Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Fellowship of the Ring [Lord of the Rings #1] - J. R. R. Tolkien

Synopsis

Frodo Baggins knew the Ringwraiths were searching for him - and the Ring of Power he bore that would enable Sauron to destroy all that was good in Middle-earth. Now it was up to Frodo and his faithful servant Sam to carry the Ring to where it could be detroyed - in the very center of Sauron's dark kingdom.

Review

Before I begun this book I have never realised how much I was missing out by contenting myself with the movie version of The Lord of the Rings. 

The Fellowship of the Ring takes place sixty years after the event in the Hobbit. It creates a fantastical world with several races, its own language and a richly complicated relationship that ties them all together in the form of a very simple ring. The first time I watched the movies at the age of ten the world of men and monsters scared me as much as if fascinated me. The idea that something as beautiful as the elves poisoned into the vile and hideous Orcs is something that still manages to frighten me.

Despite my admiration for Peter Jackson’s work, I must say that the world of Tolkien is ever more complicated and in-depth that one can have predicted. Tolkien did not just create Middle-earth, he breathed life into it. He created a masterpiece that can not be rivaled.

The characters created by Tolkien are as in-depth and complicated as the landscape they walk on. The protagonist of this trilogy, Frodo Baggins is perhaps one of the best protagonists of the modern era. As a Hobbit he is unlike any protagonists created for epic adventures. He has no magical ability or physical prowess to speak off, in fact Frodo Baggins is unlike any of even his own race. From the beginning Tolkien highlights the goodness in Frodo, his kindness and his endurance of evil when all strong and powerful fail to resist the power of the ring. Even Galadriel and Gandalf whose powers have been glimpsed throughout the book are unable to resist it. In all fairness this continued goodness should make Frodo a rather one dimensional character however Tolkien masterful shows the increasing self doubt and increasing odds that tests Frodo’s character physically as well as mentally. 

One thing that is not mentioned by the movie is the age difference between the Hobbits. By the power of the ring Frodo remained looking young however at the start of this journey Frodo is well into his fifties which gives him an added sense of responsibility for his younger companions.  In a way Frodo’s character is pretty much steeped in Christian allegory, he is the humble, self sacrificing hero who feels responsible for the three companions that have risked their lives to follow him into the one place none of them really want to be in. This distinguishes Frodo from than the Ulysses type hero whose main attribute was physical strength.

 My favourite character and perhaps the most understated when it comes to the movies is Sam Gamgee. He is wise beyond Hobbit expectation and loyal beyond reason which at first might seem rather over the top at first but becomes increasingly more and more important as the burden of the ring grows more and more on Frodo. Sam is more of a typical Hobbit when compared to Frodo however even he has shows the sense of curiosity and wonder that is thought as queer in Hobbiton. Sam often surprises everyone. To quote Frodo ‘’I am learning a lot about Sam Gamgee on this journey. First he is the conspirator, now he is a jester. He’ll end up by becoming a wizard – or a warrior.’’
Gandalf and Aragorn are two characters that are very much alike. Sure one is a wizard and the other one is a man however both hold power and secrets beyond their obvious façade. Gandalf as hinted many times hold enormous power, more than one may expect from a pipe smoking and firework sticking wizard in gray. Aragorn is also the same when it comes to power, behind his ragged exterior he is a very old soul with a lot of knowledge and power.

When reading the book what came most unexpected was the amount to songs that are in the book. Seriously it might as well be a Westend musical. Everyone including Gimli and Aragorn burst into a song at one point or another. While this created a somewhat uncomfortable image in my head it serves an important connection between events in the past and the current occurrences.

Before I conclude this rather long review I want to take time to appreciate the villains in this book. They are truly world class. Sauron. Saruman the white and the Balrog, the Ringwraiths and even Gollum (Sméagol) are truly epic in proportion. Some physically and some in the terror they inspire without their presence. Neither Sauron nor Saruman are physically seen in this book but their powers are felt from the first page to the very last in which Gandalf if forced to fight the mysterious creature of the dark The Balrog. Tolkien is very good at creating creatures that inspire fear with their shadows rather than their swords.

To be honest I could go on and on about the importance of each character and the motifs behind every action however it should be mentioned that that would be longer than the actual book itself. So I would just conclude this by saying that this is simply one of the best books I have ever read and possibly the best example in world creation ever.

I give this 5 out of 5 cupcakes and a recommendation for anyone who loves a good book.

2 comments:

  1. Great review, I read this one last year and I absolutely loved it. Are you planning on reading the rest of the trilogy?

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  2. Thanks and absolutely I have totally fallen in love with Tolkien, He is brilliant.

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