Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Sword or the Ring?

I just read Michael Moorcock's verdict, in which he states that Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword is a better novel than Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring. I am afraid it is an opinion I can't quite share, though. Granted, Anderson's book is much bloodier and more violent, and it is closer to the myths of the Norsemen, but I don't think that makes it a better work than Tolkien's. For me, the chase scene when the Hobbits try to escape across the river with the Black Riders right on their tail.... that's one of my favorite reading memories for the way it sucked me into the fear and agony of the fleeing band.

I have to admit, though, that I am not the most impartial judge. I read The Fellowship of the Ring when I was young, but only got around to reading The Broken Sword this past week. There's no fair way to compare the reading experience of my younger self with that of my older self. So, I have to try to look at the books as texts, rather than simply evaluating my reading experiences with each story. And that is something that is really hard to do (and which I have not yet had sufficient time to do anyway, considering that I've only recently read The Broken Sword). Because the thing that is so great about both books is the way that they suck you right in and make you feel a part of the secondary worlds they create.

The Broken Sword (Fantasy Masterworks)Lord of the Rings, The: The Fellowship of the Ring

For me, and for now, Tolkien's Ring still wins out over Anderson's Sword. But reading Moorcock's opinion made me wonder what the general thought is — which do you prefer? The sword or the ring?

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