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

ISBN: 0618346252
ISBN 13: 9780618346257
By: J.R.R. Tolkien

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About this book

Frodo Baggins knew the Ringwraiths were searching for him - and the Ring of Power he bore that would enable Sauron to destroy all that was good in Middle-earth. Now it was up to Frodo and his faithful servant Sam to carry the Ring to where it could be detroyed - in the very center of Sauron's dark kingdom.

Reader's Thoughts

Keely

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 onesHis 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

Emily *Full-time Fangirl*

You know how they sayThat'sThe Fellowship of the Ring is proof of that! It takes the rule of show-don't-tell and flushes it down the toilet, because who would rather experience all the kick-ass action scenes themselves when they could just hear someone discussing them over dinner tables like they were discussing rice vs. potatoes? Pffft, no one ofc.... Right?I mean, who likes action anyway. Why don't we just drop all the action in general and add pages of pages of scenery descriptions instead?Hearing about the gorgeous colors of the trees is so much more fun than hearing about how PEOPLE ALMOST GET KILLED BY HORRIBLE CREATURES OF EVIL TRYING TO DESTROY THE WORLD AND RUIN ALL THINGS GOOD!I'd say go watch the movie.

Chris

Do you have an old, worn piece of clothing? Perhaps that sweat shirt that you can’t wear anywhere except to bed or walking your dog? Perhaps it is an old blanket, a pair of shoes, maybe it’s a stuff animal. Regardless of what it is, every time you touch it or smell it, you feel peace, warmth, or perhaps, even home.Know what I’m talking about? Good, that’s how The Lord of the Rings feels to me. I don’t how many times I’ve read the trilogy itself, let alone each book. I do know that I had to buy another edition after I wore out my first. (Technically, if you count my borrowing my mother’s copies when I was kid, I’ve had three editions). To me the whole story is like that worn out piece of clothing.The Lord of the Rings starts with this book The Fellowship of the Ring. Even today, after I must have read the series at least twenty times, I opened the book, and I’m there. I’m in Middle Earth with Frodo and crew.This is strange because I know, on an intellectual level, that LOTR is not a perfect book or series. In fact, all the flaws are on heavy display in this first part. It’s true, that the story does meander. That the pacing at times is slow. It is also true that Terry Pratchett is correct when he says if you believe the LOTR is the best written book ever, you haven’t read enough (I’m paraphrasing that).And yet, it is one of three works I return to year after year.Because it is the THE LORD OF THE RINGS!At the very least, if you like fantasy literature, you should attempt to read this. Regardless of how one feels about Tolkien’s style, he is highly influential in fantasy literature. Some writers, such as Brooks and McKiernan, have “ripped off” the series. Other writers, such as Tad Williams and Marion Zimmer Bradley, have written in reaction to him.But influence doesn’t explain entirely the attraction of this work. And this is supposed to be a review of The Fellowship of the Ring, so I best start (and finish at this point) with it.The Fellowship sets the stage and is told in two parts. The first part of the book deals with the flight of Frodo and his friends to Rivendell. The second tells the story of the Nine Walkers as they set out to destroy the one Ring, a device of evil, a power that corrupts. The destruction of the Ring will stop the Dark Lord (No, not Voldemort. This is where Rowling got the idea), and save the land of Middle EarthThe heart of the story, the bulk of this book, is the friendship and courage of the Hobbits. It is the Hobbits that in many ways allow the reader access to the story. There is a very simple reason why.Hobbits are normal. True, they are normal in a big hairy feet kind of a way, but they are far closer to those of us in the real world then elves, dwarfs, wizards, or even, the men that inhabit Middle Earth.It is from Tolkien that most fantasy derives its treatment of elves. In The Fellowship the reader is introduced to a great many elves (most of who seem to have names starting with the later G). The reader is told a great many things about elves, like the fact that they can run on top of snow and have good eyesight, as well as living forever. Dwarves too have they strangeness, being long lived and short. Even the men, such as Strider and Boromir are different. Boromir is far closer to your everyday human than Strider, who lives long and has a rather interesting family tree. But even Boromir isn’t quite real.The Hobbits, despite their age and hairy feet, are. Frodo, Merry, Pippin, and Samwise are all templates of people the reader might know. I watched Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood at an extremely young age. Therefore, any being that uses a bow is the most awesome creature ever. I like elves. I could marry Legolas, even in his Orlando Bloom incarnation. Yet, I identify more with the Hobbits because they are not warriors. Because, outside of Frodo, they go on the quest for friendship. Not for glory or because the quest is the right thing to do, but because the quest is the right thing to do because of their friendship with Frodo. That is something wonderful. Too often in modern novels the quest is undertaken for an encompassing reason, a save the earth reason. And this is true of everyone who takes it up (outside of the odd twit who goes to get the guy to notice her), but Sam, Merry, and Pippin do it out of loyalty. A friend is in trouble and they want to help. It is this desire, this trait that makes people human. It is one of our most basic instincts, and it is not a bad one.The Hobbits are also attractive because they are little people in a big world and who doesn’t feel like that sometimes? Unlike The Hobbit, the superior tone of the narrator is not present. The Hobbits could quite easily be overwhelmed by what they encounter, but they are not. They plug away and keep going. There is something human about that. Not a Cunclucian against the waves type of feel, but a life feeling that one does get from the other characters. They are the everyday people in the quest. The everyday solider in the war.It is also important to remember that The Fellowship is in the tradition of a saga. While The Hobbit seems to be designed to be read aloud, LOTR seems to beg to be told over a fire with a tankard of ale in hand. The style resembles that of the Old Norse sagas and tales that Tolkien draws upon. There is no large of amount of hand wringing, or deep discussions of feelings. It is a quest, and it reads like one. While it is not necessary to have read these old sagas before starting The Fellowship, it does help, at least for older readers, to keep in mind this influence. Like the Old Norse legends, Tolkien seems to be dealing with the concept of Raganork. While the quest is one to save Middle Earth, it is also a quest with a coast. As the reader reads the book, sentences appear about how so and so will never be in X again. There is the leave taking of the elves. The idea seems not only to be the coming of the Age of Men, but also the presentation of a quieter, gentler end of the world. In some ways, The Fellowship prepares the reader for death in all its raiment’s.Despite this fading, the world seems real. Not only do the Hobbits, Strider, and Gimli believe in their world, but so does Tolkien, and he paints it so that the reader sees it as well. It is true that the beginning of The Fellowship is little more than a description of Hobbits, but after this, Tolkien world builds and does it extremely well. There are references that the characters know, but the reader doesn’t. Yet, this is done in such a way that the reader doesn’t feel stupid or left out. It is done as it would occur in reality. There is much to be said for this level of description. It’s more than Tolkien’s world building. In parts of the book there are wonderful sentences that convey want, loss, truth, and love – all in one sentence. Not only that, but in a sentence that works wonderfully well, that doesn’t bang itself over the head of the reader.It’s also true that in this book, there are not many women. In fact, there are two. And one of them doesn’t say anything. But the one who does. Galadriel rocks! And she has more than one of those wonderful sentences.The overwhelming theme of The Fellowship is, in fact, Fellowship. At the heart of this book is a wonderful portrait of friendship and sacrifice that moves the reader. It is a rebuke against the idea of a man or a people as an island.Amended 12/7/12 - Butterburr is the best barkeep!

Helen

A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: I have the greatest respect for J R.R. Tolkien. He is a legend to all authors – Adult, YA, Middle Grade or otherwise. He stepped out of the box and filled blank pages with true imagination. The imagination and devoted research, and sheer, obsessive attention to detail put into this book, he has made Middle-Earth a world as complex and enormous as our own. Just saying.So, this might be the toughest review I have written up-to-date. So, I’d better start at the very beginning, when I first read the first part in the Lord of the Rings.I started this series in the hope to be influenced like so many other readers. To be taken away on the fantastical world of Middle-Earth. I honestly wanted to love it. What happened after the first 4 chapters? I fell asleep. Never had I been so board that I’ve actually fallen asleep. Then I skipped the last 200 or-so pages.THE END.That was my first try at LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring. I didn’t rate it nor review it. I berried it deep from my memory and I never spoke about it ever again. But, later in my life, my life will once again intertwine with LOTR…My sister, for a thoughtful gift, gave me the whole trilogy, thinking that I’ve never read it and that I’m “missing out.” I wasn’t going to read it, but some of my friends encouraged me by saying stuff like, “it will be better” or “you might like it this time” or “if you get board; think about Orlando and Viggo.” (The last subjection actually helped a lot.)So now, here I am, after reading it once again, trying to say my feelings in the nicest way possible. • First off, I need to get this of my chest. Frodo; fall into Mount Doom you stupid Marie-Sue. There. I said it. And it felt GOOD.• Sam; you still rock.• It was so heavy and slow that it hurt me. • Don’t take this the wrong way, I love description. It is a beautiful thing in writing, to see threw the authors eyes and see, smell, hear, touch his/her world. But to go down as to describe every leaf, stick and pebble as to give me headaches? • The characters (except Sam) didn’t feel real. They didn’t jump off the page. Yes, we learn about their past but none of them have an individual voice. They all sounded like the same person. Despite all these defaults, I loved the world of Middle-Earth. It’s colour, it’s history, is very entertaining and beautifully crafted.(By the way, I love the new movie-covers. They are simply divine.)

Bryce

I consider the Lord of the Rings trilogy the best fantasy, and perhaps the best fiction, ever written. Middle Earth is a beautiful, rich, complete land to which Narnia pales by comparison (don't get me wrong, I very much like Narnia, too).The beginning of the quest, which starts innocently but dives into a much larger, darker world than its protagonist, Frodo Baggins, could have ever imagined, is absolutely spellbinding. A small portion of the near-infinite background is revealed and armed with a shallow knowledge of the lore of the One Ring, Frodo embarks on a mission deeper and more dangerous and impactful than he could ever possibly have fathomed.The depth and beauty of Tolkien's work stems from his obsession with language and how world events impact its evolution. To create this book and its wealth, Tolkien developed 14 complete languages, all of which can be learned and spoken, written, and read. He created the lore and legend that each population clung to for their heritage. The relationships, distrusts, friendships, and animosities between the races stem from ancient and powerful roots. The detail of the world before the series lends it a believability that is virtually unparalleled even in many nonfiction works.I've read this series 4 or 5 times, which is something I have not done with any other work, aside from formative Christian religious texts. No one book is complete without the other two, so I consider them all to be the same book, divided into several parts--so as to allow for the faint of heart to enter Middle Earth in safer, smaller pieces.

midnightfaerie

Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien was so much more enchanting then I remember. It just goes to show how much our tastes can change along with how we view the world can alter as we get older. I really didn't like any of these books when I was a kid, but it was fantastic. I couldn't wait to finish it so I could watch the movie again, which I hadn't seen in years. I was impressed by how closely the movie followed this book, beside the leaving out of Tom Bombadil. The elves and Galadriel are still my favorite characters, there's just something about the way they hold themselves and how they perceive the world that's captivating. Not to mention their awesome magical abilities. I'm so glad I decided to read these again. Not only am I viewing them in an entirely different light, but I never knew/remembered how much poetry/prose/lyrics/whatever you want to call it is in this book! I'm so saddened when I hear that people skip over that stuff just so they can get to the "good" parts, never realizing much of it is, in fact, the "good stuff". It tells the history of the land, it helps us understand the characters and their motives better, and it's just really beautiful. It really adds to the story for me. I absolutely love it. The book wouldn't be half as good without it. Reading these books again also allows me to better understand fantasy book reviews, since a good 90% of them are compared to Lord of the Rings. Tokien has yet to fail at bringing me under his spell. With every battle, with every song, and with every scenery description, his loquaciousness pulls me in. I also challenge anyone to find a reason this can't be a classic. Besides the massive following, it is without a doubt, the cornerstone of its genre. Like I mentioned earlier, very few fantasy novels aren't compared to this trilogy at one time or another. It has the magic factor, longevity, and underlying themes. It has an original concept - the first story like this of it's kind. And it's had substantial influence in its genre for decades. It can't not be considered a classic. ClassicsDefined.com

Fred D

What can I say about The Lord of the Rings? I could go on and on forever. It is my #1 favorite book of fiction of all that I've ever read in my entire life. I am going to review each book separately, but much of what I have to say here applies to all 3 of the books. LOTR is so incredibly EPIC! The scope of the story expands as it progresses to enormous proportions. Tolkien uses a very sophisticated "old" style of writing which at first I found intimidating but eventually I got used to and which now I find very beautiful and poetic. His descriptions of the people, places, cultures, languages, history, and events of Middle Earth are just so incredibly rich and detailed, it is fascinating to me to learn about them as I read. I find the characters to be very interesting, to the point where I have grown to deeply love them and sympathize with them. LOTR addresses all sorts of universal themes and concepts that teach us his view of the human condition. It explores friendship, loyalty, bravery, greed, faith, and many more. Indeed, I consider LOTR to be the closest thing I've ever read to my concept of the "ultimate" or "ideal story". I have read LOTR multiple times and I imagine I'll read it many more times. I first read it in college for an English class. I had wanted to read it for years prior to that but I was intimidated by it so I didn't until college.I admit LOTR has its flaws. There are spots where the story drags, such as the many pages where he describes the characters marching endless miles through forests or swamps or mountains without much happening. Sometimes I wonder, "why is he talking about this? Why doesn't he just jump ahead to the good stuff?". One can argue that he introduces too many characters and that some of them are not developed enough. Some would say some of the characters are too 2-dimentional, and that everything is too black and white from a moral standpoint. I admit those shortcomings, but in the end none of them matter much to me. In spite of all those imperfections, the book is still a work of genius that is unmatched by anything else I've ever read. The story is so big and powerful it just blows me away and leaves me in awe.Fellowship is perhaps my second-favorite of the 3 books, after Return of the King. I absolutely love the first few chapters. You learn so much about the history of the Ring and of Middle-Earth. The Ring is shrouded in mystery at first and as the mysteries are revealed, the terrible state things are in is realized. A really cool ominous feeling of foreboding sets in that grabs you and pulls you in so that you have to keep reading. The meeting with Strider in Bree, the encounter with the Ringwraiths at Weathertop, the Council of Elrond, and the encounter with the Balrog in Moria are some of the most dramatic, exciting events of the whole series. The only complaints I have with Fellowship is that it suffers the most of all 3 books from what I described earlier: there are definitely a few slow parts where the pace of the story really drags. Fellowship is one of the ultimate Road Trip Stories, much like Star Wars: a New Hope, or Wizard of Oz. One or two characters start out on a journey, and they meet people along the way who join them. Along the way they become close devoted friends as they go through adventures together.

Inés Izal

No se puede decir nada malo sobre este libro, las mismas estrellas de Goodreads lo demuestran. Pero yo tengo una queja.En el Concilio de Elrond, cuando se decide qué hacer con el anillo y a donde hay que ir para destruirlo, Frodo se ofrece voluntario para esa peligrosa misión, y poco después se suman 8 compañeros más con una ilusión tremenda de ir.¿Hola? ¿Estamos tontos? ¡Es un puñetero viaje hacia la muerte!Yo me haría la sordomuda, y huiría haciendo la croqueta, ¡o lo que fuese para evitar ese viaje suicida! Si ya lo dice Gimli en este gif: Certeza de muerte.Y los demás, poco les faltó para matarse entre ellos por ser los primeros en poner el pie en su tumba.Me los imaginaba en plan felices diciendo: ¡Que vamos a palmarla! ¡Bailemos para celebrarlo!Quitando esta tontería, el libro es una pasada. Ese hombre tuvo una imaginación tremenda para crear un mundo tan magnífico.

Kerstin

When we're talking about novels that for some reason happen to be overshadowed by their big-screen movie adaptations (granted, not many exist), then The Lord Of The Rings belongs into that category. I know that the Tolkien-purists might crucify me for saying this, but I'm saying it nonetheless. For me, watching these movies usually equals an exercise of little to medium effort; reading the book, I often found myself on the verge of frustration. And I'm not one with an attention span of a grapefruit. My problem is this - the text is too heavily loaded with superfluous exposition and details. I kept losing track of the new names and places that popped up on every fifth page or so. Alright, I get that we're dealing with a genius who's created a fictional universe intricate enough (and I bow down - the languages sound exquisite) to require its own encyclopedia, but for heaven's sake... crafting a story shouldn't be about how much background and side info can be shoved into it. Just because you have it, doesn't mean you have to flaunt it. Sometimes less is more approach works better. Offers the reader a bit of breathing room.The writing style is too dry. If we take the Harry Potter series for comparison (I'm aware that it's a crime to do that, but I'm doing it anyway), the fantasy world in there is lush and bubbling. And don't tell me that's because the Harry Potter books are children's books and The Lord Of The Rings isn't. It has Hobbits and Elves in it. And chattering trees.The characters in The Lord Of The Rings have always confused me somewhat. Nearly all of the primary archetypes are represented, but they don't seem to have that larger-than-life aura that many other characters have in other epic sagas. It is almost as if the weight of the Middle Earth suffocates them. They leave a lasting impression, yet don't seem to be very relatable. Boromir, the humanized knight, dies before I can really start to care about what he was going through. Aragorn's heroics remain too distant, and I can't quite identify with Frodo or Sam either, wonderful as they certainly are.I realize that my thoughts manifest themselves in more of a rant than an actual review, but if I could sum up how I feel about The Lord Of The Rings (at least the written version) - then this would be it. I struggle to reach a level on which I am able to thoroughly and comfortably enjoy this grand old battle between good and evil.Maybe it is my fault and I should try harder. Or maybe we're just not meant to love each and every classic. My boyfriend loves it though. He loves the whole trilogy. They are his favourite books. It takes him five years to read them, and he's a bank employee.

Doc Opp

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.

adam

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.

Nikki

Yes, again. As with The Hobbit, just for fun this time. Just for the pure pleasure of watching Tolkien's world unfold before me. I know a lot of people hate various episodes in the book -- most often Tom Bombadil -- but I can't help but love it. It's Tolkien changing the mode of his story, bringing in glimpses of the history of his world, giving us a sense of all the strange and wonderful things that he can't show us in the space of the books. Who is Goldberry, really? Who is Tom? And why are they?Over Christmas, my sister asked me and my mother where we suggested she started reading LotR, bearing in mind that she'd tried before and found it boring. We eventually settled on starting her at the Prancing Pony -- after Tolkien's shift has already been achieved. But if you have the patience, gentle reader, don't do that. Tolkien can be hard going in places, but I'm pretty sure he didn't do anything unnecessary at all.(Which is what people who have tried to copy him ever since often get wrong. They don't create a world for the sake of creating a world, like Tolkien did; they don't write a story to take you through parts of that world. They create a world for the sake of the story, then heap details on it to get the depth that Tolkien didn't have to try for; they write the world to take you through the story. Some people do that well, of course, but it's always best when they're not trying to imitate Tolkien.)

Caris

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’ve never seen the movies. I’m not willing to say anything bad about them. Sure, I tried watching the first one (twice), but fell asleep almost immediately. After I’ve finished reading the series, I’ll probably try the movies again. Because, let’s face it, you can never have enough walking.Now, while I haven’t seen The Fellowship of the Ring, I have seen The Breakfast Club. And, so far as I can tell, it’s the same story.We’ve got Frodo, he’s our Andrew. He’s going places. He’s got plans. And then there’s Boromir, AKA Bender. He’s a bit of a hardass, but it’s all an act.And we can’t forget the love interests, can we? We’ve got the confused, mysterious Allison played here by the lovable Sam. And the heroine of our tale, the gal all the boys are going to lose their heads over, the Ben Harrison of this group: Aragorn (Claire). There are some other characters (Sauron/Principal Vernon immediately comes to mind), but, for the point of this analogy, they’re irrelevant.We’ve got this group, which, really, consists of two couples (no one gives a shit about Brian/Pippin). We watch them as they grow to love one another over the course of this long Saturday. Our hearts get invested pretty quickly and we are ensnared in their relationship. Are Frodo and Allison going to hold hands as they walk? Are Bender and Aragorn going to sneak off to the bushes?It holds you, doesn’t it?*SPOILER*But here’s the proverbial shit on the shoe: this particular adaptation includes the sequel. The group gets cleaved. Boromir gets fucked (and not by Aragorn), leaving his beloved to wander through the wild after the geek. Sam and Frodo head down a likely doomed path toward a crack of doom in an effort to destroy the ring, a symbol of their relationship. Nothing lasts forever. Not middle earth. Not a chance happening between two hobbits. Boromir’s arrow riddled body is a testament to that fact.So what are we left with? Where do we go from here?Dunno. The sequel has a sequel. Will Andrew and Sam survive the crack of doom? Will Sauron catch them in the hall without a pass?*/SPOILER*TO BE CONTINUED…

Anders

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. In 1990 British actor Rob Inglis read/performed an unabridged version. While not strictly a dramatisation, Inglis created voices for all of the characters.I think Inglis did a really good job making the book come to life. I could do without the singing, but his talking voice is soothing and pleasant to listen to, which fits perfectly with Lord of the Rings. If you are considering reading LOTR via audio, I highly recommend this version. I won't do a full review of the novel here, other than to say that it is an all time classic, that hasn't aged at all. Anyone interested in Science Fiction and Fantasy should read it, or at the very least see the movies based on it.

Randy

Hate this cover art, hate the movies (PJ turned them into horror rather than moralistic epic fantasy), but this is my favorite series. I am currently telling everyone I have read them 11 times, but I am quite certain it is more, I just don't know how many more. Whenever I just feel really worn out and almost sick . . . I recoup my energies by being inspired again by Tolkien . . . usually every 2 or 3 years. These books have been a powerful influence in my life -- it so much easier to read a modern fantasy roller coaster adrenalin rush sugar high, "inject it right into the bloodstream, please" -- but Tolkien is a deep river. Please read this first major success in the fantasy genre, just don't expect Harry Potter, okay?

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