I feel guilty to say that this is the first time I have ever read the Lord of the Rings. So many people love this series, and I grew up with the film series. I can almost quote the movies word-for-word…which may be concerning. However, despite all that, I have never read the books.
Synopsis: So begins the epic fight between good and evil, as an unlikely band led by a hobbit strive to destroy an evil ring whose power could consume the lands of Middle Earth.
Having grown up with the movies, I knew basically all the spoilers going into this book, so for me it was more about exploring the world and story to a deeper level than watching the movies can offer. Thus, I noticed many of the differences between the two. But as a more general overview, I enjoyed this book and plan to pick up the next as soon as possible. It’s a dense read, and it definitely took me longer to read than it should have, mostly because the beginning is so slow. That is my one and only criticism, that until about halfway through the book, the story feels bogged down a bit.
Since I know the movies quite well, let me talk about quickly the biggest differences I saw in the book which were not in the movie. First, there are quite a lot of poetry and singing in the book. Whether it is a short story or poems after Gandalf’s death, the book is littered with beautiful verses. This doesn’t surprise me, as Tolkien was a linguist. Second, and this is perhaps the most well-known change, the scenes of Tom Bombadil, who is present for several chapters early on. He wasn’t in the movies, and most people find him useless to the overall story. While in a sense he doesn’t directly progress the plot of destroying the ring, he does give us a fuller sense of the world, so I enjoyed him. Third, the book ends with Frodo and Sam leaving the party, before the battle between Boromir and the orcs (thus, the book ends earlier than the first movie ends). Fourth, Arwen is only briefly mentioned in the book, whereas in the movie she played a larger role. Fifth, Pippin and Merry are foolish in the books, always getting into trouble. In the book, they are normal, not doing stupid things and showing loyalty and bravery. There are other small changes from the book to movie (like being told about Saruman instead of seeing him in scenes), but those were the differences I noticed the most.
Despite the slow beginning, around the halfway point when the fellowship is actually founded, I became entirely immersed into the story. The writing style has this simple elegance to it, more accessible than most classic writing but also with perfect flowery wording, especially in the poetry, which adds a fanciful element to the reading.
The characters aren’t incredibly developed, especially the background characters, and yet I was never confused on who was who, despite the intense world-building and extensive character cast. At this point in the books (going off the book and not the movie), my favorite character is Gandalf. He’s wise, but with a gentle and humorous side too. He has a deep understanding of the world. However, I surprisingly like Aragorn’s character so much more in the book than the movie. He feels honorable, loyal, but also still struggling to find his path in life. I like how, despite Frodo being for all purposes the main character, Aragorn is more the “chosen one,” the “true king.” Basically what I’m trying to say is that I enjoyed all the characters and the balance they bring to the book.
I am well aware that Tolkien wanted this trilogy to be one book, and yet I’m reading it book by book, because it is quite dense and I don’t read many high fantasy. However, I did enjoy it and plan to read the next book as soon as possible.
Have you read this series? Or watched the movies? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,