Hello everyone, and welcome to my month of Tolkein!
I’ve already covered The Hobbit, so I’m kicking this thing off by talking about the first in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring.
I think one of the main things to consider when it comes to reading The Lord of the Rings in general is this: you probably already know the story. You probably already know it in quite some depth, since the films are so popular and are also pretty faithful. So, the question when it comes to reading The Lord of the Rings isn’t whether you’re in for any surprises, or whether the adventure you’re about to read is going to be a good one. You already know.
No, the question is: are you going to get anything new from the books? And I think that the answer is: absolutely. For one thing, if you are into Lore, there is a ton of it in the books that isn’t in the films, or is hinted at vaguely and not really mentioned again. It comes in through a lot of poems though, so if you’re not into poetry, be warned!
There’s also the business with the elves. Now, while I still like Peter Jackson’s films, the elves in them are just sooo boring. So boring. Except maybe Legolas, and now he’s boring in the Hobbit trilogy. But I love the elves in the books. In The Fellowship of the Ring, for example, there is this whole feeling of nostalgia for the age in which they are currently living. They are either glorious and terrible or they just muck about and sing all the time, but more and more of them are leaving the land and going West (I haven’t really found out why yet).
At the same time, Galadriel, who holds one of the rings of power, is maintaining the elves’ lifestyle in Lothlorien. We are to understand that the elves’ rings take their power, in some way, from the One Ring, and that the destruction of the One Ring will mean the slow disintegration of elvish society, and so she isn’t particularly chuffed at Frodo’s quest. Also, she’s kind of mean, and gets into peoples’ heads to test them.
I would say that the very best thing Peter Jackson added to the film was this scene:
This scene doesn’t happen at all in the books – actually the Council of Elrond is all about discussing what’s going on, and then later Elrond chooses the Fellowship partly to ensure a representative racial balance and partly just because Aragorn and Boromir are going that way in any case. Which is not nearly as epic.
Overall, I would say The Fellowship of the Ring is worth the time it takes to read it – especially if you enjoyed the film, or like fantasy in general. They are actually quite a calming read, and you don’t need to worry too much about the Lore, which is repeated a few times. Next week: The Two Towers. And Ents. So Many Ents.