I can’t believe I let ten years go by before re-reading this. I first read these in high school just before the films were released and I don’t think I truly appreciated how great they were then and still probably don’t. I’ve already re-read The Hobbit twice since then and I’m re-reading these as part of my 30×30 list and am incredibly happy I added it to the list, it might go on my 40×40 too!
As much as I love the films, this re-read reminded me just how much was left out and how much was shifted around for dramatic effects in the films. Things that happened in this first book. i.e. the forging of Andúril, didn’t happen until the third film and it’s like WHOA. I was also sad that Tom Bombadil didn’t make it into the movies, even the extended edition, because he’s such a great character and establishes the youth of the ancient elves which is something you don’t really think about. However, I completely understand why Jackson made many of the decisions he did and mostly I’m glad they made these before it became popular to split the final movie of a book trilogy into two films!
From reading the book so many years ago what I forgot was how much action there really was in this one. I’m still concerned going into The Two Towers about how much description I remember, but I will power through. I think what really made me laugh was taking the time to read the introduction and prologue:
“The Lord of the Rings has been read by many people since it finally appeared in print ten years ago; and I should like to say something here with reference to the many opinions or guesses that I have received or have read concerning the motives and meaning of the tale. The prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them. As a guide I had only my own feelings for what is appealing or moving, and for many the guide was inevitably often at fault.” (9)
Tolkien was very open about why he wrote the book and that it wasn’t an allegory or anything of the kind, it was an escapism tale he wrote to see if he could and I appreciate that. I also loved that he wrote the book as if he were an historiographer. That prologue and even the final note after the last chapter made the book seem that much more historical and real.
The only other thing that I’ll say I’m interested in keeping an eye out for is the controversy about Frodo and Sam being gay-hobbit lovers. Now I don’t remember why I’ve heard this before, I’m sure it had something to do with Elijah Wood’s feminine facial features, but it may have been around long before that and well LGBT studies you know? The only thing I found in this book that even remotely gave me pause was this line,
“At that moment there was a knock on the door, and Sam came in. He ran to Frodo and took his left hand, awkwardly and shyly. He stroked it gently and then he blushed and turned hastily away.” (272)
I wasn’t even phased by it really as Sam’s dedication really is that of a servant to his master. Think about A Song of Ice and Fire or Downton Abby and how deferential almost worshipful the servants are. It was a different time period. But, as I said if any portion of Sam’s dedication gave me pause it was this one line and that had more to do with Tolkien’s descriptions than anything he said explicitly.
I’ve already said multiple times how nervous I am going into the next novel, but fingers crossed it’ll be as fascinating as this one was and a bit easier to read this time. I remember it taking me a full month in high school, which was unheard of for me at the time, plus I don’t have a full month. I’ve got just over 32 days to complete the final 10 items on my 30×30 list and there will be a BUNCH crossed off next week!
Recommendation: I remember enjoying this the first time I read it and I am thoroughly enjoying this re-read. The book is conveniently divided into two books which allows a great stopping point if you don’t want to read straight through. I can’t wait to read the next two books!
Opening Line: “When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”
Closing Line: “Then shouldering their burdens, they set off, seeking a path that would bring them over the grey hills of the Emyn Muil, and down into the Land of Shadow.” (Whited out.)
Additional quotes from The Fellowship of the Ring
“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. And already, Frodo, our time is beginning to look black.” (76)
“‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. Do you realize that this is the very path that goes through Mirkwood, and that if you let it, it might take you to the Lonely Mountain, or even further and to worse places?’ He used to say that on the path outside the front door at Bag End, especially after he had been out for a long walk.” (102)
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Depp roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes of fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken:
The crownless again shall be king.” (298)
“It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do no. It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope. Well, let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy! For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety of the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning.” (322-3)
“‘I have indeed!’ said Sam. ‘And I reckon there’s Elves and Elves.They’re all elvish enough, but they’re not all the same. Now these folks aren’t wanderers or homeless, and seem a bit nearer to the likes of us: they seem to belong here, more even than Hobbits do in the Shire. Whether they’ve made the land, or the land’s made them, it’s hard to say, if you take my meaning. It’s wonderfully quiet here. Nothing seems to be going on, and nobody seems to want it to. If there’s any magic about, it’s right down deep, where I can’t lay my hands on it, in a manner of speaking.'” (426)