When I was a young boy, my only means of escape from the horrors and sheer boredom of the real world were books. I would read just about everything I could get my hands on, starting with The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy at 5, moving on to Dune at around 7 or 8. I was 10 when I stole my older brother's copy of Lord of the Rings, a tattered, dog-eared tome containing the entirety of the trilogy in the one volume.
I had read The Hobbit by that stage, knew that there was more to the Ring than was first hinted at. Hell, I had even seen Ralph Bakshi's wonderful animated version in the months leading up to my theft. All of that made it inevitable. As was my brother discovering my crime while I was about halfway through Bilbo's Eleventy-first birthday, a clobbering, and him taking his property back. Bastard!
A short while later I procured my own copy, a nice three-volume boxed set. With these books I was transported to a world of wonders, horrors (yet refreshingly different from those of the real world) and magic. It was also where I found my first significant male role model: Aragorn, son of Arathorn.
Aragorn was a strong, powerful warrior, yet showed great compassion. He could hack orcs and goblins to bits, then mourn his fallen battle-brother, Boromir. He was unafraid equally to face the hordes or Mordor or to show his love for his friends. All of this was totally alien to me. My male role models in reality were somehow lacking, in comparison.
While there are stories out there that I have grown to love more than J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece, I doubt that a single work of fiction has affected me personally more. King's Dark Tower protagonists are far too flawed, a byproduct no doubt of their author's history, both personal and fictional. The Wheel of Time's examples are derived from Tolkien's, as Robert Jordan himself was happy to admit. Some are, no doubt, improvements.
But Tolkien was there first. Aragorn was there first. Honourable, fearless, the man who gave up a kingdom because there was a Darkness in the land that needed to be fought and brought down before he could allow himself the luxury of ruling.
I'll be the first to admit to not always living up to the exacting standards that Strider embodies, but I do my best to do so. Falling short while still following his example makes for a much better human than not bothering at all.
About the Creator
Author and Creator of Anno Zombus, but don't let that worry you; I write more than just zombie stories.
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