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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Home Again: My Re-Read of Tolkien's 'The Fellowship of the Ring'

I've finished it.

And now I'm in the extremely satisfied, talkative, slightly giddy mood I'm always in after finishing a book.

Only multiply that feeling by...err....111, because after all, this is the lovely work of J.R.R. Tolkien.

This was my fourth time reading The Fellowship of the Ring. Mum first read it aloud to my brother and I when I was seven, and I've listened to it at least twice on audio book since then. However, it's been several years since my last reading, so at the start of summer I knew it was time for a re-visit.

This is my first time actually writing a real review for Tolkien anything. Except for my thoughts on the next Hobbit movie, but that doesn't really count. How can I review something that has been a part of my life since...forever? How can I write something that does any justice to the writings of Tolkien? How can I even summarize an entire world, filled with its own histories, cultures, and languages?

In this post I'm not going to summarize the plot or anything. Most folks have a general idea, especially with the movies being so popular. Here, I'd rather share my thoughts after my re-reading of a book already on my favorites list.

As I settled down and read through the prologue, Concerning Hobbits (vital. It is so interesting, and you'll love hobbits even more.), I couldn't stop smiling. I felt like I was visiting an old-friend I hadn't seen in years, and yet they hadn't changed. My reading was frequently interrupted with squeals and the repeating of favorite lines to Mum. If this wasn't a library book, my purple pen would have been out in a flash to underline everything.

Re-reading it this time, I feel like I've come away with such a better understanding. I'm older now, and my reading's changed quite a bit since my last listen. I've been in Mrs. Z's lit class....that alone has made me a more in-depth reader. I was pleasantly surprised when parts that bored me last time (yes, bored. I was younger and this is a long book!) were enjoyable. Tom Bombadil? Yeah, I remember really disliking that part of the book. This time, I loved every second, read his songs over and over, and pondered over his significance. And let's not forget the trolls poem I fawned over. I had 100% forgotten that poem existed, and reading it seriously made my day.

Another thing that really struck me this time around was how Tolkien developed the characters. Merry and Pippin are fun-loving, hilarious, and fiercely loyal right from the start. Bilbo is the pleasant eccentric. Frodo feels the responsibility for the burden of the ring and wants to save his friends from the inevitable dark fate, but not in an annoying-harry-potter-i-am-the-chosen-one kind of way. (Sorry Potter fans. That just really annoys me). Boromir is so much more than the 'only one that gives in to the ring' like the movies often present him. What about his brute strength getting them off the mountain? And His constant concern for the 'little ones'?

The Fellowship of the Ring's themes are classic. Good vs. Evil. Friendship and loyalty. Self-sacrifice, especially for your home and those you love. That there is always hope. Every time I sat down to read, whether it was for a paragraph or a two-hour session, I came away all bubbly and happy. It may sound cheesy, but Middle-Earth sort of restores my faith in humanity. The characters are not epic in and of themselves. They're quite ordinary for their respective races. It's the ring and the quest that is special, not them. They each have faults, and experience fear, indecision, and temptation. And yet they all overcome it (yes. Even Boromir). It's the classic ordinary people doing extraordinary things. All of them embark on a quest they believe to be futile, simply because they have to try and do something for the good of their homelands.

I've been a self-proclaimed Tolkien addict ever since my first reading of The Hobbit, but this read only confirmed it. I love the movies, the fan-fiction, the appreciation the actors have for their parts, and all the geeks who dress up in Middle Earth costume. But it's the actual books, Tolkien's way of creating a world so fantastic, and yet so believable, that really has me caught. I would encourage everyone who hasn't read The Fellowship of the Ring to please, pick it up. It is rather long, but much better than much more boring required reading you'll encounter in school. Right now, though, I would especially encourage you avid readers to re-read it. The only way I can describe it is as a happy, going-home feeling that no movie could ever replace. Though in general I'm not a huge re-reader, The Fellowship of the Ring will always be a constant for me.

Thanks for reading! :)

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