In a recent post, The Trouble with Tolkien and Me, I admitted that I haven’t read The Lord of the Rings, which proves a bit of a problem considering my recent appointment as vice president of my uni’s Tolkien Society.
Well this summer, I’ve set out to remedy that. What follows is a LOTR-film-lover’s reactions to reading The Fellowship of the Ring for the first time:
1. Why is this so painfully relevant?
‘Always after a defeat and respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.’
”I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
2. Merry and Pippin are smart and competent?
Very cool! I like their clueless comic relief in the movies, but it’s great to see them as more than two mischievous friends that get caught up in Frodo’s journey by accident. In fact, by nature, Merry seems the most adventurous of the next generation of hobbits – including Frodo. And he and Pippin secretly plan to accompany Frodo for months before the group departs.
3. Tom Bombadil!
Finally, I can stop smiling and nodding blankly while my friends complain about his absence from the films! But seriously – who the hell is he and will he ever turn up or be important again?
4. How is it that I’m halfway through this book and they’ve barely left the Shire?
The pacing is so different; the films cut out most of the first half of Fellowship. Which is probably okay, because while it does eliminate Tom Bombadil and some other interesting scenes, it’s mostly a whole lot of:
5. Wait – Boromir has dark hair? Weird.
6. Who is this Glorfindel and where is Arwen?
I liked Arwen’s rescue of Aragorn and the hobbits in the movie. That moment demonstrates that, while soft-spoken and gentle in temperament, she’s a force to be reckoned with. Without it, she seems a perfect embodiment of the beautiful, passive, sad-girl trope. I’m hoping that will change in The Return of the King…
7. And finally-
Yes. Here it comes. You tell that Balrog, Gandalf. YOU. SHALL. NOT– what?
I know it’s just one line, but come on! You shall not pass (command) sounds so much more badass than You cannot pass (statement)!
Of course, if this was the biggest disappointment in a book I loved, that’s probably okay. It’s proved such a treat to read this for the first time (although I do think moments like Gandalf’s fall in Moria would have had a bigger impact if I didn’t know what was coming later on). I just finished The Two Towers last night, so look for a reaction to that soon!
5/5 stars. (What does this mean?)
Have you watched and read The Fellowship of the Ring? Did you notice any of these differences, and do you have a preference for one version or another? Let me know in the comments!