"It took a modern adaptation to get me there."

I was looking around on Amazon for Tolkien related books and came across one that looked pretty interesting. I saw that it had one review, and the reviewer gave it a one star rating. Curious, I scrolled down to see this person’s reasoning and it made me, well, sad. In it the reviewer says “My heart sank when I read in the introduction that the author’s first exposure to Tolkien was through Peter Jackson’s movies.” My heart sank when read this comment. My first exposure to Tolkien was through Peter Jackson’s adaptations and it was the first exposure for many many fans all around the world. It made me sad to remember that there are people who would look down on me for not reading the books first.

Well you know what? I shouldn’t feel bad. I should be able to proudly say that a modern adaptation was the beginning of my love for Tolkien. The movies opened up a new world for me, something the books wouldn’t have been able to do at that time. I was eight when I saw FOTR in theaters and I’m pretty sure if I attempted to read the book before seeing it I wouldn’t get very far. In fact, after watching FOTR I tried to read LOTR. I read all the way up to ROTK and only made it halfway through that book. And I understood very little of the story. All I remember is going up to my dad, very confused, and asking him who Tom Bombadil was.

Once a year after that I tried to tackle LOTR but failed every time. I didn’t even get passed FOTR. The only Tolkien book I could understand was The Hobbit. It wasn’t until I started college that I had a successful read through. What I learned is that you shouldn’t force yourself enjoy something. Even though I couldn’t read the book I knew that one day I would be able to. I liked collecting the books and looking at them knowing they were waiting for me.

It shouldn’t matter how someone becomes interested in something. What’s more important is that someone did get there and that person appreciates it. Being a fan is unnecessarily difficult lately and I don’t like it.

This is my say on the matter, feel free to disagree.


10 thoughts on “"It took a modern adaptation to get me there."

  1. Joe Gilronan November 11, 2013 / 8:19 am

    My path to Tolkien was pretty much the same, if more round about. It was the love of classic fantasy films, King Kong, Jason and The Argonauts and then a galaxy far, far away that made me want to pick up books and discover more about magical worlds. It really doesn't matter how you get there, and the PJ films are not a bad start, by the way Tom/Bom still confuses me!!!

  2. Alice Greenleaf November 11, 2013 / 2:13 pm

    Myla, that's my story. I was a little bit older (11 yo), but my feelings were the same.

  3. Simon J. Cook April 18, 2014 / 9:05 am

    Hi Myla, as a member of an older generation (I'm in my 40s) I found this post – as your blog in general – extremely illuminating. My first encounter with Tolkien was as a child who listened to the Hobbit read out loud; some years later I struggled (and also at first failed to finish) the LOTR book. Part of why I enjoy reading your blog so much is that it gives me a glimpse into a completely different road into Middle-earth: one that is primarily visual rather than textual. I think that goes for the LOTRO as much if not more than the movies (I was deeply struck by a sentence of yours somewhere that you could stare at the LOTRO sky for hours). There is no value judgment here; although I am not convinced when you declare that all roads reach the same place: it strikes me that I could never imagine Middle-earth as do you (I don’t think this is about good or bad, just difference). But – and this is actually why I set out to write this comment in the first place – I think you miss the real significance of the Amazon review. I have seen that review too, so I know the book and the author you are referring to. And the author is older even than me! In his case, then, if his introduction to Tolkien was through the movies this means that he is not a lifelong Tolkien fan and that – at least one might suspect – Middle-earth is not in his blood. I have not read this particular book, but I have read one by another academic who was also not really a Tolkien fan, and that book felt a bit bloodless (a kind of well-written academic book written not out of passion but for the sake of writing a book and, perhaps, cashing in on the massive popularity of Tolkien). I did not mean for this comment to be so long. But in general: thanks for your wonderful writing and insights into a Middle-earth I have never known! Simon

  4. Myla Malinalda April 18, 2014 / 10:36 pm

    Hello Simon! I'm glad that you have taken the time to visit my blog and read some posts. Also I'm happy that I have given you some insight as to how some fans nowadays have become interested in the world of Middle-earth.
    It's been a while since I made this post, which means that now I feel like I should reread the comment that kinda started this whole thing! Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  5. Simon J. Cook April 19, 2014 / 8:19 am

    Hi Myla. The memory of youth not being what it was, I'll know for next time only to comment on recent posts.
    On a different note: this contrast between Middle-earth as text and image has been playing in my mind and I am moving to writing something on it in my own blog. I'd very much like to use a couple of your LOTRO screen shots (with due credit, of course). Would you be kind enough to give me permission to do so?

  6. Simon J. Cook April 19, 2014 / 10:36 am

    PS. Ignore the first half of the reply above: my sleep-deprived brain thought you meant your own blog post rather than the Amazon comment.

  7. Myla Malinalda April 19, 2014 / 3:18 pm

    Sure, no problem! Feel free to use my screenshots. 🙂

  8. Simon J. Cook April 21, 2014 / 6:42 pm

    Thanks! Appreciated. However, my thinking on this has got a bit stuck in relation to LOTRO. On a second reading I find that some of what you write about it (in other posts) leaves me puzzled. I worry about giving offence, but if you are up for it I'd also like to ask you a couple of questions about your LOTRO characters. Feel free, of course, to say no or simply ignore…

  9. Simon J. Cook April 22, 2014 / 7:52 am

    Thanks. Will formulate and write. My questions (as you will see) are specific to your reports of LOTRO in this blog. Also, I'd prefer a hobbit's perspective on these matters.

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