Saturday, August 4, 2007

J. K. Rowling vs. J. R. R. Tolkien

I spent the last few days reading the latest and final Harry Potter book. At the same time I began reading The Hobbit to my son at night (he had to fill the void left by Harry Potter somehow). I found it interesting to read both of these at the same time. I have been a lifetime Tolkien fan so it comes as no surprise that I prefer his writing style to Rowling, but there are some definite areas where Rowling shines as well. She amazed me with the complexity of the final book. Rowling really seemed to work hard to take elements from early on in the series and make them important in the end. I do feel the final few chapters were a bit rushed as she tied up everything in a neat little package, but hey, how else would you do it, unless you dragged it on with many endings for each plot element.

I am still in love with the richness of Tolkien. His descriptions of the world of Middle Earth are full of life and beauty. I find myself worried at times that my son (9) would be bored when Tolkien takes a half page to describe a field and it's trees and surroundings, but so far there have been no complaints. Rowling on the other hand does seem to keep descriptive text to a minimum, getting right to the action. In the end I rather enjoyed the Potter series and am sad to see it end. Although not with the sadness I felt when I first read the Lord of the Rings in high school, and realized that there would never be any more, (Children of Hurin notwithstanding).

J. K. Rowling should be proud of her accomplishment. History will tell if she will rank up there with the great J. R. R. Tolkien.

1 comment:

Lostcheerio said...

I know what you mean about the descriptions in Tolkien... and just the feeling of scope and history in his books. I think that because the Harry Potter books were written for and about children, there was a closeness to them, an intimacy that was part of the appeal to many readers. Lots of people are put off by the enormity of Tolkien -- how you can't really encompass it, understand it all, unless you really study it. Of course, that's exactly what makes it appealing to some of us too! :)