Book Review: The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkein

Fantasy stories and novels are plentiful today, and appear in a wide variety of forms ranging from Young Adult all the way to high epic fantasies. However, among all of that which has been published, none has captivated and has been more influential than J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which began with “The Fellowship of the Ring”.

Book trilogy Lord of the Rings
Image Source: Official Lord of the Rings (Book) Facebook

When it first came out in the 1950s, it revolutionized the way fantasy literature was written and was seen as, as this distinguished Oxford professor managed to create a seemingly grounded fantasy world, complete with its own history, races, and several systems of written and spoken languages and dialects.

This seminal work originally began as a sequel to his 1937 novel, “The Hobbit”, but later grew to a tale of epic proportions. Originally, Tolkien was going to publish six books, but it was released as a trilogy, with two books per book or volume.

Since then, Tolkien has captivated the minds and imaginations of many, including writers who eventually became great writers in their own right, and inspired director Peter Jackson to create and invent new ways of film making in his attempt to translate the epic trilogy on screen.

For me, reading “The Lord of the Rings” felt like reading The Holy Grail of fantasy literature. I first read it when I was either in grade school or high school, and haven’t picked up the books until now. However, re-reading them felt like going home.

fellowship of the ring
Image Source: Amazon

“The Fellowship of the Ring”, which is actually divided into two books, sets the entire trilogy up. It tells the story of Frodo Baggins, a Hobbit, who ends up inheriting a Ring from his uncle, Bilbo Baggins. After several years, Gandalf the Grey, a wizard who is friends with both Bilbo and Frodo, discovers that this ring is the One Ring of Power that the Dark Lord Sauron made in order to subjugate the whole of Middle Earth. As the Dark Lord begins to make some moves in order to get his ring back, Frodo and eight other companions-Hobbits Samwise “Sam” Gamgee, Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck”, and Peregrin “Pippin” Took; Aragorn or Strider and Boromir of Gondor; the dwarf named Gimli; and the elf named Legolas Greenleaf- end up going on a perilous quest to destroy the ring of power to stop Sauron once and for all.

“The Fellowship of the Ring” was undoubtedly my favorite in the trilogy, as it was the one that set the entire story up, and which is why I forgive Tolkien for his lengthy descriptions and lengthy chapters.vI felt that this one was the most  lighthearted and adventurous book in the trilogy, although things start to get a little more ominous towards the end.

I loved every second and every character that was introduced in the book, and I would honestly have loved to see what Tom Bombadil and Lady Goldberry would have looked like in the film version.

I really enjoyed re-reading everything that was in the Shire, and I loved how Tolkein was able to make me shudder with fright in some of passages of the book, especially when they were in moments of danger.

I love how this part of the trilogy kicks everything off as if they were going away on a holiday, and then the action ramps up until that rather cliffhanger ending that makes you want to read “The Two Towers” right away to see what happens next.

However, while I was beginning to read it, aside from remembering scenes from the movie, it took me some time to stop looking at it as an allegory for Christianity, as I have heard many discussions and interpretations that directly talk about the epic trilogy’s paralells to Christianity. Although I do not deny that it became ingrained subconsciously in the book, I decided to stick what Tolkien himself asked his readers to do in the foreword of the book- to see this work as one man’s attempt at creating an epic fairy tale of his own.

“The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy has particular themes that it touches on; but for “The Fellowship of the Ring”, aside from the typical good versus evil theme, it also touches on the themes of friendship, compassion, perseverance, hope, fate, how things and people aren’t always what they seem to be, and that you can find hope in the most surprising places.

There are many different types of friendship are touched upon here- there’s the friendship between Sam and Frodo; the friendship between Frodo, Merry,Pippin and Fatty Bolger; the friendship between Frodo, Bilbo and Gandalf; and of course, the friendships that arose out of the Fellowship of the Ring itself. Interestingly enough, the relationship between Sam and Frodo is akin to the relationship that “batmen” or aides have with the officers and soldiers they serve.

The theme of compassion is touched upon when Gandalf talks about how Bilbo spared Gollum’s life; and the theme of fate is also touched upon here, as it seems as if Bilbo was MEANT to find the Ring, so it means that Frodo was meant to have it as well.

Perseverance is found in the hardships of all the journeys our main characters had to face, despite the dangers they ran into and the losses they suffered.

Saruman shows us that even the wise can fall and get corrupted, and how people might not seem to be what you thought they would be. This also applies to the Hobbits, as the other races actually are surprised at the strength that they have in going forward with this quest. This ties into the theme of hope, because even though the shadow of war is looming over them, there is still the faintest bit of hope that they will succeed in whatever they have to do.

If you love fantasy, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, beginning with “The Fellowship of the Ring”, is definitely a must read, as never had the world seen such a work of fantasy so grounded and well-fleshed out as this one before.

What did you think of “The Lord of the Rings” book trilogy and of “The Fellowship of the Ring”? What parts did you like and what parts didn’t you like here? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

 

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkein

  1. I think part of the realism of the Lord of the Rings is Tolkien understood very well what and who humans are, in their shadows and their greatness. One of the things I love most about Lord of the Rings though (and fantasy in general, but especially Lord of the Rings) is the sense of quest! I don’t know…I think it can speak very strongly to us, reminding us that even the small have quests that change the world. And, as a friend of mine once said–that it can be an exciting adventure.

    You should totally read Tolkien: A Celebration, by the way! Edited by Joseph Pearce. Look it up! 😉

    1. Ah, yes, the sense of the quest is definitely one of the biggest draws with “The Fellowship of the Ring”. For me, knowing that someone small can change the world gives me a lot of hope. 😀
      I definitely will look that book up! 😀

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