You know that person that seems to be friends with all of your friends? That person they constantly talk about as being ohmygodatotalgeniusyouwilllovethem? That person whose crazy adventures are constantly retold to you? And then when you meet them, your reaction is...just...meh.That's me and Tolkien. I hate to say it. I just don't get what the fuss is about. I read The Hobbit years ago and like some parts of it, but when I went on to Fellowship of the Ring I never got more than a hundred pages in, despite the vehement urging of many friends. In researching for my upcoming trip to see my first Ring Cycle, I found commentaries that compare Tolkien and Wagner. I decided to give Tolkien another try and borrowed a friend's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Tolkien's foreshadowing is so incredibly heavy, I feel like I've been hit with a sledgehammer. He's also of the opinion that if a joke is funny once, it's funnier the second, third, forth...stop it!. He'll never deign to use one word when he can use ten. And all the songs...my dear John Ronald Reuel, I thought you said "Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases." His characterization is middling at best -- he doesn't characterize individuals, but races. For instance, all of the dwarves in The Hobbit are interchangeable with the mild exceptions of Bombur and Thorin. No elves, goblins or men are truly delineated. Even Bilbo is only characterized within the realm of typically- or atypically hobbit, despite vague talk of the Took side of his heritage. In fact, I'm of the opinion that the one real character in the book is Gollum. Tolkien is good at, as Bernard Cornwell puts it, "putting doors in blind alleys". That is, setting up an earlier event to explain a later deus ex machina. The trouble is, due to the foreshadowing, the setup drags the present action down, rather than creating tension. There's still a part of me that wants to believe all my friends that Tolkien is brilliant and go on to read Lord of the Rings, but another part of me just can't face another thousand-plus pages of that writing style. We'll see.