It was very interesting to read something that I'd been told about since I was nine. I was surprised by some things... like how Tolkien doesn't write characters very well unless they are hobbits, and even those are kind of sketchy at times. Also, my best friend is such a huge Gimli/Legolas fan that I really expected there to be, you know, actual build-up to their friendship and a good deal of bromance. My friend always complained about how there wasn't enough Gimli/Legolas in the films, but my god, I think the films actually did it better.
I forget who said it recently... but I agree with the idea that Samwise, not Frodo, is actually the real hero of the trilogy. I also like Sam's ending the best, but I'll get to that.
Fellowship was extremely slow moving, and I was annoyed by characters acting illogically... not to mention the previously mentioned character-writing weakness. The Two Towers started off fairly slow, but then ramped up. I actually kind of liked the way he wrote non-chronologically, and instead followed one storyline before going back to the departure point and following another storyline. It made events less repetitive. I usually always write chronologically when I'm writing from multi-POVs, so it was interesting to see it done a different way.
I think Return of the King was probably my favourite book. It was pretty action-packed, and the characters were written the best in it. I had been warned that the ending dragged on, but it wasn't actually THAT bad. I actually thought it was kind of neat for Tolkien to include aftermath of everything.
And man, for a while there at the end, Sam is living the dream - getting to shack up with both his wife and his boyfriend!
I do think the ending was a bit of a f*cked up message though...and it may just be me interpreting things in a sort of twisted way... but to me, the ending just seems like a neon sign that says "Suicide is a good solution to your problems!"
Anyway, better lessons I learned from Lord of the Rings:
1. Don't accept presents from world-traveling family members unless you know the object's provenance.
2. Always make sure that your loved ones are dead before you start the whole grieving process.... we'll just tack this lesson onto the horror-movie lesson, and we'll just say "Always make sure that dead people are actually dead!"
3. Whenever possible, allow your enemies to kill themselves - saves you the trouble.
I'm going to eventually read the Hobbit, but I think I'm going to wait until all the films come out first. I kind of like seeing the films first and then reading the books - since seeing the films doesn't affect how I enjoy the book, but reading the book affects how I enjoy the films (if that makes any sense.)
I'm not sure what I'm going to read next. I've gotten some suggestions on FB - World War Z, Snow Crash, The Night Circus, and Monkey Beach have all been suggested. As well, I've been recommended Karen Chance's books, but I'm not sure those are available in audiobook, so they might have to wait until I'm ready for a new paperback (I don't go through paperbacks as fast as I go through audiobooks).
Anyway, so far I'm leaning towards World War Z.