It was a long and perilous journey. Fraught with annoyance, disinterest, and dare I say it, boredom. And though there were brief moments of entertainment and fascination, at times it seemed as though it would never end. That I would not make it until the end.
But, my doubts, and the doubts of my friends and family, proved unfounded. I persevered. Even when I felt like reaching into the story and strangling Frodo, I persevered. And finally, it is done!
Well, the first leg of the journey is anyway. And, as glad as I am to have attempted, and completed my quest, I think it may be some time before I embark on the second phase. Though I am curious to see how it all ends.
Now, I will not waste anyone’s time by giving you a recap of the plot. I think we all know at least the basics. I will just be detailing my impressions of the story.
Firstly, I found the first few chapters undeniably dull.
Everything before Frodo left The Shire, set me up with a deep dislike of hobbits. The way they acted during Bilbo’s toast, and the way they raided Bag End after his disappearance. Horrid creatures.
And after reading all of that I didn’t much care for Bilbo either. So, I took a brief interlude to read The Hobbit, to see why people care so much for the man. After that I changed my opinion on Bilbo, but not hobbits. (Unpopular opinion: although I found The Hobbit easier to get into and read, I did enjoy FOTR more)
Once we actually left The Shire, it all got much more interesting.
Though, I personally could have done without the Tom Bombadil caveat. I didn’t feel like it added anything to the plot, except to warn the hobbits about travelling through the Barrow-downs and offer them a way out if they should happen to encounter any trouble. Which of course, they did. Because those damn hobbits walked right into the Barrow-wights waiting hands. Honestly, who walks towards an ominous fog? People who deserve to be killed by Barrow-wights, that’s who.
But other than that, things did indeed pick up.
Unfortunately, there was never any chance of that I would really love this book. That is due entirely to Frodo Baggins. I wrote a post about the importance of characters to the success of a story. And Frodo completely proves my point. I disliked that hobbit more than any other. If I were the ring-bearer, and had been warned repeatedly not to use the ring, because it corrupts all those who wear it, I would keep that thing far away from my fingers. I would put it in a bag or something, so it was on my person at all times, if we needed to run from an enemy, but would not touch my skin, nor be readily accessible to my hands.
Frodo is just the worst.
Followed closely by Boromir. How no-one saw how off that man was, I will never know.
Another thing I did not overly enjoy were the songs. I like songs in books, I am actually having a friend of mine write a song that I am hoping to feature in my own book. But they need to add something to the plot. And I can’t stand it when there is more than just one or two of them. Every second page seemed to have someone singing. By the end I skipped over every song, because I had no interest in reading yet another one.
Finally, my last negative, the action scenes. They walk and walk and walk and walk and walk… and walk. For pages it goes on and on. Just walking, complaining, or rejoicing in the fact that all they had to do was walk. Then finally, comes an action scene. One paragraph later and the interesting part is over, and they begin to walk again.
Everything just seemed to be glossed over. Now, I am not sure if that was just the style of writing back in Tolkien’s day, or if he just did not want to make the common mistake of adding so much detail, that the fighting seems false. Either way, it resulted in a long and boring read. This was the main reason that it took me so long to read this book, far longer than any other in the past, I simply kept putting it down out of indifference.
I appreciated the story for what it was. The forefather of fantasy. Without the Lord of the Rings, many of the books I love would not exist, because it popularised the genre.
So for that, I thank you Tolkien.
Secondly, I loved the elves. Anything to do with them, I loved. That is probably why I didn’t enjoy The Hobbit as much, because there just were not enough elves.
I loved Rivendell, I loved Legolas, and I loved Lothlórien.
If the whole book had been about the elves, I would have been happy. Really, Legolas was a man that I could like. The way he watches Aragorn and Boromir dig through the snow for a while, then shrugs and runs over it as if it were solid ground, made me laugh out loud.
“The strongest must seek a way, say you? But I say: let a ploughman plough, but choose an otter for swimming, and for running light over grass and leaf, or over snow – an Elf.”
Cheeky bastard. But a lovable, funny, interesting, cheeky bastard. And if it weren’t for Legolas and the elves, I would only have liked two characters in the entire book. Gandalf, and Sam.
And now we come to the best part of the book. Samwise Gamgee.
The precious little soul, that far outshone Frodo in every way possible. Really, all you need to truly see that he was the best of all of them, was the way he cared about that horse, Bill. The way he told him that he would be better off staying behind at Rivendell, and how sad he was to leave him outside with the wolves, while everyone else journeyed into Moria.
I felt that the Company, and Frodo in particular, did not appreciate Sam for the gift that he was. And the fact that he loved elves as much as I, endeared him all the more to me. If I were in his position, going on a grand adventure with my friends, all I would want is to meet an elf (or, really, any of the fair folk/fae/fairies etc).
So, altogether, I didn’t love the Fellowship of the Ring. I doubt I will ever re-read it for fun. And I suspect that I will actually enjoy the movie far more than I did the book. A rare occurrence. The last book I read that was better in film was Divergent. But, I appreciated it for what it was, I enjoyed parts of it, and I was invested in a few of the characters.
But I will eventually read the Two Towers, it may just take me quite some time.
I have other books that need reading first.