Yes, there are only five topics for today’s TTT, but I just reviewed the audiobook last week, so I don’t want to overdo it. There should still be some surprises for those of you who may end up listening to the audiobook! And in case you were wondering if I loved it, the answer is emphatically yes. This was such a splendid experience, and I can’t wait to listen to it again.
You knew this had to be the top reason, come on. The voices alone are what hooked me. I really am not an audiobook fan, which isn’t even quite accurate because I’m just not a listening fan unless I’m sitting down with a person and having a conversation with them. I don’t like podcasts, and I very often zone out my music (although I do greatly love music), and I have a lot of difficulty paying attention when someone is reading something to me even in person! That said, when I heard that Andy Serkis was narrating LOTR, I knew I had to give it a go, and the voices. I think Andy said he ended up creating around 122 voices for individual characters? And you can tell! No matter if they’ve got one line or one hundred, he puts so much emphasis on making the characters sound different from each other.
Not only that, but he took influence from some of the actors for their voices, and while Pippin might not sound exactly like Billy Boyd, there’s a Scottish brogue in there to pay homage to what Boyd did for Pippin’s voice. Although, not gonna lie, the Gandalf voice had me shook. I did honestly check to see if Ian McKellen was a guest star.
The voices were so phenomenal, though, and the way that Andy rose and lowered his volume during different parts, or freaking drank water when Sam was drowning, UGH! I can’t. The effort that Andy put into each characters’ voice was astonishing.
I really do believe the cast when they say they still love this project wholeheartedly. The fact that some of them still reread the books or take part in events just warms my little black heart. And this is clearly a passion project for Andy. Not only did he record The Hobbit–which I’ve since bought and can’t wait to listen to–just for fun and charity, he wholeheartedly jumped into recording LOTR, and you can tell. There’s so much excitement and love and passion in his voice when he’s reading these books, and the way he’s talked about them since just brings me so much joy.
From someone who loves these books more than any other in the world, it’s so wonderful to hear that love reflected back in Andy’s voice while he’s reading.
Conceptually, I know there’s a lot of singing in LOTR, but I hadn’t quite remembered just how much. Like, realistically? There’s a lot of singing in LOTR, and I kept wondering to myself if Andy felt the same way, if he knew, but didn’t really know, you know? Like, sure, we all think about how Tom Bombadil sings pretty much very bit of dialogue, but that’s only a couple chapters, so not that bad, right?
I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if there’s, at minimum, two or three songs in every chapter. I mean, even if it’s just Pippin’s bath song, that’s still some singing, and not only did Andy dive wholeheartedly into each song, but he sang them in each character’s voice! And it wasn’t just oh here’s Pippin singing a bath song in his Scottish brogue–he put the same inflection that he would in any of Pippin’s lines, the same echo of his character, and it was just so much more than I could have possibly expected. To hear Andy sing was a delight on its own, but to also hear the characters he was reading come through so strongly just made me beam every time.
The first time I read Fellowship of the Ring, I was ten, maybe? Or somewhere around there. My dad handed me the book before the first movie came out, told me to study up, and that was that. I’ve only read it a few times throughout the course of my life, but I’ve watched the movies at least twenty times (I usually watch once a year, though sometimes more), so this story is easily the most familiar thing in my life.
But this audiobook? This changed it in ways that I never expected, and it somehow made it new to me again. I found enjoyment in parts that I never had before, I found myself paying attention in a way I hadn’t in a long while, and it was just altogether an experience I never thought I’d have with this story. The newness of it, whether it was the delivery via Andy or just hearing it rather than reading it, will stay with me for a long time.
If you’ve read Lord of the Rings, you know. It’s not the most accessible book. Tolkien is a big fan of long, winding descriptions that are a bit dense and include way more history than we actually need. I mean, the man puts footnotes and wrote several appendices, I think it’s pretty clear that he was not one for brevity. And even if it wasn’t all that and a bag of chips, it’s still pretty outdated for its language for what people are reading today, and that makes it a hard thing to tackle.
The audiobook, though, provides a new avenue for which people can read LOTR. I recently recommended it over the physical book to a friend who mostly reads very standard YA fantasy with a focus on romance because it’s just not the vibe for her, but she really wants to read LOTR, and I think the audiobook is a great way to make it more accessible. There’s no trudging through the endless passages of Tolkien’s very specific language because it’s almost like a performance instead. The way that Andy has read this book has elevated it beyond just a book that you’re listening to, and I think that’s made it incredible accessible, which may help it reach more and more people that might have never picked it up before.