The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings #1
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Ebook, 480 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I went into this reading with more of an eye towards “does it live up to the its fanboy hew and cry and my memories of over a decade ago?”.
My first re-impression was how much like a history this was, as opposed to a modern/typical fantasy.
There are lots of songs, poems, characters declaiming whatever. I did not remember that.
History lessons kept interrupting the plot flow. You’d start down a rousing good path and then bam!, someone would start talking about something or somebody thousands of years ago that has a very tenuous connection to what is going on now. It might give greater depth to the world, but I felt like things like that could have been inserted a bit less jarringly.
Now, this book makes clear how much a wordsmith Tolkien was. Sentences, paragraphs, etc, flowed like water over stones. Tolkien used his words to great effect, in creating the underscored terror of the Nazghul, to the cheek and courage of the hobbits, to the weariness of Strider, to the overweening pride and lust of Boromir. What made Tolkien write those songs/poems mentioned above was what ennabled to him write these characters so that you BELIEVED they were real. You love them, you laughed at them, you groaned at them, you howled in outrage at them. But they were not cardboard and 2 dimensional.
Another aspect I liked was how Tolkien hints at a MUCH vaster history of the world but does not hint in such a way as to distract from the main plotline. And since I know about The Silmarillion, The Book of Lost Tales, Part One, The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two, and Christopher Tolkien, if I so choose, I can go exploring Middle Earth another time, albiet in a much drier way.
I also found myself wishing I had a dictionary handy [I read it on my Sony 505, which has no built in dictionary] as Tolkien used words that were either out of style or ‘english’ [as opposed to ‘american’]. I was able to figure most things out by context, but his writing is getting old enough, and he was a lover of old languages anyway, that a dictionary would be helpful.
Compared to The Hobbit, this was definitely not as whimsical, as childlike nor as happy go lucky.
This book is definitely 2-3 steps above maturity-wise. And that is a good thing. We the reader are dealing with a much greater plot of import than in the Hobbit, and so the tone is appropriate.
So, while it doesn’t live up to the ZOMG! hype, it lives up to my expectations as a serious, well written [most important in my book, hahahaa] fantasy story with defined lines of good and evil.