We started The Hobbit with an unexpected party, and to start us in Tolkien's next instalment of hobbit adventures we are introduced to the long-expected party. Bilbo Baggins, who we are already familiar with, is turning eleventy-one. A very curious age for hobbits, as it is described. It is not Bilbo we are interested in this adventure but his cousin Frodo, who he adopts as his heir. They share the same birthday, making this eleventy-first extra special with Frodo coming of age by turning thirty-three. However, there are more plans hidden beneath and secret intentions that, once the party is over, spiral Frodo and his friends into a whirlwind of danger revolving around Bilbo's mysterious treasure: the ring.
This adventure involves more than one hobbit and a company of dwarves compared to the last. With a task fraught with fatal perils much greater than any hobbit (or human) could image, Frodo is joined by his close friends Sam Gamgee, Meriadoc (Merry) Brandybuck and Peregrin (Pippin) Took. Gandalf the Grey, who also ventured with Bilbo, reveals to Frodo that he is in danger as long as he possesses the ring but does not join the group until later after an unexpected tussle with Saruman the White. Other major characters are introduced and become a part of the party to assist the ring-bearer (Frodo) to get to Mordor to finally destroy it in Mount Doom. This group finally eventuates to the four hobbits, Gandalf, Aragorn (otherwise known as Strider), Boromir, Legolas (an elf) and Gimli (a dwarf).
In the beginning when all is well with the Shire, the hobbits know only of their homely lives. Where second breakfast exists and smoking from their pipes is a daily ritual. When Frodo is given the task to journey out to keep Hobbiton safe, he is reluctant to leave his home but concedes for the good of his fellow hobbits. At first, his reason to leave is a secret, the only other hobbit to know is his gardener and friend, Sam. However, news spreads to Pippin and Merry, and once they get to Frodo's 'new house' they tell him that they'll be joining him whether he likes it or not. With black riders on their trail and the mysterious disappearance of Gandalf, the company is appreciated.
This is where the adventure truly begins. Although the black riders are an imminent threat, the hobbits face the challenges of an old willow-tree, a barrow-wight and more, and they luckily meet Tom Bombadil. Tom helps them survive some of their troubles, and through these events they learn more about survival. They also learn about the terrors that lie outside of the Shire. They meet Strider at the Prancing Pony, Frodo mistakenly challenges the black riders, and the group eventually make it to the desired location: Rivendell.
That ends the first book of the volume. The second begins with Frodo waking up in Rivendell with Gandalf with him. It is not known to Frodo that his journey has not yet ended until later on at a meeting, where the the Council of Elrond talk about the growing threat caused by Sauron and how far his terror is spreading. All the stories link back to Frodo and the ring, and after a discussion, Frodo nominates himself as the ring-bearer to travel across to Mordor and destroy the ring. This is where the group listed above is formed, given the conditions that they did not all have to go into Mordor but would be entrusted with assisting the ring-bearer for as far as they like.
This results in the company delving into the depths of Moria, fighting a Balrog, being mesmerised in Lothlörien, and imminently splitting after the ring's dark power seeps into the heart of one of their own. This is the beginning of a journey taken by many in this famous story by Tolkien, where the Fellowship is formed and the characters are built. It is the breaking of the group that ends the second book of the volume and is continued in next: The Two Towers.
So learn more about these hobbit creatures after your journey with Bilbo and begin the adventure with the new ring-bearer, Frodo.
What I thought
Like The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings was one of my favourite books to read. I was introduced to the famous story through the films since I was too young to read the book when they came out (and I was probably too young to watch the films but oh well). Other than the Harry Potter series, these films introduced me to my love for fantasy. When I found out that they were based off of a book, I had to get my hands on it... and boy, did I enjoy it.
I'll admit, my feelings haven't changed for it yet. There's something about opening these stories and reading them that fill me with both admiration and nostalgia, and that combination makes it very difficult to not like it. If I take away all those feelings and if I had never read it, I'd probably still enjoy the story because of the originality and the story-telling techniques in it.
Focusing on The Fellowship of the Ring, I noticed straight away that there was a shift in language and style compared to The Hobbit. There isn't many, or possibly any, personal comments and there is a lot more focus on the description of settings and characters. This isn't an unpleasant change. If anything, I probably enjoy the tone and style better as it allows me a better opportunity to work my imagination and picture what is happening. The removal of personal comments also made the story flow better and let me immerse myself into the characters more.
For a first instalment, I think the story and plot is introduced beautifully. It builds off The Hobbit amazingly, although there are many years separating the two stories, but it can easily stand alone. One aspect (out of many I assure you) that I really liked was the subtle transition in the hobbits as they transformed from innocent to learned through experience. Their ignorance and fear of the outside world doubled with their need to continue their journey is an interesting contrast that builds them magnificently. I can't wait to see them grow as the story progresses!
I'd recommend this to anyone because it is such a classic fantasy that many people have heard of. This volume begins a fantastic journey that provides both heart-warming and heart-wrenching moments that are weaved wonderfully through the whole story, so why not give it a go!
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.