Title: The Fellowship of the Ring (Book 1 of The Lord of the Rings)
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Pages: 531 (Mass Market Paperback)
First Published: July 29, 1954
One-Sentence Summary: Frodo Baggins makes a perilous journey across Middle-Earth to destroy the One Ring.
First Sentence: When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a highly-regarded fantasy series which I’ve been meaning to read for a while now. The first book follows the journey of Frodo Baggins, younger cousin of Mr. Bilbo Baggins from “The Hobbit”, who is entrusted by Bilbo to become Ringbearer of the powerful One Ring. The Ring is forged by the Dark Lord himself and is capable of immense darkness. With the Company of the Nine, Frodo embarks on a journey across Middle-Earth to the Cracks of Doom, the only place where the Ring could at last be destroyed.
When I read The Hobbit a few months ago, I couldn’t help but admire Tolkien’s fantastic world-building. For me, the world of Middle-Earth is an art in itself, and I was excited to revisit it through The Fellowship of the Ring. Let me say thing, it does not disappoint. If anything, Frodo’s journey feels like a guided tour that takes us all across the land, from the Hobbits’ home The Shire, to the dwellings of Elves Rivendell and Lothlorien (Oh my gosh, how stunning Lothlorien is!), and even to the bleak Mines of Moria. I loved exploring Middle-Earth with the characters. Oh, not to mention the intricate details of each race in this book -Hobbits, Men, Dwarves, Elves, Orcs.
Next, let’s talk characters. I must admit Tolkien doesn’t create literature’s best characters, but still I’ll start with my likes. Sure, I’m fond of Frodo and Sam, who have their fair share of character development throughout the book. Gandalf is another complicated story, he plays the mentor role here, an all powerful and wise wizard, the leader and “hope” of the Company. But everyone else pretty much blurred together, save for the fact that they are of different races (Boromir and Aragorn being Men, Gimli a Dwarf and Legolas an Elf). I did, however, quite enjoy reading about Aragorn. He’s a king, but is recruited by Gandalf to help (silently) protect the Shire. Did I leave anyone out? Right, the other Hobbits, Pippin and Merry. Forgive me if I don’t understand why they’re still tagging along. Yes, they’re loyal friends of Frodo and have promised to stick with him, but I find that they’re often only passive members of the Company. They’re there just for the sake of being there.
Here’s a little something from Gandalf the Grey, who always seems to speak such quotable passages:
“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be so eager to deal out death in judgement.”
In terms of writing, Tolkien’s prose can be overly descriptive sometimes. I felt like many of the scenes could be cut down without disturbing the actual plot. However, I find his use of language is fairly simple and easy to understand. After all, it was aimed for children. Oh, one other thing to point out. I personally really enjoyed the subtle “foreshadowing” in the narrative, considering the whole book is told from times long after the actual events take place. It gives such an archaic and beautiful melody to the writing. Here’s one of my favorite line:
“And taking Frodo’s hand in his, he left the hill of Cerin Amroth and came there never again as living man.”
Finally, do I recommend it? Definitely. I believe everyone should read this book, and most likely the rest of the series too (I’ll get there…), at least once in their lives. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have preach Tolkien’s works, but I can say you will enjoy it. At least, give it a chance.