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Nov 01

Fellowship of the Ring

Once past the prologue, the book is easy to get into. Tolkien has put an incredible amount of thought in creating his planet. The Lord of the Rings is apparently set on our world in an imaginary time period in earth’s distant past (hence “middle-earth” really does refer to earth). There is an incredible depth of history and intricacy of detail in middle-earth that sets the scene for the LoTR trilogy. The 100+ pages of appendices, maps, family trees and the creation of several fictional, albeit linguistically valid, languages (especially two of the Elven languages, Sindarin and Quenya) and accompanying scripts (runic script etc.) seem to point out that Tolkien planned out an entire world before starting to write the book.

Nonetheless, The Fellowship of the Ring can be read without any reference to the voluminous appendices, or even the prologue. It is a single-plot book that follows closely a single band of adventurers (the Fellowship) without much reference to the developments elsewhere in the world. Because the LOTR “trilogy” is not actually three separate books, but one large book split into three volumes for readability, Fellowship does not really have any large climaxes. In fact, in the end parts of the book, the Fellowship is unsure where they’re meant to go and what they’re meant to do – the buildup of events will occur in the next two books I’m sure. The interesting thing about this is that, very little is seemingly achieved in Fellowship, apart from journeying a few hundred miles to the South-East. I suppose the story is all in the journey. The history of the Ring and also of the diversity of races of the world are very engaging to read about. Tolkien spends a lot of time describing the surroundings as the characters trudge onwards. The description is very detailed, but I feel it does meander a little. It takes a little effort to picture the scenes Tolkien describes. However, it’s easy to see now why much fanfare was made about the settings of the movie in New Zealand. The rich landscapes will be spectacular I’m sure, and to be able to “see middle-earth” rather than imagining it, will lend a new perspective on things. Of course, 2-3 hours is not enough time for the movie to retell everything the book does, so obviously the book will be “better”, but I don’t believe that the movie should ultimately be judged against the book, except for accuracy of storytelling. (Books always win anyway.)

People lucky enough to see advance screenings of Fellowship of the Ring have been reportedly blown away by it.

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