A screenshot from The Fellowship of the Ring, the first part of The Lord of the Rings series. Image Credit: IMDB

When English writer J. R. R. Tolkien showed his manuscript of the sprawling epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) to his publishers, their first impression was concern for the size of the story. Who would read over 1,000 pages about a couple of short people on a mission?

Click start to play today’s Word Search, where you can pick out many of the characters from the LOTR series.

The publishers shouldn’t have been too concerned. LOTR went on to become one of the most popular book series of all time. According to US-based news magazine Newsweek, The Hobbit (the prelude to LOTR), which was published in 1937, was the number one bestselling book of all time for decades – at least until J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series bowled everyone over.

Here are three reasons why Tolkien’s epic fantasy has been enormously successful:

1. He was a fantastic writer

Tolkien was a graduate at the prestigious University of Oxford in UK, and he then became professor of English and literature at the same university. Needless to say, he had a firm grasp on language, and knew how to use it. Moreover, Tolkien’s incredible imagination and his ability to draw out colourful characters in his works, does him enormous credit. He built an entire world in his story – universally acknowledged as one of the most triumphant worldbuilding experiments ever to be done – and filled it out with intricate details. He didn’t just create maps of Middle Earth, where LOTR is set, but also entire races, with rich histories, poetry, culture and traditions. He lent his work an artistic depth, with careful consideration; it’s such a rare and painstaking enterprise, you appreciate his passion for all the tiny details.

2. It was the first of its kind

Although Tolkien didn’t invent fantasy, he defined it for millions around the world with his books. He populated his world with characters who learned from their experiences, grew and changed – a remarkable departure from the established style at the time. He developed a 19th century fantasy world, blended with folklore and Norse mythology, and opened it up to young readers, who immediately fell in love. The template he set – of good, albeit flawed individuals, heading off to fight evil in a sprawling epic journey – is drawn upon by fantasy writers even today

3. Characters with depth

The story of good, but flawed characters, banding together to fight an old evil is a recipe that’s proved to be popular. But when you delve into Tolkien’s books, you find that you can resonate with almost every character – whether it’s bumbling Merry and Pippin, steadfast Sam, or elusive Tom Bombadil (who didn’t make it to the movies). Tolkien, it’s clear, has put a lot of effort into fleshing out all his characters, whether major or minor, and it only adds to the grandness and incredibly human story of his epic fantasy.

What do you think of the LOTR series? Play today’s Word Search and tell us at games@gulfnews.com.