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The Lord of the Rings #1

The Fellowship of the Ring

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Alternate Cover Edition ISBN 0618260269 (copyright page ISBN is 0618346252 - different from back cover)

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkeness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, The Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit.

In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.
--back cover

398 pages, Paperback

First published July 29, 1954

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About the author

J.R.R. Tolkien

516 books68.9k followers
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien: writer, artist, scholar, linguist. Known to millions around the world as the author of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien spent most of his life teaching at the University of Oxford where he was a distinguished academic in the fields of Old and Middle English and Old Norse. His creativity, confined to his spare time, found its outlet in fantasy works, stories for children, poetry, illustration and invented languages and alphabets.

Tolkien’s most popular works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are set in Middle-earth, an imagined world with strangely familiar settings inhabited by ancient and extraordinary peoples. Through this secondary world Tolkien writes perceptively of universal human concerns – love and loss, courage and betrayal, humility and pride – giving his books a wide and enduring appeal.

Tolkien was an accomplished amateur artist who painted for pleasure and relaxation. He excelled at landscapes and often drew inspiration from his own stories. He illustrated many scenes from The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, sometimes drawing or painting as he was writing in order to visualize the imagined scene more clearly.

Tolkien was a professor at the Universities of Leeds and Oxford for almost forty years, teaching Old and Middle English, as well as Old Norse and Gothic. His illuminating lectures on works such as the Old English epic poem, Beowulf, illustrate his deep knowledge of ancient languages and at the same time provide new insights into peoples and legends from a remote past.

Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, in 1892 to English parents. He came to England aged three and was brought up in and around Birmingham. He graduated from the University of Oxford in 1915 and saw active service in France during the First World War before being invalided home. After the war he pursued an academic career teaching Old and Middle English. Alongside his professional work, he invented his own languages and began to create what he called a mythology for England; it was this ‘legendarium’ that he would work on throughout his life. But his literary work did not start and end with Middle-earth, he also wrote poetry, children’s stories and fairy tales for adults. He died in 1973 and is buried in Oxford where he spent most of his adult life.

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Profile Image for J.G. Keely.
546 reviews10.2k followers
April 8, 2013
Authors who inspire a movement are usually misunderstood, especially by those they have inspired, and Tolkien is no exception, but one of the biggest misconceptions about Tolkien is the idea that he is somehow an 'innovator of fantasy'. He did add a number of techniques to the repertoire of epic fantasy writers, and these have been dutifully followed by his many imitators, but for the most part, these techniques are little more than bad habits.

Many have called Tolkien by such epithets as 'The Father of Fantasy', but anyone who makes this claim simply does not know of the depth and history of the fantasy genre. For those who are familiar with the great and influential fantastical authors, from Ovid and Ariosto to Eddison and Dunsany to R.E. Howard and Fritz Leiber, it is clear that, long before Tolkien, fantasy was already a complex, well-established, and even a respected literary genre.

Eddison's work contains an invented world, a carefully-constructed (and well-researched) archaic language, a powerful and unearthly queen, and a central character who is conflicted and lost between the forces of nobility and darkness. Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword , which came out the same year as The Fellowship of the Ring, has distant, haughty elves, deep-delving dwarves, a broken sword which must be reforged, an epic war between the armies of light and darkness, another central character trapped between those extremes, and an interweaving of Christian and Pagan worldviews.

So, if these aspects are not unique to Tolkien, then what does set him apart? Though Dunsany, Eddison, and Anderson all present worlds where light and dark come into conflict, they present these conflicts with a subtle and often ironic touch, recognizing that morality is a dangerous thing to present in absolutes. Tolkien (or C.S. Lewis), on the other hand, has no problem in depicting evil as evil, good as good, and the only place they meet is in the temptation of an honest heart, as in Gollum's case--and even then, he is not like Eddison's Lord Gro or Anderson's Scafloc, characters who live under an alternative view of the world, but instead fluctuates between the highs and lows of Tolkien's dualistic morality.

It is a dangerous message to make evil an external, irrational thing, to define it as 'the unknown that opposes us', because it invites the reader to overlay their own morality upon the world, which is precisely what most modern fantasy authors tend to do, following Tolkien's example. Whether it's Goodkind's Libertarianism or John Norman's sex slave fetish, its very easy to simply create a magical allegory to make one side 'right' and the other side 'wrong', and you never have to develop a dramatic narrative that actually explores the soundness of those ideas. Make the good guys dress in bright robes or silvery maile and the bad guys in black, spiky armor, and a lot of people will never notice that all the 'good guys' are White, upper class men, while all the 'bad guys' are 'brutish foreigners', and that both sides are killing each other and trying to rule their little corner of the world.

In Tolkien's case, his moral view was a very specific evocation of the ideal of 'Merrie England', which is an attempt by certain stodgy old Tories (like Tolkien) to rewrite history so that the nobility were all good and righteous leaders, the farmers were all happy in their 'proper place' (working a simple patch of dirt), while both industrialized cultures and the 'primitives' who resided to the South and East were 'the enemy' bent on despoiling the 'natural beauty of England' (despite the fact that the isles had been flattened, deforested, and partitioned a thousand years before).

Though Tom Bombadil remains as a strangely incoherent reminder of the moral and social complexity of the fantasy tradition upon which Tolkien draws, he did his best to scrub the rest clean, spending years of his life trying to fit Catholic philosophy more wholly into his Pagan adventure realm. But then, that's often how we think of Tolkien: bent over his desk, spending long hours researching, note-taking, compiling, and playing with language. Even those who admit that Tolkien demonstrates certain racist, sexist, and classicist leanings (as, indeed, do many great authors) still praise the complexity of his 'world building'.

And any student of the great Epics, like the Norse Eddas, the Bible, or the Shahnameh can see what Tolkien is trying to achieve with his worldbuilding: those books presented grand stories, but were also about depicting a vast world of philosophy, history, myth, geography, morality and culture. They were encyclopedic texts, intended to instruct their people on everything important in life, and they are extraordinarily valuable to students of anthropology and history, because even the smallest detail can reveal something about the world which the book describes.

So, Tolkien fills his books with troop movements, dull songs, lines of lineage, and references to his own made-up history, mythology, and language. He has numerous briefly-mentioned side characters and events because organic texts like the epics, which were formed slowly, over time and compiled from many sources often contained such digressions. He creates characters who have similar names--which is normally a stupid thing to do, as an author, because it is so confusing--but he’s trying to represent a hereditary tradition of prefixes and suffixes and shared names, which many great families of history had. So Tolkien certainly had a purpose in what he did, but was it a purpose that served the story he was trying to tell?

Simply copying the form of reality is not what makes good art. Art is meaningful--it is directed. It is not just a list of details--everything within is carefully chosen by the author to make up a good story. The addition of detail is not the same as adding depth, especially since Tolkien’s world is not based on some outside system--it is whatever he says it is. It’s all arbitrary, which is why the only thing that grants a character, scene, or detail purpose is the meaning behind it. Without that meaning, then what Tolkien is doing is just a very elaborate thought exercise. Now, it’s certainly true that many people have been fascinated with studying it, but that’s equally true of many thought exercises, such as the rules and background of the Pokemon card game, or crossword puzzles.

Ostensibly, Scrabble supposedly is a game for people who love words--and yet, top Scrabble players sit an memorize lists of words whose meaning they will never learn. Likewise, many literary fandom games become little more than word searches: find this reference, connect that name to this character--but which have no meaning or purpose outside of that. The point of literary criticism is always to lead us back to human thought and ideas, to looking at how we think and express ourselves. If a detail in a work cannot lead us back to ourselves, then it is no more than an arbitrary piece of chaff.

The popularity of Tolkien’s work made it acceptable for other authors to do the same thing, to the point that whenever I hear a book lauded for the ‘depth of its world building’, I expect to find a mess of obsessive detailing, of piling on so many inconsequential facts and figures that the characters and stories get buried under the scree, as if the author secretly hopes that by spending most of the chapter describing the hero’s cuirass, we'll forget that he’s a bland archetype who only succeeds through happy coincidence and deus ex machina against an enemy with no internal structure or motivation.

When Quiller-Couch said authors should ‘murder their darlings’, this is what he meant: just because you have hobbies and opinions does not mean you should fill your novel with them. Anything which does not materially contribute to the story, characters, and artistry of a work can safely be left out. Tolkien's embarrassment of detail also produced a huge inflation in the acceptable length of fantasy books, leading to the meandering, unending series that fill bookstore shelves today.

Now, there are several notable critics who have lamented the unfortunate effect that Tolkien’s work has had on the genre, such as in Moorcock’s Epic Pooh and Mieville’s diatribe about every modern fantasy author being forced to come to terms with the old don's influence. I agree with their deconstructions, but for me, Tolkien isn’t some special author, some ‘fantasy granddad’ looming over all. He’s just a bump in the road, one author amongst many in a genre that stretches back thousands of years into our very ideas of myth and identity, and not one of the more interesting ones

His ideas weren’t unique, and while his approach may have been unusual, it was only because he spent a lifetime trying obsessively to make something artificial seem more natural, despite the fact that the point of fantasy (and fiction in general) is to explore the artificial, the human side of the equation, to look at the world through the biased lens of our eye and to represent some odd facet of the human condition. Unfortunately, Tolkien’s characters, structure, and morality are all too flat to suggest much, no matter how many faux-organic details he surrounds them with.

My Fantasy Book Suggestions
June 1, 2015
Never have I been so sad to give a low rating to such a revered book. I'm so sorry. I can't tell you how sorry I am.

Again, I'm so sorry, but I found this book unbelievably dull. I really am so, so sorry. I'm desperately sad about this. This series has been such a foundation for modern-day fantasy that I'm incredibly disappointed in myself for not liking this. I have always wanted to be a Tolkien fangirl. I've always wanted to learn Elvish and get completely offended à la Stephen Colbert but I can't. I just can't.

I want so desperately to love Tolkien, but it just ain't happening.

I've been trying this book for 17 years. Tolkien and I have a sad history. I've always been a book lover, when I was young, I would persist through any book, no matter how trying. The Hobbit was the first book that made me fall asleep. It's memorable to me because that's the first time, and only the second time it's ever happened. The other book that made me fall asleep? You guessed it.

The Fellowship of the Ring.

I tried The Fellowship in 10th grade. I couldn't get past Bilbo's birthday party.

I tried it again almost 10 years ago when I was stuck in bed for several days due to, oh, a giant surgical wound in my neck. My doctor said I had to stay in bed for a few days. So, I reasoned, what better way than to resume my attempt at reading one of the greatest literary classics of all time than whole having no other option?

Audiobook it was! I didn't last past Tom Bombadil before I decided, fuck this, I'm going to head to the gym with a bloody bandage on my neck. True story. I got a lot of really weird looks. My doctor gave me a prescription for Vicodin because he was concerned the pain would be too much to bear. Apparently, I didn't even need the Vicodin because that pedophile Tom Bombadil put me right to sleep.

Seriously, were it not for the fact that it is written by Tolkien, I would have hated this book. It was so unbelievably dull. There were parts, that to a Tolkien amateur like me, didn't have a whit of relevance or anything interesting to add to the plot (namely, say, the first 700 pages of the book). Seriously, what the fuck is up with the farmer and Tom Bombadil?

The plot was all sorts of disjointed. Some parts just didn't make any sense. Tolkien is a linguist at heart, and it shows, because all the famous quotes we know from him are just sound bytes. In context, sometimes they don't really make any sense. All the poems and songs are in there to sound pretty, and frankly, they bored the fuck out of me.

For instance, in the middle of a serious dinner party where the company is just trying to decide what to do about the ring (surely a simple task), all of a sudden little Frodo stands up and solemnly announces.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king
I was like what the fuck, man?! Where did that come from? It makes absolutely no sense in the context of the scene. Oh, sure, it's an inside thing on how Aragorn was the secret king, but nobody knew that! Everyone, elf, hobbit, dwarf, (and me) would have thought he was completely high on some elven grass.

Let me make this clear: I do not, for an instance, doubt Tolkien's literary value. I think he has been an inspiration to generations of writers, artists, hell, gamers. My beloved World of Warcraft game featured elves, pretty much every fantasy book we have these days have been inspired in one way or another by Tolkien. Again, he was an amazing linguist, his work developing the Elvish tongue, among others, as well as his efforts in developing the rich, fantastic history of the world within his books is not to be disregarded by any means.

But again, he is a linguist. He is a scholar. He may be the most brilliant one of those in the world, an inspiration to generations, but for me, personally, his writing is not to my tastes.

But damn, the movies were amazing!
Profile Image for Voldemort.
2 reviews834 followers
July 29, 2016
As a single lady myself, I also love to put a ring on it. And shoutout to my homegurl Sauron!!! you go girl take over middle earth! Reach for the stars! With that balrog on your side you can do anything!
That main dude Frodo tho... reminds me of dat boi Harry... besides what does he need the ring for??
Anyways I gotta give it a low rating cuz theres 2 much frodo, not enough orcs
Profile Image for Lyndz.
108 reviews346 followers
June 20, 2012
I refuse to write a review for one of the best books ever written. Asking a serious fantasy fan to write a review for Lord of the Rings is like asking a Christian to write a review for The Bible.
So instead I will supply you with this graph:
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
September 12, 2020
I’m not going to write a normal review; it’s almost impossible for a fantasy fan to do so in this case. Instead I’m going to give you a series of ten points to explain exactly why I love this particular book. Take from it what you will. There will be spoilers. Here goes:

1. The wizards!

"“Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.”

Now I do love wizards. Who doesn’t? The wisdom of Gandalf is unmatched. He is, in effect, the leader of the forces of light. He is the commander in chief, the battle general and the tactician. He organises everything. From Aragorn’s coming, to the hobbits bearing the ring, Gandalf is behind it all. He has walked middle earth for thousands of years. He has seen it all. And he understands the perilous nature of the quest better than most. He is the grand optimist, the man who sees the best in people. He should have been the leader of the Isatri. He was the most pure. He is nothing like the changeable leader of his order.


Contrastingly, Saruman is the realist. He is neither light nor dark, but a being who can adapt to the circumstance. He saw only defeat for man, so he turned his cloak and helped to usher in the doom of middle earth. His mind was poisoned by the palantir, Sauron fed of his ambition and bent him to his will. Something Saruman didn’t fully conceive. He considered himself the equal of Sauron. In reality, if Sauron had regained the ring, he would have crushed Saruman like a bug. And if Saruman had gained the ring first, things would have become much different. It would have been a war between the two, one that would have unforeseen circumstances.

2. A desperate quest

The quest itself, the sending of just nine people to destroy the conduit of darkness, speaks of desperation. The elves are not what they once were in the first age. Their power has diminished: their people are leaving these lands. They do not have the power to stand against the tide. The Dwarves are shattered and broken. Their leadership in Erabor has their own problems to deal with. They, too, face invasion. And men, men, are weak. Well at least according to Elrond. So sending of a small party of mighty heroes, and a few untested hobbits, is a back door attempt of destroying the evil that infests middle earth. And I love it. Have you ever read about a quest so unlikely and so improbable?

“I will take the Ring", he said, "though I do not know the way.”


3. A Hidden King

Other than the obvious wizard, the agile elvish prince, the stalwart dwarf lord, the fellowship has a secret weapon. Aragorn, the heir to Isildur, has finally come forth.

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

He alone has the power to unite the failing world of men. Only he can save the white tree of Gondor and insure that men do not fall into darkness. And the darkness, it genuinely fears him. He is the last hope of men: he is their salvation. His ancient ancestor Isildur struck the ring from the hand of evil; thus, Sauron fears his coming. However, he is more powerful than Isildur. He has lived amongst the elves, and he has learnt how his ancestor failed to crush the darkness in his vain weakness. Aragorn will not make the same mistake. He will do better.



The party itself, the Fellowship of the Ring, are bound together with a mutual goal. But it’s more than that; they are dependent on each other. Each has skills the others could never possess. And each brings with him the hope of a people. Simply put, these heroes cannot fail. Middle earth depends on them. They are the best of their races, the most representative of their cultures, and their participation speaks of a will to conquer the shadow that approaches. It speaks of commitment.


5.Finding your courage

Not all the party have been fully tested. With them travel four young hobbits, the most unlikely of companions for such a journey. They are the overlooked, the forgotten about, the race that is casually discarded and considered insignificant in the wider world. And perhaps this has been the downfall of society in middle earth previously. The forces of darkness exploit everything they can get their hands on, from giant spiders to rampaging trolls, from dragons to orcs, from men of the east to the undead, Sauron tries to wield it all. This is something the forces of good have not fully considered until recently. Within the bosom of the hobbit beats a strong heart of fortitude and resilience.

“My dear Frodo!’ exclaimed Gandalf. ‘Hobbits really are amazing creatures, as I have said before. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch.”

They carry with them the key to destroying the dark. Bilbo showed them how he could resist the ring. The hobbits are an almost incorruptible race, and because of this they are Sauron’s doom. It is something he has overlooked.

“It would be the death of you to come with me, Sam," said Frodo, "and I could not have borne that."

"Not as certain as being left behind," said Sam.

"But I am going to Mordor."

"I know that well enough, Mr. Frodo. Of course you are. And I'm coming with you.”


6.The Rich History

Middle earth didn’t pop up overnight. This word has been around for thousands of years. Such can be seen from the ruined statues and monuments that dot the landscape, to mentions of historic battles and finally to kings long since departed. This is a world that has seen a lot. This moment in the third age, which is arguable the most important series of events this world will ever see, is merely the surface. Go read The Silmarillion. Go see how old and beautiful this world is. I could lose myself in Middle-earth. And this book carries with it all the baggage of what came before. It’s extraordinary.


7.The Diverse Languages and Races

And with this history comes the language of the people. The elves, the men, the dwarves and Sauron’s creatures of darkness all come with their own developed languages. This isn’t some random phrases stuck in the book, which you may see with other fantasy novels, but actually fully developed languages. They have their own grammatical forms, syntax styles and sound qualities that reflect the speaker. The languages are real. Naturally, the elvish language is a personal favourite of mine:


8.The Power of Redemption

It is easy to judge Boromir of Gondor. He tried to take the ring from Frodo, though for all his misguidedness, he was trying to do right by his people. He naively believed, due to his farther Denethor, that the ring could be wielded against the evil. So when a young hobbit is trying to destroy his people’s supposed salvation, he strikes.Until that moment he doesn’t fully understand the evil it holds, until his desire for it twists his heart and turns him violent. But, afterwards, after he sees what he has become, his willpower does prevail: he understands. He later dies defending the Fellowship of the Ring, a bloody end, but one that saves his honour.


9. The Forces of Darkness

One evil binds them all. Sauron tried to make himself the ultimate tyrant, and claim dominion over all lands: he wanted to be the de facto ruler of middle earth. He failed. Those that followed his initial claim are forever left in the dark. Their souls are black, their hearts corrupt: their bodies no more. The Nazgul have become the living dead; they are complex figure, driven by hate and a will no longer their own. These men have become something else. Do they wish to rest? I do not know. Do they wish to carry out their master’s work or are they driven by his domination? I do not know. Orcs are mere tools for the darkness, the Nazgul are something much darker. They are the perfect harbingers of their lord.


10. The Elves

The elves are my favourite part of middle earth. I should have been born an elf. I would love to spend a few years in Rivendell, especially in Elrond’s library relaxing by the waterfalls reading the histories of middle earth. Doesn’t that just sound like so much fun? The best thing about reading fantasy like this is the pure escapism it provides, the worse thing is realising how shit the “real world” is in comparison.


To quote another fine author of fantasy, and to conclude this review, I will simply repeat these words:

"They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth."


You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for Petrik.
688 reviews46.1k followers
March 3, 2023
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

As someone who’ve read more than three hundred fantasy novels, it may come as a surprise to many people that this is, in fact, the first time I managed to finish reading The Fellowship of the Ring. Honestly, there’s nothing new I can offer here; for several decades, there have been many analysts and heavy devout of The Lords of the Rings, Middle-Earth, and pretty much everything related to Tolkien. My knowledge of Middle-Earth contained only what I’ve read from The Great Tales of Middle-Earth, Silmarillion, this book, and from watching the movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy. Matched to these experts, my knowledge is just a drop in a sea of diligence. What I will write here, instead, is my personal experience; mainly on why it took me this long to finally finish reading this legendary novel for the very first time, and how much I disagree with the illusionary ‘required’ reading surrounding this series.

Picture: The One Ring by Donato Giancola

For many readers, The Lord of the Rings is responsible for being their gateway into the fantasy genre; for me, it was the one that pushed me away for years. The last time I pushed myself to read The Fellowship of the Ring was all the way back in 2012 when The Hobbit movie came out; I DNFed it because I was mindlessly bored, and before that, I have tried reading this book so many times but ended up DNF it every time Frodo met Tom Bombadil. Now now, don’t unleash your Gurthang on me yet, let’s put things into perspective first. Same with many readers, I absolutely love The Lord of the Rings movie—extended, of course—adaptations; it probably will always be my favorite fantasy movies of all time. I have watched it so many times that I lost count now; last year I re-watched the trilogy only to find myself in awe by everything about it, again. I personally think the movies did a great job of rearranging/cutting content for watching enjoyment; in comparison to the novels, they are also so much more fast-paced relatively. Obviously, it’s not fair to compare them like that because they’re different mediums of entertainment; movies will always be faster-paced than the books. However, try putting yourself in the shoe of someone who wasn’t keen on reading novels—I haven’t found my gateway into fantasy novels yet back then—and have known about the main plot of the series from watching the movies so many times, being put into reading The Fellowship of the Ring that’s verbose; it was the opposite of enjoyment, it was boredom. Back then, I found that the forming of the Fellowship of the Ring brotherhood and their adventure took way too long to reach because I’m much more used to the pacing of the movies.

Picture: The Fellowship in Hollin by Donato Giancola

Then, I kept hearing from many fanatics that “you’re not a fantasy reader/fans unless you’ve read and loved The Lord of the Rings!” and not gonna lie, it pushed me off the genre for years; I thought reading epic fantasy novels wasn’t for me because of this statement. I will disagree with this notion that you’re required to read a specific series to be considered as a fantasy reader. Not only this is incredibly disrespectful to countless fantasy authors and readers, but it also speaks heavily of elitism and childish behavior that the world seriously doesn’t need. If you want to feel superior or powerful for having read this series and be condescending towards other people, you should raise your hand to your back and pat your asses three times, because what you just pat is what you’ve become. There’s an unlimited number of amazing fantasy books out now in the whole world, it’s outrageous to gatekeep a gate that doesn’t exist just because they don’t follow your Tolkienism. I love sushi, do I have to fish and eat the first fish that popularized sushi as a popular food so that I can be considered as someone who loves eating sushi? What if I had listened to this garbage statement back then? What if I had completely given up back then because of my sour experiences with this book and the fandom? I would be missing on so many grand and unforgettable adventures I received from reading other fantasy books. It may be shocking, but The Lord of the Rings isn’t the only available fantasy books to read.

There is no ‘required’ reading—other than to read ANY fantasy book—to become a fan of a fantasy; it is an illusion made up by elitists who should not be listened to. Also, this is kinda related, I consider Malazan Book of the Fallen one of my favorite series of all time. For years, I’ve been hearing many angry complaints towards Malazan fanatics, and to be fair, some of them can indeed be annoying when they keep on recommending the series even when the series doesn’t fit the reader’s request for a recommendation. This situation, however, is not exclusive to this series. Any popular and famous series will always have a large fandom filled with passionate readers that’s sometimes transformed into fanatics. I’ve had my share of dispute and grievances with some Malazan fans due to their seniority, elitist, and spoilers galore that ended up taking me a long time to plunge myself into the series. Unfortunately, speaking from my experience, the same can be said for those who worshipped The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien, maybe even much worse due to their tendency for gatekeeping.

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

This rambling has gone on much longer than I expected now, and I haven’t even begun talking about what I loved and disliked about The Fellowship of the Ring. That being said, because The Lord of the Rings is technically one big tome divided into three, I prefer doing a full spoiler-free review on The Lord of the Rings when I have finished reading The Two Towers and The Return of the King as well. For now, let me just briefly say that I enjoyed reading The Fellowship of the Ring so much more now than all of my previous attempts. With relatively many fantasy books read now, I was able to tolerate Tolkien’s verbose writing style. If you’re one of those who struggle through reading this book, my advice—if you want to push yourself—is to persevere until Frodo reached the village of Bree and meet Strider. In my opinion, this was the checkpoint where the novel started being engaging. Before that, even reading it now, many parts felt super sluggish; Tom Bombadilo’s singing and sections were pure nonsense that I wouldn’t mind skipping. There aren’t enough praises I can give to Tolkien for the depth of his world-building (remember, this was published more than 60 years ago) and creating some of the most iconic scenes in the fantasy genre that led to a myriad of beautiful fan art like this:

Picture: The Shadow and the Flame by Anato Finnstark

And speaking of iconic scenes, what we read in The Fellowship of the Ring is merely a small taster of what’s to come in The Two Towers and The Return of the King. Although I’m not a huge fan of Tolkien’s prose—the singing was a bit too much, and he uses third-person omniscient narrative which I’m not too keen of—there’s this sense of being transported into another world by reading his writing. Plus, let’s not forget that he wrote some of the most memorable quote; this one is timeless:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

I am not denying the importance of Tolkien’s role in the fantasy genre; it would be insane to deny that. The Fellowship of the Ring and the next two parts of The Lords of the Rings were and still some of the most important fantasy novels that shaped and made the fantasy genre popular. However, I personally wouldn’t recommend this series as a fantasy-gateway series for people who are looking to get into reading adult fantasy for the first time. Same with all books I reviewed, my rating is based on reading enjoyment, not on a technicality, achievement, or any other external factors. Unlike the existence of The One Ring to Rule Them All, there isn’t one fantasy series to rule them all as a foolproof recommendation. This is also what makes fantasy fantastical and wonderful; it’s truly a favorite genre of mine that is filled with boundless and infinite imaginations. Instead of banishing fantasy readers for not reading/loving The Lord of the Rings, I definitely prefer to welcome them with recommending other fantasy books that, in my opinion, would work for them more. Let’s do better.

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

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Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,860 followers
December 12, 2021
Founding a genre like a boss

Stealing everything possible from mythology and the, maybe sometimes a tiny bit boring, old, classics.
The beloved tradition of using others' ideas to create something new is big here, especially because Tolkien had the perfect background to milk everything from wherever he could find inspirations, from ancient to medieval and, at the time, modern works. It would especially be interesting to read or reread LotR with a focus on how he let the classics mutate to new forms, transformed oldfashioned tropes to fit for a modern audience, and especially made it a compelling, well written, and suspenseful pageturner. Don´t be angry, good old classics, it´s not your fault, your poor creators just had no creative writing courses available or were hunted by the inquisition, or it were total monopolies to that their works were the only ones available, and thereby never cared about royalties, book signing tours, or target audiences.

Black, white, and the most important grey
The pure, camouflages fascistic, evil, is of course as noir as possible, but especially the sexy seductiveness of the mind penetrating psi magic of the distilled badassery, is one of the main driving engines of the groundbreaking epic journey, because good old almightiness totally corrupts. It´s just normal that everyone is struggling with the whispering of the dark side with all its attractive options and the real life implications of this are, well, terrible, frustrating, and daunting. Throw money at close to everyone and she/he will get corrupted, especially if the alternative is to get eaten by orcs while the family is raped by Uruk hais and Balrogs.

Establishing cliffhangery ends of single parts
One just can´t stop, this damn, evil tendency of the genre to stop at the most suspenseful part and let the reader hanging to wait for felt eternities. As if Sauron wasn´t bad enough, this vicious cycle continues with each new, far too multi k page series and eats away the lives of poor, innocent humans, not to speak of their tormented souls that can´t find peace over these nauseating periods of despair and regret to have been relapsing. Again! I´m not sure if Tolkien should be praised or damned for having laid the foundations for things like Sandersons´, Jordans´, Eriksons´, etc. amazingly exhausting and immersive monster series. I´m ashamed to admit it, but I have the whole, good old second hand paperback, Wheel of time series ‚(and the new ones) lying around and I am afraid to restart reading the whole thing (not just the first few parts like a few years ago), because I fear that it could trigger reading and rereading other series and finally Wheel of time again until 2027 or something, not just having lost contact to reality (not much difference to the present reality https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...
), but, much more problematic, to all other genres for half a decade or something. Thanks for that, J.R.R!

Being attacked by the bigoted academic society of the time
That´s just ridiculous, Tolkien had to hide and vindicate his amazing work, because it wasn´t highbrow enough for his snobbish, elitist, and old, boring, so called quality literature prone, colleagues and a bigoted, conservative society that wasn´t ready for something new. Better stay with theater texts as books or whatever can be used for patriotic „our writer“ idiocy. Just bad luck that there aren´t enough good, if any, old writers for each country to fuel feelings of literary supremacy. However, it´s one more of these examples of how parochial even seemingly well educated and sophisticated people can be as soon as it comes to close to their cognitive dissonances and socioeconomic status hierarchy overkill.

Putting in meta, connotations, and social criticism
Tolkien was heavily influenced and inspired by war, and the atrocities humans so much love to do to each other until nasty nukes eliminated the option of more WW action, and put the real life implications everywhere in his work. Not just in the form of the big, bad government cooperating with war industry, propaganda machines, and black magic, but with

Corrupted blood
The banality of evil, the attractiveness of the dark side is, as mentioned in „Black, white, and…“ above, is one of the driving forces of the saga and without Tolkiens´experiences, it might have stayed much more superficial and have never reached that deep level of human soul and psyche vivisection. The same with love, without his lifelong, deep bound to this adored wife, he wasn´t allowed to see until reaching full age, the importance of emotions maybe wouldn´t have unfolded and played such an essential role in the work. Expanding this whole, philosophical, psychological somewhat assumptions to his profession as a philologist and, for the standards of the time, mad professor, would go a bit too far, but let´s just say that his expertise might have helped him create both Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings.

Is it outdated?
Very objective thing, even if not including the sociocultural, immense literary impact, Tolkien invested a bit more than the usual fantasy writer in her/his third or fourth series with a new one each new year. Just take the mentioned Silmarillion, the immense details of the world, all the links to the cultural heritage, and the sheer scale and size, and, on top of that, close to everyone agrees that it´s a timeless, genre founding, ingenious masterpiece that will stand the test of not just time, but eternity. Sure, it´s not as accessible as the average, new, overhyped world bestseller, but that´s the same as with Lem, Lovecraft, etc., authors just were used to write in that wacky, overcomplicated, intricate, and difficult to digest language, because they were no narcissistic, lazy, self aggrandizing, god complexed hedonists. I won´t excuse for that, I´m one myself and have N word privileges.

Comparing and contrasting fantasy with other genres
Horror, Sci-Fi, or crime had no similar big bangs (fringe theory, by the way, to provoke and insult even more additional people than with just the human degeneration gag above lol) but different founders, prodigies, and subgenres, while fantasy was, stayed, and will be very genre compliant, not to say a bit inflexible in contrast to other genres with much vaster differences, especially sci fi, my bread and peanut butter. So one could say that close to every, no matter if grimdark, YA, high, epic, romantic, etc. fantasy, is always quite the same with some variations of magic systems, the balance of focus on protagonists or antagonists, tone, and the rare establishment of the one or other sub sub genre.

The endless evolution
Close to all human mythology, faith, myths, etc. is fantasy and I see one of its biggest potentials in a fusion to science fantasy, because it opens up all options including any horror or psychothriller crime plot. Without Tolkien, this amazing development couldn´t have taken place so soon and it would have probably needed much longer to establish the (I´m a sci-fi head, sorry) second best genre to subjugate and enslave them all.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Anne.
4,061 reviews69.5k followers
September 12, 2023
Very cool line, sir.


And that's pretty much it.
If you're hankering for action, you'll need to go on a different quest. This is not The Fast and Furious Fellowship of the Ring. In fact, it's pretty much the opposite of that in every way. I ended up speeding up the narration to 2x fairly early on thinking that I'd slow it back down once it got past some of the duller parts.
Turns out, I liked that speed.


This is one of those books where you can completely space for 5 or 6 minutes and it won't matter. The hobbits have been wandering around doing fuck all for quite some time, when you suddenly remember that you're out of coffee creamer and beer and if you forget to grab them on the way home you've ruined not only your evening but also the next morning, then you tune back and Frodo & Co will still be trudging along in a seemingly sideways plot direction.


Trudging through something that has the potential to be scary - but isn't.
For example, there was one part towards the end when they're in boats and Frodo notices that there's a log with eyes following them. And I'm thinking that they're about to get taken out by a fantasy alligator!
Buuuuut it's only Gollum. And he doesn't do anything. Just kind of...paddles off all pissy?
Ok. Cool cool cool.


For those of you who haven't read this yet and are considering taking the plunge, I really can't oversell how much walking and eating goes on between the pages of this book.
Having said that, before you naively pick this one up, you should also be aware that there is a copious amount of singing.
Tolkien wrote songs for this sucker like he was channeling his inner Taylor Swift.
There was a song for everything.
Did you make fried chicken for dinner? Let me sing you the song of the legendary Fry Daddy.
Ooooooh, there once was a plucker of yore.
He plucked chicken down by the shore.
Then went in his kitchen door.
And fried up that chicken some mooooooore!

That's some catchy shit right there.
Better yet, because I was listening to the audiobook version, the narrator sang all of these songs for me. He even did elven voices, too. All high and lilting.
It was great.


Don't poke me with sticks just yet. I respect what this book symbolizes and what it means to a lot of people. And I'm certainly not saying that this isn't one of, if not the, most important fantasy books of all time.
It is. 100%.
And no amount of my whiner-baby complaining is going to diminish that. The fact that this dude basically wrote these books just so he would have an excuse to create new languages blows my mind. But I have to say it honestly isn't the easiest book for someone like me to make their way through.
Take pity on me and others like me. Those of us who desperately want to be a part of this cool nerd club that speaks elvish whilst LARPing in the woods. I want my Tolkein card.
There is always hope. <--right? right?
I'm going back for more!


Recommended for those who like long walks, picnics, and karaoke.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
Author 3 books85 followers
January 17, 2023
A review of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, by Sauron

Hello. You may remember me as the title character of the Lord of Rings. I go by a lot of names: Dark Lord of Mordor, Sorcerer, Red Eye, Dark Power, Lord of Barad-dûr, Ring-maker and Base Master of Treachery (I use that one in my band). I actually object to Tolkien's chosen name of Sauron, which I understand originates from an adjective that means "foul, putrid" in his crappy invented language. What can I say, the showers in Mordor are sketchy at best. On weekends, my poker buddies call me Sauron the Destroyer of Nacho Platters.

Because Tolkien intentionally failed to give a proper description of me in his books, allow me to give you an idea. I have a bit of a dark look. My quest for world domination having been thwarted, I watch a lot of TV these days. My body is roughly equivalent to the "The Situation" on Jersey Shore. Oh, no I don't watch that, but the Witch-king of Angmar is obsessed. He won't shut up about Snowcone or some bimbo on that show. I'm missing a finger, which while preventing me from raining down carnage on Middle Earth, allows me to collect decent EI. Plus the best lawyer in Mordor got me covered under the dismemberment clause on my insurance, so I'm riding the double dip gravy train. Much has been written about my terrible Lidless Red Eye, blah blah blah. It freaked out that little twat Frodo pretty good. I'll have you know that conjunctivitis is no laughing matter. Having to keep it open 24/7 to look for hoodlums skulking around Mordor is murder on my hydration. The Nazgul have enough lift and aim to get up there to toss a bucket of Visine at it, but it's just temporary relief. Regardless, I'm still more of a looker than your precious King Elessar or Aragorn or whatever he's calling himself these days. He's never met a brooding look he didn't like. Buy a razor. Get a real job.

Someone sent me Peter Jackson's movies in the mail. The package had no return address but it was postmarked "Hobbiton", where ever the hell that is. As I watch these movies over and over (I never even finished the books) I was reminded of all my mistakes...

Perhaps a ring was not a good choice. Some buddies have suggested that maybe I shouldn't have tied all of my terrible powers to something as easy to misplace as the One Ring. In retrospect, I should have forged The One Gas Station Bathroom Key Chain of Power. It would have been a lot harder to tief. I even could have pimped it out by making it from an Ent branch or Saruman's foot, for all the good that old fart did me. Maybe a ring would have been just fine if it had been a toe ring. Then it wouldn't glow in the dark like a target for every freaking Man on the battlefield. I heard that the guy who beat me was named "Isildur"!!?? WTF. Maybe I could have worn tougher gloves, I don't know. Perhaps the door to the Fires of Mount Doom should have had a better lock. ADT could have hooked me up with motion detectors but I hear that even cats can set those off. They claim they can calibrate them but I'm not so sure. The Uruk-hai are always jumping up on the table, so they would set it off for sure. Maybe just the alarm that goes off if something hits the lava, like pool alarms for kid. Although I guess it would have been too late by then. "My preccciioouussss!". Learn some balance a-hole.

Frodo. That little prick. I'd rather not discuss how my quest for utter dominion was defeated by something I could poop out unnoticed.

I'm getting off track. I'm supposed to discuss the events of the first book, the Fellowship of the Ring. Good times! I was on a comeback! Then the withered up senior citizen Gandalf had to go to the library and do a little research and figure out that my Ring was not some cracker jack prize. My Ringwraiths tried to track down the Ring but apparently taking it away from children was too difficult. If I had put the Nazgûl on fell beasts rather than bloody horses from the start I might have tracked down Frodo (prick) and his three buddies in the bloody woods. Don't horses have a good sense of smell!? Anyways, the fell beasts would have at least avoided drowning in a river. Sweet Mary. Then those Elves suggest a damn "fellowship". Could you have come up with a lamer group name?? Why not call it the "Loose Association of People Who Share Common Beliefs or Activities…of the Ring". That Balrog almost did me the biggest favour, he was always one of my peeps. "You shall not pass!!" What a line Gandy! How cow. I heard that one took like 15 takes because Pippin kept making everyone laugh by adding in the word "gas". Fool of a Took!

Anyways, by the end of the Fellowship of the Ring, I still had a fighting chance. Great book. Anyways, The Two Towers won't be as fun to review. Sh*t hits the fan.

(A note from Sauron's agent: full credit for the idea of this review goes to Kemper and his awesome review of Drood)
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews41 followers
August 4, 2021
(Book 494 from 1001 books) - The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of The Rings, #1), J.R.R. (John Ronald Reuel) Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring is the first of three volumes of the epic novel The Lord of the Rings by the English author J. R. R. Tolkien.

It is followed by The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

The Fellowship of the Ring is the first volume of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's three-volume novel The Lord of the Rings, an epic novel set in the fictional world of Middle-earth.

The title Lord of the Rings actually refers to a creature called Sauron or Lord of Darkness, who long ago lost the "only ring" on which most of his power depends. He does his best to find the ring again and use it to capture all the inhabitants of Middle-earth.

ارباب حلقه‌ ها - جی.آر.آر. تالکین (نگاه، روزنه، ...) جلد نخست یاران حلقه

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «خداوندگار حلقه ها»؛ «فرمانروای حلقه ها»؛ «ارباب حلقه ها»؛ «سالار انگشتریها»؛ نویسنده: جی.آر.آر تالکین؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه ژوئن سال 2002میلادی

عنوان: خداوندگار حلقه ها؛ نویسنده: نویسنده: جی.آر.آر تالکین؛ مترجم: تبسم آتشین جان؛ تهران، حوض نقره، 1381، در شش جلد؛ عنوان جلد نخست رهروان حلقه ها؛ شابک 9649305491؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا-سده 20م

عنوان: سالار انگشتریها؛ نویسنده: نویسنده: جی.آر.آر تالکین؛ مترجم: ماه منیر فتحی؛ تبریز، فروغ آزادی، 1381، در سه جلد؛ عنوان جلد نخست دوستی انگشتری؛ جلد دوم دوتا برج؛ جلد سوم بازگشت پادشاه؛ شابک دوره ایکس - 964697130؛

عنوان: فرمانروای حلقه ها؛ نویسنده: نویسنده: جی.آر.آر تالکین؛ مترجم: رضا علیزاده؛ تهران، روزنه 1381؛ در سه جلد؛ عنوان دیگر ارباب حلقه ها؛ بخش نخست: یاران حلقه؛ بخش دوم: دو برج؛ بخش سوم بازگشت شاه؛ چاپ ششم 1391؛ شابک جلد نخست 9789643343224؛

عنوان: ارباب حلقه ها؛ نویسنده: نویسنده: جی.آر.آر تالکین؛ مترجم: پرویز امینی؛ تهران، دنیای نو، 1382؛ در شش جلد؛ شابک 9646564992؛

کتاب حاضر بخش نخست، از مجموعه ی سه گانه ی: «ارباب حلقه ها» است؛ در این کتاب «فرودو بگینز»، «هابیت» جوانی است، که به همراهی یارانی از اقوام دیگر از سرزمینهای افسانه ای «هابیتها»؛ سفرش را برای نابودی «حلقه شیطانی»، آغاز میکند؛ فیلمی خیال‌پردازانه و حماسی نیز به کارگردانی: «پیتر جکسون»؛ بر اساس جلد نخست رمان ارباب حلقه‌ ها، که با قلم سحرانگیز «جی.آر.آر تالکین»، نگاشته شد، ساخته شده است

عنوان «یاران حلقه»، نام بخش نخست از سه‌ گانه ی سینمایی «ارباب حلقه‌ ها» به شمار می‌رود، که دنباله‌ های آن، شامل «ارباب حلقه‌ ها: دو برج»؛ و «ارباب حلقه‌ ها: بازگشت پادشاه»؛ هستند؛ این فیلم توسط «نیولاین سینما»، نخستین بار در روز نوزدهم ماه دسامبر سال 2001میلادی، در «ایالات متحده آمریکا» نمایش داده شد، و یکی از موفقیت‌های «باکس آفیس»، با درآمد بالغ بر 871میلیون دلار، در سراسر جهان به شمار می‌رود؛ فیلم همچنین برنده ی چهار جایزه اسکار شد؛ «ارباب حلقه‌ ها: یاران حلقه»؛ آغازی بود بر طوفانی، که «جکسون» با «سه‌ گانه ی ارباب حلقه‌ ها» در جهان سینما آغاز کردند، طوفانی که پس از ده سال همچنان قابل بحث است؛ که او چطور به عنوان یک کارگردان تازه‌ کار، این چنین حماسه ی بی‌نظیری را پدید آورد؛ فیلم در دوازده رشته در اسکار نامزد شد؛ و در چهار رشته پیروز شد؛ «جکسون» با این فیلم، آغازگر سبک فانتزی معناگرا شناخته می‌شوند

عنوان فیلم: ارباب حلقه‌ ها: یاران حلقه؛ کارگردان: پیتر جکسون؛ تهیه‌ کننده: پیتر جکسون؛ باری ام آزبرن؛ تیم سندرز؛ فرن والش؛ جیمی سلکرک؛ نویسنده: فرن والش؛ فیلیپا بوینس؛ پیتر جکسون؛ براساس کتاب: ارباب حلقه‌ ها: یاران حلقه؛ اثر: جی. آر. آر. تالکین؛ بازیگران: الیجاه وود؛ ایان مک‌کلن؛ ویگو مورتنسن؛ لیو تایلر؛ شان آستین؛ کیت بلانشت؛ اورلاندو بلوم؛ جان ریس-دیویس؛ بیلی بوید؛ شان بین؛ هوگو ویوینگ؛ کریستوفر لی؛ دامینیک مانهن؛ موسیقی: هاوارد شور؛ فیلم‌برداری: اندرو لزنی؛ تدوین: جان گیلبرت؛ توزیع‌کننده: نیو لاین سینما؛ تاریخ‌های انتشار در بریتانیا و آمریکای شمالی: 19 دسامبر 2001؛ زلاند نو: 20 دسامبر 2001؛ استرالیا: 26 دسامبر 2001؛ مدت زمان نسخهٔ سینمایی: 178 دقیقه؛ نسخهٔ طولانی‌تر: 208 دقیقه؛ نسخهٔ کامل: 235 دقیقه؛ کشور: نیوزیلند؛ ایالات متحده آمریکا؛ زبان: انگلیسی؛ هزینهٔ فیلم: 93 میلیون دلار؛ فروش گیشه: 871.5 میلیون دلار؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 31/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 12/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for oyshik.
219 reviews693 followers
August 1, 2021
The Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings,#1) by J.R.R. Tolkien

This book is full of wonder and adventure with fantastic writing. And filled with a lot of emotions, exciting characters, and creatures. But also provided a lot of information at the beginning. For this, the story was a bit confusing for me at first. But later, Tolkien amazingly set up all the information and made the story so entertaining.
Don't adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on on the story.

Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
265 reviews3,979 followers
August 22, 2022
Check out my YouTube channel where I show my instant reactions upon finishing reading fantasy books.

While the writing style is quite outdated, this book still is a joy to read for first-time readers

While it may be hard to believe for someone who exclusively reads fantasy books, I actually didn't read this book until very recently. I just wasn't into fantasy as a child, and when I got into it as an adult I figured this book wouldn't catch my interest. And while I did not enjoy this book nearly as much as the fanatics who claim this is the greatest fantasy story every told, it was a worthwhile read that still holds up today in many regards.

You do have to constantly remind yourself of the year this book was written, and if you are an adult, it helps if you are already a fantasy fan if reading for the first time. If you have read a lot of fantasy, you can see how modern authors are still to this day using many of the same writing choices that Tolkien did here, and it's fun to see them peppered throughout the story.

However, if you are an adult and are not a fan of fantasy, you may be in for a bit of a rough journey. Several sections of this book can feel like a slog, there are chapters in this book that feel completely out of place and irrelevant to the story, the constant usage of songs feel extremely outdated, and the massive infodumps can be off-putting.

But the story itself is absolutely wonderful, engaging, epic, and is simply a joy to read. It's a timeless story that will never go out of style - and the more you learn about these characters the more fun they are to read about.

While I realize it can be blasphemous to say that I do believe the movies are better than the books, you owe it to yourself to read this book if you haven't already.
Profile Image for Matt.
936 reviews28.6k followers
April 26, 2016
I wasn't really "cool" back in high school. I never made out with girls under the bleachers, or smoked under the bleachers, or did any of the other things under the bleachers that - I am lead to believe - the popular kids did. Instead, I maintained a low profile and waited for the teenage years - that wilderness of strangled thinking - to end.

In high school, as today, I harbored geekish obsessions, had a wandering imagination, and nurtured an appreciation for minutiate. In other words, I should have been J.R.R. Tolkien's core audience. For whatever reason - perhaps intuition that I didn't need to dig my social hole any deeper - I never read The Lord of the Rings when most people first come upon The Lord of the Rings.

Actually, I was barely cognizant of LOTR until college, when the movies were released. I absolutely loved Peter Jackson's film trilogy. During law school, I left a legal writing final halfway through in order to see Return of the King on opening day. Despite this, I never desired to read the source material. From talking to my friends, who were Tolkien enthusiasts ("nerds"), I assumed I wouldn't like the books. They seemed too talky, dense, and plodding.

Finally, one fair summer night on my patio, my friend Jon and I were drinking beer and talking about The Lord of the Rings and how it was funny we could do this openly and still have significant others of the opposite sex. (I believe my wife was inside at the time, deciding what she would take in the divorce). Somehow, in a Miller Light and bratwurst haze, Jon got me to commit to giving LOTR a try. Then, I did a keg stand with Jon's homemade beer. This is how I read.

Now, having finished Fellowship of the Ring, I have new appreciation for what Peter Jackson accomplished. Yeah, he made it into an action film, but that's the medium of film; there needs to be action. He did a fine job of taking Tolkien's essence and goosing it. (Sometimes he goosed the action too much, but we can discuss Legolas surfing on his shield at Helm's Deep another day). It was this love of the film that, interestingly, made me hesitant to read the books.

Folks who love Tolkien love Tolkien with a vengeance. If it isn't obvious already, I don't have that underlying feeling. I understand, theoretically, Tolkien's achievement, but I'm not going to pretend to know all the references - religious, mythic, and linguistic - used as ingredients.

What I do know is that, at its heart, LOTR is an archetypal hero's journey. It begins with an orphan of average abilities, who has a task thrust upon him. This forces the hero to leave home and enter the wider world. In the world he must pass tests, learn lessons, and eventually accomplish his task. Once that is done, the hero can return home; however, he is forever changed, and the home to which he returns is different.

The hero in LOTR is Frodo Baggins, a hobbit. Now, a hobbit is - well, they're short, but they're not dwarves. That's the important thing to remember. Hobbits are like pot-smoking liberal arts majors. They like to hang around, eat, smoke, drink, and talk. Frodo's uncle, Bilbo, is a rare hobbit who has gone out and had adventures. He also has a magic ring, which he gives to Frodo.

This ring...well it's evil. I could explain more, and Tolkien certainly does, but suffice it to say the ring is a Macguffin. It's like Marcellus Wallace's suitcase in Pulp Fiction: it drives the plot, and that's all you need to know. (This being Tolkien, though, you are certainly able to learn much, much, much more).

Bilbo and Frodo's friend, the wizard Gandalf, tells Frodo that he must take the ring to the Cracks of Doom to destroy it, lest the Dark Shadow Sauron get his figurative hands upon it. With this, the journey starts. Frodo is joined by three other hobbits: Sam (the loyal one); Pippin (the scared one); and Merry (the one portrayed by Lost's Dominic Monaghan). After some brushes with the Nine Riders/the Nazgul/the Ring Wraiths (Tolkien has a very Russian way of making up a name, and then making up two or three or four synonyms, which makes things a little confusing), the hobbits meet up with Aragorn/Strider who leads them to Rivendell, where the elves live under Elrond. There is a counsel, the Fellowship is joined by Boromir (a man), Legolas (an elf) and Gimli (a dwarf). It all sounds like the set-up for a very complicated joke. But rest assured, the fate of Middle-Earth is at stake. (Though that does not stop the characters from stopping repeatedly for long meals; apparently, the Fellowship is comprised of foodies and gourmands).

It's important to note what this book is not: it is not an action-packed adventure. Mostly, it is people walking through this make-believe world, talking about the past, and worrying about the future. There is a battle in the mountains of Moria that lasts for two pages; other than that, there are only scattered paragraphs when people are running, swords are unsheathed, and the stakes are raised. If swords and arrows are what you seek, just stick to the films. Moreover, you aren't going to find complex characterizations. The good guys are varing shades of good, and the bad guys are really bad. About the only conflicted characters are Boromir, who is conflicted for five sentences or so, and Gollum, the strung-out ring-addict.

So what is the book? Well, it's a place you visit.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Nyquill connoisseur (or addict, take your pick). I often need something to calm my overactive mind before I can get to sleep. Instead of the Quill, for the past weeks, I used Fellowship.

This is a compliment.

Tolkien's world is so immersive, so fully realized - with its varied races, songs, languages, and lore - that whenever you open the covers it's a sublime escape. You are in an ancient land filled with a rich and ancient history, and a wonderfully described topography. Sure, the shadow of war hangs over Middle-Earth, but there is no tension. If you feel like Frodo is in mortal danger, and might not accomplish his task, you're probably six years old and having the story read aloud.

Reading Fellowship was simply comforting. I wouldn't mind a kindly wizard giving me sage advice:

Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

And I also wouldn't mind going on a little hike through the forest, and maybe hanging out with some elves:

Away high in the East swung Remmirath, the Netted Stars, and slowly above the mists red Borgil rose, glowing like a jewel of fire. Then by some shift of airs all the mist was drawn away like a veil, and there leaned up, as he climbed over the rim of the world, the Swordsman of the Sky, Menelvagor with his shining belt. The Elves burst into song. Suddenly, under teh trees a fire sprang with light. 'Come!' the Elves called to the hobbits. 'Come! Now is the time for speech and merriment!'...At the south end of the greensward there was an opening. There the greenfloor ran on into the wood, and formed a wide space like a hall, roofed by the boughs of trees. Their great trunks ran like pillars down each side. In the middle there was a wood-fire blazing, and upon the tree-pillars torches with lights of gold and silver were burning steadily. The Elves sat round the fire upon the grass or upon the sawn rings of old trunks. Some went to and fro bearing cups and pouring drink; others brought food on heaped plates and dishes.

Frodo's journey is secondary to Tolkien's creation of Middle-Earth. And the genius of Middle-Earth is that it goes beyond the pages. With its allusions to a long history filled with famous leaders and famous events and famous battles, your imagination is ignited.

Upon finishing the first book, I saw how LOTR became a place of refuge for the outcasts and iconoclasts of our world. Like comic books, it is a place of escape, where the everyday order is turned upside down: the stakes are high, the heroes short, the beer is plentiful, and girls a distant afterthought.
Profile Image for SK.
313 reviews2,776 followers
September 23, 2022
Ahhh this was AMAZING!
Why did I not read this sooner? It's just beyond me.

The world building is so rich, so immersive, so detailed, it's so easy to get lost in it. Yes the pacing is slower than what I expected it to be but it still continued to keep me interested.

I love the characters especially (and obviously) Aragorn. He's just written so perfectly. I might need some more time to warm up to Frodo tho, I preferred the movie version of him.

Idk why I thought the book was not going to end on a cliffhanger 😂🤷‍♀️ But can't wait to read the next one. I see why the books are so hyped.


Just watched the movies with my girl @Leonie.. now have got to read the series as well, cause am obsessed and need more of it...and Aragorn.
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
701 reviews3,355 followers
February 1, 2018
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

From the valleys of the Shire to the summit of Amon Hen, The Fellowship of the Ring is an extraordinary adventure of endearing characters defying impossible odds.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,997 followers
November 19, 2016
Raise your hand if you remember the awesome book fairs or Scholastic book order forms from back when you were a kid? Well, in middle school I picked up this sweet read in a box set with the rest of the trilogy and The Hobbit. Unfortunately, while I have always been enthusiastic about reading, I did not find the motivation to complete it for almost 15 years.

In the early 90s I read the Hobbit. Then I followed it up by starting this one but lost interest shortly after Tom Bombadil. Tolkien is great, but can be a bit much for a middle schooler. Even when I finally did finish it around 2001 (just in time for the movie), it was still a bit of a labor of love.

In the end, though - no doubt, 5 stars all the way! This is a classic! This is one of the grandfather's of high fantasy - I doubt you can find a single fantasy author that was not influenced by this book/series. Even if you find some of the parts slow, battle your way through, I guarantee you won't regret it!
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,142 reviews3,565 followers
December 22, 2015
The Journey begins!!!


Courage is found in unlikely places.

What started up as an adventure oriented for children turned into an epic fantasy...

...THE epic fantasy book, anything else in the genre after this, born here, any other author writing in this field, began here, and even impacted in many other genres and formats.

Certainly, in The Hobbit, there are dangers, there is death, so thinking about it as a children’s tale is a much debated issue, but it’s clear that Tolkien’s intention was to present a light-hearted adventure.

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

However, due some communication’s troubles between Tolkien and the publishing house, making him to think that they weren’t enjoying the proposed sequel to The Hobbit, the story got bigger, larger, darker...

...and redefined the conception of epic fantasy in literarure.

Even Tolkien needed to re-write the chapter in The Hobbit involving Bilbo, Gollum and the One Ring, since the story known as The Lord of the Rings became something that even the very Tolkien didn’t foreseen before.

So, what began as a small hobbit living in a hole that found a tiny ring in his journey, turned into a visceral war involving the whole Middle-Earth.


For nothing is evil in the beginning.

I have a theory about the One Ring.

And don’t worry, it’s not a spoiler.

As I quoted (in this part of the review) Tolkien, may nothing is evil in the beginning, not even Sauron was evil in his own beginning, but...

...there is one thing in the Middle-Earth that it was evil since its own beginning...

...the One Ring!

The One Ring was evil in its own beginning.

The One Ring was in the hand of Sauron, then it passed to Isildur, a man, but it was soon lost and ended in the hands of Déagol, a hobbit, to fall right away in the possession of Sméagol, another hobbit, having it for so many time that Sméagol lost his own identity turning to be Gollum, scary, nasty, treacherous and dangerous but still a hobbit, then enter Bilbo, yet another hobbit, and finally gets into the picture, Frodo, yes, another hobbit.

Do you see the pattern? (Because to me it wasn’t that hard!)

Hobbit, hobbit, hobbit, hobbit.

It’s said that people (all kind of people: Elves, Dwarves, Men, etc...) are obsessed with the One Ring.

But to me, it’s clear that the One Ring is “obsessed” with the Hobbits!!!

Sauron may be the Lord of the Rings, but it has been stated that the One Ring has a mind-like on its own. It’s not like a Green Lantern’s Power Ring able to talk and having a computer-like library to access inside, even the feature to fly on its own to search the next suitable user. The One Ring can’t talk, can’t move or fly on its own, but still is a magic ring alright (or “alwrong” since it’s unquestionable wicked (hey! No only Tolkien can invent words!) and it’s clear that its purpose is to bind all people into darkness, into evil.

Sauron may have plans for the One Ring, but it’s likely that the One Ring has its own plans, its own designs, not to rebel, not to stand against its master, but to fulfill its basic purpose since it may notice a small flaw in Sauron’s plans.

Sauron wants to turn into evil the whole Middle-Earth’s population: Elves are wise and powerful but still they have already fell into darkness in some numbers (no wonder why they’re starting an exodus from the Middle-Earth). Dwarves are greedy and violent, they’re easy targets for darkness. Men? Don’t make me laugh! We are the most susceptible species for darkness of all, nothing to worry about for the One Ring.

However, Sauron didn’t even know the existence (for not saying clearly not knowing the location) of the Shire. Therefore, it’s evident that the hobbits aren’t in the plans of Sauron. You can say that it’s because he didn’t know about them or simply because he didn’t consider them worthy to send any troops there.

But the One Ring knows. In some way, it knows about the Hobbits.

And the One Ring has ONE purpose...

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.

The One Ring is thorough about its purpose. It is obsessed about its one single purpose in the Middle-Earth. It has to bind ALL people into darkness, into evil. Not matter how tactically valuable or how ridiculous irrelevant. The One Ring isn’t in position to question the one single purpose that it was imprinted downright on its metal, its whole body, its entire “soul”.

All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.

You may think that the One Ring was lost, that it was wandering, but no...

...the One Ring was precisely where it wants to be! It found the Hobbits!

Yes, the Hobbits in a quick glance, they aren’t something to be worry about when you’re planning to dominate Middle-Earth. Clearly, it was Sauron’s point of view. You can’t blame him. I don’t think any military leader in his position would consider relevant to invest time and effort with the Shire.
BUT the One Ring thinks otherwise.

If the other races have to fall into darkness, into evil, then the Hobbits must be as well.

The Shire is an oasis of peace, of light, of goodwill, of laughing, of dancing, of enjoying the basic pleasures of a more simple life...

...and the One Ring can’t tolerate that!!! It’s revolted by the very existence of such a good place inhabited by such merry species. Everybody, everywhere and everything must fall into its dark bind, into evil!!!

If Hobbits fall into darkness, into evil, then and only then, Sauron’s plans would be truly accomplished and the One Ring’s purpose, fulfilled.


Books ought to have good endings.

I am not a rookie with The Lords of the Rings since I watched all the movies, but certainly I knew that eventually I will read the books. While I am aware of what would happen here and in the next books, I still enjoyed plenty enough the reading, since I was able to notice the “little differences” here and there, between the original writing and the modern film adaptations.

Some time ago, I read The Hobbit and now I have read the first book, Fellowship of the Ring, but an important thing to have in mind is that hardly it’s a “first” book per se, but the first part of one single book titled: The Lord of the Rings, since I can’t blame other readers if they weren’t satisfied with the development made in this first part.

Characters took an “eternity” to begin a journey, to take a decision, to do anything. The few action moments are overly seldom spread and too quick developed, so you don’t get a real sense of being reading something in the epic fantasy genre. Even some scenes aren’t presented in “real time” but they are told after the things happened, stealing almost all thrill from them. Some random characters without any real utility in the story. An overwhelming telling of the vast background history of the Middle-Earth. And “finally”, you won’t get an ending here, this isn’t really a whole book, but the first part of a novel.

So, if you can have all that in mind, knowing that you will have to read other two parts to get the whole story, and trusting that you will get ample amounts of actions later, maybe, just maybe, you would be forgiving enough to enjoy the wonderful writing using words in such clever way, along with the majesty of the expansion of such rich literary universe.

Keep up, my fellow readers! The journey is just beginning!

Profile Image for Tharindu Dissanayake.
288 reviews560 followers
November 11, 2020
"Sing hey! for the bath at close of day
that washes the weary mud away!
A loon is he that will not sing:
O! Water Hot is a noble thing!"

"You shouldn't listen to all you hear,"

When I first watched LOTR TFOTR, a movie that is around 3 hours long, I thought the movie to be insanely long. But now that I've finally gotten around to reading the book, I'm shocked that the movie did manage to fit at least half of the contents of the book in to that three hour run, for this is one long and eventful story with so much more information.

"advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise,"

Tolkien was never one to have any kind of limitations when it came to vivid imagination. This is something that he shared with The Hobbit, and it seemed to me that the style had indeed improved further. I liked the plot of this one more that The Hobbit, though the surroundings in hobbits were much cozy in my opinion.

"I hope Butterbur sends this promptly. A worthy man, but his memory is like a lumber-room: things wanted always buried."

But as for the plot, it can hardly get any better than this: one of the most well narrated stories I've ever read. Despite the book's length, it is hard to find a place to take a pause. This is that eventful and such a thrill to read. And the ending: I think the chapters themselves wrapped up better compared to that ending which came out of nowhere. It's almost as if the author wanted you to pick the next one right away. I feel sorry for the people who read the book when it was published in 1954 and had to wait a few months to read the next.

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,310 reviews120k followers
November 27, 2019
One of the great works of 20th century literature. I first tried this in high school, but was not able to get through on the first try. The second try, in my early 20s was the charm. Frodo goes on a quest that take in issues of morality, friendship, one's responsibility towards others, facing one's fears, courage, danger. While depicting a global battle between good and evil, Tolkien puts a human (or hobbit-ish) face on that conflict. His themes are universal and his characters are very accessible. Frodo, Sam and Gandalf are heroes for the ages, and Gollum is what can happen when normal is corrupted by darkness. This is my favorite series, and taken together with the succeeding pair my favorite book of all time. I have read it at least five times, including aloud to my children. I hope to read it five more.

November 26, 2019 - LitHub - How Ian McKellen Almost Didn’t Play Gandalf - by Garry O'Connor

Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,634 followers
December 3, 2020
What can I say besides that rereading Tolkien's masterwork after so many years is just as full of wonder and inspiration as it was 40 years ago when I was a young man learning the ways of this old world. The Fellowship of an elf, a dwarf, two men, and four hobbits is such a incredibly beautiful tale of adventure and friendship and I savored every page while looking over my shoulder for wargs and balrogs and hiding my head from The Eye of Sauron. So many images, so many memories.

The Fellowship of the Ring takes us on another journey with hobbits - this time Bilbo's nephew Frodo, his servant and best friend Samwise, and their friends Merry and Pippin. It is, in a sense, a reverse epic journey because rather than traveling towards accomplishing something new, they are traveling in order to destroy something old - the One Ring. They are sent on this fabulous journey by Gandalf, the eternal symbol of wisdom and strength in an aged wizard always with surprising talents and unsounded depths: Frodo saw him to the door. He gave a final wave of his hand and walked off at a surprising pace; but Frodo thought the old wizard looked unusual almost as if he was carrying a great weight. The evening was closing in and his cloaked figure quickly vanished into the twilight. (p. 40)

One of the things that makes the work so timeless, universal and endearing is how Gandalf, while pushing the hobbits towards self-realization via the quest, does not give them all the pieces of the puzzle, does not warn them of all the dangers they will face, does not, in fact, coddle them. He, like an ideal parental figure, gives them principles and goals and lets Frodo&Co figure out how to accomplish them on their own. Thus, they meet Black Riders and need to learn about them first hand and ultimately will defend themselves against them.

The next major character they meet is Strider, who will later be revealed as Aragorn. He inspires wonder and mystery and helps the hobbits during their initial voyage to Rivendell during which Frodo has his first brush with death on Weathertop: they built a great watch-tower on Weathertop, Amon Sûl they called it. It was burned and broken, and nothing remains of it now but a tumbled ring, like a rough crown on the old hill's head. (p. 181). I have, unfortunately, never visited Stonehenge, but the description reminds me of the photos I have seen of the site.

Frodo is saved by his friends and brought back to health by the Elves at Rivendell, a place of dreams:Almost it seemed that the words took shape, and visions of far lands and bright things that he had never imagined opened out before him; and the firelit hall became like a golden mist above seas of foam that sighed upon the margins of the world. (p. 227) There are many passages such as this one where Tolkien gives us a magic vision of shards of paradise.

Once he is fully recovered, a large council is called to discuss the happenings in Middle Earth and formulate a plan to fight to lurking evil that is casting its growing shadow across the land. We learn that the danger is two-fold: Saruman the White has risen in power and decided to throw his fate in with Sauron, the evil one. Gandalf tells the council of his meeting with Saruman where he tries to recruit Gandalf to the dark side, but fails.
I looked and then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours, and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.
"I liked white better," [Gandalf] said.
"White!" he sneered. "It serves only as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken."
"In which case it is no longer white," said [Gandalf]. "And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom."
"The Elder Days are gone. The Middle Days are passing. The Younger Days are beginning. The time of the Elves is over but our time is at hand: the world of Men, which We must rule."
(p. 252)
Saruman sees correctly that the Epoque of fairy tales and elves and childhood of the world in a sense is ending, and a harsher time is coming and wants to take supreme power over the change. Gandalf points out that breaking things is not the best way to gain wisdom and refuses. For Gandalf, wisdom is an entirely different thing:
It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognize necessity when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope. Well, let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy!" (p. 262) And thus, it is decided to create the Fellowship of the Ring and have the seven companions make their way west to east, ultimately to Mordor to destroy the Ring. It is interesting to note that Tolkien rejects fatalism and seeks the unexpected in order to keep hope alive, which points to the author's deep Catholic belief system.

The Company sets out and are blocked at passing over the mountains and must use old tunnels underneath them into the old, lost Dwarf kingdom. Thus, we come to the first great combat of the trilogy - the epic fight between Dorin's Bain, the Balrog, and Gandalf. It is not very precisely described, but the Balrog must be somewhat similar to Smaug in appearance, but in a far worse mood. Gandalf breaks the bridge they were fleeing throwing the Balrog into the abyss: With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even then as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard's knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slide into the abyss. "Fly you fools!" he cried, and was gone. (p. 322) The Company is crushed by the seeming loss of Gandalf (he will not appear again for a long time) and this loss will soon precipitate a splintering in the group.

The group then reaches the elven tree village of Lothlorien where the lovely Galadriel will entertain them. Here we get another taste of Tolkien's deep love of nature: As Frodo prepared to follow him, he laid his hand upon the tree beside the ladder: never before had he been so suddenly and so keenly aware of the feel and texture of a tree's skin and of the life within it. He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself. (p. 342) I loved this passage as it seems to prefigure the ecological movement that has been written of in recent years, most notably in Richard Power's wonderful The Overstory.

While in Lothlorien, Lady Galadriel turns out to bear one of the three Rings of Power (one of the others having been lost in the dwarf kingdom under the mountain and the other worn by Gandalf) and is offered the Ring that binds them all by Frodo, but after looking into a famous mirror (inspiration for Dumbledore's Pensive of course) and being suddenly transformed into a formidable figure of power and beauty, she let her hand fall, and the light faded, and suddenly she laughed again and lo! she was shrunken: a slender elf-woman, clad in simple white, whose gentle voice was soft and sad. (p. 356) We will meet another very strong, but very human heroine in The Return of the King, but Galadriel will ultimately fade into history: already she seemed to [Frodo], as by men of later days Elves still at time were seen: present and yet remote, a living vision of what which has already been left far behind by the flowing streams of Time. (p. 364) This idea of Elves being somewhat beyond time and using the river metaphor is classic Tolkien and plays on his image of the Elves as being ancestors of the people who existed in England before the Anglo-Saxon invasions in the Middle Ages and the water metaphors are heavily influenced by Nordic mythology.

The Company now goes down the river, passes the wonderfully described Pillars of Argonath (p. 383), and following a scuffle between Frodo and Boromir, suddenly and definitively splits as the first book of the trilogy ends. Frodo and Sam are off alone on the Quest.

This first book is a wonderful story of the Quest which introduces us, finally, to both the Elves and the Dwarves. The dynamics of the group: the tight friendship of Sam and Frodo, the adventurous Pippin and Merry, the mysterious wisdom and grace of Aragorn and the wonderful and unlikely friendship between Legolas and Gimli make this delightful. The action scenes are gripping and the reader is impatient to grab the dogeared copy of The Two Towers and continue on!

Fino's Tolkien Reviews:
The Hobbit
The Fellowship of the Ring (LOTR 1)
The Two Towers (LOTR 2)
The Return of the King (LOTR 3)
Lord of the Rings 1-3 - General Comments and Observations
Raymond Edward's Tolkien biography
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,257 followers
July 31, 2014
Give me a few friends,
a stretch of pleasant hills and an ominous wood.
Let us romp in the remnants of innocence,
free of the fear coursing through the veins of the greater world.
Give me the first half dozen chapters of The Fellowship of the Ring and I will gladly make a little heaven on earth out of it.

After finishing The Hobbit as a young boy, I needed something else, something a little more mature to meet my growing needs. Lucky for me, Tolkien had done just that in the form of his epic trilogy The Lord of the Rings.

Fellowship..., the first book in the trilogy, is my favorite of the three. I fell in love with the four little friends striking out on their own, having adventures and misadventures that, within the context of the beginning of this first book, haven't yet taken on the worldly importance they will later on.

My two favorite chapters are "The Old Forest" and "Fog on the Barrow-Downs" and it's probably because both contain a genuinely scary, Halloween-when-you-still-believe-in-boogiemen atmosphere. In fact, atmosphere is a particularly operative term here. Tolkien made me feel the suffocation of the ancient forest with it's mysterious gnarled trees. The ghosty fog upon the eerie downs evoked apparitions, the stuff of nightmare.


The challenges and foes the four little hobbits face in these chapters are not on a grand scale - they're not even germane to the book's overall plot - but jeez louise, there's some scary-ass moments in there. Watching the boys handle these situations is just good, fun adventure material.

Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin skip along having a merry old time, stumbling into relatively minor troubles, all the while clueless that they possess the world's most powerful evil magic. I love that innocence. It reminds me of past days when my friends and I would grab stick-swords and hike through the woods, slashing at the trees that had become our goblin and ogre enemies. I could relate to the sense of foreboding Frodo and friends felt when finding themselves lost in a cold, eerie hallow with a creeping mist swirling about them. Growing up in the country, I knew exactly what it was like to run afoul of a truculent farmer and his vicious dogs. I could relate entirely to the first half of the first book, before the lords and wizards entered and it all became alien. Enjoyable as the journey to Mordor was, nothing could compare, no, nothing could even come close to touching my heart the way those first few chapters did.

However, we must all eventually move on from the safety of home.

(More review to come!)

Appendixy type reviews of Fellowship…-related items:

Peter Jackson's film version: I waited sooooo long for this. It was like waiting for the Red Sox to finally win the World Series. And when it finally happened, boy was it sweet! Back in the mid-to-late 90s I was working in Hollywood and so I would get the lowdown on what movies were in production and even pre-production. It must have been about '96 or '97 when I heard there was an interest in making a film version of The Lord of the Rings. I promptly went SQUEEEEE!!! and wet myself. Then I heard Jackson was the one who'd potentially be directing it. My glee was tempered. I'd seen and much admired his haunting Heavenly Creatures, but I also new him as more of a Heavy Metal Magazine, comic gore, sci-fi kinda guy, and I feared such a person getting their sticky mitts all over my precious. But anyway, so now recall that this was '97ish and that the first installment didn't come out until 2001. That is a loooong time to wait for something you want in the worst way. I'd grown up watching Ralph Bakshi's partially finished version and longed for a completed one. And now it was coming, but it was being delivered by an unreliable messenger. Tingling with mixed nerves, I sat in the theater waiting for Fellowship to begin, my heart still somber after 9/11. I wanted to feel good again. I really wanted this to be good. Cate Blanchett's androgynously husky voice rumbled through the darkness…."ooooh, this is going to be good" muttered my soul. And it was. From start to finish, I love this movie. Certainly it has its faults. I felt like Jackson, with all the money and technology at his disposal, still managed to make a scene or two here and there look like it was shot on a VHS camcorder. I'll never be completely happy with the casting. Some of the scenes that were cut from the book were my favorite (the Old Forest deletion is a crying shame) and that's unfortunate, but expected. All in all, my complaints are far outweighed by the laurels I could lay upon this…considering the grand scope, let's call it, this achievement.

Profile Image for theburqaavenger➹.
126 reviews566 followers
April 26, 2022
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

Every year a man comes to my house
and he knocks at my door. . .

He wears a pointed hat and he has a staff
and he tells me that it is that time of the year again.

I open the door and he looks around while i pack my bag
and i tell him how i thought he wouldn't come.

And then I grab my coat, wear my hat, tie my boots
and then we start our journey to Middle Earth.

He takes me to so many places
And on our journey he tells me of the fellowship. . .

He tells me about the ring
How it was once the source of great evil.

And he tells me about how the fellowship defeated the great evil
How they stood against the darkness when no one else dared.

He tells me of Frodo
How he was not fitting for the journey, responsibility, or endeavor, but he were made to rise up to the challenges.

How he was brave in the face of evil
and his will did not yield and he struggled on.

He tells me of Samwise
Who saw the good in the world and fought for it.

Who left the world a better place than it was before
who stayed loyal until the very end.

He tells me of Pippin
who didn't know what the journey may bring yet he stayed with his friends.

He tells me of Merry
who was unhappy at many times yet at no time was his self-pity of more importance to him than the welfare of his friends.

He tells me of Boromir
who fought until the end to protect his country and his people. . .his friends.

He tells me of Legolas and Gimli
who fought together, with each other and forgot their past differences.

He tells me of Gollum
who put himself on a lonely road and it destroyed him.

He tells me of Eowyn
who was born in the body of a maid but had a spirit and courage the match of men.

He tells me of Faramir
who pushed himself to the limits of endurance and sanity.

He tells me of Elrond
who worked behind the scenes trying to do it all for the greater good.

He tells me of Saruman
whose hastiness brought him to his ruin.

He tells me of Galadriel
who was at once mighty and valiant.

He tells me of Arwen
who made the ultimate sacrifice for love.

He tells me of Sauron
who became enamored with the kind of order that could be produced by domination and tyranny only.

And then he tells me of a Ranger
whose name was whispered in the dark.

He tells me of Elessar
who never turned his back on his friends.

He tells me of Aragorn
who, even after his long and perilous journey, still had enough strength to battle on.

And then i ask that man, the wizard
"Did you ever see them again Gandalf?"

And he tells me that some friendships last lifetimes
and then we come back to my home.

Every year i ask him if i can stay
Every year he tells me to wait.

So now i sit in my chair
and wait for the wizard to knock at my door again.

I will wait until i reach the age of thirty three
and maybe then he will come again.

I will wait till i reach the age of fifty
and maybe then he will take me to the Misty Mountains.

But if one day i disappear
and you don't hear a whisper then know that i will finally be at my true home.

P.S: If it wasn't obvious from my overly emotional review this is one of my favorite series of all time.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,108 followers
May 6, 2019
I cannot rightly recall how many times I've read the trilogy. I think it's between 5 or 6 but that doesn't include a dramatized version. I don't think. And then there are the gazillion times I've watched the movies, the cartoons, or the beautiful old green poster I used to gaze upon in my room.

Not to mention the balrogs I used to paint alongside my dragons. Or the feverish studying of elvish and writing messages to my friends in runic. Taking a class on LotR and even publishing an academic paper on the true nature of Tom Bombadil?

Yeah. I might be a geek. I even freaked out back in 1997 when I discovered that PETER JACKSON of DEAD/ALIVE aka BRAINDEAD was doing LotR???!!!!

Do I think this is a good book?

Maybe. A bit.

But I remember not always being a huge fan. I remember the first time I read it, I thought all the poetry was pretentious. I didn't realize that he had gone to all that work out of love of languages, that he was a scholar of Old English and a mythographer of wide knowledge. Or that he did all of this out of love and fully expected never to get acclaim for any publishing house. He wrote it because he was called to write it. He wanted something awesome. And so he made something awesome. And he shared it with his son just as he shared The Hobbit with his son. That's kinda cool, you know?

But as for me, now, after all these years and multiple reads and a lot of critical thinking, the books have only deepened in significance for me. All the people and places in the poetry means a LOT to me now. I recognize everything. And the fact that so many of the old legends directly tie right back into the most horrific scenes in the later action only speaks to me of OMG THAT WAS AWESOME.

Gil-Galad, anyone? How about the lay of Beren and Luthien and how freaking close that legend is to Aragorn and Arwen?

Or how about the barrow-wight dream Frodo had, that passing image of someone with a sun on his brow? Melkor after he stole the Silmarils? :)

Don't even get me started about how cool Tom Bombadil is. Goofy? Sure, but he's MASTER of his little domain. The Ring can't touch him. At all. Period.

Let's back this up a bit. Sauron and Radagast and Gandalf and Saruman and the Balrogs are all Maiar, spirits descended to Arda to help form the world after the Illuvatar created the planet. The Balrogs are, of course, corrupted Maiar made by Melkor, the Illuvatar god of corruption. That places all these guys on the SAME PLAYING FIELD. Yes, Radagast of the poop hat is ... WHAT? AS POWERFUL AS SAURON? Ahem. No.

I assume if Gandalf had been willing to steal the souls of a few lands of Easterlings and corrupted elves that are generally called ORCS get really, really good at necromancy and domination magic, he might have been a contender. But no. Neither Gandalf or Radagast were that ethically unbound. :) Just unwashed. Or addicted to pipe weed. Even the Maiar need their magical weapons and tools to get super powerful, and the Good is generally less likely to go all out and become an undead king like Voldemort and his phylacteries. :)

Let's move forward again. If Gandalf and the Elves and even Saruman from far away can't escape the deathly pull of Sauron's phylactery, then HOW THE HELL CAN TOM BOMBADIL go, "Eh? It's nothin."

Answer? He has to be one of the Illuvatar. One step above the Maiar. One of the creators of Arda (also known as Middle Earth, or in the next age, Earth. The place we are. :) So for all you haters of Bom-bom-bombadillo as he sings, remember, the gods who made Arda did it by SINGING. :)

Old Man Willow was probably a twisted Ent. If you know the Ent's history at the end of the First Age, they went on a rampage across all of Arda looking for their lost wives (who probably left them because they were a bunch of idiots) causing untold havoc that couldn't be stopped by all the might of the Elves, Men, or Dwarves in their heyday when the magic was so much stronger, the weapons so much more powerful, and the men could still act politely to the elves. And yet, Tom puts Old Man Willow to sleep like some naughty child.

And let's not forget the barrow-wights that are sadly missing from the movie. The poor hobbits had just been captured and turned into wights, dreaming the death songs from Men corrupted by Melkor back when Sauron was just a Lieutenant in Melkor's badass army of city-sized spiders, dragons, and balrogs. No yellow-shoed Green Man would have the power to COMPLETELY HEAL THE RIFT between life and death of such a remnant of the first age. Effortlessly. With a song.

I'm just saying.

I'm a geek.

It's true.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,883 reviews16.6k followers
September 21, 2017
Tonight on Anderson Cooper 360, we find ourselves in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and at The Green Dragon Public House and Brewery, a Tolkien inspired pub. Our special guest tonight is none other than THE Hobbit, Mr. Bilbo Baggins, formerly of the Shire. We’ll have a moment to get to know the individual that has meant so much to generations of literary fans and then to a new generation of movie going fans in this last decade. Bilbo, how are you tonight?

Bilbo Baggins: I’m well; thank you, Anderson, and how about yourself?

Anderson Cooper: I’m fine, thanks. Tell me, what was it like working with Peter Jackson?

BB: What’s not to like? He’s a consummate professional, with great attention to detail and a heart for our story.

AC: How was he different than working with J.R.R Tolkien?

BB: Ronald was a wonder, a finer man this world has never known. He was sensitive, but not in the way this generation uses the term; he was a real man, he could chop wood and build a fire, but he had in mind the celestial, he was a Godly man. Peter is more worldly, but spiritual in his own way.

AC: Was Hollywood different than England in the 1950s?

BB: My word, yes! But mostly in the scale of things, not so much the substance. When Ronald first published our story in your time of 1954, there was some fuss and attention but nowadays there is another level of fame and fortune altogether, I cannot wrap my mind around it! I wanted to pay for a breakfast of some eggs and sausages and the innkeeper said, “your money is no good here, Master Hobbit” but I’ve never had so much coin as I have now and no one will take it! The world has gone topsy-turvy.

AC: And your nemesis, Sauron, how has he changed over the years?

BB: Well! Now there is a query, yes sir! Let me just say that he was a pain the arse in the distant past and remains so today. His kind will always be a ticklish spot on the mattress if you get my meaning; I was not at all surprised to see him get involved with your politics.

AC: What about that, Bilbo – is it alright if I call you Bilbo?

BB: Please do.

AC: Thank you, what about Sauron’s entry into local politics?

BB: Let me speak candidly, Anderson, Sauron is a self-serving lot. His foray into your politics is all about what is best for him.

AC: Were you surprised that he has adapted so well to our political climate?

BB: Not at all! Oh my goodness, no! He was made for the arena, as your Mr. Nixon would say.

AC: Bilbo, has fame changed you at all?

BB: Anderson, I’d like to think not, but maybe in some small ways.

AC: Example.

BB: Fair enough, I like to get the top of my feet waxed. Back in the Shire, forget about it, but around here, it’s just a matter of getting it done and who to do it.

AC: The top of you feet waxed?

BB: A mild vanity, I assure you, a simple pleasure for me to preen and pleasure.

AC: Well deserved, I’m sure.

BB: Well, there are the simple ways to be enjoyed.

AC: Bilbo, what would you like to convey to our audience before we sign off?

BB: Thank you, Anderson. I’d just like to say to our audience, to our fans, both of the books and the more recent films, I think our story is about decency and doing what is right. It’s not always about slaying dragons or defeating an evil tyrant – more often it is the small things – paying a fair wage to your gardener or the village grocer, and observing the common courtesies. If we can win the small battles at home, then the larger wars will take care of themselves.

AC: Thank you, Bilbo, it has been a pleasure.

BB: The pleasure is all mine, Anderson, and won’t you enjoy some fine craft ales while we’re here?

AC: Why not? Thanks again to Mr. Bilbo Baggins, this is Anderson Cooper reporting from Murfreesboro, Tennessee with the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. Take care, America.

2015 reread:

My first impressions after rereading this wonderful story is that at its heart it is a travel book, from the departure from the Shire , through Bree, and all the way along the dangerous paths, down through Moria and visiting Lorien this is a story about a journey.

This also made me even more appreciate the fine work of director Peter Jackson and his crew for a magnificent job filming Tolkien’s great vision. However, I do miss the exclusion of Tom Bombadil from the films as he is a testament to how, as good as the films are, lacking they are when it comes to the fullness of Tolkien’s story, the films are martial and about armed conflict. Jackson must sell tickets, I understand that. But Bombadil, poetry and song are also an integral part of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and part of this template for high fantasy.

One thing Jackson got right was the importance of Sam Gamgee, his simple straightforward approach to life perhaps mirrored Tolkien’s own English countryside manner.

Finally, the scene between Boromir and Frodo is classic in literature. Well done, Professor Tolkien.

Profile Image for Piyangie.
530 reviews495 followers
January 15, 2023
"One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them."

Synopsis of The Lord of the Rings
The Dark Lord, Sauron, seeks the one ring, the one he created, and the one that he lost. His shadow clouds the Middle Earth. Land, sky, and sea are filled with his spies bringing cold terror to those who oppose him. The Ringwraiths are back seeking the ruling ring with a vengeance. And here the poor hobbit, Frodo, from the Shire is thrust with the burden of the ring. He, as the ringbearer must destroy it before Sauron could get at it. But the ring can be destroyed only by casting it into the fires of Mount Doom. But to get to this, Frodo must pass through Mordor, Sauron's kingdom. A fellowship is nine is formed in support of his quest, choosing members from all fractions that oppose enemy power. Will they succeed in destroying the ruling ring or will the Middle Earth succumb to the power of Sauron?

The Fellowship of the Ring is part one of Tolkien's masterpiece The Lord of the Rings. Here, the quest of Frodo begins, and with the companions of the fellowship, he must face many dangers and difficulties before he could fulfill his charge. And we follow the company of nine, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin through many perilous adventures as they make their way from Rivendell to Mordor.

The Lord of the Rings is my first proper introduction to the fantasy genre. Although I'm not a keen fan of the genre, this series fascinated me beyond measure. From the first page on I knew I was in for a rare treat. And I was right. This is a rare literary gem that you'll want to cherish. I say this for several reasons. First, I've never read a tale like this, ever. Tolkien has not only written a story, but also has created a unique world, a fascinating one inhabited by hobbits, Wizards, Elves, Dwarves, Men, and many other creatures. And he doesn't stop there. He makes their history, creates their language, thus building a complete world. Only a genius is capable of such a feat. His imaginative power is greater than any I've met in my literary journey. Second, his storytelling is absolutely brilliant. It absorbs the reader completely and effortlessly. As the first part, the story is by no means conclusive; it's only the beginning. But at no point the reader will feel bored or tired. Third, Tolkien's use of the language is absolutely beautiful, beyond any description. It's a pure delight to read. In the use of language Tolkien surpasses all the others I've ever read. And fourth is the cinematic quality he brings with his brilliant writing. Be it the shadow that slowly creeps on the middle earth, the darkness where enemy and his spies dwell, or the light, beauty, and the purity of Rivendell and Lothlorien where the Elves dwell, Tolkien brings all these perfectly into life. The fear, uncertainty, despair, and hope are so strongly captured that readers feel the effects of all these varying emotions. Who but a rare genius can create such a thorough and complete work of literature?

Tolkien's Middle Earth is such a fascinating place to be even with the lurking shadow of the Dark Lord. A magical power draws us in even though every step generates much fear and tension. The company connects with us immediately, and we come to love them all in different degrees. Aragorn was my hero when I first read it twenty years ago, and I find my preference is still intact. :) I'm revisiting The Lord of the Rings after reading The Silmarilion, and that helped considerably to understand and appreciate the history behind the story.

Tolkien wrote that "the prime motive (in writing this) was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them". And all I can say is that: Dear sir, you accomplished perfectly all that you set out to do in this masterpiece of yours.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
October 18, 2017
My education as a young German continues. I have been able to read children's books easily for some time, but books for grown-ups are still challenging. I thought that reading The Lord of the Rings in translation might be helpful, since for me it's intermediate between children's literature and adult literature. The vocabulary and grammar are more like adult literature; but the writing is concrete and straightforward as children's literature tends to be, with little of the abstractions, generalisations and complicated narrative structures that characterise adult fiction. I think it's worked well, and I could positively feel the book stretching my vocabulary. But most importantly, it's increased my appreciation for the poetics of the language. The text was many times able to reach me emotionally, and I could recapture the magical effect it had on me when I first read it at age ten: the comic interlude in Bree, the horror of the Barrow-wight and the Balrog, the glimpses of the vast shadowy history of the First Age.

The part that affected me most was the sequence in Lórien, which, to my surprise, moved me to tears. I couldn't quite understand why, but when I looked through some of the other reviews it became clearer. Readers of my generation were able to enter the enchanted world of Middle Earth and make it part of our own reality. But now I glance at Khanh's review, which has attracted 500 votes and a depressing number of positive comments, and see that for many people it is no longer possible. They understand nothing. The Elves have departed over the Sea, and left only a nostalgic memory behind them. It is desperately sad, and it is just this ineluctable tragedy of the passing of time that Tolkien captures so perfectly.
Ai! laurië lantar lassi súrinen,
Yéni únótimë ve rámar aldaron!
Yéni ve lintë yuldar avánier
mi oromardi lissë-miruvóreva
Andúnë pella, Vardo tellumar
nu luini yassen tintilar i eleni
ómaryo airetári-lírinen.
Sí man i yulma nin enquantuva?

An sí Tintallë Varda Oiolossëo
ve fanyar máryat Elentári ortanë
ar ilyë tier undulávë lumbulë
ar sindanóriello caita mornië
i falmalinnar imbë met, ar hísië
untúpa Calaciryo míri oialë.
Sí vanwa ná, Rómello vanwa, Valimar!

Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar!
Nai elyë hiruva! Namárië!
'Ah! like gold fall the leaves in the wind, long years numberless as the wings of trees! The long years have passed like swift draughts of the sweet mead in lofty halls beyond the West, beneath the blue vaults of Varda wherein the stars tremble in the song of her voice, holy and queenly. Who now shall refill the cup for me? For now the Kindler, Varda, the Queen of the Stars, from Mount Everwhite has uplifted her hands like clouds, and all paths are drowned deep in shadow; and out of a grey country darkness lies on the foaming waves between us, and mist covers the jewels of Calacirya for ever. Now lost, lost to those from the East is Valimar! Farewell! Maybe thou shalt find Valimar. Maybe even thou shalt find it. Farewell!'

Varda is the name of that Lady whom the Elves in these lands of exile name Elbereth.
Profile Image for James.
Author 20 books3,729 followers
December 3, 2018
4+ out of 5 stars to The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien's first novel in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, later made into a billion dollar movie franchise. I count myself lucky to have been able to read this book before it became a movie, though I loved the movie, too.

Why This Book
I was 13 years old when I stumbled upon this book while a friend was reading it. He was a major video gamer, fantasy sports leaguer and avid reader of science fiction. Though we were good friends, I had different hobbies. He was about a third of the way into the book, talking about Bilbo, Frodo and Gandalf... and I think my response was something like... "but what about the lions, bears and tigers... oh my!" He knocked me off his bed and laughed at me, which made me curious about the book. He lent it to me once he finished it, and I ran through the trilogy quicker than a trip to Mordor.

Overview of Story
It would take an entire chapter to summarize the book, so I'll try to keep it simple. It takes place in Middle Earth, a huge land full of different types of people: Men, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Wizards, Orcs and a whole lot more. As you'd expect, lots of re-alignment between groups over the centuries occurs during epic battles between the good and the evil. A long time ago, a ring was forged, unbreakable, except to be destroyed in Mordor. People have hunted the ring for years, to use its power, but it was rarely ever found. Bilbo Baggins, an elderly hobbit, comes across it one day. And its dark forces take over his mind, willing him to run away with it. But Gandalf the Wizard convinces him to give it up, and the ring falls to Bilbo's young cousin, Frodo, to throw into the fire hell of Mordor. He cannot escape the journey, but along the path, he is protected by Gandalf and many other friends. He has epic battles and at the end of this book, he's come upon one of his first major stops to seek protection, but is forced to flee with new best friend, Sam, for Mordor. And it's to be continued...

Approach & Style
It's a fantasy story, so the language is thrilling and beautiful, dynamic and ethereal. Tolkien's created a world where anything can happen, and one where readers have little history to know what's real and not real.

The book follows Frodo on his path as the primary character, and you see much through his eyes. It is in third person omniscient, meaning you do see most everyone's thoughts.

The creativity. The imagination. The fortitude. The lessons. The moral code. The honor among friends. The fear of a foe. The power of a wizard. Struggles to survive. The book has it all, even a little romance. And death. :(

One of the original masterpieces in this genre, it set the bar for everything to come. It was published mid-20th century, when books simply didn't exist in trilogies. There were a few, and some were decently written, but this is the beginning of a cult phenomenon. As much as I love Harry Potter, and I imagine I will love Game of Thrones, they were not the first. But Middle Earth is an epic journey across a vast time period and a vast land. Written more for an older young adult crowd, it has fans everywhere from ten to a hundred.

Open Questions & Concerns
It's a lot to taken in and will completely absorb its readers... when's the right age to ensure its ideals are properly understood. Why is it acceptable to kill someone in protection of the ring? How do you handle fear on a journey you must go on? Should it be used in schools? There are so many lessons, ideas and themes to ingest. Is it a pleasure read or something to teach? I see both sides.

Should I re-read it? YES!

Final Thoughts
You cannot help but be immersed in this story. If you're not a fan of fantasy, this is NOT the book to start with. There are probably 100 characters to keep track of, each with a unique set of powers or goals. If you are going to take it on, you need to invest in the entire world... up next at some point will be The Hobbit, as it's another clever place to lose oneself in...

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Profile Image for Doc Opp.
448 reviews198 followers
April 30, 2007
Tolkein's masterpiece is notable primarily for its historical significance. He basically invented the fantasy genre, and because of that all fantasy readers owe him a debt of gratitude. Many things in his books will seem somewhat cliche nowadays, but that's because they have been used so often since he wrote this book - almost all of them were original when this book was written.

That said, Tolkein is not a terribly good writer. He tends to go on in excruciating detail about trivial concepts. Parts of the book, such as Ent poetry, are downright painful to read. And his leaf by leaf descriptions of forests can get fairly trivial. Since he wrote this series, several other fantasy writers have basically stolen the story and rewritten it with higher quality prose. Terry Brooks Shannara series, for example, is more or less identical in plot and characters, but Brooks is a notably better writer. So depending on whether you prefer the authentic text, or the better written text, you should choose accordingly.

The notion of heroism in Tolkein is particularly worth noting. It is, so far as I can tell, the first set of novels that defines heroism entirely by internal features. The protagonist has no ability to fight, or to use magic, or basically do anything except to doing his best to do the right thing. This conception of heroism, which is what is what most people think of nowadays, is quite different than it was historically conceived (where heroism was synonymous with strength or ability, sometimes in conjunction with morality, but sometimes not). So, in this way, like so many others, Tolkein has had tremendous effect on popular culture.
Profile Image for Andy Marr.
Author 3 books786 followers
November 29, 2022
Oh man, I'm going to make so many enemies here, but good LORD this was dull.

But then, maybe I don't know what I'm Tolkien about.
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