The Lord of the Rings is my favorite fantasy story. My mother read it to me when I was eight. She read me The Hobbit when I was six. I begged her to read LOTR for a year and a half until I persuaded her I was old enough to understand it and keep up.
A few years later I picked it up and read it on my own and the appendices gave me my first glimpse into the art of world building. My secret codes in middle school were all substitution ciphers using Tolkien’s alphabets. By the time I was 17, I was building my own world.
Two things set the Lord of the Rings apart from other fantasy epics set in constructed worlds. It’s set on this very planet in prehistoric times, and Tolkien used the languages as the starting point for building the world. That’s a neat trick if you can pull it off; I knew better than to even try it, and started with realistic geography instead.
When Diana and I started blogging in 2013, I decided to do a short series about The Lord of the Rings for Part Time Monster. That series is now in its 18th installment, and you can find the whole thing archived here. I’m planning to start it back up, and hopefully finish it, sometime this summer.
If you’re on the hunt for great Tolkien-related internet content, you might want to check out Sweating to Mordor, A Tolkienist’s Perspective, The Leather Library, and Middle Earth News. I follow them all and check in with them as often as I can. And do stop back by on April 23 to read what I have to say about the good professor himself.