I didn’t read Tolkien until I was well into adulthood. So it was never my base, so to speak, of the fantasy genre. I read many fantasy books before reading his. Rather than his world being the foundation of every other fantasy I read, his was merely one among many.
Painting: Sue Vincent
It has to be said that Tolkien causes problems. Quite apart from being so addictive that, once read, you are likely to go back and read the books again, you may never find anywhere quite as rich as Middle Earth within the pages of another book.
Anyone whose introduction to fantasy is via The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, will have a fabulously detailed, multi-layered and multicultural world permanently established in their imagination. Especially if you go on to read The Silmarillion too and become aware of the rich complexity and authenticity of the languages, histories and mythologies he created as the backdrop for his world. Tolkien’s elves, orcs and wizards will quickly become the standard by which all others are judged. The sheer scope of the story means that just about every possible trope is used, and every mythical or magical species is covered…
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