on 17 October 2010
The fellowship of the ring is the first installement of J.R.R Tolkiens epic journey in which a Hobbit journeys across middle earth to destroy a powerful ring, which is seeked by evil forces who are slowly waging a war on the inhabitants of the world. Along the way meeting many mythical people and beings, as well as facing many challenges and losses alongside his freinds.
Published in 1954, this book is set 60 years after The Hobbit and is made up of a prolouge (Concerning Hobbits, written by Bilbo Baggins) and book 1 and 2.
The story was split into 3 main books when Tolkien origionally wanted it published due to the cost of paper after the war, the 2 story's being The Two Towers and Return of the King.
The book begins with a prolouge which lets the reader know who the Hobbits are and what their life is like. This is the first taste of Tolkiens world and it shows immediatley how much detail and thought goes into the world he has created.
The prolouge is not just a short note of who the Hobbits are , but it tells the lineage of the 3 main Hobbit groups and where they travelled from, their differences and where they now reside. As well as this we learn about the Shire, how it is divided and what festivles they celebrate. There is also a short section on the Hobbits discovery of pipe-weed, a tobacco which originates from the Shire.
This does a good job of getting you into the world of middle earth and the intricacies of its working, it also works as a benchmark that if you don't like the amount of information in the prolouge then it may not be for you.
The first book of the fellowship opens with Bilbo Baggins celebrating his 111th birthday, as well as his nephew Frodo's 33rd birthday. But soon things start going amiss and after some strange events at the party Bilbo vanishes , leaving only a golden ring behind to the wizard Gandalf for Frodo.
This is no ordinary ring, it is a ring which was thought to be missing and would have been better if it still was. During The Hobbit, Bilbo steals a ring away from a horrible creature known as Gollum, this ring has the power to make its wearer invicible and seemingly giving eternal life. However with this comes a powerful feeling to protect and look after this magic ring, driving its beholder mad with paranoia. Far away the dark lord Sauron and his allies are growing and having the "one" ring will mean nothing in middle earth will be able to fight against their wrath.
Here is where a major difference between the film and book occurs, Frodo leaves 15 years after that nights events to try and destroy the ring.
From this point begins a journey along with 3 other hobbits, Sam, Merry and Pippin. It soon becomes obvious to them that something dark is after them as they continually run from a hooded rider but after making it through forests and to the town of Bree , where curious people reside, they meet up with a man called strider who may just help their cause.
Of course the story contains meetings with the Elves, fighting horrible creatures called Orcs and perilious journeys through enchanted forests, across mountains and battling through mines.
Due to the sheer size of the book and the depth of the story's it conatains the book can feel bogged down in places. Whilst their are sections where you are desperatley turning the page to see how the fellowship will survive, their are also sections based around the history of people or discussions of what the group plan to do. But this helps add to the feeling of a journey and makes you feel part of the narrative, you bond with the characters, you enjoy being in certain areas and it also makes you wonder what would of happend if they had taken the alternate route they discussed.
Picking up this book you need to know that it isn't one you can pick up and flick through, you need to be interested in it and remember the wealth of characters. Because the feeling when it comes to an end is great, you look back at it and want to get the next book simply because you have come this far, much like the fellowship on their journey.
The characters are vivid and no stone is left unturned when it comes to their personality , thoughts and actions. Every character is individual and causes a different responce from you as you read it, characters grow and change after time and you can see in their interactions that they have to support each other when one is feeling the strain.
Frodo is a very well meaning character, and he knows that what he is doing is dangerous as from the beggining he tries to make the journey on his own because he doesn't want to risk his freinds lives. At times we see the full scale of the situation hit him and it's then that his freind Sam helps him through.
Sam is a bit of a lapdog to begin with and he is almost to sickly sweet, everything he does is to make sure Mr Frodo gets to the end of the journey. But behind this it is because he feels he has nothing to live for in the Shire, he wants to explore the world and live out the tales he has heard since he was a child.
Acompanying these two are Merry and Pippin , the source of comic relief and a real mischievous pair. Pippin is the youngest and doesn't always think things through so is quick to act without thinking about the consequences.
As well as this their is Gandalf who is forever going walk about and can come across as a bit of an arse sometimes, he is in no way an angel and can be prone to some snidey remarks which catch you a little of balance and your never quite sure how he will act.
One problem that many have when reading this book is the amount of characters, even during the first chapter you meet many of the inhabitants of the Shire and these only appear one during the book, you then have the fellowship which grows to 9 in places, as well as the people you meet along the way and the stories mentioning old kings. It can be overwhelming at times but it means that inside the one story there are hundreds of small bits which grow into their own in the appendices in the Return of the King, The silmarillion and Tolkiens other peices.
The writing is not easy, it takes getting used to and feels more like a history than the rhyming lyrical feel of The Hobbit. But this is part and parcel of the way the story progresses, it would be extremely difficult to tell this story and its details in a simple way and unfortunatley it is another reason many don't read it.
The Fellowship of the Ring is really worth reading, but it is more a book that you have to put time into and want to read. Otherwise the ability to bear with the writing, characters and lore can be too much and thats completely understandable. But it's also worth mentioning that if you have seen the film and enjoyed it , you will enjoy the book because their is a mass of whole elements of the story that were missed out and that make the story even better.
it is a bargain of a book for the amount of hours and entertainment it will give, and if you buy the illustrated book by Alan lee their are some wonderful painted images spaced out throughout the story which aid the imagination of the world.