Leaving Bag End and Hobbiton was a very sad process for me. See this post for why ‘that feeling’ always gets me.
One of the things that threw me off was the very drawn out time frame of the beginning of the story. It’s, what, 18 years between Bilbo’s party and when Frodo leaves? I had a lot of trouble envisioning Frodo as older. In fact, I don’t, I keep with the image of Elijah Wood and his buddies. It’s not just that I’ve been indoctrinated by the movie, I’ve always been that way with certain types of characters – I imagine them how they fit in with my mind and then story. In my mind, this is a major quest undertaken by a newly adult young man. I just can’t picture him as a fully mature grown-up. Anyhow, it’s not just Frodo’s age that bothered me with the timeline. It’s other things, just how drawn out the story seems, like spending two months in Rivendell?! And all that time spent just determining who would go with Frodo. Other things like that. That just doesn’t seem very realistic to me. And for this point, yeah, it probably has to do with the movie…I always think of this quest as something extremely important, it must be done as soon as possible! But in reality, it’s so much bigger, set in a world so different from ours. They can’t just be running about everywhere. Things take time. So, while it’s hard for me to accept in my mind, I do like that that’s something a little different about this story, even if it seems unnatural to me now. n
When I was in grade four some guy did a book report on The Fellowship of the Ring. I remember thinking ‘Darn, I haven’t read that yet! I should get on it’ but I never did. I’m very glad I didn’t. The kid who read it in grade four was the kind of kid who would say he read it just to make himself look impressive…I’ve tried reading this book a few times and now, at nearly 20 years old, all of it finally makes sense. It probably would’ve made sense when I was in high school too (though definitely not when I was in elementary school), but now I have a lot more knowledge and ‘experience’ with all things Middle-Earth and I was able to make connections and understand references better. This is the kind of thing that through me off years earlier, I’d think ‘I don’t know what they’re talking about!!’ when it didn’t really matter, but now I do know what they’re talking about (at least vaguely…) and it felt a lot better while reading.
I enjoyed discovering that many of the iconic, memorable lines from the film were directly lifted from the book, even if they were attributed to a different character or situation. For example, Pippin at the council saying someone of intelligence will be needed on the quest, Elrond noting Sam is inseparable from Frodo, Gandalf’s challenge to the Balrog, etc. While the films do muck about with certain character’s personalities (poor Gimli), I feel like this lends some greater credibility to the movie, kind of strengthening the link between the book and film.
I found the strongest writing began around the time when they were preparing to enter Moria. This was where the story really clicked for me – I enjoyed reading the prose and started marking passages I particularly liked. From here on to the end, I loved this book a great deal more than I loved the first, ‘dragged out’ part. Essentially, I like Book Two over Book One.
In grade five we watched The Fellowship of the Ring at school (yes, our teachers got in trouble for letting us watch it…it’s PG-13 oh no :O). This was my first interaction with Tolkien, I didn’t read The Hobbit until the next year. Anyhow, I hadn’t watched any movies like this before and I was a little apprehensive of what violence might be coming. We had made it to the mines and I was doing alright and then it was time for a recess break. I asked my friends, who had seen it, if there was anything scary coming up and they told me that Gandalf dies but then he comes back in the second movie and I said okay thanks for letting me know. The point of me telling this story is that I always knew Gandalf died but came back. Finally reading the whole book for the first time, I wonder know what it would be like to read through the trilogy not knowing that. I think it would be such an incredible shock to see Gandalf go like that – if I didn’t know he came back, I would be extremely stressed out. Gandalf is such a significant character, he can’t just fall off a bridge like that! So, this is something I regret a bit – I would have loved to be able to engage with the story not knowing anything that happens (granted, that was the only major spoiler I was aware of, I watched the other two movies relatively spoiler-free which is better than nothing, but it is a pretty big plot twist).
Finally, I only specifically wrote down three passages that I liked. I know there were more, but I was mostly focused on just reading the book and enjoying the story. Next time I give it a go, I’ll take out my paperback movie edition and highlight my favourite parts, make notes, etc. For now, here are three random passages I recorded – coincidentally all from the Lorien chapters…
Legolas and Gimli arguing over who should be blindfolded through Lothlorien
The last lines of the ‘Lothlorien’ chapter:
‘Here is the heart of Elvendom on earth,’ [Aragorn] said, ‘and here my heart dwells ever, unless there be a light beyond the dark roads that we still must tread, you and I. Come with me!’ And taking Frodo’s hand, he left the hill of Cerin Amroth and came there never again as a living man.
Description of Galadriel (oh, how I love Galadriel in this book! Tolkien writes wonderfully about her):
The Swan passed on slowly to the hythe, and they turned their boats and followed it. There in the last end of Egladil upon the green grass the parting feast was held; but Frodo ate and adrank little, heeding only the beauty of the Lady and her voice. She seemed no longer perilous of terrible, nor filled with hidden power. Already she seemed to him, as by men of later days Elves still at times are seen: present and yet remote, a living vision of that which has already been left far behind by the flowing streams of Time.
Now that I’ve read the whole book, I can make proper judgments on the changes made between the book and the movie. I like the restructuring of Boromir and Aragorn in the films, and the greater presence of Arwen (though I can see why some people would not like that. Her name is mentioned, what, twice?). I didn’t really think much about comparison while I was reading the book, but overall I still appreciate both versions of the story. Tolkien’s book is the true vision and of course is very very good, but I do like the move interpretation of the tale as well. It’s like I have two versions of the same story to appreciate. (Or something. XP)
Just a note on the editions I read: I had a small paperback, HaperCollins 1999 edition, that I took to school and read while eating. I also have The Lord of the Rings 50th anniversary edition (one of the loveliest books I own) that I read when I was more comfortable at home.