Welcome back to Middle Earth. The world where elves, hobbits, orcs, wizards, and many other different creatures exist. After following the story of Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves in The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien, fast-forward a couple of years to when Bilbo is now about to celebrate his eleventy-first birthday. Remember that ring he found way back when? Well, turns out it's not a good ring to have hanging around. Particularly when Mordor's armies are getting stronger and their master wants it back.
It is a story that follows not a single hobbit, but four who, on their journey, find other companions along the way. Frodo is Bilbo's heir, so when Bilbo disappears at the end of his birthday celebrations, he leaves Frodo with his ring (with some convincing from Gandalf). It isn't long when things begin to kick off, with Frodo leaving with Samwise Gamgee in tow, and then is accompanied by his two other hobbit friends Meriadoc (Merry) Brandybuck and Peregrin (Pippin) Took. Four unlikely hobbits finding themselves in the more danger than they could ever have imagined. And no, that danger does not involve the absence of second breakfast!
The Fellowship of the Ring is the first volume of this series (review found here). This volume follows the forming of the fellowship of the ring (hence the name). The four hobbits, after a bit of a time with Tom Bombadill, find their way to the Prancing Pony in Bree. Here, they meet a fellow named Strider (later known as Aragorn). He helps them in their endeavour to get to Rivendell before they are found and killed by the Nazgûl (ringwraiths, black riders, etc.). Once they have successfully found themselves in Rivendell, a meeting is held, which ends with the fellowship being proclaimed. This group contains the four hobbits, Gandalf, Boromir, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. Together, they set off towards Minas Tirith or Mordor, which they have not yet decided is their destination.
Many incidents occur along the first part of this journey. The fall of Gandalf the Grey, meeting the elves in Lothlórien, and the betrayal of Boromir stand out as the most influential. The latter in particular playing a huge role in the future of the group, forcing Frodo to make a decision to go to Mordor on his own (although Sam joins him before he runs off). However, Boromir shows us his true loyalty as he sacrifices his life for Pippin and Merry, who are later taken hostage by orcs.
This then leads to the second volume, The Two Towers (review found here). The first book follows Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli who search for Pippin and Merry. There are also insights into Pippin and Merry, who are able to get free from their orc captors and find themselves with the Ents, befriending one named Treebeard. This is a lucky coincidence as they are able to persuade the Ents to fight against Saruman and the orc army he had risen for himself. For Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, they end up finding Gandalf, who is now known as Gandalf the White. With his help, they are able to find Pippin and Merry, who are with the Ents who have destroyed Saruman's army. However, once the group reforms after confronting Saruman, Pippin lays his hands onto Saruman's palantír, which communicates with Sauron, putting the group at risk.
The second book follows Frodo and Sam's journey to Mordor. On their way, they meet Gollum, a nasty creature who we met in The Hobbit. All Gollum wants is to have the ring back, so Frodo and Sam use that against him, forcing him to lead the way to Mordor. During their journey, they meet Faramir, Boromir's brother. They don't know of Boromir's sacrifice, so they are taken as prisoners with Faramir, who believes they are to be blamed for his death. However, through persuasion, as well as keeping Gollum as their guide, they come to an agreement and head back on their way towards Mordor. The ring does slowly corrupt Frodo's mind during the end of the second book, which shows him take sides with Gollum against Sam. However, with Sam's undying loyalty, he goes back to Frodo to save him, only to eventually have Frodo paralysed (assumed dead) by Shelob, the giant spider. Sam takes the ring off of Frodo's body to resume the journey, without him, only to find that he is still alive but has been taken by orcs.
Finally, we head into The Return of the King, the last of J R R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy (review found here). The final battle at Minas Tirith is about to get underway, and Pippin is sent with Gandalf to stay with the Steward, Denethor, because of his contact with the palantír. Aragorn finally accepts his destiny and leads the Sleepless Dead into battle in a bid to win against the armies of Mordor. Merry, on the otherhand, fights alongside Éowyn to kill the black captain during the fight at Minas Tirith. Although they win this battle, they head out towards Mordor to fight whatever is left of Sauron's army in a bid to distract him long enough for Frodo and Sam to complete their quest.
Unknown to them, Sam is in a position of having to get his way through orcs to save Frodo from death. Using the ring and his sword, he is able to frighten off most of the orcs in his path. Eventually, he saves Frodo, gives him back the ring, and they begin the very long journey to Mount Doom. Gollum continues to follow them, still ever persistent to get his hands on the ring. Once they make it to the mountain, all Frodo has to do is throw it in. However, the power of the ring has corrupted his mind and he refuses to, slipping on the ring to disappear from Sam. Gollum catches him, and in a tussle Gollum bites off Frodo's finger to get the ring. Both end up tumbling to their death into the fire of Mount Doom and Frodo and Sam are finally free of the ring, waiting for death as destruction occurs around them.
It ends Gandalf saving Frodo and Sam on the bag of a giant eagle, Aragorn marrying Arwen after becoming King of Gondor and the hobbits finally returning home. However, all is not well there...
I'll leave that for you to read the series and find out what happens next!
What I thought
The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien is by far one of my favourite fantasy trilogies. It was what ignited my love for the fantasy genre, and I'm so glad that I have been exposed to it. It is such a classic and J R R Tolkien's skill is like none other.
As I mentioned in a previous review, I absolutely love the characters and the stories they bring to the series. The character development is so beautifully done and sets up a fantastic story. They have become the most memorable part of the series for me, particularly with the complexities of birth and blood getting involved.
I'd recommend this series to everyone. It is beautifully written with so much lore behind it. I can understand it being hard to read since it is a long commitment to get through it. However, it is worth every moment. Reading something as wonderfully crafted as this really inspires you to read and write your own fantasy series (maybe that's just me).
So if you're looking for a challenge and you haven't tried reading The Lord of the Rings, I'd 100% recommend it. If you have already read it, go ahead and read it again! Allow yourself to be inspired by this beautiful fantasy, and ignite the story!
Charlotte is a reading and writing lover who has completed a creative writing intensive course at the University of Oxford and is a current university student studying a double degree in journalism and creative writing. If you are curious to learn more, check out the 'About' page.