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Terrible Reviews of Great Books: Lord of the Rings

one star reviews

There is no such thing as a universally loved book. Each month, we’ll feature a book from Time’s list of the best 100 English language novels of all time. From the nasty to the snarky to the downright absurd, we’ll highlight some of the strange reasons why some people hate these great reads. In six days it will be J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday so what better pick than The Lord of the Rings? Read on to see why some people hate this book (which I happen to love).

Volume one of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was first published in 1954. It was intended as a sequel to The Hobbit and was written in stages between 1937 and 1949. It is considered to  be “the founding novel of modern fantasy literature.” It has 9,122 reviews on Amazon with an average star rating of 4.6. Only three percent of reviews are 1-star reviews and the majority are comments on the formatting or complaints about a specific edition. But among those complaining, there at least 1% who take issue with either the story or tthe writing. Let’s take a look at a sampling at the most “thoughtful” one star reviews (my comments in blue):

NOTE: I did not edit for grammar or spelling. All reviews were copied exactly as posted on Amazon. You can read all 1-star reviews here.

  • I tried and tried again to get through these books in their entirety but haven’t been able to do it. Who wants to read about this stuff anyway? The answer is: WEIRDOS! Stay away not only from these books, but from the people who read them. Touché. 
  • Elves and dwarves are lame. Tom Bombodil is more annoying than Jar-jar Binks. No one is worse than Jar-Jar Binks. 
  • This book is so boring!!! I think this is the most boring book in the world. I don’t this thing should be a book! Maybe that’s why they made it into a movie.
  • Tolkien is recognized for his revolutionary writing style. But the book moves too slowly as his vivid sensory details extend the book that ultimately is about a long walk. Clearly, you are missing the point of this book. I love the movie because it gives a better sense of the characters emotions. But the book was too slow for me.
  • Where can I start with this? First off, the book is an extremely dry read. It takes around 20 pages just to start, and when it finally does, it drones on and on, irrelevantly about Bilbo. I honestly thought I was being punked. Turns out, around page 66 is when Gandalf finally does his infamous scene telling Frodo to take The Ring.
  • The books have super detailed descriptions of the geography of the places, which made the reading way too tedious. Because when you are reading about a quest through new lands, detailed descriptions are the last think you need. Besides, heroes are supposed to act like heroes, not like cowards. And that IMO is what Frodo is: a coward forever denying his mission. A coward who leaves the comfort of his home to go on a life-threatening mission to save his village and the world.
  • Its about as exciting as reading the dictionary and just as long. Tolkien was one messed up dude. ITs more like descriptions of places and things more than an actual story. I’d rather read the back of a bottle of shampoo. Rinse and repeat.
  • This book is SLOW. The characters aren’t real at all, and they each have about 50 names. Take Aragorn for example: Strider Aragorn, Estel, King Ellisar, Plain Ellisar, etc. The names are unoriginal, like Arwen and Eowyn (both names topping the list of popular baby names in the 1940s), different by one syllable. The book is rather confusing by itself, then if you read all the appendixes, you don’t know who is who. The whole book is simply fighting and killing, with an occasional appearence by Gandalf. Merry and Pippin are the only source of humor, if they ever come up in the book. Did I mention that the characters are totally fake? Most elves, hobbits, and wizards I meet are far from fake. Their actions are random and unpredictable, even for a fantasy, their speech is ridiculous. The “Greatest Fantasy Epic of our time” is a silly name for a book this long (because epics are usually novellas) and boring. Totally overrated, this book stinks.
  • With respect to you Tolkein fanboys out there, this book is garbage. I wouldn’t line a litter box with this junk. If you enjoy being bored to tears by minutia, this book is for you. Everyone else, stay the hell away! This may be the only cat person to dislike Tolkien –because we’re smart 🙂
  • It is a disquised South African White supremist fairy tale. Don’t know which is worse: The spelling or the sentiment.
  • I desperately want to drench this book in oil, light it on fire, and throw it into oncoming traffic.
  • I have read a great deal of boring books in my life, but this one might take the cake. When the reproductive cycle of algae is more interesting than this work of fiction, you know you’re in trouble.
  • Let me sum up the plot of this 400+ pg book for you: Frodo and co pack their bags, rest, eat a good meal, and walk. Walk, walk, walk through the forests, walk to Elrond’s house, walk to Moria, walk to where the elves live. AND NOTHING EVER HAPPENS. The reviewer above would beg to differ because according to him/her, this book is about just “fighting and killing.”
  • Tolkien would have used his time much better if he had used it to cut the grass for an elderly lady, work as a volunteer in a soup kitchen, or collect money for the blind. Considering that LOTR is one of the best selling books of all time, I’m guessing Tolkien made the right decision. Plus we all know that writers are simply people with too much time on their hands.

Have you read the Lord of the Rings? Did it merit a 1-star review or are you like me, a weirdo?

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jean #

    I read The Hobbit and didn’t care for it (a matter of personal taste). However, I can appreciate what Tolkien achieved with it and the Lord of The Rings trilogy. So I found the reasons for the 1-star reviews, and your response hilarious. I can’t wait for the next installment.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 28, 2015
  2. LOL!! Some of these are awesome. And by awesome, I mean really sad. Sure, there are some parts of Tolkien that are a tad dry. I can only take so much Elvish poetry, for example. But count me in with the weirdos, because LOTR is one of the best books written! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    December 28, 2015
    • As much as I disagree with them some were really funny!


      December 28, 2015
  3. I loved the Lord of the Rings. And I read it at the time in my life when I wasn’t into the whole elves, dwarves, sci-fi or big fantasy stuff. And I’ve even added them to my tbr reread list for 2016

    Liked by 1 person

    December 31, 2015
  4. Morven #

    I read the Hobbit when I was about 10 and loved it.

    Then I discovered the books my Mum had bought as they were successively published in her library. The Fellowship of the Ring and the Two Towers were great. But I was about 12.

    I tackled the last book in the trilogy, the Return of the King, when I was nearly 13. I remember having the impression that the author had weaved so many worm holes he was as bored of the novel as I was. This was the first book I never finished.

    I think of trainspotters when I read that the Lord of the Rings was universally voted the best book ever. The same sort of people will have voted on mass to declare Star Trek as the greatest TV series ever.


    November 22, 2021

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