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

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.

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.

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.

Joyzi

How can I not give this 5 stars? How can I not? It was really amazing and this book really defines what epic fantasy is! It was just great, the world (Middle earth), the characters (especially the hobbits) and the story itself. I have been a fan of the movie since I was in High School and I didn't even watch the Fellowship of the Rings first because I started with The Two Towers movie and then Return of the King and then The Fellowship (I sometimes watch movies this way). And even if a lot of my friends back then are hardcore Harry Potter movie fans (and I am also a hardcore HP fan) I always answer when ask what my favorite movie is, it's always Lord of the Rings (still it's my favorite movie I think). So, my love for Lord of the Rings was already there when I started reading this one. I didn't have the chance to read it before because the copy in our school library was really thick and heavy. I also can't find an e-book copy online but thanks to one of my friend here in goodreads I've got the chance to finally read it. I must say if you're really into fantasy you've got to read this. This has been the greatest fantasy book ever written and it has inspired J. K. Rowling, George Martin and a lot of authors and it is also the inspiration to a lot of computer games like Warcraft. So yeah read it if you have the time.The book was a little bit boring at first but once the characters were on Rivendell the pace will pick up. I also find the book better than the movie because I think Aragorn is more interesting in the book than in the movie. The story about the origin of the ring and the other rings are much clearly told. And a lot of the other parts that are missed out in the movie you can read in the book. My only complaint about the book is that it has a lot of song lyrics like I think for every chapter the hobbits or the elves will sing and it was just blah and then I skimmed reading those parts :). But, overall it's a great read can be a little bit purple prosey but it's tolerable and uhmm I just can't wait to read the next one.

FlibBityFLooB

I suppose what I am about to type will be considered sacrilegious to some reading this review. However, I always believe in honesty in reviews, so here goes anyway :)As much as I love the story, I have to say that I liked the movie better than the book. *gasp* There’s the blasphemy for you. Hehehehe. There was just so much singing in the book. I wish I could have skimmed the singing passages, but I was listening to the audiobook which made skipping the songs difficult. Maybe I was clouded in my judgement by the audiobook narrator’s singing talent, but I grew very tired of it early on in the book. And yet, it continued… and continued… and continued.The LOTR movies that came out in the early part of the 21st century are some of my favorite movies. I was amazed by the cinematography, the story, the acting, and the music. The movies were something my husband and I could both enjoy together, and we have watched the movies numerous times over the last several years. Other than reading part of THE HOBBIT when I was a kid, I had never gotten around to reading the LOTR trilogy.After listening to my husband wax poetic about how much he loved to read the Lord of the Rings growing up, I made a decision that I wanted to read the books to see for myself how they compared to the movies. Now that I’ve read the first book, I understand some of the characters my husband said were missing from the movies (such as Tom Bombadil). In regards to singing, Bombadil is definitely one of the main culprits! I kind of see why they chose to cut him out of the movie. I mean, the movie was already going to be really long anyway, so it seemed like a logical cut to me. I definitely love the world that Tolkien built. I didn’t hate the book. I just found it to be a bit long-winded at times. SCANDAL! I know, I know. LOTR is a classic. I found myself saying things like: “Stop singing, Gimli and get on with the action!!!!”. As much as I love the plot, I shouldn’t be belittling the book’s prose. But, I can’t be the only one who feels that way. Well, maybe I am. I don’t care. :PI still plan to continue the trilogy in book form. I have a feeling there will be less singing in the next book, but I could be fooled. I almost expect the guards of Mordor to break out into song. EEK! That’s an image that might have me giggling in RETURN OF THE KING. Tap dancing/singing guards in a giant orc chorus-line. I need therapy… or more sleep.I suppose I now understand what compelled someone to make a musical version of LOTR. I had always wondered the motivation behind the musical in the UK, but they likely are trying to capture the spirit of the songs in the books.

Ashley

It took me three tries to read The Lord of the Rings the first time through. I tried once after finishing The Hobbit my freshman year of high school, and I tried again a couple of months later. I kept getting stuck at Tom Bombadil, and the immense amount of detail thrown into the text overwhelmed me. I tried again a third time when Elijah Wood's face called out to me from a shelf on the library. The movie was coming out, I'd seen that epic trilogy teaser, and it was time to finally conquer the thing. (Sidenote: Watching that trailer again for the first time in years put goosebumps over my entire body, and I remembered exactly where I was and who I was with the first time I saw it.) I finally made it past Bombadil, and once I was in Bree and there was Strider, I was done for. That was it. I was in love for life. The strangest thing about these books is that the first time you read them, it's very difficult. There's names and histories and songs and Tolkien just throws them out there with no explanation. You get the impression that there's this vast world you'll never be able to grasp. But upon re-read, everything is clearer, and the more I re-read them, the more I understand his world. It's like how when you've never been to a place before and it seems to take forever to get there, and everything is unfamiliar, but then every time you return to that place, time moves faster, you recognize your surroundings. That's what it's like to read Tolkien. It feels real and physical, like the geography of Middle Earth is just there, waiting for you. There's a real sense of history to Tolkien's famously intricate and old-fashioned prose that gives the trilogy a sense of maturity that is missing from almost all fantasy published since. Tolkien's Middle Earth is a real place, where joy is touched by constant sadness, and nothing lasts forever. The Lord of the Rings is as much elegy as it is celebration. The book itself mourns for the passing of an age, but we as its readers are simply sad that it never actually existed in the first place. But perhaps Peter S. Beagle said it best, in his introduction to the book in 1973:"For in the end it is Middle-Earth and its dwellers that we love, not Tolkien's considerable gifts in showing it to us. I said once that the world he charts was there long before him, and I still believe it. He is a great enough magician to tap our most common nightmares, daydreams and twilight fancies, but he never invented them either: he found them a place to live, a green alternative to each day's madness here in a poisoned world. We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers - thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams."[First read, September 2001]

Nikki

I've been meaning to reread Lord of the Rings for a while -- partly due to Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Le Guin, partly due to my own studies, and partly because I want to read it, Jacqueline Carey's retelling, and Kirill Yeskov's book side by side to see the different ways the three of them build their worlds and their knowledge (or lack thereof) of mythologies. And then I had the wild idea, curled up in bed with The Fellowship of the Ring and the remnants of my flu, to try reading the whole book (i.e. what is erroneously called the trilogy) in twenty-four hours.Spoiler: I managed it, even with an awful lot of unintentional sleeping.I don't know that I got any revelations out of doing this, except that I really do enjoy Tolkien's writing. It is true, though, that every time I read Tolkien I get something new/different/extra out of it. I enjoyed every scrap of this, forcing myself to be patient even with the bits that seem like Tolkien was indulging himself -- I know people often skip the Tom Bombadil part, for example, but it really is important to the world and mythology he's building.In the case of The Fellowship of the Ring, I found it the slowest of the three volumes, this time, and actually I do believe it's the longest. Still, it's wonderful to watch the way Tolkien shifts tone: The Hobbit and this work smoothly together if put side-by-side in chronological order, but can you imagine the narration and voice of The Hobbit coming after Lord of the Rings? What a hideous mismatch that'd be. I'm interested to see what The Hobbit film does with this, though I suspect it won't be executed with Tolkien's care -- I'm sure the tone will match, but I don't think film can go about it in nearly the same way.Still have a massive fictional character crush on Aragorn, surpassed only by my crushes on Faramir and Eowyn...

Julie

This is one of my favorite books ever, so I used it to cleanse myself after the debacle that was Eat, Pray, Love. And now I can review it.There are many praiseful things I can say about this book, but I'll try to keep it short. One of the sharpest things about this first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy is its ability to create terror and suspense without actually introducing us to the enemy, Sauron (or even Saruman, his wizard henchman, for more than a few pages at least). The evil that the fellowship fights is instead manifested through the feelings and experiences of our nine companions, and is perhaps more frightening than any graphic movie or novel. Tolkien takes this story beyond a simple good vs. evil tale most explicitly in this first book - we see evil that is older and markedly different than that of Sauron (barrow wights, for instance) and meet characters that don't fall sway to the power of the Ring (Tom Bombadil). We're given the perspective that, while this battle for Middle Earth is fundamentally important, that no matter what, the world will go on.And while we are introduced to a world so totally different from our own, we feel the parallels and lessons offered by Tolkien acutely. His ability to balance familiarity and epic so effortlessly will always blow me away.

Jonathan Cullen

A review of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, by SauronHello. You may remember me as the title character of the Lord of Rings. I go by a lot of names: Dark Lord of Mordor, Sorcerer, Red Eye, Dark Power, Lord of Barad-dûr, Ring-maker and Base Master of Treachery (I use that one in my band). I actually object to Tolkien's chosen name of Sauron, which I understand originates from an adjective that means "foul, putrid" in his crappy invented language. What can I say, the showers in Mordor are sketchy at best. On weekends, my poker buddies call me Sauron the Destroyer of Nacho Platters. Because Tolkien intentionally failed to give a proper description of me in his books, allow me to give you an idea. I have a bit of a dark look. My quest for world domination having been thwarted, I watch a lot of TV these days. My body is roughly equivalent to the "The Situation" on Jersey Shore. Oh, no I don't watch that, but the Witch-king of Angmar is obsessed. He won't shut up about Snowcone or some bimbo on that show. I'm missing a finger, which while preventing me from raining down carnage on Middle Earth, allows me to collect decent EI. Plus the best lawyer in Mordor got me covered under the dismemberment clause on my insurance, so I'm riding the double dip gravy train. Much has been written about my terrible Lidless Red Eye, blah blah blah. It freaked out that little twat Frodo pretty good. I'll have you know that conjunctivitis is no laughing matter. Having to keep it open 24/7 to look for hoodlums skulking around Mordor is murder on my hydration. The Nazgul have enough lift and aim to get up there to toss a bucket of Visine at it, but it's just temporary relief. Regardless, I'm still more of a looker than your precious King Elessar or Aragorn or whatever he's calling himself these days. He's never met a brooding look he didn't like. Buy a razor. Get a real job.Someone sent me Peter Jackson's movies in the mail. The package had no return address but it was postmarked "Hobbiton", where ever the hell that is. As I watch these movies over and over (I never even finished the books) I was reminded of all my mistakes...Perhaps a ring was not a good choice. Some buddies have suggested that maybe I shouldn't have tied all of my terrible powers to something as easy to misplace as the One Ring. In retrospect, I should have forged The One Gas Station Bathroom Key Chain of Power. It would have been a lot harder to tief. I even could have pimped it out by making it from an Ent branch or Saruman's foot, for all the good that old fart did me. Maybe a ring would have been just fine if it had been a toe ring. Then it wouldn't glow in the dark like a target for every freaking Man on the battlefield. I heard that the guy who beat me was named "Isildur"!!?? WTF. Maybe I could have worn tougher gloves, I don't know. Perhaps the door to the Fires of Mount Doom should have had a better lock. ADT could have hooked me up with motion detectors but I hear that even cats can set those off. They claim they can calibrate them but I'm not so sure. The Uruk-hai are always jumping up on the table, so they would set it off for sure. Maybe just the alarm that goes off if something hits the lava, like pool alarms for kid. Although I guess it would have been too late by then. "My preccciioouussss!". Learn some balance a-hole.Frodo. That little prick. I'd rather not discuss how my quest for utter dominion was defeated by something I could poop out unnoticed.I'm getting off track. I'm supposed to discuss the events of the first book, the Fellowship of the Ring. Good times! I was on a comeback! Then the withered up senior citizen Gandalf had to go to the library and do a little research and figure out that my Ring was not some cracker jack prize. My Ringwraiths tried to track down the Ring but apparently taking it away from children was too difficult. If I had put the Nazgûl on fell beasts rather than bloody horses from the start I might have tracked down Frodo (prick) and his three buddies in the bloody woods. Don't horses have a good sense of smell!? Anyways, the fell beasts would have at least avoided drowning in a river. Sweet Mary. Then those Elves suggest a damn "fellowship". Could you have come up with a lamer group name?? Why not call it the "Loose Association of People Who Share Common Beliefs or Activities…of the Ring". That Balrog almost did me the biggest favour, he was always one of my peeps. "You shall not pass!!" What a line Gandy! How cow. I heard that one took like 15 takes because Pippin kept making everyone laugh by adding in the word "gas". Fool of a Took!Anyways, by the end of the Fellowship of the Ring, I still had a fighting chance. Great book. Anyways, The Two Towers won't be as fun to review. Sh*t hits the fan. (A note from Sauron's agent: full credit for the idea of this review goes to Kemper and his awesome review of Drood)

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.

Lifeworld

Seems people either love or hate this. (I'm talking about LOTR as a whole.)My humble opinion: don't read this as fantasy. Read this as myth in a book.LOTR comes with an incredible sense of history in an incredible world, lovingly detailed. It is basically mythology - and even has a creation myth (Silmarillion). If you focus too much on the plot or the characters you lose that. Forget about your usual contemporary sci-fi/fantasy fare. Forget about suspense and mystery and excitement and just concentrate on the pure beauty of the world and the writing. You will find that whatever your opinions on the 2 elements of character & plot are, they do not detract from the deep poignancy that permeates the trilogy.I love the wonderful textures of LOTR and the sensitivity to language. There is nothing pretentious about LOTR, and I certainly don't read it because of Tolkien's historical significance (in fact, I learnt about all that after I read LOTR and decided to find out more about the author). LOTR is heroically beautiful and heart-breakingly majestic. To me, reading it feels a lot like listening to classical music and this might sound strange, but this lengthy epic is actually one of the saddest books I've ever read.

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

Linda

(Update: Want to read the complete review? Visit the article in Counterpunch!)I'll admit this: the only reason why I read the LOTR Trilogy was because I was jealous. The year: 1972. It was a time of ridiculously insane fashion: hot pants, maxi-coats (and pads) and rough-woven cotton shirts, so scratchy they felt like the sartorial equivalent of surgical gauze with chunks of wood stuck between the weave. It was not for the faint-hearted.And of course, who was the most faint-hearted? Me. I was entering a new high school in a new town in a country I hadn't live in since I was eight. And since I didn't fit in (or so I thought) I was desperate for a new identity. Since my sister had squatter's rights on the cute/adorable/PYT persona, I was left with the one that I later discovered would make high school life a living hell: The Smart One.The only problem was, I wasn't that smart. Sure, I could work in references to Betty Friedan with only the vaguest notion about who she was, but when you're surrounded with a peer group who thinks the face of feminism is Marlo Thomas, it was easy, except for the one person who was the true intellectual: Colleen. Colleen represented everything I wasn't: a polite, wise-beyond-her-years semi-adolescent with perfect skin and hair, who sported a near genius-level intellect. Think of an Asian Susan Dey with actual musical talent and the potential to enter Berkeley at fifteen. And it didn't help to have a mother whose daily mantra was "why can't you be like Colleen?"So I was in love/hate over Colleen. If Colleen wore culottes, I wore culottes, only mine were eight sizes larger. If Colleen cut her bangs, so did I. The problem was, she had straight Japanese hair that tumbled dutifully back into place whenever she tossed her sylph-like neck. Me? Picture the hair of a young, chubby and half-Japanese Phyllis Diller but without the wigline.But the one thing that stood out most about Colleen was her and her equally intellectually superior friends' obsession with LOTR. She told me stories of their endless discussions of Middle Earth, Gandolf and the rest of the lot. Images of Colleen and her friends, looking semi-elvish, slipping from class to class, dodging dull students, dogged me in English class. They were ninth-grade gods. It wasn't until Colleen told me they left an inside joke about their instructor on the blackboard in *Elvish* in one of their gifted classes that I decided to take action: I got on my bike, went to the local K-Mart and bought the Trilogy. I started out strong: the hobbits I was comfortable with. Then came the Elves. Then the dwarfs, the Orcs, the whatevers. After the parade of names like Bombadil, Elendil, Everclear, I had the horrible realization that I was hopelessly lost. And it wasn't going to be easy to find my way back.But I was undeterred. I sloughed my way through Fellowship, then Two Towers and Return. I played little tricks to keep me interested: pretending I was one of the plucky hobbits, fantasizing myself as an Elven goddess--anything to keep me reading. It must have worked because I finished the damned set. But my plan didn't work. I was still me: I couldn't muster witticisms about Boromir to clueless classmates. I was still plump and my hair was as unruly as ever. Worse, my mother not only kept comparing me to Colleen, she started pulling out photos to illustrate her point. I shoved the books on the top shelf and tried not to think about being a Smart Kid ever again.But it was too late. I knew enough to be dangerous. I realized that even if I didn't like the books, I was familiar enough to make knowing comments about them to the right (i.e., AP-bound) clique. So I was accepted. Kinda.I still have the books. They're still sitting on my bookshelf, surviving countless moves and weedings. Still can't remember who Arwen is, though.

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

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.

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