adam's Reviews > The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
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did not like it

Read the review by Doc Opp; I think he covers it quite nicely. He explains how Tolkien was the forefather of fantasy writing, and why that makes his books important. He also shares his opinion that the historical importance sort of causes people to overlook that Tolkien couldn't write worth beans.

Opp posits that perhaps it has something to do with the concept of heroism being different in Tolkien's days than it is now. I'm not sure I agree with that. I mean I agree that his characters are a study in perserverance without being able to really fight or do anything but perservere, I just don't know that I buy that it's a sign of the times. I think Tolkien was just boring.

I don't disagree, also, that the Shannara series is essentially the same storyline with a better writer at the helm.

My venom towards Tolkien is greater than Opp's perhaps because we read for different reasons. I have very little patience with writers who have great ideas or imaginations when it comes to the physical world, but can't get inside the head of a person to save their lives and thus can't tell a story. This sort of writer is often found in sci-fi/fantasy, because the genre is geared to reward the most innovative and plausible inventing of a future or past timescape.

If guys like Opp were always doing the commentating I might not hate Tolkien with such a passion, but unfortunately the world is filled with people who don't read sci-fi but who recalled their lit teacher spoke Tolkien's name once and probably said something about how he was the father of modern fantasy, and those people went on to shout Tolkien's name from the rooftops to the extent that a movie even got made out of it. Now the movie I could actually stomach (a little) because Hollywood realized they couldn't completely bore the pants off of people and still make money. But I digress.

I cannot conceive of any reason one would read these novels unless they were forced e.g. for a class. And even then, it'd better be a history class and not a writing class, unless the objective was to teach how not to write. There's no pace, no character development, the focus shifts between groups of characters ala Robert Jordan without any of Jordan's redeeming qualities (although Jordan certainly has faults as well).

The most compelling reason to read these novels is so that you can rip someone a new one when they bring up Tolkien by making a point by point case where you describe all the things he does wrong.

Let me put it this way, I have read some of the most God-awful books in my time. I mean when I was younger I would read a phone book if it was handy. But I could not finish the Fellowship of the Rings.

Comparing Tolkien to Asimov is just...I mean that's like comparing me to Asimov. I have an imagination and so does Asimov, comparison ended. Asimov came up with a plausible future that was interesting, and then he wrote characters within that adventure that were compelling. Caves of Steel is brilliant because whatshisface the detective is sort of an everyman and Asimov deals with things such as embarrassment because your Dad's job doesn't rate you high enough to eat at the right hydroponics diner. I'm mangling things, but you get the point. Asimov may have been the best ever at having really cool ideas and not wasting them by forgetting to write about people.

I hate Tolkien, I blame him for his vacuous and enraging fan base, I blame him for every author that followed him that spent 5 hours describing a blade of grass, I hate him for taking a genre that I like and making me want to vomit on it, even if he was the first. It makes me want to burn my entire fantasy bookshelf down to the ground.

That's my review.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
May 3, 2007 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-50 of 64 (64 new)

Aleta The first time I tried to read TFotR, I didn't care for it, and did not finish it. Later, I decided to give it another try, and I am glad I did - I loved it then. I'm not certain what made the difference. I think I was expecting something different the first time, reading it right after The Hobbit; the styles/tones of the prequel and the trilogy are very different. The LoTR books are among my favorites now.

message 2: by Austin Lee (new)

Austin Lee All I have is one thing to comment on. I have to say that it's probably one of the best transferences of fantasy books changed into movies. Not only were they actors actually good the story was actually better than to movie. It was the first time I was glad I watched the movie instead of the book.

Julie Are you just angry that the female characters are so one dimensional? So what? Just accept that Tolkien couldn't write women. I don't think they (women) really entered his radar when it came to writing fiction. Please don't tell me that Asimov wrote women well. I am thinking of Susan Calvin, in particular. Was she even a woman? She was so manly...

The whole story of the Lord of the Rings is told from the perspective of the Hobbits, and they are certainly not boring. Their culture is richly brought to life, especially in the first chapter, and right through the various adventures they are involved in. And Tolkien definitely got inside the head of Sam, who was really the main character or narrator of the whole story.

If you want meaty details of the activities of Gandalf and Aragorn, you aren't going to get it from Sam. But Sam was a gardner, so you are going to get more details than you need about the local grasses and trees. How is that not authentic?

What about the kinds of literature that Tolkien was emulating? Have you read any of that style? Tolkien's work is totally consistent with the sagas of old and middle english, irish, norse, and germanic oral traditions.

I hope you and Doc Opp get a chance to delve into this kind of literature. It will be good for you to expand your horizons. Not all the modern stuff is as good as you think. Or as original. (!)

Try and explore the roots of Fantasy and Science Fiction, if it's not too boring for you.

Were you forced to read LOTR, as part of a class? This might explain your resentment of it...

Kristen Wow, how can you talk like that about one of the best fantasy writers that ever existed? Not only was the storyline good, the characters were solid and believable. It might have been a little tedious at times, but lets face it, it was written in a time period that was nowhere near as fast-paced as ours.

This is one of my favorite series!

Roshio wow i really agree with you. i love fantasy, probably my favourite genre, and i always wondered why i couldn't get into LOTR. like it seems to have every ingredient of what a good fantasy should be like but it does nothin for me. phew! i feel way better now :D

message 6: by Jay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jay You don't like Tolkien, but you love fantasy. Hmmm... This is similar to my friend's son, who told me he loved heavy metal, but he didn't like Led Zeppelin.

Get a clue. LoTR is one of the best selling books of all time, and not because people think they're supposed to like it. It sells better than every other fantasy novel because it's better. If you don't like it, fine. But don't tell me you don't like it because Tolkien can't write... because you're showing the rest of us how little you know about literature in general, and fantasy in particular.

message 7: by Jay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jay Obviously the fact that there are more copies of LotR in the world than any other book except the Bible means nothing to those too dim or self-important to understand what Tolkien did. I have very little patience with readers who lack great ideas or imaginations when it comes to the physical world, and can't fathom the point a writer is making to save their lives and thus can't understand a story.

message 8: by Jay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jay And we just added one more to the total.

message 9: by Jay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jay Yes, yes, whatever. Thank you. Next?

message 10: by Jay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jay Uh huh... have a nice day, now!

Dylan Thomas You're a twat

message 12: by Jay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jay No, but I was licking one just about an hour ago.

Jenna You don't like it!!! I loved sooooooo much!!!

message 14: by Jay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jay Wow... a few comments seem to have vanished from this thread. Several, in fact.

message 15: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma You can't go into the series thinking you're reading "literature" with stellar character development and smooth, stylistic prose. This is why I'm glad I read them for the first time when I was thirteen, because that was before I was taught to look for things like that. I enjoyed them, I still enjoy them, and I think it's a shame that some people can't just enjoy a book without trying to analyze it and critique it to bits. I love all the characters, but I'm not pretending the have perfect characterization (although it's pretty damn good) and I also don't read it for the characters. I read it because I love it.

Michael Chantry I think it is quite interesting that there are people out there like yourself that can't see art when it is staring right at them. But then again some people don't appreciate Michaelangelo. The point that you are missing is that this book is much much more than a fantasy novel. Tolkien was a medieval scholar. Have you ever read a medieval text? I guess not. Try it sometime and you might just see how truly magnificent this work is.
When I was 11 years old I picked up this book from my dads shelf and it was so real that I actually thought hobbits existed for a week. This book is the reason that I read Le Morte D'Arthur at age 14. Some day I will write a review.

Nikki I am so relieved to see other people pointing out that Lord of the Rings is very like the medieval works Tolkien spent his life working on. Good going, people.

message 18: by Isidora (new)

Isidora A review's purpose isn't to say 'I hate Tolkien and I blame him for his huge fanbase.' Why? Was it too difficult for you to understand what was going on? There IS a place (many places, in fact), but you've got to pay attention in order to understand what's going on and where they are going. I agree that at some points Tolkien overdid on the details about where is this and where is that, but he was a great writer after all.

message 19: by Brett (new)

Brett Tolkien created a fully realized fantasy world or time (WHICH is debatable) and a story deeply immersed in metaphor and symbolic imagery to the degree that many works pale in comparison that attempt it, and despite how fantastical the entire story is (and imagine how much more so at the time!), he retains something many authors of fantasy nowadays miss: Authenticity and believability in the very world they invent.

I'll never understand people like this who bemoan highly descriptive works, it's like they would prefer something written by a high school student over a weekend as long as it's action packed and skips over describing objects in the background, instead of a story written by a genius scholar of languages/history that dedicated his entire creative life to this grand creation. This man was brilliant and so was this series. This is a literature masterpiece, a real work of art though, not meant to be a quickly digested teen fantasy read.

Of course this is all just my perspective on this, but I just hope those who haven't read this series, give it a real chance. Just plod your way through the more descriptive parts, as there is a point to most of it ultimately speaking: It builds and solidifies the depth and realism of the world Tolkien created and it does so to a degree that so many other writers fail.

Robert Lent I read the Shannara books, and they were fun, but a pale imitation of LotR. It is funny that literature professors were mentioned, professors of literature were much more likely to sneer at this book than to be singing it's praises. The book has recently been given some respect in academia, but this book was sneered at for decades by adademia.

Michelle He was an amazing writer! His use of description was fantastic. Some writer only wish they could write as he did. You should read his work and try to appreciate it. I cannot believe your ridiculous comment. A writer is only as good as he can work the reader's imagination and paint the images within the writing. He has done this and much more.

message 22: by Jerad (new) - added it

Jerad Copeland SPAM!

message 23: by [deleted user] (new)


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Tolkien is amazing!!!

message 25: by Erin (new)

Erin In the 8th grade, I would have scoffed at and avoided at all costs any book that an english teacher had sung the praises of. But that year we read the Fellowship of the Ring in english class, and despite my deep dislike of being forced to read a book that was not of my own choosing, I gobbled it up and promptly begged my parents to buy me the full set so I could read the other two (which I did!).

message 26: by Eli (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eli You are completely wrong about everything you just said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He is the greatest author of all time and his books can not be criticized!!!!!!!!

message 27: by Somerandom (new) - added it

Somerandom Wow, chill Tolkien fanatics. The Lord of the Rings (which I am going to start soon, for the first time!) is not going to be enjoyed by everyone.

That being said, Tolkien was a Professor, wasn't he? He studied linguistics, medieval literature and even gave a University lecture on Beuwolf (sp?) So of course it's going to be very descriptive, of course it's going to seem tedious by today's standards. It was written in the 30s! You don't see me moaning about how tedious Gothic Classics are, do you? No, because I realize that I have to put it in the right context. To me, it seems you haven't put Tolkien in the right context. The guy was an academic, his world building skill is practically unparallelled and his attention to detail immense. Yes, I can imagine it will be tedious at various times, but that's the style and depth that Tolkien was most likely aiming for.

message 28: by Eva (new) - added it

Eva i got so bored i couldnt finish the first chapter. seriously it went on forever...

message 29: by J (new) - rated it 5 stars

J Puntillo Reading Tolkien can feel like a hard run, uphill, into a cold wind at some points. Learn to read fantasy, however, for more than style and plot - think about The Lord of the Rings thematically, post-culturally, as metaphor, pre-ontologically and then judge it critically. Tolkien made a world that has garnered this kind of critical attention, that much is true and goes unsaid since it has (albeit slowly) become a tenant on critical reading lists for its adverse and wildly eclectic conventions and character developments.

When you strip it down then you can't compare Tolkien to a contemporary like Joyce (although that would be interesting, especially in the creation of fictional language!), but the critical content is there! This in itself is worth appreciation. Yet, you can NEVER go as far as saying that every Fantasy Book to this day has not been influenced by JRRT's masterpieces in which case you'd be wrong to bemoan the foundation of modern literary fantasy epics.

message 30: by Olga (last edited Aug 29, 2013 10:46AM) (new)

Olga K Okay, when I searched Tolkien I fully expected to see five star reviews and a bunch of people not liking my review if I wrote about him.
I don't hate him. Call me a modern book crapist (in the words of some Tolkien fans) but I agree SLIGHTLY w/ you. Tolkien wrote a bit boring stuff. I couldn't really like the characters. His landscape, world, whatever were good.I was bored out of my mind after the first two pages. I don't mean to sound all negative but this is exactly what I think. I'll read it. But I'm not saying he is a bad writer or that I'm a good one. The lord of the Rings are just a bit boring, in my personal opinion. Maybe they'll get better.
You might be thinking: all this comment is saying is that LotR was boring boring boring and that entertaining people is not what he set out to do. Okay. True.
Just not what I usually read, that's all

Nikki But you can't make a story without characters, and I was bored out of my mind after the first two PAGES, let alone chapters.

May I suggest you actually try looking at some of the literature Tolkien used as inspiration/sources? You'll find even fewer characters to relate to there. I'd go for, hmm... definitely Beowulf, for a start, and then probably some Arthurian stuff -- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, maybe, since Tolkien wrote his own translation of that. Völsungasaga, definitely, or maybe the German Nibelungenlied.

What I mean is, though, you're judging by the wrong yardstick. Which is fine, if that's what you connect to in a book, don't get me wrong -- I totally understand why some people dislike LotR, on a personal level. Just... that's not what Tolkien set out to do, so obviously that's not what he achieved.

message 32: by Olga (new)

Olga K 'Just... that's not what Tolkien set out to do, so obviously that's not what he achieved.'

Thanks. :) I get it.

message 33: by Olga (new)

Olga K I'm still reading it. I just had a very bad day and feel like taking it out on a poor defenceless book... :)

Cazmeister44 Interesting... I thought the character development was one of the best handled components of the book. Each had a very specific and unique personality. I also used to hear people talking about LotR and think 'how boring', and then I read it. One thing you can't fault about Tolkien is his imagination, and it's that which really sets apart his books from most others, whether that's in blocks of backstory or several pages of descriptive writing, none of it is unnecessary, each sentence is a brushstroke in the masterpiece.

message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

u may hate him wih great passion, but he happens to be on of the greatest minds of all. u can smack talk my boy when you teach at oxford university and gain the respect of millions of people.

message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

hey somerandome..... of course it wont be enjoyble for everyone but this was supposed to be a review of the book....the book......not adams hatred for tolkien!

he just so happens to be talking about one of the greatest thinking minds of the past century, a WWI vet who has earned widespread respect, and a devout christian
mabey he should try to be a professor at Oxford!

message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

show some respect!

message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

i don't like ur utter disrespect

message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

show some respect

message 40: by Somerandom (new) - added it

Somerandom john mccain…Tolkien fanatic wrote: "hey somerandome..... of course it wont be enjoyble for everyone but this was supposed to be a review of the book....the book......not adams hatred for tolkien!

he just so happens to be talking ab..."

Like I said, calm down.

message 41: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Lacey No pace, no imagination, seriously? I suggest u go and read the books again and maybe if you get the same outcome it's not Tolkien who's the problem. I seen the first film before I read any of the books and we never read them in school so no one else's opinion of Tolkien shaped mine, I thought at first I didn't like the film but I live them now because I read the books and loved them he's far from boring I adore he's style of writing . By far the best author I've ever had the pleasure if reading.

message 42: by Arman (new) - added it

Arman Brar J.R.R Tolkien was a brilliant man who wrote splendid novels. I strongly suggest that you read The Hobbit all over again and even watch the two movies that are out right now.

Hazel Mier I think that was the worst thing anyone could ever have said. I hate you for saying that. The two towers is my favorite book!!!!!!!!!

Hazel Mier Tolkien had his dragons. That is what I call them. His father died in Africa when he was 5. He was in England and his mother said he couldn't go to the funeral. His mother went into a diabetic coma and died 4 days later. He and his brother were orphaned the same age as dear Frodo. He was forbidden to speak to his girlfriend for 3 years. His heart was broken when his best friend died in war ( making C.S. Lewis his new BFF!), his wife had a baby when he was at war, the world grew and smauged the sky, The Lord of the rings was rejected and he refused to show anyone for, like a year. His wife and son got terribly ill, and his wife then died! Half of this sounds quite familiar… tlotr is the most amazing work of fiction EVER! The critics sound like you, Adam. They called it a children's story gone wild, unreadable, while the people wrote " Frodo lives!" " Gandalf for president" and " Hobbits are Tolkien's miniatures!" On the walls of subway stations and public bathrooms. Having wise Gandalf for president would be FLIPPEN' awesome. Another reason you are wrong. I am very defensive about my characters. A boy at school said Sauron was better than Frodo. I never talked to him again. Serina said dubledore was better than Gandalf. I called her Dora until she changed her mind. I love this series and my mind has NOT changed about hating you. That wasn't a book review that was a complaint. You got a complaint about Tolkien… file it under the complaint department. The trash can.

message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

1.dont write a review on a book you never finished
2. You could just say you didn't like it. you did NOT have to be so rude to one of the greatest literary minds on the planet.
3. tolkien has sold more copies than any other novel. . .FOR A REASON!
4. i get that some people have different tastes but somethings wrong with you if you hate him so much.
show some respect!

message 46: by Niki (new) - rated it 3 stars

Niki Collins Thank heavens I couldn't agree more! I heard such great things about these books, and I loved the movies, & now that I've read the first book I'm very disappointed. I feel the makers of the films didn't such a better job telling the story than the Tolkien. You hit the nail on the head about him spending hours describing a blade of grass. I found that so frustrating. I don't enjoy reading 100+ pages of nature descriptions and history...I get he had to give a background of the world, but still. I enjoy reading about the characters, their feelings, their interactions and personalities....not what surrounds them. Maybe it's because I finished a first person narrative novel just before I read lord of the rings, one that was very very descriptive on each character and emotion, one where you felt you knew the characters personally. But still, this book was wrongly built up and I'm nervous to read the rest.

message 47: by Tina (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tina Wow, I find the venom of Tolkien's fans particularly ridiculous, since not everyone can be a fan of popular works. Everyone's different. How about just agreeing to disagree.

It's nice to read another person who finds Tolkien boring. I adore favorite author of all time is Anne McCaffrey...but I just cannot get into Tolkien. I disliked The Hobbit, found it boring. But thought I should really give The Lord of the Rings trilogy a try. I'm now listening to the Fellowship of the Ring on audiobook and the Tom Bombadil part just about made me stop listening....long, tedious, and boooooooring. But I am not one to give up on a book.

My very favorite book is Les Miserables and Victor Hugo was the master of long, boring, unimportant details....I can truly say that, having read his entire UNabridged version of Les Miz...but there was enough high quality, exciting parts in that book to help me stick it out and see it through to the end. And I'm so glad I did, as it proved to be absolutely BRILLIANT!!

So I will continue to persevere with Tolkien. I hope it eventually proves just as worth it. But man, it's difficult to make it through the long, drawn out, tedious details parts!

message 48: by Bekah (new)

Bekah Booklover I am an avid reader of fantasy and thought I would love Tolkien's work, and I wanted to read for myself what I thought would be my new favourite book based on the excellent reviews. However I was just not drawn in by this story. I am not criticising his writing - it is a very well written book (and I loved The Hobbit), but for me it was the plot that let it down. There was not enough action in it for me and I will not be reading the next two volumes. This is just my opinion of the book, but I can see why other people would like it.

Dalta There's so much hate on what you wrote that I can hardly classify it as a "review". The only statements you made regarding the book itself and not some fan-base, Tolkien himself and all you hate about it were limited to the sixth paragraph and that was about it. And when you tried to do it, you argumented on aspects that are completely subjective, having more to do with the reader's taste -- or distaste, in your case --, such as pace or characters not being compelling.
Don't let the Darkside cloud your judgment, sir.

Neil very surprised you have a fantasy shelf if you despise Tolkien so much, I guess there always the few that buck the trend just for the sake of it

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