards of the Coast since 1997...

, which popularized the role-playing game
Role-playing game
A role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development...

 (RPG) genre in the 1970s, features many races found in The Lord of the Rings, most notably halfling
Halfling
Halfling is another name for J. R. R. Tolkien's Hobbit which can be a fictional race sometimes found in fantasy novels and games. In many settings, they are similar to humans except about half the size. Dungeons & Dragons began using the name halfling as an alternative to hobbit for legal reasons...

s (another term for hobbits), elves, dwarves, half-elves
Half-elven
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, the Half-elven are the children of the union of Elves and Men. The Half-elven are not a distinct race from Elves and Men, and must ultimately choose to which race they belong...

, orcs
Orc (Dungeons & Dragons)
In the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, orcs are a primitive race of savage, bestial, barbaric humanoid.-Publication history:The orc was one of the earliest creatures introduced in the D&D game. The D&D orc is largely based upon the orcs appearing in the works of J.R.R...

, and dragons. However, Gary Gygax
Gary Gygax
Ernest Gary Gygax was an American writer and game designer best known for co-creating the pioneering role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. Gygax is generally acknowledged as the father of role-playing games....

, lead designer of the game, maintained that he was influenced very little by The Lord of the Rings, stating that he included these elements as a marketing move to draw on the popularity the work enjoyed at the time he was developing the game. Because D&D has influenced many popular role-playing video games through Dragon Warrior
Dragon Warrior
Dragon Warrior, known as in Japan, is the first role-playing video game  in the Dragon Quest media franchise. It was developed by Chunsoft for the Nintendo Entertainment System and published by Enix in Japan in 1986...

, the influence of The Lord of the Rings extends to many of them as well, with titles such as EverQuest
EverQuest
EverQuest, often shortened to EQ, is a 3D fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game that was released on the 16th of March, 1999. The original design is credited to Brad McQuaid, Steve Clover, and Bill Trost...

, the Warcraft
Warcraft
Warcraft: Orcs & Humans is a real-time strategy game , developed by Blizzard Entertainment and published by Blizzard and Interplay Entertainment. The MS-DOS version was released in November 1994 and the Macintosh version in late 1996. Sales were fairly high, reviewers were mostly impressed, and the...

 series, and the Elder Scrolls series of games as well as, quite naturally, video games set in Middle-earth
Middle-earth in video games
While an immense number of computer and video games owe a great deal to J. R. R. Tolkien's works and the many other high fantasy settings based upon his, relatively few games have been directly adapted from his world of Middle-earth...

 itself.

Music

In 1965, songwriter Donald Swann
Donald Swann
Donald Ibrahím Swann was a British composer, musician and entertainer. He is best known to the general public for his partnership of writing and performing comic songs with Michael Flanders .-Life:...

, who was best known for his collaboration with Michael Flanders
Michael Flanders
Michael Henry Flanders OBE, was an English actor, broadcaster, and writer and performer of comic songs. He is best known to the general public for his partnership with Donald Swann performing as the duo Flanders and Swann....

 as Flanders & Swann, set six poems from The Lord of the Rings and one from The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is a collection of poetry written by J. R. R. Tolkien and published in 1962. The book contains 16 poems, only two of which deal with Tom Bombadil, a character who is most famous for his encounter with Frodo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring...

 ("Errantry") to music. When Swann met with Tolkien to play the songs for his approval, Tolkien suggested a different setting for "Namárië
Namárië
"Namárië" is a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien written in Quenya, a constructed language, and published for the first time in The Lord of the Rings...

", which Swann accepted. The songs were published in 1967 as The Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle
The Road Goes Ever On
The Road Goes Ever On is a song cycle that has been published as sheet music and as an audio recording. The music was written by Donald Swann, and the words are taken from poems in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings, especially The Lord of the Rings.The title of this opus is taken from "The...

, and a recording of the songs performed by singer William Elvin with Swann on piano was issued that same year by Caedmon Records as Poems and Songs of Middle Earth.

In 1988, Dutch composer and trombonist Johan de Meij
Johan de Meij
Johannes Abraham de Meij is a Dutch conductor, trombonist, and composer, best known for his Symphony No. 1, nicknamed "The Lord of the Rings" symphony.- Biography :...

 completed his Symphony No. 1 "The Lord of the Rings", which encompassed 5 movements, titled "Gandalf", "Lothlórien", "Gollum", "Journey in the Dark", and "Hobbits". In 1989 the symphony was awarded the Sudler Composition Award, awarded biennially for best wind band composition. The Danish Tolkien Ensemble
Tolkien Ensemble
The Tolkien Ensemble is a Danish ensemble which aims to create "the world's first complete musical interpretation of the poems and songs from The Lord of the Rings". They published four CDs from 1997 to 2005, in which all the poems and songs of The Lord of the Rings are set to music. The project...

 have released a number of albums that feature the complete poems and songs of The Lord of the Rings set to music, with some featuring recitation by Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee
Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, CBE, CStJ is an English actor and musician. Lee initially portrayed villains and became famous for his role as Count Dracula in a string of Hammer Horror films...

.

Rock bands of the 1970s were musically and lyrically inspired by the fantasy embracing counter-culture of the time; British 70s rock band Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin were an English rock band, active in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Formed in 1968, they consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham...

 recorded several songs that contain explicit references to The Lord of the Rings ("Ramble On
Ramble On
-Cover versions:Train did a cover of the song in early 2001 and released it as a single. Producer Brendan O'Brien heard Train's version and agreed to produce their second album, Drops of Jupiter...

", "The Battle of Evermore
The Battle of Evermore
"The Battle of Evermore" is a folk rock duet sung by Robert Plant and Sandy Denny, by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, featured on their untitled fourth album , released in 1971...

", "Over the Hills and Far Away
Over the Hills and Far Away (Led Zeppelin song)
"Over the Hills and Far Away" is the third track from English rock band Led Zeppelin's 1973 album Houses of the Holy.-Overview:Jimmy Page and Robert Plant originally constructed the song in 1970 at Bron-Yr-Aur, a small cottage in Wales where they stayed after completing a gruelling North American...

", and "Misty Mountain Hop
Misty Mountain Hop
"Misty Mountain Hop" is a song from English rock band Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album, released in 1971. In the United States and Australia it was the B-side of the "Black Dog" single, but still received considerable FM radio airplay...

"). In 1970, the Swedish musician Bo Hansson
Bo Hansson
Bo Hansson was a Swedish musician best known for his four instrumental albums released in the 1970s.-Early life and musical career:...

 released an instrumental
Instrumental
An instrumental is a musical composition or recording without lyrics or singing, although it might include some non-articulate vocal input; the music is primarily or exclusively produced by musical instruments....

 concept album
Concept album
In music, a concept album is an album that is "unified by a theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, narrative, or lyrical." Commonly, concept albums tend to incorporate preconceived musical or lyrical ideas rather than being improvised or composed in the studio, with all songs contributing...

 based on the book entitled Sagan om ringen (translated as "The Saga of the Ring", which was the title of the Swedish translation of The Lord of the Rings at the time). The album was subsequently released internationally as Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings
Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings (Bo Hansson album)
Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings is an instrumental progressive rock album by Swedish musician Bo Hansson. As its title suggests, it is a concept album based on author J. R. R. Tolkien's high fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings...

 in 1972. The songs "Rivendell" and "The Necromancer" by the progressive rock band Rush
Rush (band)
Rush is a Canadian rock band formed in August 1968, in the Willowdale neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario. The band is composed of bassist, keyboardist, and lead vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer and lyricist Neil Peart...

 were inspired by Tolkien. And Styx
Styx (band)
Styx is an American rock band that became famous for its albums from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Chicago band is known for melding the style of prog-rock with the power of hard rock guitar, strong ballads, and elements of American musical theater....

 also paid homage to Tolkien on their "Pieces of Eight" album with the song "Lords of the Ring," while Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath are an English heavy metal band, formed in Aston, Birmingham in 1969 by Ozzy Osbourne , Tony Iommi , Geezer Butler , and Bill Ward . The band has since experienced multiple line-up changes, with Tony Iommi the only constant presence in the band through the years. A total of 22...

's song, "The Wizard", which appeared on their debut album
Black Sabbath (album)
Black Sabbath is the debut studio album by English heavy metal band Black Sabbath. Released on 13 February 1970 in the United Kingdom, and later on 1 June 1970 in the United States, the album reached number eight on the UK Albums Chart and has been recognised as the first main album to be credited...

, was influenced by Tolkien's hero, Gandalf. The heavy metal
Heavy metal music
Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the Midlands of the United Kingdom and the United States...

 band Cirith Ungol
Cirith Ungol (band)
Cirith Ungol was a Californian heavy metal band who formed in 1972 and split up in May 1992. They drew influences from other metal groups such as Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy, as well as Iggy and the Stooges...

 took their name from a fictional place in Middle-earth of the same name. Progressive rock
Progressive rock
Progressive rock is a subgenre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of a "mostly British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility." John Covach, in Contemporary Music Review, says that many thought it would not just "succeed the pop of...

 group Camel
Camel (band)
Camel are an English progressive rock band formed in 1971. An important group in the Canterbury scene, they have been releasing studio and live recordings steadily, with considerable success, since their formation.-1970s:...

 paid homage to the text in their lengthy composition "Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider", and Progressive rock band Barclay James Harvest
Barclay James Harvest
Barclay James Harvest are an English progressive rock band. They were founded in Saddleworth, Lancashire, in September 1966 by John Lees, Les Holroyd, Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme , and Mel Pritchard .-History:...

 was inspired by the character Galadriel to write a song by that name, and used "Bombadil", the name of another character, as a pseudonym under which their 1972 single "Breathless"/"When the City Sleeps" was released; there are other references scattered through the BJH oeuvre.

Later, from the 1980s to the present day, many Heavy metal
Heavy metal music
Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the Midlands of the United Kingdom and the United States...

 acts have been influenced by Tolkien. Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian is a German power metal band formed in the mid-1980s in Krefeld, West Germany. They are often credited as one of the seminal and most influential bands in the power metal and speed metal subgenres...

 has written many songs relating to Middle-earth, including the full concept album Nightfall in Middle Earth. Almost all of Summoning
Summoning (band)
Summoning is an Austrian black metal band. They are known in part due to their extensive use of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth mythology as lyrical subject.-Biography:...

's songs and the entire discography of Battlelore
Battlelore
Battlelore is a metal band from Lappeenranta, Finland. All of Battlelore's lyrics concern J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth.-Style:Battlelore mixes female vocals with harsh male growling in "beauty and the beast" duet, backed by heavy guitar riffing and occasional keyboard interludes. The band's...

 are Tolkien-themed. Gorgoroth
Gorgoroth
Gorgoroth is a Norwegian black metal band based in Bergen. Formed in 1992 by Infernus , the band is named after the dead plateau of evil and darkness in the land of Mordor from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. The group is currently signed to Regain Records and have released...

 and Amon Amarth
Amon Amarth
Amon Amarth is a Swedish viking metal band from Tumba, Sweden founded in 1992, and takes its name from the Sindarin translation of Mount Doom, a location in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. The band comprises vocalist Johan Hegg, guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg, bassist Ted Lundström...

 take their names from an area of Mordor
Mordor
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, Mordor or Morhdorh was the dwelling place of Sauron, in the southeast of northwestern Middle-earth to the East of Anduin, the great river. Orodruin, a volcano in Mordor, was the destination of the Fellowship of the Ring in the quest to...

, and Burzum
Burzum
Burzum is a musical project by Varg Vikernes . It began during 1991 in Bergen, Norway and quickly became prominent within the early Norwegian black metal scene...

 take their name from the Black Speech
Black Speech
The Black Speech is a fictional language created by J. R. R. Tolkien.One of the languages of Arda in Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, it was spoken in the realm of Mordor...

 of Mordor. The Finnish metal band Nightwish
Nightwish
Nightwish is a Finnish symphonic metal band from Kitee, Finland. Formed in 1996 by songwriter and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, and former vocalist Tarja Turunen, Nightwish's current line-up has five members, although Tarja has been replaced by Anette Olzon and the...

 and the Norwegian metal band Tristania
Tristania
Tristania is a monotypic genus, native to New South Wales, Australia, closely related to Cistemon. The genus had a number of species, but some have been reclassified as Lophostemon and Tristaniopsis....

 have also incorporated many Tolkien references into their music.

Enya
Enya
Enya is an Irish singer, instrumentalist and songwriter. Enya is an approximate transliteration of how Eithne is pronounced in the Donegal dialect of the Irish language, her native tongue.She began her musical career in 1980, when she briefly joined her family band Clannad before leaving to...

 wrote an instrumental piece called "Lothlórien" in 1991, and composed two songs for the film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring—"May It Be
May It Be
"May It Be" is a song composed by Irish musician Enya and featured in Peter Jackson's 2001 film The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring...

" (sung in English and Quenya
Quenya
Quenya is a fictional language devised by J. R. R. Tolkien, and used in his Secondary world, often called Middle-earth.Quenya is one of the many Elvish languages spoken by the immortal Elves, called Quendi in Quenya. The tongue actually called Quenya was in origin the speech of two clans of Elves...

) and "Aníron
Aníron
"Aníron" is a song in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy soundtrack. It is the theme for Aragorn and Arwen Evenstar. Aníron means 'I desire' in the constructed Elvish language of Sindarin. It is featured as part of the track "The Council of Elrond" on the soundtrack album The Lord of the Rings:...

" (sung in Sindarin
Sindarin
Sindarin is a fictional language devised by J. R. R. Tolkien, and used in his secondary world, often called Middle-earth.Sindarin is one of the many languages spoken by the immortal Elves, called the Eledhrim or Edhellim in Sindarin....

).

Impact on popular culture

The Lord of the Rings has had a profound and wide-ranging impact on popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

, beginning with its publication in the 1950s, but especially throughout the 1960s and 1970s, during which time young people embraced it as a countercultural
Counterculture
Counterculture is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day, the cultural equivalent of political opposition. Counterculture can also be described as a group whose behavior...

 saga. "Frodo Lives!
Frodo Lives!
"Frodo Lives!" was a popular counterculture slogan in the 1960s and 1970s, referring to the character Frodo Baggins from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. The term was used frequently in graffiti, buttons, bumper-stickers, t-shirts, and other materials. It was commonly...

" and "Gandalf for President" were two phrases popular among American Tolkien fans
Tolkien fandom
Tolkien fandom is an international, informal community of fans of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, especially of the Middle-earth legendarium which includes The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion...

 during this time.

In one scene of the 1993 film, Six Degrees of Separation
Six Degrees of Separation (film)
Six Degrees of Separation is a 1990 play written by John Guare that premiered at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, Lincoln Center on May 16, 1990, directed by Jerry Zaks and starring Stockard Channing...

, Paul (Will Smith
Will Smith
Willard Christopher "Will" Smith, Jr. , also known by his stage name The Fresh Prince, is an American actor, producer, and rapper. He has enjoyed success in television, film and music. In April 2007, Newsweek called him the most powerful actor in Hollywood...

) mocks The Lord of the Rings books in front of Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
Sir Ian Murray McKellen, CH, CBE is an English actor. He has received a Tony Award, two Academy Award nominations, and five Emmy Award nominations. His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction...

's character. Less than a decade after this film was made, Ian McKellen would play the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

Parodies like the Harvard Lampoon
Harvard Lampoon
The Harvard Lampoon is an undergraduate humor publication founded in 1876 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.-Overview:Published since 1876, The Harvard Lampoon is the world's longest continually published humor magazine. It is also the second longest-running English-language humor...

's Bored of the Rings
Bored of the Rings
Bored of the Rings is the title of a paperback parody of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. This short novel was written by Henry N. Beard and Douglas C. Kenney, who later founded National Lampoon...

, the VeggieTales
VeggieTales
VeggieTales is an American series of children's computer animated films featuring anthropomorphic vegetables in stories conveying moral themes based on Christianity...

 episode "Lord of the Beans
Lord of the Beans
Lord of the Beans is the twenty-seventh episode in the VeggieTales animated series, and the first since An Easter Carol to feature only one story. Subtitled "A Lesson in Using Your Gifts", its goal is to teach viewers how they can use their talents to bring joy to others rather than merely bringing...

", the South Park
South Park
South Park is an American animated television series created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the Comedy Central television network. Intended for mature audiences, the show has become famous for its crude language, surreal, satirical, and dark humor that lampoons a wide range of topics...

 episode "The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers", the Futurama
Futurama
Futurama is an American animated science fiction sitcom created by Matt Groening and developed by Groening and David X. Cohen for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series follows the adventures of a late 20th-century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J...

 film "Bender's Game", The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, often shortened to just Jimmy Neutron, is an American animated television series, and spin-off of the Academy Award-nominated computer-animated movie, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. The series first officially aired on July 20, 2002, on Nickelodeon...

 episode "Lights! Camera! Danger!", The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory is an American sitcom created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, both of whom serve as executive producers on the show, along with Steven Molaro. All three also serve as head writers...

 episode "The Precious Fragmentation", and the American Dad!
American Dad!
American Dad! is an American animated television series created by Seth MacFarlane and owned by Underdog Productions and Fuzzy Door Productions. It is produced in association with 20th Century Fox Television...

 episode "The Return of the Bling" are testimony to the work's continual presence in popular culture.
In 1969 Tolkien sold the merchandising rights to The Lord of The Rings (and The Hobbit) to United Artists
United Artists
United Artists Corporation is an American film studio. The original studio of that name was founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charles Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks....

 under an agreement stipulating a lump sum payment of £10,000 plus a 7.5% royalty after costs, payable to Allen & Unwin and the author. In 1976 (three years after the author's death) United Artists sold the rights to Saul Zaentz
Saul Zaentz
Saul Zaentz is an American film producer and former record company executive. He has won the Academy Award for Best Picture three times and in 1996 was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award....

 Company, who trade as Tolkien Enterprises
Tolkien Enterprises
Middle-earth Enterprises, formerly known as Tolkien Enterprises, is a trading name for a division of the Saul Zaentz Company based in Berkeley, California which owns the worldwide exclusive rights to certain elements of J. R. R. Tolkien's two most famous literary works; The Lord of the Rings and...

. Since then all "authorized" merchandise has been signed-off by Tolkien Enterprises, although the intellectual property rights
Intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

 of the specific likenesses of characters and other imagery from various adaptations is generally held by the adaptors.
Outside any commercial exploitation from adaptations, from the late 1960s onwards there has been an increasing variety of original licensed merchandise, from posters and calendars created by illustrators such as Pauline Baynes
Pauline Baynes
Pauline Diana Baynes was an English book illustrator, whose work encompassed more than 100 books, notably those by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. She was born in Hove, Sussex....

 and the Brothers Hildebrandt, to figurines and miniatures to computer, video
Middle-earth in video games
While an immense number of computer and video games owe a great deal to J. R. R. Tolkien's works and the many other high fantasy settings based upon his, relatively few games have been directly adapted from his world of Middle-earth...

, tabletop
Tabletop game
Tabletop game is a general term used to refer to board games, card games, dice games, miniatures wargames, tile-based games and other games that are normally played on a table or other flat surface...

 and role-playing
Role-playing game
A role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development...

 games. Recent examples include the Spiel des Jahres award winning
Spiel des Jahres
The Spiel des Jahres is an award for board and card games, created in 1978 with the stated purpose of rewarding excellence in game design, and promoting top-quality games in the German market. It is thought that the existence and popularity of the award is one of the major drivers of the quality...

 (for best use of literature in a game) board game The Lord of the Rings
Lord of the Rings (board game)
Lord of the Rings is a board game designed by Reiner Knizia based on The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. The game was published in 2000 by Kosmos and Fantasy Flight Games, and won a Spiel des Jahres special award for best use of literature in a game. It features artwork by illustrator John...

 by Reiner Knizia
Reiner Knizia
Reiner Knizia is a prolific German-style board game designer. Born in Germany, he developed his first game at the age of eight. He has a PhD in mathematics, and has been a full-time game designer since 1997, when he quit his job from the board of a large international bank...

 and the Golden Joystick award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game
Massively multiplayer online role-playing game
Massively multiplayer online role-playing game is a genre of role-playing video games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual game world....

, The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar
The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar
The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game for Microsoft Windows set in a fantasy universe based upon J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings...

 by Turbine, Inc.
Turbine, Inc.
Turbine, Inc. is an American computer game developer that pioneers 3D massively multiplayer online role-playing games . Turbine was founded by Johnny Monsarrat, Jeremy Gaffney, Kevin Langevin, and Timothy Miller, changing their company name in 2005 to Turbine, Inc...


See also

  • Le Mondes 100 Books of the Century
    Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century
    The 100 Books of the Century is a grading of the books considered as the hundred best of the 20th century, drawn up in the spring of 1999 through a poll conducted by the French retailer Fnac and the Paris newspaper Le Monde....

  • Norse mythology in popular culture
    Norse mythology in popular culture
    The Norse mythology, preserved in such ancient Icelandic texts as the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, and other lays and sagas, was little known outside Scandinavia until the 19th century. With the widespread publication of Norse myths and legends at this time, references to the Norse gods and heroes...

  • 1954 in literature
    1954 in literature
    The year 1954 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*Jack Kerouac reads Dwight Goddard's A Buddhist Bible, which will influence him greatly.*John Updike graduates from Harvard with a thesis on George Herbert....

  • 1955 in literature
    1955 in literature
    The year 1955 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*28 May - Philip Larkin makes a train journey from Hull to London which inspires his poem The Whitsun Weddings....

  • Literature of the United Kingdom

Further reading

  • Glyer, Diana Pavlac (2007). The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. Kent State University Press. ISBN 0-87338-890-9.
  • Christina Scull
    Christina Scull
    Christina Scull is a researcher and writer best known for her books about the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. She worked for the London Board of Trade from 1961 to 1971 while completing her Bachelor of Arts degree in art history and medieval history at Birkbeck College. From 1971 to 1995 she served as...

     and Wayne G. Hammond, The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
    The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
    The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, following their 2005 The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion is a two volume work of reference on J. R. R...

     (2006), ISBN 0-618-39113-4
  • Christopher Tolkien
    Christopher Tolkien
    Christopher Reuel Tolkien is the third and youngest son of the author J. R. R. Tolkien , and is best known as the editor of much of his father's posthumously published work. He drew the original maps for his father's The Lord of the Rings, which he signed C. J. R. T. The J...

     (ed.), The History of The Lord of the Rings
    The History of The Lord of the Rings
    The History of The Lord of the Rings is a 4-volume work by Christopher Tolkien that documents the process of J. R. R. Tolkien's writing of The Lord of the Rings. The History is also numbered as volumes 6 to 9 of The History of Middle-earth...

    , 4 vols (1988–1992).

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