Jonathan S. Harbour's Reviews > The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
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's review
May 07, 2017

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy
Read 2 times. Last read January 10, 2017 to May 7, 2017.

What can one say about The Lord of the Rings, the #1 bestselling book in the English language (second to the Bible, that is, which is hardly fair with a 300-year sales lead) that has not already been said? English literature degrees have undoubtedly been granted on this topic. Who am I but a humble reader? Three stars based solely on readability. I rate things on how much I enjoy them and this was a tough read. I never intend to re-read it. However, I DO intend to read The Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin. Consider this an objective point of view. Despite loving the films, I won't grant Fellowship extra stars on that account.

This is my second time through but first time reading actual print, and it astonished me how much I missed listening to the audio. That simply cannot convey the depth of this book properly because (in my case at least) the mind wanders. Many books are fine in audio format, but this one has just too much complexity. Every scene is lavishly painted on a giant canvas, especially irrelevant scenes that serve no purpose in furthering the plot. One might say that Tolkien loves world-building and sprinkles characters throughout as an afterthought. Landmarks are characters in their own right: this hither tower, that thither guardian, this present tree, that yonder mountain. Every peak is named. Every river is named. Every BEND and FALL in every river is named. Every crossroad is named. Every branch of Galadriel's home-tree is named (I go too far...). I wonder how the Elves mounted their structures high up in the beloved trees without nails? Must have used Elven ropes. (I couldn't help but wonder how the world's greatest environmentalists build without using tree wood--what are the floors made of?).

Everyone should read this trilogy once in their life. READ it, not listen to it. There is a huge difference between the written word and Jackson's films. MUCH. That alone is worth the read in my opinion.

This is not high fantasy as most wrongly assume. This is MYTHOLOGY. Very deep and well-researched English mythology, filled with songs and poems and a fully-developed language of runes. This is not fantasy fiction. One can read it as such but it is not. It has more in common with Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey than with, say, The Name of the Wind or some such modern equivalent. And that is why it is so hard to read. I spent a very long time indeed getting through Fellowship. I intend to read Two Tower and Return, but it will be a while. It was a tough read for me and I read quite a bit. I just am not a speed reader--I don't skim boring sections. Perhaps I need to adapt my reading style for this sort of book because, frankly, I don't care what color the leaves are on the trees around Elrond's cottage, nor that the mountain tops are all named. That has absolutely no bearing on the plot nor do such details enrich the world. They are pointless details to ME. Someone else may love that vivid imagery. I do, to a certain degree, then it becomes tiresome. So, I'll develop a new reading style before tackling the next two volumes.


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Reading Progress

May 20, 2014 – Shelved (Audible Audio Edition)
May 20, 2014 – Shelved as: fantasy (Audible Audio Edition)
August 8, 2014 –
70.0% (Audible Audio Edition)
August 10, 2014 –
80.0% (Audible Audio Edition)
Started Reading (Audible Audio Edition)
September 3, 2014 – Finished Reading (Audible Audio Edition)
January 10, 2017 – Started Reading
January 12, 2017 – Shelved
January 12, 2017 –
page 25
5.79% "I'm somewhat ashamed that I've never read any Tolkien other than The Hobbit. Listened to the audiobooks, yes, but never read myself. I know, audiobooks are people too, but some books simply must be read. In the case of LOTR, one might even argue that the physical book is the only way to read it. I can see that point, due to the layout of the poems and illustrations and maps. But I'm enjoying the Kindle edition."
January 17, 2017 –
page 75
February 22, 2017 –
20.0% "Its not a slow read, just distracted with a lot of "lesser" books. I should stop that. :)"
March 13, 2017 –
April 17, 2017 –
page 225
April 17, 2017 –
April 20, 2017 –
60.0% "Picks up the pace in the second half starting with Rivendell."
May 3, 2017 –
May 7, 2017 – Shelved as: fantasy
May 7, 2017 – Finished Reading

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