The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) The Fellowship of the Ring discussion


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What would make this book more fluent?

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Mehmet Palabiyikoglu I wasn't one of those lucky people who read the books earlier than the movies, and even after the movies I read The Silmarillion and The Hobbit first. Now that I finished the fellowship of the ring and I think there is something in Tolkien's writing that slows me down.

I love fantasy and Tolkien is among the builders of this genre. His books never bored me as in the way of stopping to read. But either because of his landscape definitions or some other detailed descriptions (even I'm not sure what it is) he exhausts me and I need to give a break. Do you think the same way? If so what is that hindering thing in Tolkien's books?


message 2: by Jc (last edited Apr 27, 2014 11:10AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jc i may say JRRT is one of my best authors and i have the same problem, the story goes too slow. My opinion is his long descriptions, he want us to see another world. But you say is not his description, so maybe the lack of rush, excitement in the characters... parts were i didnt feel the rush and preoccupation of the characters... then the problem is too much description in certain things and not in the important ones, or maybe the voyage in the book is so long you really get wore out of it.


message 3: by Claire (last edited Apr 27, 2014 11:20AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Claire I love Lord of the Rings too, but yes, it's definitely an exhausting read. I've been taking a break from The Two Towers to read Walt Whitman and HP Lovecraft.

Perhaps the hindering thing in Tolkien's books are his rather old-fashioned means of storytelling, like his highly detailed descriptions of scenery, and how he often describes an exciting or pivotal moment after the fact.

Take Gandalf's imprisonment in Isengard. Had Tolkien been writing in the present day, he likely would have described and written the scene as it was happening, like Peter Jackson did in his film versions. Instead, Gandalf meets up with Frodo and Co. in Rivendell and basically says, "Oh by the way, while you guys were off doing your own thing, this was happening to me", and then he tells them his story.

It slows the pace down by A LOT, but I don't think Lord of the Rings is meant to be read at a break-neck, edge-of-your-seat pace. It's the kind of book that you slowly immerse yourself in, like a warm bath.

I read Lord of the Rings the same way I read Moby-Dick: slowly, in large chunks, and then I walk away from it for a while, read something else, and come back to it.


Geoffrey Gandalf´s story of Isengard would have interrupted the flow of the hobbit´s tale if related in accordance to the time frame of the novel.


message 5: by Mehmet (last edited Apr 28, 2014 06:55AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mehmet Palabiyikoglu Claire wrote: "It slows the pace down by A LOT, but I don't think Lord of the Rings is meant to be read at a break-neck, edge-of-your-seat pace. It's the kind of book that you slowly immerse yourself in, like a warm bath. "

I definitely agree with this, afterall there isn't any rule that a good book must be a fluent one. However most of the readers, including me, search for that fluency. I wasn't reading too many books when I was younger, I just grew up to like them better. And I felt that I lost too many years without reading, which could be a reason for me that I seek fluency I guess. Such as Cornelia Funke's The Inkheart Trilogy: Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath was quite good that I was absorbed so much, I finished 3 of them in a month.

Jc wrote: "i may say JRRT is one of my best authors and i have the same problem, the story goes too slow. My opinion is his long descriptions, he want us to see another world. But you say is not his descripti..."

It's good to hear that there are other people who get bored of those descriptions. I know that Middle Earth is huge and so is the land of Beleriand before and I know they needed to be described. I would personally feel bad if I had created a world full of everything and pictured a map but left it untold to the reader. I'm not sure if there would be a better way to describe his fictitious land, but I feel like a literature master like him could find a more entertaining way to do it. But obviously he was loving his descriptions and maybe people in 1950s had a different taste of literature than us, which is highly possible.

Also I think if Tolkien would tell us the story in the eyes of the villains more than he did on the heroes, it might be more enjoyable.


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

Mel Foster A lot of people, especially since the movies, pick up the Lord of the Rings and don't know what they're getting into. The work was a backward-looking work stylistically when written. Tolkien wasn't writing a modern novel, he was by his own confession writing a "history" but one deeply influenced by the literature which he had immersed himself in, especially, I believe, the conventions and expectations of the epic. Read it as a prose epic in the tradition of Beowulf, Sir Gawain, Faerie Queen, Paradise Lost, The Odyssey, etc., and you will not be surprised by the detailed descriptions and discussions. I had this experience when I first read The Last of the Mohicans and was unbelievably bored at the pace. But when I returned to it expecting it to be more like Dickens and less like Stephen Crane, I appreciated it much more. Hot dogs and ice cream are both good, but it's nice to know which you are eating when you bite down.


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

Mel Foster I have read LOTR at least a dozen times, and I admit that I skip the songs at least half the time.


Bridgette I think that something that would have made these books easier to read for many is less imagery. My friends complain that Tolkein took too long explaining the tiny details. They might be right. I for one enjoy reading and seeing the differences between the older and newer writing styles. And Mr. Jackson did a wonderful job with the books in my opinion. :D


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Mel wrote: "I have read LOTR at least a dozen times, and I admit that I skip the songs at least half the time."

lol! me too!


message 10: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg Schroeder Tolkien was building an entire world, an ethos, a culture, replete with language, history, and topography. Yes the books move more slowly than a current popular book, but is there any one that is so expansive that you can KNOW an entire complete world, with its history, culture, magic?


Susie Schroeder All I can say is I have reread the LotR several times, and the only thing I skip are the parts on Mordor. Like Sam, I guess, though they don't give me the shivers, they make me sad.


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

pi i would take out the part about tom bombadil. who the heck is he anyway.


message 13: by Susie (last edited May 08, 2014 07:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Susie Schroeder Susie wrote: "To quote Tolkien.: "Every work of fantasy has unexplained portions. Tom is one of those.""


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

Mark pi wrote: "i would take out the part about tom bombadil. who the heck is he anyway."

I hope he will haunt your dreams for the rest of your life, Philistine that you are.


message 15: by Claire (last edited May 09, 2014 09:42PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Claire pi wrote: "i would take out the part about tom bombadil. who the heck is he anyway."



He's The Green Man, The God of the Forest.



True, he doesn't make a very big impact in the story as a whole (and I think Tolkien did a huge disservice to him as a potentially awesome character by giving him such a menial role), but he's in there because The Green Man was such an important figure in pre-Christian Western-European cultures. Tolkien based much of his fictional universe on the legends of that time period, so the inclusion of Tom Bombadil is his respectful nod to the stories and cultures that inspired his world of Middle-Earth.


Susie Schroeder I have seen multipage discussions in Tolkien Forums about Tom, whom I like. Other guesses include Maia, Ainur, nature spirit. Tolkien said in the The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien that he is a mystery, and all fantasies should have something unexplained.


Keith I think many people who are used to today's ideas about good stories (book/movie/TV) will find the LOTR's too slow, but I find most of today's entertainment much to fast/much to much. A story needs down time to marinate, so that the "crazy" parts (such as Helm's Deep or when the Ringwraiths corner the party at Weathertop) seem even more so in contrast. I find myself skipping parts of modern books and movies because it is just action after action after action, with no time to pause or reset. Most people like that, but I find it tiresome and boring.


Keith pi wrote: "i would take out the part about tom bombadil. who the heck is he anyway."

It is funny that you say that, because while I was fairly happy with the movie version of the trilogy, I was VERY unhappy that there was no mention of Tom or Goldberry. As for who he is, Tolkien (and Bill Belichick!) would probably tell you "He is who he is".


Susie Schroeder Tolkien himself listed the first fault of the LotR as "It is too short." And I agree, though I suspect he was thinking of The Silmarillion


message 20: by Len (last edited Jul 11, 2014 01:35PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Len Robertson what makes a book fluent? It's local color. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter both work so well because people were immersed in an unfamiliar world that they found compelling. The same goes for mysteries. In fact, in English mysteries, the great house becomes a character..

Sci Ii has been at a disadvantage for the past fifty years because Mars and Venus were dead and we weren't even certain that planets outside our solar system existed.

Well, all that has changed. We know a great about exoplanets, enough to create fascinating new landscapes that become characters in the story, yet I'm not finding it in the sci fi novels I'm reviewing. Consider it my grumble for the day.


John (Taloni) Taloni I read Lord of the Rings when I was thirteen and found it overlong and bombastic. Reading it again 35 years later, I was amazed at how well it was constructed. I would not ask Tolkien to change a thing. He spent most of his adult life writing this book, and man does it show.


message 22: by Len (new) - rated it 5 stars

Len Robertson Yes, and there are lessons for everyone in the series. Make the location believable. Even better make the local interesting. Make it a character in the story, either evil or good.


message 23: by Joel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joel Borden Asking how you would improve Tolkien is like asking how to improve the color blue. Some people might change the shade or tone, but they wouldn't actually improve it.


Renee E The first time I read them I read them one book a night. Good thing it was right after Christmas!

Tom Bombadil is a ringer for the Dagda, especially when you recognize the Celt and Norse mythologies that Tolkien took the bulk of his story from.

As for his attention to detail, I've always thought he was likely remarking on that, describing himself, in his short story, "Leaf by Niggle," which is, by the way, an absolutely charming story.


Craig It's probably just a cultural/social factor. We're just too impatient to get to the more dynamic aspect of the story and want instant gratification, the thunder and lightning, and Tolkien wrote at a time when people were better disciplined than we are in following a story. But if one can avoid that need for automatic stimuli, Tolkien's prose just by itself acts as an almost narcotic aesthetic.


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

Mark Tolkien comes from a time when the world had a far nicer pace. More fluent, go and read the recent YA this is wasted on your sensibilities, and that is your loss.


Craig Mark wrote: "Tolkien comes from a time when the world had a far nicer pace. More fluent, go and read the recent YA this is wasted on your sensibilities, and that is your loss."

Not sure about the "far nicer place" aspect. Tolkien was a soldier in W.W.I. There was nothing nice about trench warfare and many think Mordor was a representation of what Tolkien saw as a soldier.


message 28: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Craig you read to quickly: it said PACE!

Slow down.


message 29: by Craig (last edited Jul 12, 2014 08:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Craig I sit corrected. But civility is always appropriate and never wasted and it's unkind to pass judgment on others. Just a suggestion.


message 30: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Craig wrote: "I sit corrected. But civility is always appropriate and never wasted and it's unkind to pass judgment on others. Just a suggestion."

I would agree with you on the subject of civility but I get so tired about people that instead of enjoying books, art and such are basically bitching about that. From my kid can paint better, which is a stupid remark to Hating the Diary of Anne Frank because she is an attention seeker or it is not action packed. To people that want to rewrite books because they consider it not fluent enough.

It seems that the internet releases a large amount of crazies that occasionally makes my civility taking a flight.

If stuff is not your taste, fine, if you lack the comprehension of understanding art and literature say so. Do not tell people how pieces of art can be improved upon.

Just a suggestion.


message 31: by Craig (last edited Jul 12, 2014 09:28AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Craig Your suggestion is duly noted. But do you ever ask yourself why you are prone to annoyance from other people's negativity? It seems that they get under your skin and I would think you have better things to do with your time and energy than let other people's negativity arouse your own. Let people complain or criticize, just as you did above. You don't have to accept it or agree with it. But there's not much benefit in engaging it either, let alone letting it scramble your own peace of mind. And I'm saying this to myself as much as I'm saying it to you.


message 32: by Ron (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ron Scheer to be fair, I haven't read all of the above posts so if this is a repeat of someone else I apologize.

I don't think Tolkien is any harder to read than other classic writers. Far easier to understand than Shakespeare. Try reading works from Jules Verne. Journey to the center of the Earth isn't an edge of your seat thriller either, but its one fantastic story. I've heard that it took Tolkien 25 years to write lotr if that's true, i'll forgive him for being long winded.


Kevin Kearney Renee wrote: "The first time I read them I read them one book a night. Good thing it was right after Christmas!

Tom Bombadil is a ringer for the Dagda, especially when you recognize the Celt and Norse mythologi..."


Yep. I got LOTR for Christmas when I was a teen, and read all three books in the next 36 hours or so while parked at my grandparents house.


TheBohemianBookworm Jc wrote: "i may say JRRT is one of my best authors and i have the same problem, the story goes too slow. My opinion is his long descriptions, he want us to see another world. But you say is not his descripti..."

You've hit the nail on the head, His descriptions. Which sadly make them not as accessible for modern readers.


Renee E Perhaps the fault, dear Readers, is not in our books. But in ourselves, we are the under-focused.


Yvette The Dauntless Shadowhunter of District 9 and 3/4 wrote: "Mel wrote: "I have read LOTR at least a dozen times, and I admit that I skip the songs at least half the time."

lol! me too!"


Me too,apart from the first time I read LOTR, I also skip the songs. :-)


Craig "What would make this book more fluent?" High literacy skills. That's it, that's all.


Keith Craig wrote: ""What would make this book more fluent?" High literacy skills. That's it, that's all."

+1!


Renee E High literacy skills?

Maybe average? It's not that difficult. ;-)


Craig Renee wrote: "High literacy skills?

Maybe average? It's not that difficult. ;-)"


Apparently it is for many.


Jonathan There are some songs that go on for 3-4 pages and do absolutely nothing for the "plot". And, hobbits are the dullest sort imaginable, who will all day long say "if you take my meaning" and ho-hum about nothing at all, and Tolkien gives them plenty of page time. I'm not the sort who needs fast action but good grief is this series a slog. A modern edit might move a lot of lecturing to an appendix and stick to the story at hand.

In contrast, P.J. has done to The Hobbit what Tolkien did to LOTR--dragged it out 3x longer than it needed to be.


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