The Two Towers: 4 out of 5 Stars
The Return of the King: 4 ½ out of 5 Stars
Audiobook Rating: 4 ½ out of 5 Stars
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is of course and all-time classic of fantasy literature and one that I have read all the way through twice way back in my college days. But I never did reread it completely around the time that the films came out as I had planned (just made it through the first book) and as I started on my audiobook adventure several years back I was disappointed that the full version of the trilogy was not available in that format (the closest were BBC dramatizations that ran about the same length as each of the films). But apparently there were audiobook versions produced back in the books-on-tape days that have now finally surfaced during the digital age, so I snatched these up from Audible.com (who I have a love/hate relationship with) and set about revisiting the world of Middle Earth. The Fellowship of the Rings I had reread in the late 90’s, and like the movies I still consider it the best of the trilogy. And Peter Jackson’s film version actually follows it fairly closely, though with edits and alterations to move things along more quickly (and poor Tom Bombabil got left out completely again). The Two Towers is the most talky of the three books and has the least amount of action even though it has the Battle of Helms Deep and the Ents assault on Isengard (which is mostly recounted as a flashback). The Jackson film differed immensely from this book, though he had little choice because this one was not structured well to work as a film. The Return of the King delivers the epic finale to the story and I had nearly forgotten about the final part of the book where Frodo and the other Hobbits must reclaim the Shire which has fallen on dark times. That part didn’t make it into the movie for logistics reasons, but could practically be turned into a spin-off fourth film itself. Revisiting these books was a labor of love as I slipped back into the world of magic and myth that Tolkien created, and it felt like catching up with a dear old friend. All three are read by Rob Inglis, and while at first I thought his aged voice was a bit craggly for some of the characters, I developed a liking to his venerable British accent which fit well with the tales and ultimately leant itself to the enjoyment of the books. He also has a surprisingly good singing voice which proved essential as many songs are interwoven through the books. I became so accustomed to Inglus’ voice over the 50+ hours that the three volumes span that eventually I could imagine no one else bringing Tolkien’s story to life. And fortunately as I am now venturing forward into The Hobbit on audiobook, I have found that he narrates that one as well. The audiobook format is a great way to revisit this timeless, classic trilogy and definitely worth the hours you will invest into it.