Commentary: The Fellowship of the Ring

Posted 23 August, 2012 by Lianne in Books / 1 Comment

The Fellowship of the Ring
By: J.R.R. Tolkien

In a sleepy village in the Shire, a young hobbit is entrusted with an immense task. He must make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ruling Ring of Power – the only thing that prevents the Dark Lord’s evil dominion.

If I haven’t mentioned it enough or if my website doesn’t really convey it, The Lord of the Rings is my favourite book ever <3 I had heard of it for as long as I can remember but I read it for the first in 2001 right before the release of the first movie in theatres. I got the boxed set of the books for Christmas and anxiously read it (at the least the first book) before I watched it. I used to re-read the books every year but fell out of that practice a few years ago, mainly because I was moving around quite a bit and then finishing up my grad school work so this is the first time that I've re-read it in a while. Contains references to the later two volumes of the story!

Re-reading this book not only re-aquaints me to much of the dialogue and detail that I used to know (I was pretty much a walking encyclopedia of the book back in the day) but what always gets me when re-reading The Lord of the Rings is that I pick up details here and there that I did not notice before. For example, early on in the novel during the pub sequence in Hobbiton, one of the hobbits makes mention of having seen an oak tree move. The other hobbits laughed, saying that that hobbit was probably seeing things and that trees don’t move while the hobbit insisted he did see it move on its own. I was sitting there going “OMG! Early reference to the ents!” =)

Other small things also struck me as I read the book (at this point I’m going to use point form because it’s so much easier):

  • Gandalf was pretty hilarious in The Hobbit (review) with his biting remarks to the disgruntled dwarves. Here in The Lord of the Rings some of that bite is still present, albeit more subtle in part because of the seriousness of the story.
  • I found Elrond to be another source of amusement re-reading the book. He always seemed to be facepalming and telling people “Are you not listening, [insert name of person not listening at the moment here]?” Poor elf xD
  • I always forget that Frodo is a bit older in the books than Elijah Woods in the movie (though I will always see Frodo as Elijah Woods…and all of the other actors from the movies with their respective characters) and is more knowledable in lore thanks to Bilbo
  • Bilbo’s parting words to Frodo before the Fellowship sets off on their quest cracks me up; he was more concerned about him keeping a diary and telling him not to take too long–as if he were just going up to the cottage for the weekend. Oh, Bilbo xP
  • Re-reading the chapter “The Mirror of Galadriel” had me thinking a bit. Sam mentioned that he saw some weird things happening in Hobbiton and wondered whether Elrond was right to suggest sending Merry back to the Shire. Naturally this led me wondering indeed what would have happened had he done so. Granted, Saruman’s forcible entry into the Shire didn’t happen until later on after his defeat at Isengard but would Merry have been able to stop him and rouse the hobbits to action? But then Merry would not have been with Eowyn at Pelennor Fields and aided her in fighting the Witch King…and this is why we don’t speculate like this in history =P
  • I was always a little dismayed that Celeborn, Galadriel’s husband, didn’t get as many lines in the movie (thank goodness for the extended editions). I thought it was a little lol that he was a little stern on the Fellowship and Galadriel would chide him, leading Celeborn to apologise and say that he didn’t know. I always wondered if it was a little difficult for Celeborn to have such an all-seeing wife as Galadriel; then I remembered how his story ended and it left me a little sad (then again The Return of the King left me with so many different emotions).
  • It was very brave of Frodo to take on the burden of the Ring and at the end to set out on his own because he didn’t want to lead the rest of the Fellowship into further danger…but let’s face it, I don’t think he would’ve gotten very far on his own. I’ve always appreciated how he had Sam with him in his journeys but perhaps this time around it’s occurred to me how absolutely integral his presence was, especially as he moves forward.
  • Reading about Boromir’s temptation of the Ring prior to his confrontation with Frodo near Amon Hen was pretty freaky…him eyeing Frodo menacingly when they were canoeing down the Great River (Pippin was freaked out and so was I) and even biting his nails. For a man and warrior of Gondor it sounds really sad that the Ring reduced him to this. On the flip side, I can see how the Ring is feeding from Boromir’s desire to protect Gondor from Mordor and all other enemies but it’s sad how it preyed his mind.

Once again I am struck by how all-encompassing the novels are in providing a view of what was going on at Middle Earth during the events of the book. You don’t get to see what’s happening north of Mirkwood and the Misty Mountains but you hear about things that are going on at the Dale, the dwarfs at the Misty Mountains, the Beornings and the fates of the remaining members of the dwarfs who set out to re-take the Lonely Mountain. As always the elves intrigue me with their long history and their place in Middle Earth. They can be laughing and merry but also serious and ethereal, out of this world. Reading the bits in Quenya, the high language of the elves from across the Sea, I can see this time how J.R.R. Tolkien was influenced by the Scandinavian/Finnish languages. It’s pretty cool.

As an aside, this was the first time I think I’ve really paid attention to some of the food that the characters ate along the way. Maybe I was just hungry around the time that I read it but the yellow cream that was offered at Tom Bombadil’s home sounded real good…

It was great to re-visit The Fellowship of the Ring and the journeys of the Fellowship to destroy the One Ring. I forgot that this volume is actually the longest of the three but in some ways it feels rather short as well. I forget what a trove of great quotes the novel is, moreso this time than in the previous times that I’ve read it. This time around I particularly enjoyed this quote, said by Haldir as he guided the Fellowship to Caras Galadhon:

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places, but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” – p. 457

Allora, on to The Two Towers then!

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