Lord of the Rings Volume 1 – The Fellowship of the Ring

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It’s been a long time waiting but it’s finally happened. I’ve started reading Lord Of The Rings and I can’t be happier! The books are epic and there is so much more in them compared to the movies. I have watched all three movies, extended editions, multiple times and I have had marathons over the weekends spanning more than 12h of content. But I’ve never read (so far) the books that made it all possible.

So let us go on this journey together and I can tell you why this book is by far one of my favourites to date.

The Story So far:

Long ago, twenty rings existed: three for elves, seven for dwarves, nine for men, and one made by the Dark Lord Sauron, in Mordor, which would rule all the others. Sauron poured all his evil and his will to dominate into this ring. An alliance of elves and humans resisted Sauron’s ring and fought against Mordor. They won the battle and the ring fell to Isildur, the son of the king of Gondor, but just as he was about to destroy the ring in Mount Doom, he changed his mind and held on to it for himself. Later he was killed, and the ring fell to the bottom of the sea. The creature Gollum discovered it and brought it to his cave. Then he lost it to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

The Plot (very short summary)

Bilbo Baggins throws a party for himself and his protégé, Frodo. At the party, Bilbo announces that he is leaving his home to his heir, Frodo. He returns home and is met by his close friend, the wizard Gandalf. Gandalf insists that Bilbo remove the Ring that he has owned since the events of the previous adventure, chronicled in The Hobbitand give the ring to his young heir. The Ring has special powers, the most obvious of which is to make the wearer invisible. Then Bilbo disappears.

I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”

For many years Frodo lives in Bilbo’s home at Bag End. Just like Bilbo, Frodo appears not to he aged. In his fifties, he grows restless. One day Gandalf comes to Frodo and tells him that he is in danger. It seems that the Ring originally belonged to Sauron, the Dark Lord. Sauron wants the Ring back so that he can conquer the world. Sauron is using Gollum, an evil hobbit who also wants the Ring, to find out who has it and where it can be located. Gandalf tells Frodo that the ring is a corrupting power, and that anyone who uses it will ultimately be destroyed by it if they do not part with it. Further, he tells Frodo that the Ring can only be destroyed by tossing it into a volcano at Mount Orodruin. Frodo tries to give the ring to Gandalf, but the wizard tells him that he (Frodo) was chosen to bear the responsibility; it is his fate.

“Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: 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 to us.”

It is decided that Frodo will take the ring to the Crack of Doom in Mount Orodruin. He is to be accompanied by his friends Sam, Merry, and Pippin. As they travel, the Black Riders of Sauron pursue them. The Black Riders are bodiless horsemen who want the Ring. The travelers meet up with Aragorn, a friend of Gandalf, and together they continue their journey with the aid of some new companions.

Gandalf leads the companions through the mines of Moria. Gandalf battles a dreadful spirit and falls into an abyss. Aragorn becomes the leader. After many small battles, the company realises their task will be very difficult. They meet Lady Galadriel, of the elves, and are given some assistance. Boromir, a representative from Gondor, tries to persuade Frodo to give him the Ring to take to his father and thus defeat their enemies. Frodo refuses and the two men fight. Frodo must use the Ring to escape Boromir. Boromir is instantly sorry he has been overcome by the allure of power. Frodo decides to travel alone, fearful of the consequences of his friends being corrupted. Only faithful Sam is allowed to accompany him.

Boromir is killed and given a hero’s burial; everyone knows he never meant to fight Frodo. They attribute his sudden corruption to the Ring. Orcs attack and Merry and Pippin are taken captive. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas pursue them, trying to save their companions.

Things not in the movies

  • The songs they sing (I cried at the one that Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli sang in honour of Boromir)
  • The Elvish language
  • The  strife between elves and dwarves which spans over many centuries
  • Arwen did not carry Frodo to the Elven forest, he came on horseback alone and the massive river that came crashing down on the death riders was actually invoked by Gandalf
  • I freaking love Gimli! He has a true way with words and a spine of steel. When the fellowship reaches Lothlorien, he refuses to be blindfolded by the elves there and taken around like a prisoner. The fellowship accepts that they all should be blindfolded in solidarity with their pal and that’s how they enter the kingdom of the Lady in the Trees, Galadriel. Gimli falls in love with Galadriel and uses some charming words to woo her.
  • Galadriel was married to Celeborn, her husband and junior co-Guardian of Lothlórien.  Even if Tolkien had been capable of imagining a Peter Jackson-style affair between an elf and dwarf (he wasn’t) he was far too prudish to ever have suggested one with a married woman. The way Gimli describes her beauty also suggests an understanding that she is beyond reach and to be admired remotely: “a single strand of your hair, which surpasses the gold of the earth as the stars surpass the gems of the mine.” The way he talks about her also suggest he appreciates her beauty aesthetically, as one might admire gold or gems
  • In the books, Galadriel is truly feared. Men have walked into her forest never to be seen again. There are tales of her fierceness and power. Talk about strong female leads in a book dominated by male characters!
  • When Galadriel speaks with Gimli, she was symbolically renewing the ancient bond of friendship and alliance between the Noldor and the Khazâd.  As in everything else she did, Galadriel counteracted Celeborn’s boorish words to Gimli with diplomacy and grace:

    ” ‘Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram, and cold are the springs of Kibilnâla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dûm in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone.’She looked upon Gimli, who sat glowering and sad, and she smiled.  And the Dwarf, hearing the names given in his own ancient tongue, looked up and met her eyes; and it seemed to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and saw there love and understanding.

  • The Death of Gandalf was epic. I had to remember to breathe! The movie scene though was waay better than the book as the monster under Moria was pretty well depicted.
  • There was something that really shocked me. The ring bearer gets to live more than normal people. Bilbo Baggins was 111 when he retired and he lived 60 more years when Frodo found him. With little ageing done.
  • Frodo Baggins is about 50 when he embarks on this Journey.
  • Gandalf the Grey has his finger in many pies and he travels loads, not just to the shire but to other kingdoms, much like a peddler.

“I don’t like anything here at all.” said Frodo, “step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.”

“Yes, that’s so,” said Sam, “And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo, adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and
looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on, and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same; like old Mr Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?”

“I wonder,” said Frodo, “But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.” 

Other LoTR books: Lord of the Rings Volume 2 – The Two Towers

Lord of The Rings Volume 3 – The Return of The King

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