“The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkien

Whew! Boy did this book take a long time to finish!

Towards the end, I began to get impatient with the narration, which focused most intensely on descriptions of the landscape. Though I understand the importance of these descriptions to the overall work, my appreciation for them fell short when I was about 300-100 pages from the end and all I wanted to do was close the book with a feeling of completion.

I enjoyed the story, but the narration drove me nuts sometimes, as I’ve mentioned before. The descriptions of the landscape and nature just seemed to drag on and on at the slowest pace imaginable. However, I fervently gobbled up all the action parts and dialogues.

There is so much in this book — facts, descriptions, and the lengthy story — that I now feel like I need to take a siesta from reading for a while. My mind is still broadcasting images from Middle-earth and is especially focused on what it believes Lothlorien and Rivendell to look like. The poems are still buzzing in my head and the fear of Sauron and the scare at the end caused by Boromir still cause me to shiver a bit.

I view this book as one of those that a person has to read with an intent. A person has to say to herself, “I am going to read this book and I will not stop until I get to the last page.” That’s what I had to do because the magnitude of descriptions provided made reading an arduous task at times. The first time that I picked up The Fellowship of the Ring to read (sometimes I just pick it up to admire), I gave up a quarter of the way into it because I did not have the patience to push through the descriptions. But this time, with the intention to read the entire thing so that I can truthfully say that I read it, I was able to complete the novel.

Quick summary:

I was drawn to this novel because of the story being told. The story is of a hobbit, an inconsequential being that resides in Middle-earth, whose task it is to save the world. That’s basically what it is. The story here is a continuation of The Hobbit. When Bilbo returned to The Shire from his adventure with the dwarves, he also brought back his ring of invisibility. Gandalf the grey wizard was suspicious of the ring and the story that Bilbo told of how he came by it so he did some research. Turns out that Bilbo’s ring is the Ring that once belonged to the powerful, evil being called Sauron. The Ring contains some of Sauron’s powers and is also evil. Gandalf convinces Bilbo to give the Ring over to Frodo, his cousin who he adopted to be his heir. Gandalf then warns Frodo that the Ring is very powerful and will lure him into using it but he must resist the temptation of doing so.

Pretty soon Frodo prepares to leave the Shire and travel to Rivendell since Sauron has loosed his evil forces, the Ringwraiths/Black Riders/Nazgul/The Nine (men who had fallen under the power of Sauron), to find Baggins and retrieve the Ring. While seeking refuge at an inn, The Prancing Pony, Frodo is tricked into using the Ring, which alerts the Ringwraiths of his location. By taking Strider/Aragorn into his service, Frodo and his friends are able to evade the Ringwraiths for a while. However, while traveling to Rivendell they are attacked and Frodo is stabbed by a Morgul blade, a piece of which breaks off in him and slowly advances to his heart.

He is saved by Elrond, master of Rivendell. While at Rivendell, a council is held and the tale of the Ring and the rise of Sauron’s power is told. The council also discusses all the troubles that has arisen since Sauron began to regain his power and it is decided that the Ring should be destroyed so that Sauron can be defeated. Nine individuals, representatives of the races of Middle-earth and equal to the number of Ringwraiths, are chosen to for this task: Frodo (ring bearer, the one burdened with the responsibility of destroying the Ring), Sam Gamgee, Merry, Pippin, Strider/Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir.

They set off to Mordor. Though not chased, they are followed closely by Gollum. Unable to get over the Misty Mountains, they decide to pass through Moria, which proves fateful. They encounter goblins along the way and seek refuge at Lothlorien, where they meet Galadriel, who has one of the elven rings. The Fellowship then travels by river until they have to decide whether to continue straight for Mordor or sidetrack to Gondor. After an encounter with Boromir, Frodo decides to sneak off to Mordor alone to destroy the Ring. Unwilling to leave his master’s side, Sam dashes after him and they continue on their journey together.

My reaction:

Although this is a great story and well written and is definitely a classic, it is not one of my favorites, mainly because of how it is narrated. I enjoyed The Hobbit more because of the simple way in which it is told. The Fellowship of Ring includes more details and facts. At times it seems as if I was read a history textbook rather than a novel because background information is provided for almost everything presented. The story however is very engaging. I really want to know what will happen when/if the Ring is destroyed.

I do believe that I now know where every mountain, rock, and river is in Middle-earth. If I should walk through a portal and end up in Middle-earth, I’ll be able to find my way around….I would head straight for Rivendell and would visit Lothlorien if I could. I do understand that nature is important to the story. It has to be otherwise Tolkien wouldn’t have focused on it so much. This realization hit me when Frodo visited Lothlorien and described how beautiful it is and how vivid the colors of the environment are. I then assumed that the power of nature is slowly dying since no where else in Middle-earth is so vivid. (I read the SparkNotes guide to The Lord of the Rings trilogy as well and it more or less agreed with me here though it linked nature to the elves and since the elves are leaving Middle-earth, nature will no longer be as it once was).

While reading The Fellowship, I couldn’t help thinking of it as a musical. It seems that the characters broke into song at every available opportunity, which I found annoying. Though I must admit that I do enjoy Tolkien’s poetry. Much is learned from the songs since that is how most of the inhabitants of Middle-earth keep a record of their history. Also like nature, music is much admired.

Despite all that, I enjoyed reading The Fellowship and I recommend it to all readers, old and young. It is boring at times but it is worth reading because the story is engaging and it is quite an experience to read a story by a master storyteller. Along with the story, the pacing also keeps the reader interested. The reader will not be worn out by constant action neither will she become totally bored by a consistency of dull scenes. After each major action/fight, Tolkien gives his readers sufficient time to recuperate before moving on to the next one.

It is hard to put this book down for long (you will put it down when you get to the boring spots) because the lure of the story will tempt you to return and pick up where you left off.

The Two Towers (book 2) ->

<- The Hobbit (book 0)

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11 thoughts on ““The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkien

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