‘The Lord of the Rings’ was written by J.R.R. Tolkien between 1937 and 1949, as a sequel to ‘The Hobbit’ (which has also been turned into a successful movie recently). The new book stretched to over 1,000 pages, and was an immediate success, garnering various awards in the 1950s for its imagination and sheer scope.
However, most modern fans will know about the Lord of the Rings from the film series directed by Peter Jackson. Immensely successful, beautifully made and with an iconic soundtrack, the three films represent one of the pinnacles of modern fantasy film-making.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Spinoff Books
The idea for the Lord of the Rings emerged as Tolkien considered how to build on the Hobbit’s success. The older work involved hobbit Bilbo Baggins searching for a treasure guarded by the dragon Smaug. In the Lord of the Rings, the quest was far deeper. Now, the quest involved a ring forged by the dark Lord Sauron, that would confer ultimate power on anyone who wore it.
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote three Lord of the Rings books (the Fellowship of the Ring, the Two Towers and the Return of the King) along with two other spin-offs (the Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin). Altogether, they total over 2,500 pages, so they pack in plenty of content.
Whether you are coming to Tolkien’s work fresh, or you are a passionate fan of the movies, entering the universe created by his books is a magical experience. The books themselves differ on many points to the films, so it’s worth reading them even if you know the films inside out. Here's a quick introduction to the stories you’ll encounter:
The Fellowship of the Ring – The first instalment introduces Sauron – the Lord of the Rings, whose quest to unite three powerful rings is the central theme of the trilogy. The action begins with Bilbo Baggins (hero of the Hobbit) giving the One True Ring to his son Frodo with the encouragement of the wizard Gandalf. Gandalf counsels Frodo to take the ring away, with Sauron drawing near, and the story then traces the journey of Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry through Middle Earth as they try to evade Sauron’s minions. As they travel, we meet characters like Aragorn and Tom Bombadil. With Aragorn’s help, the heroes reach the Elven fortress of Rivendell where it is agreed to take the ring to the place where it can be destroyed. The “Fellowship of the Ring” is created as a team to carry the ring to this place. After that, the Fellowship continue their journey, meeting characters like Galadriel, Balrog and Gollum – an old adversary from the Hobbit. Eventually, Frodo makes a fateful decision to leave the band on his journey to Mordor, and Sam tags along with him.
The Two Towers – In the Two Towers, the Fellowship is broken apart. The first part of the book details the attempts of characters like Legolas and Aragorn to find their colleagues, and the band meets the Ents – a race of treelike forest guardians. They strike an alliance with the Ents to fight against the Orcs – the sworn enemies of the Fellowship. The Orcs are controlled by an evil wizard, Saruman. The team elect to confront him at his fortress, Isengard and assemble an army to do so. All this time, Frodo continues his journey to Mordor with his companion Sam. Forcing Gollum to help them through dangerous territory, they eventually reach the gates of Mordor. Gollum leads them through a dangerous side path into the fortress. Sam acquires the ring from a wounded Frodo, who is taken away by Orc guards to Sauron’s cells. The book ends with Sam holding the ring, and separated from Frodo.
The Return of the King – The final adventure takes place under the shadow of a looming conflict between Mordor and the forces of the Fellowship. Gandalf returns as a ghost, and we trace the fortunes of Aragorn and Pippin as they seek to build up their forces to defeat Sauron. Aragorn returns to the besieged city of Minas Tirith just in time to defeat Mordor’s army, and is then confirmed as the King of Gondor (the country that Minas Tirith is part of). The decision is then taken to march on Mordor. Meanwhile, Sam manages to rescue Frodo and they continue their quest to destroy the ring. Without giving too much away, the rest of the story involves a battle to overcome the lust for power that the ring creates. Only by overcoming this power can Frodo and Sam defeat Sauron and enable Aragorn’s armies to triumph.
The Silmarillion – Written as a complement to the Lord of the Rings, the Silmarillion contains tales from the ancient history of Middle Earth – providing background to matters discussed by the main characters. It talks about how men, dwarves and elves were created, the origins of Sauron, where the rings came from and the prophecies that led to Frodo becoming the “ringbearer”. It’s a must-read for Tolkien obsessives.
The Children of Húrin – Released in 2007, the Children of Húrin is a chronicle of the travels of Túrin Turambar and his sister Nienor, and is a companion to the Silmarillion. Turin and Nienor are hounded by the evil lord Morgoth, who cursed their father Hurin, with tragic results.
Lord of the Rings Characters Introduced
The Lord of the Rings is a character-driven saga, with several vivid characters who are present almost all the way through the book. Without knowing a little about them, it is impossible to track the twists and turns of the plot, so here’s a brief introduction to the key players:
Frodo Baggins – The young newphew of Bilbo Baggins and the hobbit entrusted with the all-powerful ring. He is instructed by Gandalf to destroy the ring the only way known – By throwing it into the fires of Mount Doom, in the land of Mordor. Elijah Wood took the part of Frodo in the most recent screen version.
Samwise Gamgee – Frodo’s gardener and sidekick throughout his epic quest, Samwise was portrayed by Sean Astin in the Peter Jackson movies.
Gandalf – One of the last white wizards in Middle Earth, Gandalf is the key adviser to Frodo Baggins and is resurrected as “Gandalf the White”, leader of the order of wizards, before leading a military campaign against Sauron. He was portrayed by Sir Ian McKellen in the movie series.
Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took – Cousins of Frodo and fellow members of his questing band.
Aragorn – A “ranger of the north”, Aragorn turns out to be the heir to the thrones of Gondor and Arnor in Middle Earth. He also teams up with Gandalf as the main military commander against Sauron’s armies. Viggo Mortensen played him in the movies.
Legolas Greenleaf – An elf and key confidant of Aragorn and Gandalf, Legolas is characterised by his fearless nature and ageless qualities. He was played by Orlando Bloom in the films.
Sauron – the Dark Lord and bad guy in the movies, Sauron seeks the One Ring to bind all others together and achieve total domination of Middle Earth. He begins the series as a kind of malign spirit who commands total obedience from a massive army of Orcs, all of whom wear the “eye of Sauron” on their shields.
Saruman – Gandalf’s primary antagonist, Saruman is an evil wizard who turns from an enemy of Sauron into his ally as he seeks the power of the Ring for himself. Christopher Lee memorably played him in the films.
Gollum – Most famous for calling the Ring his “precious”, Gollum (played by Andy Serkis) is a hobbit who was corrupted by the Ring and we constantly encounter him seeking the ring throughout the movie series.
That’s just a small subset of the characters in the books and movies. Essentially, the characters can be divided into those who belong to or ally with the Fellowship of the Ring (and seek to destroy it and its powers) and those allied with Sauron who seek to harness its absolute power. There are plenty of grey areas, but that’s the basic good vs evil plot.
Quick Guide to the Lord of the Rings Movies
When it came to turning Tolkien’s masterwork into a manageable movie, the Lord of the Rings was divided by Peter Jackson into three sections: the Fellowship of the Ring, the Two Towers, and the Return of the King:
The Fellowship of the Ring – When it appeared in 2001, the Fellowship of the Ring was a revelation. Not only did Peter Jackson skilfully adapt Tolkien’s sprawling novel to the big screen, audiences were impressed by stunning location shoots in New Zealand and a beautiful score by Howard Shore. An all-star cast included Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving and Orlando Bloom, as Frodo began his complex quest to deal with the cursed Ring. Overall, the movie lasted for 178 minutes (or 228 minutes in an extended cut).
The Two Towers – The Two Towers was released in 2002 and saw the action intensify, with several set-piece battles featuring the Ents (sentient trees) and the riders of Rohan. Again, the Two Towers was an immersive cinematic experience, lasting for 179 minutes in its original release and 235 minutes in the director’s cut.
The Return of the King – The final instalment in the Lord of the Rings series appeared in 2003 and was comfortably the most successful, grossing over $1 billion worldwide and winning 11 Academy Awards. It follows the main protagonists into the final battle for the Ring where the forces of Sauron fight against Frodo, Sam et al in a thrilling conclusion to the series. At 200 minutes long, the original version was significantly longer than the other films, and there is also a mammoth 251-minute extended cut for fans to enjoy.
The movies have since been released on DVD and Blu-ray formats, both individually and in box sets. If you are new to the franchise, these box sets are an excellent choice, costing far less than buying separate discs and they are available in both original and extended versions.
Remember, all of the original movies cut around 50 minutes from their runtimes to suit cinema audiences, so the extended versions is worthwhile for diehard fans. They also come with commentary tracks and enhanced DTS 6.1 ES sound, which will make them ideal for those with home cinema setups.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Movie Trailer
The Lord of the Rings Games
It was almost inevitable that a movie series as successful as Lord of the Rings would spawn a corresponding series of video games, and that is exactly what happened. A number of different companies have been involved across a range of formats. Here are the major titles:
The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth – Released in 2004 by Electronic Arts for Windows PC, the Battle for Middle Earth was a slick real-time strategy game based on the movies.
The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II – The sequel arrived in 2006 and added an Xbox 360 version to the mix. Again, the game dropped players into the Middle Earth universe, tasking them with battling against monsters and characters from the books and films.
The Lord of the Rings: Conquest – Released in 2009, Conquest was very different. Developed for EA by Pandemic Studios, it was an action shooter that allowed players to take the role of both good and evil characters. An added bonus was the use of actual digital models from the movies, creating a truly authentic Lord of the Rings atmosphere. It is still available for Windows, PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS.
The Lord of the Rings: War in the North – Arriving in 2011, War in the North injected some RPG elements into the mix. Developed this time by Snowblind Studios for Warner Brothers Interactive, the game tracked a separate group of heroes who were battling against one of Sauron’s henchmen. It was released for PS3, Xbox 360 and Windows.
The Lord of the Rings Online – Released by Turbine in 2007, Lord of the Rings Online is still going strong, allowing gamers to enter a multiplayer universe themed around Middle Earth. Players can choose from a wide variety of character classes and 25 different regions, all with their own storylines. It can be downloaded from Steam for Windows PCs only.
Lego Lord of the Rings – It had to happen at some point. In 2013, Lego entered the Lord of the Rings gaming scene with this action-packed, tongue-in-cheek entry into the Tolkien canon. Well-received and light-hearted, but still true to the spirit of the book, the Lego game was released for PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Wii, Windows, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS as well as iOS and Android smartphones.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor – The first PS4 outing for the Lord of the Rings franchise was released in 2015 (as well as for Xbox One and Windows). This time, the action stepped back into the years before the Fellowship of the Ring, between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. With its melee combat and large game world, Shadow of Mordor has been a huge success.
All of the above titles feature fairly impressive visuals and experiences that parallel but also add to the movies and book, so they are well worth exploring if you are a fan. However, some have been better received than others.
A particular favourite with PC gamers has been the multiplayer Online game, which creates a massive version of Middle Earth to explore, with innumerable quests and characters.
Other successes included the second game, which included a slick combat system, and the War in the North instalment, with its unique storyline and completely new yet authentic characterisations.
The Lord of the Rings Online - Mithril Edition
Lord of the Rings Toys and Merchandise
Computer and console games aren’t the only way to enjoy Lord of the Rings without sitting through the movies or opening the book. There are plenty of toys and merchandise to check out as well, including:
Lord of the Rings LEGO – LEGO have embraced Tolkien in a big way, launching physical box sets based around the major characters as well as a Lego video game: Lego Lord of the Rings (see above). Their sets are a wonderful way to recreate key scenes from the story, including the Battle of Helm’s Deep and the arrival of Gandalf.
Figurines – The Lord of the Rings has an immense cast of characters and you can buy figurines of almost every single one.
Board games – The Lord of the Rings Board game from designer Reiner Kunzia is one of the most exciting around, enabling players to form their own Fellowship of the Ring and to seek to destroy the Ring’s diabolical powers.
Card games – Fantasy stories tend to lend themselves to card games, and the Lord of the Rings is no different. The official card game allows up to 4 players to battle it out with Sauron for domination of Middle Earth, just like in the movies.
Apparel – You’ll find t-shirts, baseball caps, hoodies, jumpers, and even fancy dress costumes themed around the Lord of the Rings universe, and having the right apparel is a great way to enhance your gaming or movie-watching sessions.
Miscellaneous merchandise – The range of Lord of the Rings products could actually go on and on. From shot glasses, letter openers and jeweller (rings, of course) to authentic wooden tankards, posters and even soft furnishings, there’s a Lord of the Rings gift for any fan.
Buying the Best Lord of the Rings Deals
The Lord of the Rings is a remarkable success. Although the last film was released in 2004, a vibrant scene has developed around the franchise, with conventions, video games, and masses of fan merchandise to choose from.
There’s so much choice for fans that knowing where to actually make a purchase can sometimes be a problem. If you want to start a Lord of the Rings collection, the first place to look is clear: the HotUKDeals Lord of the Rings listings. Here, you’ll find a list of all of the latest Lord of the Rings deals across all product areas (and you can filter easily to find products you are interested in).
You’ll see listings for movies, video games, apparel and even book box sets from some of the UK’s biggest entertainment merchants. Retailers like Amazon, Smyths, Tesco, GAME, Argos, Base, Instant Gaming and even Poundland regularly feature in the listings, offering cut-price DVDs, Blu-rays, games and much more.
Look out for box sets if you are buying the Blu-rays for the first time, as buying as a set will save plenty of money. If you are buying older Lord of the Rings gaming titles, check download sites like Steam or PlayStation Network as well, because they may still have them on offer at low prices.
Remember to take advantage of sales too. When Black Friday comes around, major entertainment products like Lord of the Rings box sets often plunge in price, so keep an eye out for special offers by bookmarking the HotUKDeals Lord of the Rings listings.
Cheap Lord of the Rings Items Here at HotUKDeals
When the ‘Lord of the Rings’ was published in 1954, no-one could have predicted how massive it would become 50 years later. Nowadays, characters like Frodo and Sauron are household names. Whether you are a seasoned fan or a complete newcomer, check out the HotUKDeals Lord of the Rings pages to find the best deals on Blu-rays, books, merchandise and games.