I blame my buddy Steve Pagnotta. In high school he suggested that I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (in that order, of course). His sales pitch fell apart when I asked him what they were about. He said, “dwarves, wizards and dragons.” I immediately stopped listening. Although I had been a comic book fiend in my youth (DareDevil, Spiderman, Batman), the idea of reading about faerie people just didn’t seem my style. Fortunately, Pags persisted and I promised to give Tolkien’s books a try.
I devoured them over the course of a week. They were so wonderfully different and amazingly complex. The plots followed a familiar “imperiled hero on a quest” format; the action was intense, the writing engaging and the characters were filled with a mixture of comic relief and pathos. What captured my attention, however, were the backstories of the elves and dwarves and wizards and hobbits who all had their own well-formed histories, legends and languages. I felt like I was missing the best part of the story. Continue reading