Monday, September 24, 2018

Five Things I Learned From Lord of the Rings

You may have noticed the influx of Tolkien appreciation sweeping the internets lately. That’s because September 22nd was Hobbit Day a.k.a Bilbo’s and Frodo’s birthday! And we Tolkienites always look for an excuse to celebrate our beloved author.

Obviously, I couldn’t let this Tolkien-ish time pass without doing some of my own fangirling. I mean, OF COURSE.

There is so, so much I can talk about when it comes to Lord of the Rings and Tolkien in general. Buuuut being the list-lover I am, I thought I’d list five specific things I learned from those beloved books (and movies of course). Because wow, have they made an impact on my life!


Five Things I Learned From
Lord of the Rings


There are No Limits to Your Story

I don’t think Tolkien ever, ever limited himself when it came to his story and world and characters. I mean, Middle-earth has more history than America! Think about it. Then there’s the emotional depth and complexity of every. single. one. of his characters. And that doesn’t even cover the vast plot! Tolkien had a story idea, and he ran and ran and ran with it. And as a result, we have the brilliant classic that is Lord of the Rings.

When I was a younger writer, I limited my stories. I took a concept and didn’t broaden it as far as I could. I got scared or overwhelmed and kept to things that were simple and comfortable. And that’s where I made a mistake. If I forever stayed in my comfort zone, my stories would never reach their full potential.

But whenever I think of Tolkien’s world, and the immense amount of work he put into it, it inspires me. It inspires me to reach farther and vaster and wider. To not stick to the first simplistic, cliché ideas that pop in my head, but to expand them into something big and complex. To really put my whole heart and soul into every story I write.

I still have to remind myself of this whenever I get overwhelmed or scared. But I also have to remember imagination is a glorious gift that we should all use to its greatest potential. Just like Tolkien did.


Small, Ordinary People Can Do Extraordinary Things

If there is any single message that I gleaned from LotR, it’s this.

Most fantasy these days has the “Chosen One”, but, ironically, the very standard of classic fantasy literature really had no such thing. Frodo wasn’t “chosen” to take the Ring to Mordor. He wasn’t forced to be the hero, or obtained magical abilities when he turned 16. No. In fact, Frodo was of the most simplistic, quiet, non-adventurous races in all of Middle-earth. He was a mere hobbit. The least likely person you’d ever think would save the world.

But what happened? Amidst mighty men and ancient elves and stout dwarves and even a powerful wizard, it was a hobbit who volunteered (not forced or prophesied) to take the Ring to Mordor and destroy it. He didn’t look at his size, his background, his lack of powers and fighting skills. He just saw a need and took a stand.

I so very often fall into that lie that I’m worthless and can’t make a difference. But God called all of us to take a stand for what is right. Unfortunately, I did not wake up on my 16th birthday to find a mysterious, wizened mentor at my front door claiming I have magical powers and am prophesied to save the world. But I was called to be a child of God. It’s only a matter of if I’ll be brave like Frodo and stand up for what’s right.

Because if Frodo and Sam, two little, ordinary hobbits, can walk all the way to Mordor, destroy the One Ring, and save literally the entire world, I firmly believe we all can find the strength and courage to fight for what’s right.


Never, Ever Give Up

Speaking of walking alllll the way to Mordor…

Let’s be real, if I had been Frodo or Sam I would have given up probably before we had even left the Shire. Much less gone on to endure eeeeverything that they went through. But they were tempted. I’m sure they were tempted every single day to give it all up. To return back to their comfortable lives in Hobbiton and put all this unpleasantness behind them. To let someone else do the hard work, or just let Sauron win, because defeating him seemed nigh impossible.

But they didn’t stop.

Again, it was their choice. They weren’t being forced to keep going or had some prophesy that said everything would be okay. But they chose to keep going anyway. Why? Because they knew you should always fight for good in the world, and never, ever, ever give up.

There is always darkness in the world. It spreads and spreads and spreads at a rapid pace, and if we stop fighting it for one moment, it will eventually consume everything. I know it feels hopeless sometimes. I know it seems so easy to just give up. But Lord of the Rings would have ended up being a verrrry different story if Frodo and Sam had chosen to let Sauron win. Now that would have been a depressing story, and not exactly the type of characters you’d want to root for.

But they didn’t give up, despite being sorely tempted to many a time. Instead they kept going and, in the end, light triumphed over the darkness, as it always does.

This life of following the Light, of following Jesus, is not an easy one. It’s a long, hard, tiring journey, with many bumps along the way. But we can never stop. Because, in the end, it’s always worth it.

And to continue the amazingness of Frodo and Sam…


We Want Heroes Who Inspire Us

In this day and age of morally gray heroes, I’m often hard pressed to find good, true protagonists who inspire me. More often than not, especially with TV shows and movies, the protagonists just teach me how not to act.

Now, I’m all for complex characters, and you guys know my love for antiheroes and the like. I absolutely am fine with some morally gray characters. I write them all the time myself! And I certainly don’t want a perfect character either. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I mean is, I want protagonists who inspire me. Because with this new obsession with morally gray people, it seems like the truly good ones are dying out. In fact, even the LotR films turned some of the good heroes into jerks. (*cough*Frodo and Faramir*cough*) Because apparently that’s appealing??? Er…no.

Lord of the Rings—at least the real, actual book—is filled to the brim with what I firmly believe “hero/heroine” truly means. We’ve already discussed Frodo and Sam. But what about Aragorn? He wasn’t perfect. He ran from his past and future for a long, long time. But, in the end, he rose to who he was meant to be. Merry and Pippin were also little hobbits like Frodo and Sam who went on to do great things. Eowyn joined the men in battle to fight for her land. Legolas and Gimli got past their prejudices against each other and stood together in the battlefield. Boromir was actually morally gray. He almost let the temptation of the Ring take him over. But he, too, chose to fight for what is right and died in honor.

These people have inspired me since I was 10 years old. They have stuck with me for years and years and years, and will forever be a part of me. And why is that? Because they were heroes. Because the inspire me to do better, to be better. They had their struggles and fallings, absolutely yes, just as any well-written character should. But they still followed the Light. They still taught me deep lessons that have forever changed me. They still inspire me day after day after day.

That is the type of heroes/heroines we need again. Because pretty much everyone loves the LotR cast, right? And I firmly believe that is because they inspire all of us.


Fantasy is EPIC

Lord of the Rings has some amazingly deep, intricate themes. The type of stuff professors fall over themselves for. But you know what else LotR proves? That fantasy is EPIC!

I have always been a fantasy fan. I lived off the Disney animated classics and fairytales and the like when I was young (okay, I still totally do). But it was when I was introduced to Tolkien that I realized just how utterly, spectacularly, insanely cool fantasy really was. I had found my element, and to this day I have not looked back.

Yes, much of what we see in LotR is considered cliché now. But it wasn’t cliché when Tolkien wrote it. He made those clichés! He literally invented so many of the fantasy clichés we have today. Because he wasn’t scared to try something new, and make it totally epic. There’s tiny people who save the world and talking trees and lost kings and majestic elves and an evil overlord whose life source is in a magic ring and dragons and a ridiculously vast world. How is that not cool???

As I mentioned in my first point, I so often limited my stories when I was young. But the most awesome thing about fantasy is there are no limits. You can literally do anything. ANYTHING. Why would we limit ourselves or be afraid? Look what Tolkien did. If he had limited his stories, or even been afraid to get them published, where would we be? I shudder to think! His works have impacted generations.

Fantasy is an amazing, wonderful genre that mirrors so many truths of our world in a new, thoughtful way. Maybe I don’t have to take a powerful ring to a deadly land to save the world. But I do find myself wanting to give up in other hard things. And through Frodo and Sam, I’m reminded that I should never give up.

Fantasy stories have power. But more than that, they’re fun. The possibilities are truly limitless. If not for Tolkien, I may have not fully grasped that for a long time.

And there we have it. Just a sampling of what Tolkien’s works mean to me. If you can’t tell, I’m kiiiinda of fond of them. *grins*



What’s a book and/or author that impacted you? And if it’s Tolkien (because it probably is hehehe), what are some lessons you’ve learned from Lord of the Rings? I’d absolutely love to hear them!


  1. WHAT. IT WAS THEIR BIRTHDAY. HOW DID I MISS THIS. *eternal Nazgûl screaming*

    But AAAAHHH YESSS this post makes up for it because this is literally why I love Lord of the Rings. It’s just - gah, I can’t even describe it. It’s just that good. 😁

    Great post, Christine! Happy birthday to Bilbo and Frodo!

    1. Hahaha! That's okay! I only ever remember because I see it all over the internet. Lol. It was only just a couple of years ago that I even realized this was a THING.

      D'awww! YES. Sometimes there aren't even words that can properly express the pure amazingness of LotR. Tolkien was such a genius!

      Thanks so much, girl! *brings out the cake*

  2. This post, girl. THIS POST. Part of me really wants to just write a monster comment, but I think you already said everything that needs saying! I absolutely love all of your points here. People call Tolkien's work so many things, but I think it is nothing short of a masterpiece and there's nothing negative that can be said about it. I mean, I'll complain about the movies, but THE BOOKS. THE BOOKS. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS SERIES. (And I'm a lot less salty about the movies than I used to be...haha) XD

    Perfect post! And happy birthday to Bilbo and Frodo!!!!!

    1. "People call Tolkien's work so many things, but I think it is nothing short of a masterpiece" YES YES YES. Perfectly said! I couldn't agree more. It's such an amazing tale.

      I definitely have pleeeenty of complaints about the movies, and yet they're still my all-time favorite movies ever, so. XD I'm such a contradiction! I definitely wish they had done lots of things differently but, in the end, I think they captured the heart of what LotR was meant to be, and that's what matters.

      Thanks so much for your sweet comment, Faith! <333

  3. I love this post!!! Tolkien's works are awesome and inspiring.

    I particularly liked you're point on limitations. That's super encouraging to me because I've written seven books about the same world. I often think that people might find it exhausting after a while, but then I know that if it's a well-crafted world with impactful characters, readers will eat them up.

    Thanks for this list!!! It's always lovely to meet another Tolkien enthusiast.

    1. Awwwww, thank you, Sarah!

      I can relate SO HARD. I actually have a 7-book series too! But you said it perfectly, as long as people love it, they're going to want more. I've read MANY books I wish were long series! Haha. And if YOU'RE that passionate about your world and characters, other people will be too!

      Fellow Tolkienites unite! :D

  4. I adore this!!!
    His books taught me so much too, the beauty of language and stunning settings. He definitely didn't limit himself at all! Beautiful Post, I'm glad you love LOTR maybe even more then I do! Which is saying a lot.

    1. Thanks, Skye!

      YESSS! I love how you said it. His stories ARE so beautiful and stunning, absolutely yes. They're so inspiring for us fantasy writers.

      LOL. I think the Tolkien obsession runs deep in ALL of us. XD

  5. LOTR has inspired me so much. <3 Love it.

    1. Aren't they the most inspiring tales! GAH. I love 'em!

  6. I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH. I was almost in tears by the time I was done with it. xD

    Seriously, though... I've loved LOTR since the first time I watched it (and read it), but around last summer I watched it again, and followed up with reading the books. And oh my gosh, was I blown away. Like I said, I'd seen it all before, more than once, but... something about this last time just... changed me. I realized that THIS... THIS is what I want to strive for as a writer. Stories with deep, incredible characters that I love so much it almost hurts. Good winning over evil even when the fight is long and grueling. NEVER GIVING UP even when you're exhausted and running out of hope. It's just... *deep breath* I mean, it's got to be my favorite story. Ever.

    Since I started reading your blog I've thought that you and I have a few things in common, and our love for LOTR is obviously no exception. xD I can tell that you feel about it just as deeply as I do.

    It's weird, huh? Some people might think we're crazy for feeling that way about a story, but stories really can mean so much. <3

    1. Nearly in tears? EEP. EMILY! YOU ARE SO PRECIOUS. <3 And oh my goodness, your words! Now you're going to make ME cry. That is so special it means so much to you! And I absolutely understand. It did much of the same thing to me. And isn't it crazy that sometimes we can read or watch something, but it not really hit us how utterly life-changing it is until a reread/watching? I've had that happen before too! I absolutely love that it's shown you what you want to strive for in your writing. We DO sound like we have a lot in common! Those are my writing goals as well. Aaahhhh, girl! This is all so wonderful!

      More proof we think alike, because I've been rolling around a post idea in my head for like...months now about the power of stories. Because a lot of people DO see stories as just "entertainment" but, gracious, they're so, so much more! It's wonderful finding others who understand!

      Thank you so much for your comment. It put a smile on my face! <3

  7. Ditto to ALLLLLLL these points, girl!! You said it far better than I ever could. I totally agree with everything.

    No limitations. <--- That's why I love the fantasy genre so much. (Bonus that it requires almost no research as well *wink wink*) You can literally, and figuratively, do ANYTHING! I struggled with the limitations as well. Still do! But I've been attempting to open up a bit more creatively and an idea pops up and I think, "hey, why not??" :D

    I could go on and on about this post. But, just, ya know---well said!! :] :] :]

    1. D'awww! Thank you, Sarah! <3

      Oh my goodness, YESSS! I've literally been taking on that "hey, why not?" attitude lately too, and I think my stories are far the better for it! It's just so FUN. Fantasy is seriously THE. BEST.

      You are so sweet! Thanks again, girl! <3

  8. Never ever give up. If Mr Frodo can get the ring to Mordor, I can run this ultra marathon.

    At least, that’s what I told myself. I did my fair share of walking during my adventure....

    I kind of missed out on Tolkien week, tbh, but I did just finish a LotR re-read, so that counts, right???

    1. Oh but that is AWESOME. I would probably die trying any type of marathon. Lol. That is so admirable you took that on! YOU GO! :D

      That ABSOLUTELY counts, YES!!! Man, it's been years since my last reread. It's WAY past due for another!

  9. This post was awesome, Christine! I love all the points that you listed. Yes for small, ordinary people doing extraordinary things! :-D I agree with you about heroes who inspire us; that is one of the reasons I love Tolkien's works so much. :-) AND YES FOR EPIC FANTASY!!! XD Happy Tolkien Day to you!

    1. EEEEP!!! Thank you so much! I'm thrilled you enjoyed it!

      A big YES to everything you said! Tolkien was the master at creating heroes who inspire us. All his characters mean so much to me. <333 AND YAY FOR FANTASY! :D

      Happy Tolkien Day to you tooo!

  10. So much yes! You know very well that I too miss the inspirational heroes and there are so many inspiring men and women in the Lord of the Rings! They’re amazing but still human role models.

    1. YESSS! I love when you talk about truly good heroes! Tolkien was seriously the master at it. Like you said, they were relatable, but still utterly heroic. GAH. I love 'em!

  11. I LOVE THIS POST. <3 <3 <3 Tolkienites unite!!

    SO MUCH YES TO INSPIRING HEROES. Whenever I watch a movie/read a book where most of the characters are gray, I say that I "miss Aragorn". (Though Aragorn is NOT AT ALL the only inspiring character in the Lord of the Rings--he's just my favorite. ;-))


    1. *HAPPY SQUEALS* I love finding fellow Tolkienites so much! *HIGH-FIVES*

      Oh my goodness, Aragorn is ALWAYS my go-to when I think of truly inspiring heroes toooo! He's just...AGH. He's everything we need in a protagonist. And he's my favorite also! :D But yes, they're ALL the most amazing heroes, and we need more like that!

  12. I'm re-reading LotR just now, and one of the things which stuck out most to me this time through, perhaps because of things in life just now, is how very dark it gets right about the middle of TTT, and stays that way for a while. Everything that can go wrong does, and unforeseen obstacles come up, and there's treachery and people dying and the darkness and hopelessness of Mordor sapping Frodo and Sam's strength, and both Frodo and Sam give up hope, though in different ways. And they keep going! Even when it looks like they can't possibly do any good by continuing in a hopeless errand, they keep going! They lose hope but they don't give up, and as a result they do end up defeating the odds and winning (okay, so Frodo falls in the end, like who wouldn't, but providentially Gollum does something good by accident). Perhaps defeat is sure, but we still have to act as if it isn't, because that sheer stubbornness in pursuit of the good may be just what's necessary to come out on top.

    And for each level of darkness the story descends into, there's something good in the ending to heal or make up for it, it doesn't end right with the Quest achieved but everything burning up, you do get a nice long denoument with plenty of joy. I always tear up when Rohan comes, but this time it was at other parts too, where the joy is coming through.

    There's so much else to love, of course, but that's the big new thing. . . Oh! And the way Denethor and Theoden and Pippin are all contrasted to each other in the way they respondto very similar situations. I hadn't noticed that before.

    And I want to be like Gandalf when I'm old, but we'll see if I get there :).

    1. I guess the difference between the darkness in this story and the darkness in other stories is that in this one "here's the evil you have to struggle through --- but it's worth it" whereas in others it's often "here's the evil you have to struggle through --- if it's worth it", which is so different.

    2. I ALWAYS love your insight in these things. What a wonderful perspective of all of this!

      It's funny, Return of the King was always my favorite book BECAUSE it was darker. I don't know what that says about me. Eheh. But I think, really, it's because of what you said. Just seeing their struggles, watching them go through so, so much, but knowing, in the end, it's going to be worth it was so inspiring and beautiful. Frodo and Sam's journey in RotK especially was heart-rending, but utterly awe-inspiring.

      "Perhaps defeat is sure, but we still have to act as if it isn't, because that sheer stubbornness in pursuit of the good may be just what's necessary to come out on top." I want to quote this and put it on my wall or something! YES. That encompasses the message of LotR in full. So wonderfully said!

      And you're so right in that, no matter how dark things got, Tolkien still weaved threads of hope within, like Rohan coming. (One of my favorite scenes as well!) Where as yes, other books often have darkness just for the sake of darkness and shock factors, with no depth or meaning to speak of. I enjoyed the dark bits in LotR because you know it's there with PURPOSE.

      I don't know if I've ever thought about the Denethor/Theoden/Pippin thing but...huh. You make a point. Very interesting! I love how there is ALWAYS something new to discover with LotR.

      Also, I can totally see you growing up to be a Gandalf. ;D

      Anyways, your comments were fantastic and I just want to quote, like, EVERYTHING YOU SAID! Thank you so much for chiming in!


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