Book Review: Bored of the Rings

The first edition

Can we take a moment to appreciate the lasting cultural impact of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film adaptations? I think it is almost certainly at least 25% responsible for the renaissance of the TTRPG hobby in the early 2000s. It has sent studio executives on an endless quest for more big fantasy IP to turn into big-budget television projects, from GOT to WOT to Narnia. (Sorry I couldn’t finish the “-OT” pattern. Narnia… Obstructs… Tash?) It gave epic fantasy a certain gravitas and Oscar-level respectability the genre had not previously enjoyed, to say nothing of the impact of the books. Tolkien IS the basic western fantasy assumption. Every fantasy can be measured by how much it adheres to or differs from the LOTR. The series has received and deserves its flowers. That said, with great impact comes great recognition, and with great recognition comes great potential for parody.

Is anything in nerddom more parodied, riffed on, or glommed onto than the Lord of the Rings? On the extremely light side, you’ve got The Gray Journal still living out there on the internet archives. So many videos, so many memes (and memes and memes) and the true classic that is DM of the Rings.

Do not think, fair reader, that parody the sole domain of the internet age. Long before the Series of Tubes was a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye, comical nerds with an idea had to share their creation with the world through the joy of traditional publishing. My sense of humor is just dry enough to delight in the image of a literary nerd clacking out fart jokes on a manual typewriter and sending them to a publisher in the actual, physical mail.

Meet Bored of the Rings.

The Basics:

Title: Bored of the Rings
Author: Henry Beard, Douglas Kenney
Genre: Fantasy, Parody, Humor
Published: Signet, 1969

Spoiler-Free summary:

It’s literally the plot of the Fellowship of the Ring, beat by truncated beat, in the style of Mel Brooks. It does an excellent job of mirroring Tolkien’s signature style with a loving, deprecating twist. Where Tolkien spent 30 pages lovingly describing the idyllic life in the Shire of the homely hobbits, BOTR spends 5 pages on the uncouth practices of the filthy hobbits. Every epic moment is accompanied by an irrelevant, somber figure of speech.

Why You Will Love This Book…

The only question that needs to be asked about any work of comedy is, did you laugh?

Why yes. Yes I did. The humor is whimsical, farcical, occasionally bawdy, and often 4th-wall-breaking. Some of the cultural jokes have been lost to the sands of time, but if you remember the late 60’s, you might enjoy this twice as much as I did.

Are you a fantasy fan with a sense of humor about your favorite genre? Did you love Robin Hood: Men In Tights, Monty Python and The Holy Grail, or Galivant? If you’re a short-form fan, do you check YouTube weekly for Door Monster or Viva La Dirt League? If you’re in the mood for a short, breezy laugh, check out Bored of the Rings.

Happy Reading, folks.

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