Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Fellowship Of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring
J.R.R. Tolkien
Unwin Paperbacks
Copyright: 1954 (reprint 1990)
9780048231857

The Amazon.com Product Description:
In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in THE HOBBIT. In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.
Despite the fact that this is part one of my favourite book, The Lord of the Rings, I'm finding it incredibly hard to review. Maybe I just know The Fellowship of the Ring far too well? Anyway, I'll give it my best attempt.

The Fellowship of the Ring is the first part of the Lord of the Rings, which, when it was first published, was split into three volumes for various reasons. But, it's all the one book. Which, I'm finding makes it harder to review just this first part. And, it's a book where every time you read it, you're likely to notice some new detail about either the writing or about Middle-Earth. There's just so much there to see.

J.R.R. Tolkien really was a master of words - every word in the text was carefully chosen, and even the Elvish and Dwarvish languages were carefully structured to work like a real language of our world. The years of work he put into their invention shows, as does the years it took to write the Lord of the Rings.

I'm beginning to think though, that it's either a book you're going to love or not - there seems to be very little in between. I'm most definitely in the first camp. There's no way I can even guess at how many times I've re-read the book. I've worn out several copies, and in fact, The Fellowship of the Ring is the first book I read to the point where pages actually fell out. That was most of the Council of Elrond, if my memory's not playing tricks on me.

One thing I've noticed that was rather amusing (for me at least) on this read was that I kept hearing the voices from the BBC Radio Play version of The Lord of the Rings. Especially the voices of Frodo (played by Ian Holm), Gandalf (Michael Hordern) and Aragorn (Robert Stevenson). A large part of that is, I think because the radio play uses so much of Tolkien's dialogue unaltered.

Yes, the books are long, but there's so much to the story and the description that the length is well merited - the story doesn't feel long at all, if that makes any sense.

One other little thing that was rather amusing was that I was reading part of The Fellowship of the Ring while camping and the complaints from both Sam and Pippin about the Midgewater Marshes really resounded with me, though it was mosquitoes rather than midges where I was. The quote in question:
"I am being eaten alive," cried Pippin. "Midgewater! There are more midges than water!"
"What do they live on when they can't get hobbit?" asked Sam, scratching his neck.
(The Fellowship of the Ring. A Knife In The Dark)
Honestly, the whole Lord of the Rings is a book I don't think I will ever get tired of.
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