Book 1 of The Lord of the Rings.
There is no way whatsoever that I will ever gain perspective to review The Lord of the Rings in an ‘objective’ manner—to whatever degree that word even makes sense in the context of reviews. Not only is this part of the most sacred canon of the fantasy genre; it is also material that I grew up on. Since the first time I read it (at age ten or so?), I’ve read it dozens of times; at the time of writing this note—at the very end of 2010—the count is probably closer to fifty than it is to forty.
Of course The Lord of the Rings is not for everyone. It is slow-paced, it is exceptionally detailed in its environment, and it bears many signs of the peculiar station of Tolkien’s nature as an academic and former soldier used to male camaraderie with few women playing much of a role. I will not attempt to defend any of this, but merely note that I am aware of it and do not feel that it detracts.
Tolkien referred to his creative acts as