My introduction to The Lord of the Rings took place quite late. I first tried reading it when I was about sixteen, but between Harfoots and Stoors and pipe-weed, I got quite lost, and I did not try again until a couple of years later. And when I did, I cursed myself for not having been more persistent earlier, for now indeed I saw what I had been missing. Till date, LOTR remains firmly fixed at the top of my list of favourite books. The characters I liked most when I read the books were Faramir, Aragorn and Sam, but after watching the movies, I kind of have a soft spot of massive proportions for Karl Urb- I mean, Eomer!
The movies, well... I like them insofar as they provide great visuals (think Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith, among others), and the cast is awesome (and not just because of Karl Urban!), as is the soundtrack. In themselves, they are great, but when I think of them as adaptations of the books, I am not really satisfied. It's fine to omit, condense or otherwise tweak the events of the books to fit in 6 hours of film or to render them more dramatic, but I do not see why they had to mangle characters like Faramir, Theoden and even Denethor. And don't get me started on the strain in Frodo and Sam's friendship in ROTK!
I have discovered fanfiction.net just a few weeks ago, while browsing for images for Lothiriel because I was thinking of writing something about Eomer and Lothiriel (and I mistakenly and rather foolishly believed at that time that it was SUCH an original idea, because where I live, LOTR books are not that popular. Yeah, I know!). And then, gasp, I come across a story - a whole story - called 'Lothiriel', which is - gasp, gasp - about Eomer and Lothiriel! And so I became acquainted with the wonderful place that is fanfiction.net.
After seeing the quality of some of the fics here, I have put my own pathetic little story on hold, and I am reading and observing and learning. I am particularly intrigued by that creature called Mary Sue, and am learning to identify it, so that if I eventually start to write again, I might avoid Mary Sue contamination!
Finally, I have to mention this: I was quite content with merely reading and learning, and had no intention of signing up (being, quite frankly, rather intimidated by the depth of talent on this site), but one story compelled me to do it. That story is 'Where the Grass Grows Green' by Ragnelle, which has moved me in a way I would not have thought possible. I have signed up with only one intention: to review that story and tell the author what a phenomenally good work she has done and what an amazing writer she is.