Since we have a prominent Tolkien-inspired game hitting this week, I thought I’d make my recommendations content that is either inspired by LotR or that shares a similar theme or focus.
The Sword of Shannara (Book)
The original Sword of Shannara is the obvious choice here. Featuring a very similar theme – the dark lord whose power can only be undone through the success of a group of adventurers. It even puts the real burden on a pair of country folk – valemen in this case – with little to offer to such a quest. I’ve heard a lot of criticism for it being so close, but it does change the focus and the events enough that it never feels like ‘just a copy’, and it is quite well written. There’s a lot to like in this little book, and it’s a perfect choice for if you’re looking for something that’ll remind you of Lord of the Rings without actually being Lord of the Rings.
Record of Lodoss War (Anime)
It’s rare to see an anime show inspiration from Lord of the Rings since it was never really a huge influence in Japan… but Lodoss War has a very similar feel to it. It’s a vibrant and rich fantasy world complete with all the fantasy races you expect. While magic is certainly more abundant than in Tolkien’s mythology, it manages to capture that fantasy quest that LotR is so famous for. It’s one of the first anime I ever watched as a kid, and it’s one that I still remember fondly to this day – so I hope you guys give it a look.
Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring (Game)
To finish things off, I’d like to list one of the very few Lord of the Rings based games I’ve played that I actually enjoyed. This RTS, heavily influenced in mechanics by Warcraft 3, does a great job of not taking the lore too seriously. The game is fun and light, while still retaining enough that is reminiscent of the stories to make it feel connected. It occupies a weird space though, since it isn’t deep enough to truly satisfy core RTS gamers, but also isn’t accurate enough to really scratch the itch of Tolkien’s core fans… but it is a fun game, and it’s one that I do recommend playing for a fun Tolkien-lite experience.
Hope you enjoy these recommendations, and here’s hoping that Shadow of Mordor will be worthy of a spot the next time I make a similar list! If you have any recommendations of your own, please do feel free to share them. Thank you!