The Lord of the Rings, that's all about fairies isn't it?

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The Lord of the Rings, that's all about fairies isn't it?

The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and the rest of JRR Tolkien's books are a bit like Marmite, because it seems that people either love them, or hate them, with very little middle ground.

There are in fact no fairies involved in The Lord Of The Rings, or The Hobbit, although there are Elves, but unless you are aware that Tolkien's Elves are human sized, noble, strong, immortal beings, and not glittery little things about four inches high, you might well assume they are one and the same thing. They are not, but it's an easy mistake to make.

The same applies to the Dwarves. They are not funny little fellows, like garden gnomes, but sturdy, fierce, stubborn, often greedy, (regarding gold and jewels), slightly shorter and stouter than human sized, bearded, chainmail wearing warriors, whose weapon of choice is an axe. Dwarves don't get on very well with Elves, and Elves are not particularly fond of Dwarves.

Tolkien's Goblins are nothing like the traditional fairy tale image of naughty little green men with pointy ears, either. Well, actually they are a bit like that when we first meet them in The Hobbit, but that was intended as a children's book, and in The Lord Of The Rings they are known as Orcs, and are extremely unpleasant, evil creatures.

Tolkien's Men are, well, Men, and some of the Women are Men too. No, I made that bit up, although one of the Men is a Woman, which is vitally important for the plot. It's hard to explain, and I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't read it, but it really is very, very important. No, I won't say why, you'll just have to read the book.

I may be wrong, but I believe the Hobbits represent us normal men and women, and perhaps specifically English men and women. The Men of Middle Earth are, as far as I can see, a higher and nobler breed of Men than we are, if that makes any sense. The Hobbits are jolly, simple little people, but like humans, have a constitution and mental strength far above what their appearance might suggest. That is also vital for the plot.

The Nazgul, or 'Black Riders', are the arch villains, or the equivalent of Hitler's SS, with the Dark Lord Sauron himself being the equivalent of Hitler, the dark, evil master of a vast evil army. Tolkien insisted that the story was in no way influenced by the war (WW2), but personally I find that very hard to believe, especially given that The Shire is obviously meant to represent England, or at least part of it, and the book was being written during the war.

There are a few other types involved, including three wizards, who are more like Wise Men, and don't actually do much magic. (Actually there are five wizards, but only three of them are named, or involved in any of the stories). There is a Balrog, (big, nasty beast), a giant spider, some trolls, a horrible thing that lives in a pond, another horrible thing that lives on an island in a different pond, some Wild Men, called Woses, and a whole bunch of dead people that go for a brief walk. There are some walking trees, some walking things that look like trees, a pony called Bill, a very fast horse, and an old bloke who always reminds me of a giant Leprechaun, who talks to a Willow tree, which sometimes gets a bit nasty. Oh, and a Barrow Wight, (a boney, nasty thing) and some Oliphaunts. Oh, come on, surely you can work out what they are, can't you?

I think that's pretty much it, and, as you can see, no fairies, so there's absolutely no reason why you can't go right ahead and read it. 1077 pages? So what? My nine year old grandson is halfway through reading all the Harry Potter books, and he only started a few weeks ago. Just man up a bit and get reading.

Dragon! I forgot to mention Smaug the dragon. He's only in the Hobbit, though...