Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Fellowship of the Ring (Part One of ‘The Lord of the Rings’) ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

As I sat down to write a review of this book I felt almost foolish because, let’s face it, most people know what this book is about because they have either seen the movie or at least heard about it since it’s such a huge cult classic. I myself have seen the movies so many times with my husband that we have started a friendly Quote War to determine who knows the dialogue better. But as is true with most movies based upon books the book itself differs from the movie and is usually in fact BETTER than the film version. That general knowledge holds true here.

Frodo Baggins is a Hobbit, a person half the size of a normal man, who lives in an underground home in Hobbiton in the fictional world of Middle-Earth; a place very similar in landscape to our world but different in its inhabitants of Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits as well as Wizards and Men. Frodo has inherited a ring from his uncle, but not just an ordinary ring: a magic ring, and one that has a dark and deadly past. Through Frodo’s friendship with his friend the Wizard Gandalf, Frodo learns that his ring is in fact The One Ruling Ring of ages ago in which the Dark Lord Sauron forged to be a weapon of control over all the Free Peoples of Middle-Earth. In the 2nd Age of their world, Sauron was defeated, and the ring was lost. But Sauron has come to power again, and he once more seeks to destroy all of Middle-Earth and enslave its peoples to his will. He only needs this One Ring to complete his plans. Frodo must destroy the Ring and thereby save Middle-Earth. But he cannot accomplish that task on his own. Help comes in the form of an alliance consisting of Frodo and three other Hobbits, a wizard, an elf, one dwarf, and two men. Together, this fellowship sets off to journey deep within Sauron’s domain, to the land of Mordor, to end forever the Lordship of Sauron.

This is the second time that I have read this book, and I enjoyed it more the second time than the first. Admittedly the beginning is slow; I found it easy to read for a second and then put it down because Frodo and his Hobbit friends were only traveling, and it was a little boring. But once the Hobbits reached the village of Bree and met Strider, things picked up considerably. I found myself engrossed in the poems and songs contained in the novel whereas the first time they left me somewhat puzzled. The book is full of the IMMENSE history of Middle-Earth that Tolkien had written, and it makes you want to learn more about the legends and people spoken of. And of course I was comparing the novel to the movie throughout my reading. In some places I would say the film version was enhanced to make it more exciting than what actually happens in the book. It’s also neat to read a line of dialogue and be able to actually picture the character saying it because you have seen/heard them say it in the film. Along with the book I have a collection of Tolkien’s maps which helped me in reading the book; you can visualize the Fellowship’s journey better with the aid of the maps. (Printable maps can also be found online.) I am now excited to continue the story in “The Two Towers”, part two of The Lord of the Rings.

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