The Lord of the Rings, #1: The Fellowship of the Ring (BOOK REVIEW)


This is a hard thing for me to review, as it’s a story so close to my heart. This is the first time I’ve gone through The Fellowship of the Ring since I read it last, when I was 9 – just before the film arrived in 2001. Obviously that was far too young of an age to fully appreciate the novel, but the perfect time, as a child, to enjoy immersing myself in, what would eventually prove to be, the Star Wars trilogy of my generation. I remember enjoying the book at the time, having loved reading The Hobbit previously, but it was over my head mostly.

The first thing that jumped to mind while reading this is (or listening to it rather): wow, this is almost verbatim what happened in the film with far less of Aragorn’s love story and way more Tom Bombadil. That’s fine. What works in books might not translate to film, and vice versa.

But let’s talk Tom Bombadil, as he’s truly the greatest deviation from novel to film. In fact, he’s not in the film altogether. But why? He’s lovable, jolly, he’s got a hot wife, and he’s an entity older than anything else on Middle Earth. Oh, and he loves his music. That said, his portion of the story is perhaps the greatest drag. It breaks up the tone of the novel, an oasis amidst all the drama that derails all the goings on thus prior. It makes perfect sense why Peter Jackson removed the character from his film, although he thoroughly upset a 10 year old me at the time.

The music in Fellowship is something to, in equal parts, relish and roll ones eyes at. It’s amazing poetry, and adds a depth to the world that many authors neglect nowadays. Each race has a distinct style of poetry. The elves sing about beauty and timelessness. Hobbits sing about their day to day lives. Dwarves are more materialistic in their songs. Tolkien gets into the mindset of his races in ways no other author can do quite as well. But there’s so much of it. Too much. You’ll find over 25 songs scattered about this first novel alone. Some of the songs span several pages in their length. Although it adds much to the history of Middle-Earth, they occur so often you’ll find you don’t fully pay attention to the tales the tell.

I enjoy that this book is told from one perspective, until the very end. It’s Frodo’s story, until the last chapter, where it becomes Sam’s briefly. Both characters are among the greatest characters in fiction, in my opinion.

Ultimately, this is the quintessential tale about a quest in the face of impossible odds. What Tolkien does by placing Hobbits at the forefront of his story, instead of some extraordinary warrior who’s qualified to do everything, is that he gives them nearly every disadvantage. Hobbits are such an unassuming race that their plight becomes all the more treacherous and imperiled. But their size and cunning give them one advantage: surprise.

But that’s what The Lord of the Rings is all about; overcoming a seemingly insurmountable enemy. About finding courage despite nary a chance for success. And it’s about hope, that good will usurp evil before all is lost.

With the Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien sets the stage for one of, if not the greatest fantasy tale of our time. His world feels real, populated, and dynamic, with languages, dialects, and a history that spans many, many years of hard work on his part.

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11 thoughts on “The Lord of the Rings, #1: The Fellowship of the Ring (BOOK REVIEW)

  1. I am ashamed to admit that, to date, I have been unable to force myself through even one book. That needs to change, and needs to change NOW. However in my defense, those types of things that you mention bother me to no get-out which is why I never get that far. Although Tolkien is rightly revered for his story, and I love the story, I could never get past his style. Am I strange? Or illiterate?🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re neither strange, nor illiterate. It’s understandable. A lot of people don’t like his prose, and abundance of poetry. I listened to this one, which helped a bit. Love when readers create voices for characters.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have come to realize that writing style is super important to me when I read – as important as good characters and plot. This is a great discovery for me, as I want to learn to create that unique voice when I write (my first try). Thanks for your posts, I like this site!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Boy, are you young…😉 I also started the LOTR series young, when I was 10/11 (but that was in 1984), and then returned to the books as an adult in 2000, the year before the movies came out. I look at the Tom Bombadil/barrow wights sequences as, in RPG terms, a training module for the hobbits. Tom Bombadil is their training wheels, he rescues them twice, and then during the barrow wights mission, they acquire weapons (if I’ve got the chronology right), and meet other friends/protectors (like Strider). You can measure the hobbits’ growth in later books by comparing how they react to later dangers (by using their cunning, or standing and fighting), against simply passively calling for help like they did in Book 1.

    I enjoy the songs — although I have other friends whose reaction to Books I & II (“Fellowship”) as “STOP! STOP EATING AND SINGING!”. This is world-building, and it’s a slow build-up, but boy, does it have a great payoff in the final chapter, when the fellowship breaks. Books III & IV (“The Two Towers”) is where things bogged down for me a little bit, especially at age 11, when there’s fewer hobbits, a lot more prose, and a lot less poetry and song…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your chronology is correct. And yeah. I’m a man-baby. That’s an interesting outlook, viewing it as an RPG setting. Which is extra interesting considering the fact that this was pre-RPG by about 2 decades. I actually haven’t read books 2 and 3 yet, so I will have to do so soon.

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  3. I was of the generation that saw the films before reading the books, but when I did…oh damn, the fandom just took off. I enjoyed Tom Bombadil but even at age 12 I could understand why he was omitted from the film. Such a timeless story that’s a must-read for everyone (not to mention a must-watch.)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I almost want to read this again, although I’m not sure I have the stamina. Leaving Messrs Bombadil and co out of the movie was one of the PJ gang’s best decisions unlike his worst casting Orlando Bloom (although in the first movie he doesn’t get the opportunity to annoy me with his godlike indestructibility that becomes more and more apparent with each future film of the franchise). Its been a while since reading the trilogy but aren’t the Barrow Wights in the first book? I would really have liked to have seen these realised in screen but if it meant bringing in Tom Bombadil can understand why it was left out

    Liked by 1 person

  5. josiahrosenbergerauthor

    *slow clap*

    Ah, Lord of the Rings. A story very close to my heart as well. You’ve made me want to read it again.

    I enjoyed your discussion here of the differences between book and movie. Always interesting to see what creative choices were made for a new medium of telling a novel length story.


    Liked by 1 person

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