As with my review of [b:The Alexandria Quartet|13033|The Alexandria Quartet|Lawrence Durrell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1166512968s/13033.jpg|4003808] this will be a progressive review, with a review for each 'book' in the entire book that makes up The Lord of the Rings
. Being a dedicated fan I don't really consider The Lord of the Rings
as a broken up trilogy but as a single work of fiction, as Tolkien himself considered it.The Lord of the Rings
remains to this day my favourite novel. Not the best novel I have ever read and not the most ground-breaking novel I have ever read. It may not even remain the greatest fantasy novel I have ever read ([b:Gormenghast|258392|Gormenghast (Gormenghast, #2)|Mervyn Peake|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328001220s/258392.jpg|3599885] and Jordan's Wheel of Time
series [b:The Eye of the World|228665|The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1)|Robert Jordan|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1337818095s/228665.jpg|2008238] are perhaps better 'fantasies' and I've not even tried Jack Vance or Lord Dunsanny as of yet). However, it is my favourite of all novels, despite its flaws. It is, for its flaws, a grand work of literary beauty.
J.R.R Tolkien did many things in his giant novel that many would see as poor novel writing. Yet, the consistency of his style and his overwhelming genius allow him to break these rules in telling one of the greatest and most versatile of all stories. It is, sadly, an indictment upon fantasy as a whole, that many authors try and attempt to copy Tolkien's unique writing as they come across as shallow mimics and, frankly, create a version of the genre perceived as corny, bland or insipid.
It is partly, for these very reasons that J.R.R Tolkien seems to have fallen in popularity in recent times. There is also the other perceived reasons that Tolkien's work is stooped in extreme conservatism, that his work of Hobbits and the Shire reflects upon his desire for a kind of Ye Olde England with all its racial and prejudicial class distinctions. I do question whether this perceived 'extreme conservatism' stems from the fact that many media systems in the world are governed strongly by leanings toward the left (and cultural Marxism). However, politics aside, the other reason that Tolkien's works have waned in popularity stems also from the reproduction of his works in film version. While I do love the film trilogy made by Peter Jackson I do believe that those who solely claim the film as greater are misled by the fact that the film is fast paced and a visual feast. For there are many elements of the books that they miss in translation that should be observed by all literature lovers.The Fellowship of the Ring
Those familiar in any degree with Tolkien understand that The Fellowship of the Ring
marks the beginning of all The Lord of the Rings
as a complete work. Like most beginnings it is a slow work, full of much extrapolation and description of life in various locations within the book. However it is this description which creates the sense Tolkien aimed to inspire within his work: the sense of a world lived and breathed in. A world, reflective of a secret history of our own - a fantastical history.
The book may appear to mark simply the comings together of Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, Merry, Pippin, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf and Boromir as they set off on a quest to destroy the One Ring of Power (and therefore marks what is now called the Hero's Quest or monomyth). However there is plenty within the book that shows that it is also the beginning of a discussion on good and evil and particularly an observation of the effects of war on all that its good and pure. Tolkien clearly, in my eyes, draws from his observations of war throughout the entire volume. Further, he draws from his Catholocism and his understanding of mythology to create a work which is truly an epic in its own standing.
Those who see this as only the first part of a long quest marked by worldbuilding, adventure, tragedy, song, poems and other aspects that they may find 'boring' are in my view missing the true sense of wonder connected to this book. There is much of humour and story telling in the dialogue and even pleasant melodrama of this work. As the story continues in the next books of the entire volume the other themes become more apparent (which is doubtless why this is the weaker work in the entire volume).A note on Tom Bombadil
I was once part of the many who missed what Tom Bombadil as a character added to the story. What he adds is a free spirit, an aspect of whimsy and world building otherwise missing from Tolkien (for the most part) and yet an aspect that in Bombadil's appearance is consistent with Tolkien's work. Reading the Tom Bombadil sections has become one of my favourite aspects of The Fellowship of the Ring
(though I do quite love the Mines of Moria). Indeed, this first book shows what is the key thing I love in all of Tolkien's masterpiece (Middle-Earth as a whole); the sheer inventiveness of it all.
- There will be more added in later as I read and reflect and observe. Stay tuned...