Saturday, September 17, 2011

'The Fellowship of the Ring' Read-Along - Part 2

'The Fellowship of the Ring' is the first part of JRR Tolkien's epic masterpiece 'The Lord of the Rings'. This paperback edition has the classic black cover featuring Tolkien's own design and includes the definitive edition of the text. 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 purpose. JRR Tolkien's great work of imaginative fiction has been labelled both a heroic romance and a classic fantasy fiction. By turns comic and homely, epic and diabolic, the narrative moves through countless changes of scene and character in an imaginary world which is totally convincing in its detail. Part of a set of three paperbacks, this popular edition is once again available in its classic black livery designed by Tolkien himself.
Here we are on the second week of the read-along of The Fellowship of the Ring hosted by Andrea and Clint. I am very impressed with myself. I have said for years I was going to reread these books, but never actually managed it. The fact that I am very close to finishing this book impresses me! I hope I can keep going and finish the rest. I am enjoying refreshing my memory and revisiting scenes I always really enjoyed in the past. I also am re-appreciating how long-winded Tolkien was. I am not sure these books could be written nowadays. There would be a lot of editing and changes. I have to admit I wouldn't want the books changed, but sometimes he does seem to go on just a bit too long about things. It's fun!

1. What were your initial thoughts of Strider/Aragorn when the Hobbits met up with him in The Prancing Pony? Did you think that he was linked with the Riders?
This is the sort of question that I am not really sure about my initial response to at all. It is hard to imagine there was a time where I didn't really know who Strider/Aragorn was, but unfortunately it was so long ago that I can't really remember. When I got to the suspicions in this book, I was actually surprised that they thought that of him. The suspicion isn't really presented in the movies and that is my best memory of the series the last few years.

So, since I entirely skipped this question, I will share weird facts. Earlier in the year I read The Return of the Shadow, which is the first book about the history of The Fellowship of the Ring. One interesting fact from early drafts of the novel had Return of the Shadow as the title for this book and he has Strider/Aragorn as a hobbit who wore wooden shoes. I don't think I could get used to Aragorn as a hobbit, but what about you folks? Could you get used to Aragorn as a hobbit? What would think of Return of the Shadow as the tile of the book?

2.What was the biggest surprise to you during this section of the Fellowship of the Ring?
While I haven't read this book specifically in years, reading The Return of the Shadow has put a lot of the story fresh in my mind. It's actually why I wanted to reread the books in the first place. When you have movies the freshest in your mind, it is hard to really remember what the books talked about. Frodo went through a lot of changes before he become the very famous hobbit that is known and loved. For starters, his age and Bilbo's went through several rewrites. Tolkien couldn't make up his mind how much younger Frodo would be than Bilbo. Then, the companions went through lots of changes. Merry and Pippin didn't exist until later rewrites, but some of their lines were just said by the other companions that Tolkien envisioned. Sam is the earliest companion that survived many rewrites. I suppose that is fitting for his character!

Oh, the thing that bothered me the most about the early editions of this book was that Frodo used to be called Bingo. I just can't imagine having that as his name.... One of his earlier companions was called Frodo, but Tolkien decided he liked that better for the main characters name. I am rather glad about that! What do you think of some of the changes I have mentioned? Were they for the best, or do you wish he had left other things as they were?

I am not really answering the questions, am I? I just am too familiar with the story to be really surprised. I suppose I could mention that I didn't really remember the hobbits being so suspicious of Aragorn. I know he was shown in a darkish light when they first met him, but I really didn't remember he was suspected as one of the Riders.

3.Do you like that Tolkien goes in depth and tells the readers of the historical events of the war that is upon the Fellowship?
Oh, yes! I love history! It doesn't matter if it is made-up history, either. I still want to learn all about it! Tolkien spends a lot of time and energy thinking up an elaborate world for his characters. One thing that I was thinking about was that I remembered the elves still had their three rings, but I couldn't remember what happened to the rings the dwarves had. I appreciated that in the book it tells you they were lost. Obviously we also remember what happens to the humans rings, too, but the dwarves sort of get pushed to the back burner.

I enjoyed 'listening in' on the council and learning about everything that was going on in the world at that time. The dwarves speak of Moria (I think that is how you spell it), the elves speak of the state of the world and how Gollum has escaped, and the humans speak of the state of the war and how they really could use some aid. The humans have heard of the elves, but rarely have they seen them. Boromir talks about how he was searching for a place that he wasn't even sure existed. I am not sure what I like better, the fact that Aragorn carries his sword around with him in the books or the fact that it is laid on an elaborate shrine in the movies.

Oh, I remember my biggest surprise now! Strider writes music with Bilbo. I just can't picture it at all! I totally had forgotten about it because it just sounds so strange. Bilbo calls him by yet another name, so you are totally in the dark that he is looking for Strider.

4. How far do you think you would have lasted if you were Frodo and nearly becoming a Rider?
First of all, I always enjoyed the fact that in the movies they send Arwen out to find Strider and the hobbits. She really is just a mentioned character in the books, but Peter Jackson and company give the female characters a more central role. I always enjoyed that. It was my biggest complaint with Tolkien when I first read him... I know it was the times in which he was writing, but still...

Anyway, I was always very impressed with Frodo's fortitude. Obviously Tolkien couldn't kill off his main character, but it would have been an interesting story arch if he had became one of the Riders. It would sort of mean the end of the story because the evil would have won, but still, interesting idea. I am not sure how long I would have lasted. I am not sure how well I would have handled just being stabbed, but to be stabbed and then go through the transformations that Frodo was dealing with, I couldn't really imagine. I am going to say probably not very long, but you can surprise yourself in difficult circumstances.

5. As the dangerous quest unfolds, the other hobbits want to stick by Frodo til the end. Would you sacrifice yourself and stick with Frodo til the end?
I am not sure if I would look on it as sacrificing myself. I think I would look on it as having a great adventure. I know how it is when your life always seems the same, but next thing you know there is an adventure presented to you and your friends are going. I think I would want to go, too, if it was possible. If you survive it will lead to great stories and interesting memories. It will probably make it a bit harder to survive your regular life when you get back home, but it could also lead to you appreciating it a bit more. Life is a grand adventure, but opportunities like what the hobbits are presented with don't come around that often. Sometimes you just need to seize the moment.

**Note: The cover included in this post has a cover by Alan Lee. I think if I bought the trilogy again, I would buy those covers because they match the History of Middle-Earth series. Plus, they are amazing! Then, the other two pictures are also by Alan Lee. He does amazing work! I almost used the same one as Carl, actually.

Previous Posts on The Fellowship of the Ring:


  1. Anonymous2:54 PM

    I've been meaning to re-read these for ages and simply haven't found the time. The last time I read The Lord of the Rings was in college, during in the middle of the film series release, and I remember being around classmates who had never read the books. They had some of those 'first impression' reactions that I could no longer conjure, much as you have difficulty remembering feelings of surprise here. It was so hard to keep a straight face and not let on who lived or died!

    I enjoyed reading your responses here, as they bring back so many good memories. I'm really going to have to make an effort to get back to these--maybe as a beginning of 2012 project?

  2. **simplerpastimes: I know. When I watched the movies I all ready knew the story, and it was fresher in my mind, so while watching I couldn't really be amazed by anything. Instead I just talked constantly about the changes and whether I agreed with them or not. I was probably a bit annoying! I wish you could keep experiencing a book for the first time over and over again, but at least when you reread you notice things you might have missed the first time through. :)

  3. I need to reread these. They are my Fantasy Foundation, the comfort books of all times. Seeing your post and reading Mor's attachment to the series in Among Others (this one is in progress), I realize how much I miss Tokien's world.

  4. Interesting post. I read The Hobbit then the The Lord of the Rings books right after that, ages ago. I really loved those books. I can't imagine Strider as a hobbit! lol
    And I'm glad Frodos name was changed from Bingo :)

    I think Tolkien was a genius in his own right to create these fantastic stories and characters. Even the language and the setting is amazing.

  5. **jenclair: I am so happy to be rereading them! I really enjoyed Among Others, too. It was very geeky!

    **naida: I am so glad I didn't have to put up with 'Bingo'. I prefer Frodo!

  6. I'm in the same boat, saying for years that I would re-read this and never doing it. I'm thankful the group read and all these fun discussion have been an inspiration for me to do so.

    I am glad Aragorn wasn't a hobbit, and I cannot imagine wooden shoes would be all that practical in the terrain of Middle-earth, ha! I too cannot imagine a time when I didn't know who Strider/Aragorn was as its been a decade since the first film came out.

    I couldn't have dealt with one of the heroes of the story, or maybe even one of the characters, being named "Bingo". LOL!

    It is a testament to the loyalty and faithfulness of Sam that he would not let Tolkien write him out.

    We share our surprise of Bilbo and Aragorn's friendship, which includes the song writing. That was a cool detail.

    I also love the history in the story, it is those historical details that enrich this story so much and make it rise to the top, king of epic fantasies.

    I too appreciate how the films increased the roles of the female characters without, IN MY OPINION, changing the spirit of those characters from the way Tolkien envisioned them.

    Life is a grand adventure, though I suspect that no matter how exciting the journey to Rivendell was, after seemingly endless nights of walking and being chased by unspeakably evil horseman and going without meals, etc. I do think you would consider it a sacrifice to go on in this next section, to leave Rivendell for more of the same and worse. :)

  7. **Carl: I joined a group read last year and never managed it. I am really bad with rereads. I am so happy I am accomplishing it so far! I will be doing a little happy dance when I read the last bit of this book because I have wanted to reread it for just so long!

    I am glad Aragorn wasn't a wooden shoe wearing Hobbit, too. I just laughed reading about that.

    Yeah, I am not fond of the name Bingo.

    I know. Sam hung on!

    I love the historical details, too.

    Yes, it didn't really take away from Tolkien having the female characters in the movies have a bit more playing time.

    And, yeah, maybe it is a sacrifice when you look at it like that...

  8. I still can't get past the image of Viggo Mortensen with wooden shoes. Oh what a site that would have been. Ugh!

    Obviously I have my own (vocal) opinion on that last question. Ha! I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I know the Hobbits did not truly understand what they were getting themselves into, even after the first part of the journey. But I also think it cheapens what they did if we assume that they went in blissfully ignorant of what would happen. I do think that happened when they originally planned behind Frodo's back to go with him. But I think that bliss passed after nearly dying in the Old Forest and all else that happened between there and Rivendell.

  9. **Carl: I suppose for me I just thought of it as they were along for the adventure. Even with the dangers they had faced, I am not sure if was really sacrifice. I mean, at least in the book Sam was always planning ahead for the way home. I can't remember if that happens in the book.

  10. hmmm...that is interesting I will have to take a look at The Return of the Shadow. That would have been something for Strider to be a hobbit. :)

  11. **Geeky Daddy: It only covers the first half of Fellowship. The sequel covers the second half and then I assume the third book moves on to The Two Towers, etc.


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