Everyone should be familiar with this book. Whether you’ve read the book, watched the movie, both, or none of the above, the work of J. R. R. Tolkien is known around the world as masterful in regards to fantasy. My dad read these books to us growing up and I first read them on my own when I was in the fifth grade, so although I know the story well I wanted to re-visit this timeless classic. That, and my wife had never read them, so I took this opportunity to share a piece of my childhood with her by reading them aloud. We are also watching the movies after each book because she hasn’t seen those either. And before anyone becomes too shocked, she didn’t want to watch them until after she had seen read the books, which was a very noble decision if I do say so myself.
So for those of you that haven’t read the books, watched the movies, or know what they are about here is a synopsis:
Beginning fifty years after the events of The Hobbit, Bilbo leaves Hobbiton for good, passing all his worldly possessions on to his nephew Frodo, even his magic ring. But the magic ring that proved to be such a windfall for Bilbo brings danger for its new owner. Sauron, the Lord of the Ring, is gaining power and amassing an army to flood Middle Earth in a second darkness and all he needs is the ring. Frodo and his companions will have to travel to Rivendell and into the world beyond to take the ring into the land of Mordor – the only place where it can be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom.
I once read an article that was of the opinion that Tolkien is not a “Father of Fantasy”: A title that is often granted to him in honor. This may or may not be the case, it is a matter of opinion for each person, but I know why I personally give him this title. For many modern authors it has become a standard for fantasy and science fiction to contain gratuitous amounts of sex, violence, and language. In my eyes, this doesn’t mark someone as a good author; all it does is appeal to the audience. However, Tolkien’s books capture a magical world through the power of his writing and the beauty of his vision. And that is excellent criteria for what makes a good fantasy.
Now when I read this book I remember listening as my dad read it aloud to us, but there is something that comes with time that gives any book a whole new life. I remember the story, the events, the characters, and so much more, but as I read this outloud to my wife everything became a vivid series of images that continued to dance through my mind, redefining my memories of the book.
I don’t know what more there is to say about The Fellowship of the Ring. It is a masterful book that helps serve as the foundation for the fantasy genre. The only counsel I would give to those that desire to read or re-read this book is to read it out loud. Tolkien was an expert of the Anglo-Saxon culture, and having translated works including Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, it can only be expected that his original work would follow a similar pattern of being best when read orally.