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Bored of the Rings: A Parody of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Paperback – July 1, 1993
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Written in the gloaming of their college days, just before they started National Lampoon, Douglas C. Kenney and Henry N. Beard wrote Bored of the Rings. It's dated--references to Nixon, drugs, and consumer products circa 1969 crowd every page--but darn it, Bored of the Rings is still funny nearly 30 years later: "'Goodbye, Dildo,' Frito said, stifling a sob. 'I wish you were coming with us.'
'Ah, yes. But I'm too old for that sort of thing now,' said the old boggie, feigning a state of total quadriplegia. 'Anyway, I have a few small gifts for you,' and he produced a lumpy parcel, which Frito opened somewhat unenthusiastically in view of Dildo's previous going-away present [the ring]. But the package only contained a short, Revereware sword, a bulletproof vest full of moth holes, and several well-thumbed novellas with titles like Elf Lust and Goblin Girl..."
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Firstly, a warning about the book's age: many of the jokes are dated, to the point that you might constantly find yourself Googling the names of various characters or locations to see what they're referring to. Being written decades ago, this parody also misses some aspects of "Lord of the Rings" made more famous through Peter Jackson's adaptation (such as Arwen). One must go into this parody with the *original books* in mind, not any of the movies. So if you're not familiar with Tom Bombadil, Souron's black spy animals, or the constant songs that often border on nursery rhymes, you might want to either read LOTR first, or just Google "Lord of the Rings, book vs movie," before you tackle BOTR.
That being said, I argue that the above makes "Bored of the Rings" stand out for the better. Since Peter Jackson's adaptation, there have been dozens if not hundreds of "Lord of the Rings" spoofs thrown at us, most of them based on the film versions. If you've already read Mad Magazine's "Bored of the Rings," watched "Lord of the G-Strings," the "South Park" version and the "Veggie Tales" version and the home-made spoof you and your neighborhood friends acted out in your backyard and uploaded to YouTube, it might be refreshing to read a spoof based on the LOTR books instead of the movies, and with a 1960s twist. I'd actually describe this book as "Lord of the Rings as told by the '60s."
Aside from '60s pop culture references and slang, this book is filled with delightfully cartoonish humor, much of it vulgar. Personally, I imagine everything to look like an old Hannah Barbera cartoon, when reading this book. Or, occasionally, like a live-action movie made by the "Scary Movie" troop. It also, at times, has an almost "Princess Bride" feel to it, where so many of the names just sound randomly silly (again, probably just do to being outdated). It follows the plotline of "Lord of the Rings" from start to finish, but deviates so much with its wackiness, that by the time you're halfway through you might feel like you're simply reading an independent, comical fantasy story, almost like an R-rated "Phantom Tollbooth."
If you're a fan of "Barry Trotter," "The Phantom Tollbooth," "Monty Python," or Mel Brooks, I highly recommend "Bored of the Rings."
Now pick up Bored of the Rings, and read the forward. You haven't even gotten into the STORY yet, and you'll be in stitches. It's hysterically funny, and if you've actually read LoTR, once you hit upon the meat of the story, not only will you be hard pressed to put it down, you'll have an equally difficult time not laughing. It's one of the few books I've read not only multiple times, but one I would never, ever bring with me on an airplane or a long bus ride. Even after all these times I've read it, I can't help myself but to laugh out loud as I do.
Many satires of popular novels try too hard and fall flat. It's like "We just made a jab at the original! HEY LOOK! I'm being FUNNY! Wakka wakka wakka!" The authors of Bored of the Rings clearly enjoyed themselves (or at least in my imagination they did, sitting around cleverly flinging out ideas with ease, while I'm sure the reality was filled with wailing and gnashing of teeth) as they wrote this book. For only about nine beans, it's worth it. However, I do not suggest you attempt drinking anything or eating while reading, as said beverage / food may go right out your nose.
I loved the books then -- my old paperback versions fell apart years ago and are now held together with rubber bands. I recognize them as probably the best of the fantasy genre; however, contrary to the opinion of a lot of the enraged - and probably young -- readers here I can't in all seriousness rank them as the greatest books ever written, or even among the greatest pieces of literature in all of history. Unlikely the real world, the characters are simplistically all good or all evil, except for maybe Gollum/Sméagol. If you want a deep study of the nuances of good v. evil read something complex like Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" or even "The Red Badge of Courage."
Alas, I hear you cry, those books are "old" and set in a time we can't relate to. Really? -- you find a book set in a fantasy world with characters straight from fairy tales -- wizards, elves, dwarfs, orcs -- as more relatable than books with characters who are realistic and complex individuals who cope with the real world, although set in the past. You really need to get out more and read more than fantasy novels like LOTR and Harry Potter and modern "young adult" fiction like the "Hunger Games" and the "Divergent" books.
LOTR -- good or even great fantasy books? Certainly. Good modern fiction? Probably. The "Greatest Book" or among the great works of literary history? Probably not.
So relax and don't get your knickers in a twist over an admittedly dated and often crude 1970's parody that made fun of books written as fantasy novels that were, in the 60's and 70's, being dissected and discussed as if they held timeless truths that had never before been so brilliantly explored.