I have long looked at lovers of the Lord of the Rings trilogy as an exclusive fan club with their inside knowledge of the books and their disdain for the rest of us illiterates. I was half afraid to read the books just in case I didn’t “get it” and was forever barred from this privileged group. I’m even a little embarrassed about reviewing them now since there are others who have read the books multiple times and who understand them more than I do.
Fellowship is an epic adventure in the truest sense of the word: “an extended narrative poem in elevated or dignified language, celebrating the feats of a legendary hero.” Simple, home-loving Frodo becomes involved in a larger-than-life battle between good and evil and he willingly sacrifices his own wishes and comforts to “do the right thing” as far as the powerful Ring is concerned.
I don’t regret having seen the films first (something I rarely do) because a certain amount of foreknowledge kept me from getting bogged down in the many confusing names. Not only do several people have more than one name (Aragorn/Strider, Gollum/Smeagol), but the mountains and even the swords have names. Being familiar with the main characters from the movie was helpful as I worked my way through the book. “Work” is the key word because The Fellowship of the Ring is no easy read. This first book in the trilogy is 400 pages long, but by page 200 hundred, Frodo has barely left the Shire to head out for his adventures. Still, the book is worth the effort.
Tolkien’s tale is compelling in its portrayal of friendship and bravery among Frodo and his companions, but it is made even richer by its use of beautiful language (at times reminiscent of the English in the King James Bible).
An example from page 244: Sauran was diminished, but not destroyed. His Ring was lost but not unmade. The Dark Tower was broken, but its foundations were not removed; for they were made with the power of the Ring, and while it remains they will endure.
I’m very glad I took the plunge and began the LOTR trilogy. Now I’m hoping I’ll find time to read the sequels.