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The Fellowship Of The Ring: The Lord Of The Rings Part 1
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A new wave of readers have discovered "The Fellowship of the Ring," thanks to the arrival of the epic movie hits. And that is definitely a good thing, because this trilogy not only spurred the fantasy genre into a respectable position, but also provided the template for virtually every elf, dwarf, lost king, and medieval fantasy world since. It's also a wicked good read.

We open some sixty years after the events of "The Hobbit" -- Bilbo Baggins is older, not much wiser, substantially wealthier, and quite eccentric (one not-so-affectionate nickname is "Mad Baggins"). He has also adopted his bright young cousin Frodo, who was orphaned at a young age and had led a rather fractured life since then. On his 111th birthday, Bilbo suddenly vanishes, leaving behind all his possessions to Frodo -- including the golden ring that allows its wearer to become invisible.

Seventeen years later, Gandalf the wizard shows up again on Frodo's doorstep, and informs the young hobbit that his ring is in fact the One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron. It inevitably corrupts those who have it, and most of Sauron's power is invested in it. Trying to deflect danger from the Shire, Frodo leaves with his best friend Sam and his loyal cousins Merry and Pippin. But Frodo has only the slightest idea of the hideous and dangerous journey ahead of him, that will take him across Middle-Earth to the evil land of Mordor.

Many fantasy cliches were spawned from this book (although they weren't cliches when Tolkien used them). Orcs, elves, dwarves, halflings, sprawling medieval kingdoms, dethroned kings, gray-bearded wizards and evil Dark Lords. But no one will feel that these are stale; on the contrary, they feel fresh and unused, because that is what they were when the book was first penned.

Narrative-wise, this book begins on much the same note as "The Hobbit": it's lighter and more cheerful, since it opens in the Shire. But darker undertones begin to crop up in the very first chapter, when Bilbo begins clutching at the Ring and speaking in a Gollum-like manner. The pace is pretty slow and gradual until the hobbits reach Bree, at which point it becomes darker, faster and harsher in tone and pace. The matter in it also becomes more mature, particularly in the chilling scenes after Frodo is stabbed by a Nazgul.

One of the things that Tolkien did exceptionally well is atmosphere. With a minimum of words, he conveys the menace of the Black Riders, the beauty of the Elves, the decay of the ancient kingdom of Moria, the mystery of such characters as Aragorn. In some areas, he deliberately didn't elaborate on the such things as the Balrog, leaving the visualization up to the readers.

Another strong point is a sense of epic proportions. Too often a fantasy writer TRIES to write an epic, at the expense of individual character development. Tolkien managed to balance both of them, by focusing on the individuals in the center of epic struggles.

Frodo himself is the quintessential "little guy" hero, one of the last people whom you'd expect to be on a mission to save the world. He's prone to moods of either cheerfulness or sadness, a little immature and bored at the beginning, but incredibly brave and stout-hearted when the pressure is put on him. He has no astounding destiny or special powers to help him. He's simply an ordinary person.

We also have Gandalf, who is fleshed out from the pleasantly crabby wizard of "Hobbit" -- we see more of his hidden sides and powers here. And Frodo is surrounded by a well-rounded cast of characters, including his loyal gardener Sam and his charmingly sneaky cousins, as well as a rich fellowship of ethereal Elves, mysterious men and doughty dwarves.

Tolkien wasn't the first fantasy writer, but he can rightly be described as the first noted fantasy writer, and he remains top of the heap today. "Fellowship of the Ring" is a must-read -- and then go watch the movies again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon September 16, 2006
I am not going to fill you in on the many lives of J.R.R. Tolkien. Nor am I going to paraphrase the story. J.R.R. Tolkien himself tells you what you need to know in the prolog. However I don't believe that people take him seriously when he says that this work is not an allegory.

The reason I say buy the complete "Lord of the Rings" now is that you will just be picking up speed and getting everything straight in your mind and you will come to the end of this volume. Talk about a cliffhanger. This animal leaves you with several.

Everyone in the book seems to enjoy pleasures. So should you and consider buying the hardback book. My images of the critters of course do not match any pictures. However you don't have to strain your eyes with a paperback in one hand, tea in the other and a cat in the third. A good size book will help detour any animals heading for your lap.
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on April 1, 2015
60 years have passed since the previous events of The Hobbit. Bilbo Baggins has become a 111 year old Hobbit man! Bilbo holds a birthday party in the Shire as he leaves Bag End for a holiday back in Rivendell to finish the rest of his memoirs. Yes, Elrond is alive and well. Frodo, Bilbo Baggins' heir, is requested by Gandalf to set out on a dangerous quest with the Ring to dispose of it in the boiling Cracks of Doom! That way, the fiend Sauron will be vanquished and won't regain his former power. Three other young Halflings named Samwise Gamgee, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took join Frodo Baggins on this mission. Gandalf the Grey gives Frodo the name Underhill for anonymity as Bilbo made the mistake telling Gollum his true identity, and almost tracked him down at the Hobbit's homeland to pilfer back his ''Precious'' that was taken. On the way, the Hobbits are being stalked by suspicious Black Riders on horseback...

Unlike The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings doesn't have much pictures, save the decorated arch leading to the entrance of the Moria Mines and five maps outlining Middle-earth's locations. I nevertheless loved those illustrations and how J.R.R. Tolkien did the stylized ancient bold lettering on the One Ring for chapter 2. It's also a much longer novel!

I had an incredible time happily reading the first half to The Fellowship of the Ring that was packed with excitement and daring adventures Frodo and his companions experience during their travels!

J.R.R. Tolkien sheds some light by introducing other Hobbit races which exist throughout Middle-earth besides the Bagginses and Tooks. One of them are the Stoors, the kin Gollum (or should I say Smeagol) once belonged until his grandmother and relatives disowned him. He isn't entirely altogether malevolent.

It left me grieved learning Balin unfairly died! He was the closest Dwarf to Bilbo Baggins. Orcs are cold-blooded savages who really deserve death, not Gollum! Oin, too, suffered a terrible end. I barely held back my tears! (sobbing)
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The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien is the epitome of fantasy fiction.

“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.”

Bilbo Baggins of the Shire had an amazing life then retired to journey far away leaving behind the ring of power to his dear nephew Frodo Baggins.
“When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.”
Frodo forms a bond with a an amazing group of people we came to love known as “The Fellowship of the Ring”
“Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.”

In this very powerful, classical story, passion, friendship, love, loyalty, mystery, and action is masterfully blend with realistic, three dimensional characters. Tolkien’s story happens in a different world, and he makes that world palpable. There is this unspoken connection between his readers and his story, it’s as if he reaches out through the enchantment of his pages to touch our hearts and one cannot help but love his work. The adventure of his characters are epic, wrought with danger, sadness, grief and triumph. Readers appreciate the fragility of life in a time when darkness looms over the world and death was omnipresent.

Tolkien is a master storyteller and it’s almost impossible to find a very successful author today who has not drawn upon his work for inspiration, he also set the foundation for many up and coming writers.

The Lord of the Rings is truly an unforgettable read that stays with you for a lifetime, this enthralling tale is a worldwide bestseller and its regarded as insult to this great writer to not read his work whether you are a new or established writer in this genre. Fiction just doesn’t get as good as Tolkien.
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This is the first volume in J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. The next two are The Two Towers and The Return of the King.The Hobbit contains an important backstory, but is not absolutely essential for enjoyment of this tale.

Frodo Baggins discovers that the gold ring given to him by his uncle Bilbo is more than a trinket of minor magic. It is the physical embodiment of a great evil power. And its owner is looking for it. Frodo, along with three other hobbits from the Shire, travel to Rivendell to participate in the Council of Elrond. There it is decided to return the ring to be destroyed in the volcanic fires of Mordor, where it was originally forged. Frodo and eight companions set out to accomplish this task. The book follows the first part of their journey.

This book was made into the movie The Fellowship of the Ring, which is remarkably faithful to it. With one interesting exception. Between leaving the Shire and arriving at Rivendell, Frodo and his fellow hobbits spend an indeterminate period of time in the Old Forests as guests of Tom Bombadil. Tom was omitted from the film entirely. Both fans and critics have suggested he didn't belong in the book, either.

Tom does not fit well into the taxonomy of good, evil, and unaligned creatures in the rest of the trilogy. He is clearly powerful, working magic in his forest by singing and persuading plants and animals to do this and that. And the ring has no power over him, not even making him invisible when he tries it on. When it is suggested in Elrond's Council that the ring be entrusted to Tom, this idea is rejected. Tom doesn't stay focused on any one thing very long and would make an inattentive guardian. The hobbits are refreshed by their stay with Tom, but he neither hinders nor helps them with their larger objective.

Tolkien offered an incomplete explanation for Tom's presence in the story. In a world where everyone, good and evil, is struggling for power and control, Tom seems to have renounced this kind of power. There is an immediacy to the good he does for others, offering food or helping with a concrete problem. He doesn't sign on for a larger quest, and accepts no responsibility to lead. He exists in impenetrable serenity, while causing frustration in some of those around him.

Tom is hard to understand and even harder to explain to an action-oriented audience. It is small wonder that the film omits him. But Tom Bombadil is worth understanding and is one reason you should read this book, even if you have seen the movie. Is there a place in the world for someone who seeks no power over others, even to do good?

Think about your answer.
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on September 2, 2012
The Fellowship of the Ring:

Though receiving mixed reviews, there is little doubt that "The Fellowship Of The Ring" stands as starting a new era for fantasy literature. Prior to its publication (July 24, 1954), fantasy adventures were aimed at young readers, including Tolkien's previous work - "The Hobbit" which was published nearly 17 years prior. While "The Fellowship Of The Ring" still centers on the adventures of the child-like Hobbits, the material is much darker and more serious than its predecessor. Tolkien also showed that one can deal with serious themes (machine vs. nature) in fantasy writing.

Tolkien preferred the name "The War of the Ring" to the eventual title of "The Lord of the Rings", and he wanted it published in a single volume as part of a two-volume set which would have also contained "The Silmarillion", but Tolkien did not have much influence at that time, and so the Publisher dictated that the single work would be divided into three books, the first of which is "The Fellowship Of The Ring". Each of the three volumes is then divided into two books, though this volume also contains a prologue entitled "Concerning Hobbits" which summarizes the events in "The Hobbit" as well as provides background material about what type of beings Hobbits are.

The first book is titled "The Ring Sets Out" and covers the events of Bilbo Baggins leaving the Shire after his birthday, the transfer of the ring from Bilbo to his nephew, Frodo Baggins, and the adventures of Frodo, Samwise Gamgee (Sam), Merriadoc Brandybuck (Merry), and Peregrin Took (Pippin) as they escape from the shire and travel to Rivendale. In addition, the reader is introduced to Gandalf, Strider/Aragorn, Fredegar Bolger (Fatty), Farmer Maggot, Tom Bombadil, and Glorfindel. The reader is also introduced to the Nazgûl, who and pursuing the ring. The events in this book take place over numerous years, though once the hobbits leave the shire it is a shorter period of time.

The second book is titled "The Ring Goes South", though it has also been called "The Journey of the Nine Companions" and covers the time at Rivendale. There we learn about Saruman turning on Gandalf and imprisoning him at Orthanc, and we meet the other members of the fellowship, Boromir, Legolas, and Gimli. In addition there is Glóin (Gimli's father whom the reader would have met in the Hobbit), and Galdor. The book then covers their travels, from the failed attempt to cross the Misty Mountains at Caradhras through their travel through Moria, to the forest of Lothlórien where they meet Celeborn and Galadriel. The book ends with the breaking of the fellowship at Amon Hen. Frodo and Sam have left the others, and an Orc attack is causing confusion with the remaining members.

As much as I enjoyed the movies which were based on these books, they are simply do not capture significant pieces of the story. Wonderful characters are lost, as are nuances and events which are simply cut out. Some things are changed in the movies, perhaps to make them easier to follow, so while I can certainly understand why one might enjoy the films, I would suggest that you do not deprive yourself of the opportunity to enjoy the books and the original story.

The Two Towers:

Which Two?

I remember reading an article where the author discussed which towers were possibly the two towers referred to in the title of the second novel of "The Lord of The Rings". Candidates included Ortanc, Barad-dûr, Ecthelion, Minas Morgul, and Cirith Ungol. One could have included the Hornburg in the list as well, but this particular discussion did not include it. The author discussed several pairs of options, but for me the answer was simple, as it indicates at the end of authorized Ballentine edition of "The Fellowship of the Ring" that it is Ortahnc and Minus Morgal and that is where the action is focused for most of the two books contained in the "The Two Towers". However, if you watch the film, it strongly points to two towers as Orthanc and Barad-dûr. To confuse matters more, there is a letter from Tolkien to Rayner Unwin where he states that the two towers are Orthanc and Cirith Ungol, but remember that it wasn't Tolkien that split the work into three volumes and he was never happy with the title, and apparently he changed his mind later as he is the author of the note I mentioned above. Of course, to enjoy the book it really doesn't matter which two towers the title actually refers to, but it was an interesting discussion.

I believe that the second volume of a trilogy is the most difficult one to evaluate. The reader is coming into a story which has already begun, and left with no real ending. In the case of "The Two Towers", Tolkien navigates those difficulties quite well. Though certainly one should read "The Fellowship of the Ring" first, there is a brief synopsis, and while each of the two books in the volume leaves the story hanging a bit, they are certainly reasonable places to leave the story off. "The Two Towers" was originally published on November 11th of 1954.

Book III is titled "The Treason of Isengard" and covers the stories of all the characters except Frodo and Sam (who are the subjects of Book IV). It starts where Book II left off, with Aragorn hearing Boromir's horn. This book introduces numerous new characters such as Treebeard, Éomer, King Théoden, Lady Éowyn, and of course Grima Wormtongue. It is a tale rich in characters, and in large battles, heroism, and last ditch efforts. The book ends with victory against Saruman, but that is over-shadowed by the coming battle with Sauron and the forces of Mordor, as well as the lack of knowledge of what has become to Frodo and Sam.

Book IV is titled "The Ring Goes East", though it has also been called "The Journey of the Ringbearers" and by contrast with Book III there are very few characters. Frodo, Sam, and Gollum are the main characters of this book, though we do meet Faramir during the tale of the ring-bearers as they take the ring to Mordor. This book as a darker ending than Book III, as the book closes with Frodo having been poisoned by the venom of Shelob and has been taken by the enemy, with Sam struggling to rescue him.

As with the first book in the series when compared with the movie, I personally prefer the book, though I have enjoyed the movie as well. However long the movie is, it is a condensed version of the book, and you will miss out on many significant characters and events, as well as be unaware of the changes which were made for whatever reason. The movies were a valiant effort to bring this effort to the screen, and they honor Tolkien's overall story, but to fully appreciate what Tolkien created, you need to read the books.
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Everyone has read so-called high fantasy novels -- lots of dwarves, elves, wizards, Dark Lords, medieval lands lost in the mists of time, and other such fantasy tropes.

None of those would exist -- let alone be cliches -- without J.R.R. Tolkien's magnificent epic "The Lord of the Rings." It not only spurred the fantasy genre into a respectable position, but also provided the template for virtually every elf, dwarf, lost king, halfling and medieval fantasy world since. And while "The Fellowship of the Ring" opens rather slowly, it rapidly evolves into a serious, sometimes very dark fantasy adventure filled with rich language and an exquisitely complex world.

We open some sixty years after the events of "The Hobbit" -- Bilbo Baggins is older, not much wiser, substantially wealthier, and quite eccentric (one not-so-affectionate nickname is "Mad Baggins"). He has also adopted his bright young cousin Frodo, who was orphaned at a young age and had led a rather fractured life since then. On his 111th birthday, Bilbo suddenly vanishes, leaving behind all his possessions to Frodo -- including the golden ring that allows its wearer to become invisible.

Seventeen years later, Gandalf the wizard shows up again on Frodo's doorstep, and informs the young hobbit that his ring is in fact the One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron. It inevitably corrupts those who have it, and most of Sauron's power is invested in it. Trying to deflect danger from the Shire, Frodo leaves with his best friend Sam and his loyal cousins Merry and Pippin. But Frodo has only the slightest idea of the hideous and dangerous journey ahead of him, that will take him across Middle-Earth to the evil land of Mordor.

While there were a few fantasy authors who preceded Tolkien -- such as William Morris and Lord Dunsany -- their work never got the attention they deserved, and the fantasy genre was pretty much nonexistent at the time. "The Fellowship of the Ring" changed all that -- Tolkien's book not only inspired fantasy books and all their offshoots, but also created everything that we think of when fantasy comes to mind. Noble elves, lost Arthurianesque kings, craftsman dwarves, and the whole Nordo-Celtic setting.

Narrative-wise, this book begins on much the same note as "The Hobbit": it's lighter and more cheerful, since it opens in the Shire amongst hobbits about to have a party. But darker undertones begin to crop up in the very first chapter, when Bilbo begins clutching at the Ring and speaking in a Gollum-like manner.

The plot meanders along at a relatively pleasant, slow pace, complete with dinner with High Elves and a visit at the strange too-cheerful-to-be-sane Tom Bombadil's house. But when the hobbits reach Bree Tolkien's writing becomes darker, faster and harsher in tone and pace. And the plot darkens as well -- Frodo is stabbed by a Nazgul and begins to slowly "fade" into one of them, as well as the increasingly harrowing journey through the Dwarf mines and into an orc-infested forest, where one of Frodo's friends turns against him.

Tolkien wraps this seemingly simple plot in great swathes of atmosphere. With a minimum of words, he conveys the menace of the snuffling undead Black Riders, the shining beauty and immortal sadness of the Elves, the decay of the vast underground kingdom of Moria, the mystery of such characters as Aragorn and the elf queen Galadriel. And in some matters -- such as the demonic Balrog -- Tolkien paints an outline with his words and allows the reader's imagination to colour it.

Even more impressive is his ability to craft a true epic Too often a fantasy writer TRIES to write an epic, at the expense of individual character development. Tolkien managed to balance both of them, by focusing on the individuals in the center of epic struggles -- and by showing the slow spread of Sauron's influence throughout Middle Earth.

Frodo himself is the quintessential "little guy" hero, one of the last people whom you'd expect to be on a mission to save the world. He's prone to moods of either cheerfulness or sadness, a little immature and bored at the beginning, but incredibly brave and stout-hearted when Gandalf reveals what he has to do. He has no astounding destiny or special powers to help him on his quest to destroy Sauron. He's simply an ordinary person, and therein lies his charm and his strength.

We also have Gandalf, who is fleshed out from the pleasantly crabby wizard of "Hobbit" -- we see more of his hidden sides and powers here. And Frodo is surrounded by a well-rounded cast of characters -- the most prominent is his loyal gardener Sam and his charmingly sneaky cousins Merry and Pippin. But the other characters -- ethereal Elves such as the Wood-Elf Legolas, gruff dwarf Gimli and the mysterious king-in-waiting Aragorn -- are also fleshed out nicely, and given their own litle quirks and strengths.

Tolkien wasn't the first fantasy writer, but he can rightly be described as the first noted fantasy writer, and he remains top of the heap today. "Fellowship of the Ring" is a magnificent start to a deservingly classic trilogy, and it only gets better after this.
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A new wave of readers have discovered "The Fellowship of the Ring," thanks to the arrival of the epic movie hits. And that is definitely a good thing, because this trilogy not only spurred the fantasy genre into a respectable position, but also provided the template for virtually every elf, dwarf, lost king, and medieval fantasy world since. It's also a wicked good read.

We open some sixty years after the events of "The Hobbit" -- Bilbo Baggins is older, not much wiser, substantially wealthier, and quite eccentric (one not-so-affectionate nickname is "Mad Baggins"). He has also adopted his bright young cousin Frodo, who was orphaned at a young age and had led a rather fractured life since then. On his 111th birthday, Bilbo suddenly vanishes, leaving behind all his possessions to Frodo -- including the golden ring that allows its wearer to become invisible.

Seventeen years later, Gandalf the wizard shows up again on Frodo's doorstep, and informs the young hobbit that his ring is in fact the One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron. It inevitably corrupts those who have it, and most of Sauron's power is invested in it. Trying to deflect danger from the Shire, Frodo leaves with his best friend Sam and his loyal cousins Merry and Pippin. But Frodo has only the slightest idea of the hideous and dangerous journey ahead of him, that will take him across Middle-Earth to the evil land of Mordor.

Many fantasy cliches were spawned from this book (although they weren't cliches when Tolkien used them). Orcs, elves, dwarves, halflings, sprawling medieval kingdoms, dethroned kings, gray-bearded wizards and evil Dark Lords. But no one will feel that these are stale; on the contrary, they feel fresh and unused, because that is what they were when the book was first penned.

Narrative-wise, this book begins on much the same note as "The Hobbit": it's lighter and more cheerful, since it opens in the Shire. But darker undertones begin to crop up in the very first chapter, when Bilbo begins clutching at the Ring and speaking in a Gollum-like manner. The pace is pretty slow and gradual until the hobbits reach Bree, at which point it becomes darker, faster and harsher in tone and pace. The matter in it also becomes more mature, particularly in the chilling scenes after Frodo is stabbed by a Nazgul.

One of the things that Tolkien did exceptionally well is atmosphere. With a minimum of words, he conveys the menace of the Black Riders, the beauty of the Elves, the decay of the ancient kingdom of Moria, the mystery of such characters as Aragorn. In some areas, he deliberately didn't elaborate on the such things as the Balrog, leaving the visualization up to the readers.

Another strong point is a sense of epic proportions. Too often a fantasy writer TRIES to write an epic, at the expense of individual character development. Tolkien managed to balance both of them, by focusing on the individuals in the center of epic struggles.

Frodo himself is the quintessential "little guy" hero, one of the last people whom you'd expect to be on a mission to save the world. He's prone to moods of either cheerfulness or sadness, a little immature and bored at the beginning, but incredibly brave and stout-hearted when the pressure is put on him. He has no astounding destiny or special powers to help him. He's simply an ordinary person.

We also have Gandalf, who is fleshed out from the pleasantly crabby wizard of "Hobbit" -- we see more of his hidden sides and powers here. And Frodo is surrounded by a well-rounded cast of characters, including his loyal gardener Sam and his charmingly sneaky cousins, as well as a rich fellowship of ethereal Elves, mysterious men and doughty dwarves.

Tolkien wasn't the first fantasy writer, but he can rightly be described as the first noted fantasy writer, and he remains top of the heap today. "Fellowship of the Ring" is a must-read -- and then go watch the movies again.
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A new wave of readers have discovered "The Fellowship of the Ring," thanks to the arrival of the epic movie hits. And that is definitely a good thing, because this trilogy not only spurred the fantasy genre into a respectable position, but also provided the template for virtually every elf, dwarf, lost king, and medieval fantasy world since. It's also a wicked good read.

We open some sixty years after the events of "The Hobbit" -- Bilbo Baggins is older, not much wiser, substantially wealthier, and quite eccentric (one not-so-affectionate nickname is "Mad Baggins"). He has also adopted his bright young cousin Frodo, who was orphaned at a young age and had led a rather fractured life since then. On his 111th birthday, Bilbo suddenly vanishes, leaving behind all his possessions to Frodo -- including the golden ring that allows its wearer to become invisible.

Seventeen years later, Gandalf the wizard shows up again on Frodo's doorstep, and informs the young hobbit that his ring is in fact the One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron. It inevitably corrupts those who have it, and most of Sauron's power is invested in it. Trying to deflect danger from the Shire, Frodo leaves with his best friend Sam and his loyal cousins Merry and Pippin. But Frodo has only the slightest idea of the hideous and dangerous journey ahead of him, that will take him across Middle-Earth to the evil land of Mordor.

Many fantasy cliches were spawned from this book (although they weren't cliches when Tolkien used them). Orcs, elves, dwarves, halflings, sprawling medieval kingdoms, dethroned kings, gray-bearded wizards and evil Dark Lords. But no one will feel that these are stale; on the contrary, they feel fresh and unused, because that is what they were when the book was first penned.

Narrative-wise, this book begins on much the same note as "The Hobbit": it's lighter and more cheerful, since it opens in the Shire. But darker undertones begin to crop up in the very first chapter, when Bilbo begins clutching at the Ring and speaking in a Gollum-like manner. The pace is pretty slow and gradual until the hobbits reach Bree, at which point it becomes darker, faster and harsher in tone and pace. The matter in it also becomes more mature, particularly in the chilling scenes after Frodo is stabbed by a Nazgul.

One of the things that Tolkien did exceptionally well is atmosphere. With a minimum of words, he conveys the menace of the Black Riders, the beauty of the Elves, the decay of the ancient kingdom of Moria, the mystery of such characters as Aragorn. In some areas, he deliberately didn't elaborate on the such things as the Balrog, leaving the visualization up to the readers.

Another strong point is a sense of epic proportions. Too often a fantasy writer TRIES to write an epic, at the expense of individual character development. Tolkien managed to balance both of them, by focusing on the individuals in the center of epic struggles.

Frodo himself is the quintessential "little guy" hero, one of the last people whom you'd expect to be on a mission to save the world. He's prone to moods of either cheerfulness or sadness, a little immature and bored at the beginning, but incredibly brave and stout-hearted when the pressure is put on him. He has no astounding destiny or special powers to help him. He's simply an ordinary person.

We also have Gandalf, who is fleshed out from the pleasantly crabby wizard of "Hobbit" -- we see more of his hidden sides and powers here. And Frodo is surrounded by a well-rounded cast of characters, including his loyal gardener Sam and his charmingly sneaky cousins, as well as a rich fellowship of ethereal Elves, mysterious men and doughty dwarves.

Tolkien wasn't the first fantasy writer, but he can rightly be described as the first noted fantasy writer, and he remains top of the heap today. "Fellowship of the Ring" is a must-read -- and then go watch the movies again.
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When Peter Jackson's epic movies hit the theatres, a new wave of readers began scrambling for "The Fellowship of the Ring." And that is definitely a good thing, because this trilogy not only spurred the fantasy genre into a respectable position, but also provided the template for virtually every elf, dwarf, lost king, and medieval fantasy world since. It's also a glorious read.

The action takes place sixty years after the events of "The Hobbit" -- Bilbo Baggins is older, not much wiser, substantially wealthier, and quite eccentric (a not-so-affectionate nickname is "Mad Baggins"). He has also adopted his bright young cousin Frodo, who was orphaned at a young age and had led a rather fractured life since then. On his 111th birthday, Bilbo suddenly vanishes, leaving behind all his possessions to Frodo -- including the golden ring that allows its wearer to become invisible.

Seventeen years later, Gandalf the wizard shows up again on Frodo's doorstep, and informs the young hobbit that his ring is in fact the One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron. It inevitably corrupts those who have it, and most of Sauron's power is invested in it. Trying to deflect danger from the Shire, Frodo leaves with his best friend Sam and his loyal cousins Merry and Pippin. But Frodo has only the slightest idea of the hideous and dangerous journey ahead of him, that will take him across Middle-Earth to the evil land of Mordor.

Many fantasy cliches were spawned from this book (although they weren't cliches when Tolkien used them). Orcs, elves, dwarves, halflings, sprawling medieval kingdoms, dethroned kings, gray-bearded wizards and evil Dark Lords. But no one will feel that these are stale; on the contrary, they feel fresh and unused, because that is what they were when the book was first penned.

This book begins on much the same note as "The Hobbit": it's lighter and more cheerful, since it opens in the Shire. But darker undertones begin to crop up in the very first chapter, when Bilbo begins clutching at the Ring and speaking in a Gollum-like manner. It meanders for awhile while the hobbits are travelling, singing and generally wandering around. But when they reach Bree, at which point it becomes darker, faster and more chilling.

One of the things that Tolkien did exceptionally well is atmosphere. With a minimum of words, he conveys the menace of the Black Riders, the beauty of the Elves, the decay of the ancient kingdom of Moria, the exquisite beauty of the Elves. All this is done with a minimum of actual description. And he balances the epic and personal stories, by describing the struggles of the "little guys" who are in the middle of a worldwide struggle.

Frodo himself is the quintessential "little guy" hero, one of the last people whom you'd expect to be on a mission to save the world. He's a little moody, a little immature and bored at the beginning, but incredibly brave and stout-hearted when the pressure is put on him. Self-sacrifice is his middle name. Unlike Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter, Frodo also has no astounding destiny or special powers to help him. He's simply an ordinary person, an everyman... or should I say, "everyhobbit."

Tolkien also brings back the quintessential wizard, Gandalf, whose powers and hidden sides are revealed more fully here. And Frodo is surrounded by a likable (though sometimes not exactly friendly) band of companions, from the noble, secretive king-in-hiding to his loyal pal Sam, as well as his cousins Merry and Pippin. One is wise beyond his years, one is a goodhearted flake.

Tolkien wasn't the first fantasy writer, but he can rightly be described as the first noted fantasy writer, and he remains top of the heap today. A deserved classic, and a beautiful story.
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