Wednesday, 16 December 2015

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


When young Frodo Baggins inherits Bag End and a strange ring of invisibility from Bilbo, his eccentric uncle, he pays no mind to it and settles down for the quiet life of a respectable hobbit. Little does he know the significance of the ring and that his possession of it will lead to a dark and arduous adventure. For the ring is none other than the Ring of Power itself and the dark lord Sauron has returned to Middle Earth. His thought is bent on finding the Ring and his only lead as to its whereabouts comes from the creature Gollum. Searching for 'Baggins' in the 'Shire,' Sauron's Ringwraiths speed from Minas Morgal to seize it for their master.

Frodo is forced to flee his home in the Shire and is determined to bring the Ruling Ring before Elrond in Rivendell as Gandalf the Grey instructed. Yet even delivering the Ring to a sanctuary deemed safe is not enough and Frodo is the only one the quarrelling Free Races trust to carry it forth and forever destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor. Frodo becomes one of the Nine Walkers to oppose the Nine Riders and, with the help of Aragorn, Gandalf, Boromir, Legolas, Gimili, Merry, Pippin and Sam, means to end Sauron forever.

The Good
So where do I start here?! The Lord of the Rings is still one of the finest works of fantasy ever written and it has a depth to it that has inspired an entire genre. J. R. R. Tolkien is the grandfather of fantasy and The Fellowship of the Ring is a reflection of that. The mythology behind it, the cultures of the races, the history of Middle Earth... The scope of all of these things is staggering and no other author has come close to it as of yet. This book has inspired every generation since it was published, which speaks for the story's enduring quality! It is superbly written and is filled with detail and back-stories that an avid fan can literally lose months of their life reading about.

Furthermore, it's exciting and full of peril. The quest to destroy the Ring truly "stands upon the edge of a knife" and the Fellowship has to give everything of itself for the quest to succeed. I'm sure most people have seen Peter Jackson's stunning film, so I don't really need to go into the plot and characters too much - you all know what it's about!

The Bad
Criticising The Fellowship of the Ring feels like blasphemy, but, to be brutally honest, it was written in a time where authors emphasised description over dialogue and events. The book is quite dry in places and doesn't make for the easiest, page-turning read. In fact, Tolkien spends the first part of the book constructing a very detailed backstory which can get a little stale at times.

My Thoughts
The Fellowship of the Ring is a little dry and over-descriptive at times, but don't let that put you off reading it. It's worth every dry page and the scope of Tolkien's story is simply mind blowing. It really is like you're reading a story from a real world, with a long established history, and the fact that it has birthed the entire genre is evidence enough of its mastery. It's more than worthy of its place on my Shelf of Fame and is a must read for anyone who has only seen the film.

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