Bret James Stewart's Reviews > The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
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it was amazing

Ah, The Fellowship of the Ring. The beginning of the serious take on Middle-Earth (after The Hobbit), and the first of the sextet of The Lord of the Rings. Each book has two books in it, so it is frequently mistakenly referred to as trilogy, which irritated Tolkien.

Though some readers feel the book lags in regard to action, especially in the beginning, I think this serves a purpose. Tolkien does a great job making Middle-Earth seem real. The cultures and personalities come across as realistic as actual world cultures. He also has a lot of background material he needs to convey in order for the story to make sense. He typically does this via dialogue, but sometimes via description. Tolkien excels at description, and he almost always tells you what the areas look like, topographically, visually, and what sorts of plants and animals are present. You feel as if you're trudging along with the hobbits and Aragorn, experiencing the wonder of the journey. Much of it seems to be patterned after the British Isles, which is not surprising, so large portions are rather bleak, such as large areas of moors, etc.

Tolkien lavishes time upon the characters, so you feel you know them, their habits and personalities, motivations, and relations to others. The only negative I have in regard to this is what I call the "double-character" of Merry/Pippin. They are so much alike that one of them is unnecessary. They talk and act alike, and serve similar plot devices and literary functions. This gets worse in the following books, but appears in this one, too.

The powerful history of Middle-Earth is brought to the fore, notably in Gandalf's dealings with Frodo, the obssession of the Ringwraiths seeking Frodo, and the Council of Elrond. Some think these boring and/or crippling to the action, but I think these are wonderful ways to convey information, as I mentioned before--the Ringwraiths are not boring, in any event. I like these asides as they add depth to the story. I also don't mind thinking about what is going on, which makes me feel I am sharing in the history/story of Middle-Earth. Tolkien also achieves this realism with side-treks such as the encounter with Tom Bombadil, which adds a mysterious character referring to the primeval stirrings of the world, its history, its present, and, to a lesser degree, its future.

The primary plot line, of course, is the identification of the One Ring that was discovered by Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Its past impact and potential current and future ability to devastate the world is the impetus for the quest to destroy it. The adventuring group is arranged. They set out to accomplish this goal even though they are not entirely sure how to achieve their objective (meaning the procedure--the goal is clear). The journey itself is grueling, a factor intensified by opposition by other, vying forces independently seeking the Ring. One of these is Gollum, who once possessed/was possessed by the Ring. He is trailing the fellowship. The artifact's essentially irresistible allure begins to work on the group, resulting in mistrust and, in the end, the fall of Boromir to ring-lust, coinciding with an orc attack on the characters as they are physically separated. Frodo attempts to flee alone into the wilderness toward Mordor with the goal of destroying the Ring in the fires of Orodruin (a.k.a. and more commonly known as Mount Doom). The perennially-attentive Sam, however, follows him and convinces him to allow them to go together. The orc attack and flight of Frodo and Sam throw the remaining members into confusion. The fellowship is splintered, and Tolkien leaves us with this cliff-hanger. Will the members survive? Will Frodo and Sam be able to find Mordor? Will Gollum finally catch them? You'll have to read and find out.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
November 4, 2013 – Shelved

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