JRR Tolkien (1892 – 1973) was one of the greatest authors of last century.
He took ancient to then-current mythology and his knowledge of language and developed a rich world full of species that still stalk our novels today. Without him, would we have elves, ents, dwarves, gold hoarding dragons?
I have read The Hobbit and the rest of the series, along with the Silmarillion many times. I always learn something new from each read through.
Tolkien, like so many great writers, uses each species, and region to show how different social issues can be a boon, or a dangerous disgrace. How one can change from one to the other over the years, or even centuries.
As the ring travelled from the beginning of Middle Earth, to the end of the tale, the stories of the lives we all know and hold dear are revealed, open for anyone to read. What is the ring today? Who are the hobbits carrying it? Where is their Mount Doom? Who is Aragon? Is he your friend? Or did you turn your back on him? Do you talk to the ents? Or tear their tree herds out of the ground?
Do you sing as you travel? Or silently sulk along your journey?
Tolkien inspired me to think of everything about an area when writing. The lighting, the sunlight, moonlight, starlight. The sounds – crickets, squirrels, birds, dogs, cats, even the camels make sounds. The textures – are the leaves soft and moist, or dry and cracked? Is the water smooth and swift, or slow, sticky, and lumpy. So much, and yet not all of it can be included in the novel. Even before I began writing novels, I realized how valuable those webpages could be for all the extras – maps, family trees, word changes, and more than there may not be room for in some of the stories. And that some readers despise, as having them, slows down their reading.