“Not all those who wander are lost.”- J.R.R. Tolkien
When it comes to fantasy storytelling, it doesn’t get much more epic than J.R.R. Tolkien. Since its publication in 1937, Tolkien’s The Hobbit has sold more than 100 million copies – and the same is true for the three following volumes that comprise the Lord of the Rings trilogy. When you take into account the staggering box office success and 37 total Academy Award nominations across the 6 resulting film adaptations, it’s safe to say that Tolkien’s tale of adventure and magic is the most popular fantasy story ever.
But what is it about this intricate narrative that creates such a strong feeling of connection for so many people? What is it about a story filled with orcs, evil wizards, giant spiders, and ghost armies that feels so relatable?
Small heroes can have big adventures
In a world where there are humans as well as powerful magical races like elves and wizards, it stands out that the main protagonists of these stories aren’t human, or magical, at all. The heroes are small and decidedly unwarrior-like hobbits, with no special skill or power…unless you count eating a lot of extra meals, that is. (Elevensies, anyone?) Both Bilbo and Frodo prove that even if you don’t feel brave, or see yourself as brave, you can still act brave. Our little adventurers play a big part in these stories of overcoming evil, and refuse to let their small stature or lack of power stop them from completing their quests. Seeing someone who seems entirely ordinary accomplishing extraordinary things inspires all of us to believe that we can do the same.
Fellowship is the greatest power
Throughout each story in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, we’re shown again and again the power of working together toward a common goal. One of the books is even titled, The Fellowship of the Ring! The unity of the various characters is what helps them overcome their many obstacles, with each bringing their own strengths and value. Our heroes include a wide range of very different characters and magical races: humans, elves, dwarves and wizards alike all band together to defeat their foes. Each of them plays a crucial part to achieve things that wouldn’t have been possible alone. #TeamworkMakesTheDreamWork
There’s magic everywhere
In any fantasy story, you’d expect that magical occurrences would be par for the course. What stands out about Tolkien’s world is that the characters encounter wonder – and danger – at every turn. Trees speak and walk around, rivers turn into herds of galloping horses, dragons gloat, goblins team up with sentient wolves and friendly giant eagles show up just when you really need to hitch a ride. After being immersed in a world where every little corner hides a tingle of magic, it’s not hard to start seeing the everyday magic in our own lives.
It’s no secret that people all over the world are still just as enthralled with Tolkien’s Middle Earth as they were nearly 80 years ago. What made you fall in love with Middle Earth?