the Little Red Reviewer

The Fellowship of the Ring discussion, part I

Posted on: September 10, 2011

Welcome to our Lord of The Rings read along!  This discussion follows the first 8 chapters of The Fellowship the Ring.  Post your answers in the comments below and/or leave a link to your blog.

on twitter? use #LOTRreadalong

It’s not too late to join in!  leave a comment or tweet me or Geeky Daddy.

This is my first time reading Lord of the Rings, my only experience being the films, and being married to a LOTR super-fan. So I’ve gotten little bits and pieces here and there about what to expect, but I’m new to everything else.  I’d been warned that the first portions of The Fellowship of the Ring are on the slow side. Sure, it felt a little episodic, but not slow by any means.  So far I’m really enjoying the book!

Other blog discussions:
Geeky Daddy
Stainless Steel Droppings
All Booked Up
The Written World
Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf
Mithril Wisdom

Newly added discussions
A Lonely Quiet Concert

and on to the discussion starters. . .

1. Hobbits seem to have songs for everything!  I didn’t realize this was a musical. . . . how are you liking all the songs?

2. I love that we learn about Gollum and his past so early on. It gives a dark and foreboding (dare I say, perilous?) feeling to the whole thing. Were you surprised that the story took a dive towards the dark and scary so quickly?

3. Tom Bombadil!  what and who is he???  If you met him in a forest, would you trust him?

4. What did you think when Pippin, Merry and Sam told Frodo about their “conspiracy”, and that they pretty much knew what he was planning from the beginning?

5. What’s your favorite part of the book so far?

my answers, after the jump!

1. Hobbits seem to have songs for everything!  I didn’t realize this was a musical. . . . how are you liking all the songs?

I love a good musical on tv or on the stage, I love being able to hum a long and all.  It kills me that most of the songs in Fellowship just aren’t doing it for me.  The meter seems off?  The funniest part is that Tolkien’s characters seem to almost, just barely be sometimes speaking in a pentameter of sorts, but the songs are weirdly and stumbley put together.  I’d have a tough time putting them to music. Maybe the songs will get better, or I’ll get used to them.

It did crack me up that the Hobbits are always drinking beer. I guess you can’t drink the water, who knows what’s it in.  Every time I picked the book up in the evening, I wanted a beer out of the fridge!

2. I love that we learn about Gollum and his past so early on. It gives a dark and foreboding (dare I say, perilous?) feeling to the whole thing. Were you surprised that the story took a dive towards the dark and scary so quickly?

I’ve only ever seen the movies, so only now am I learning that the films put everything out of order!  I do loves me some dark, so when Gandalf starts telling Frodo about Gollum, my thought was “oooh, goodie, some dark and scary stuff!!”. I was so happy to get to those portions so early on.  The Ring is a scary piece of work.  I appreciate that we find out early on what it is capable of doing to someone. . .  and what it’s already begun to do to someone else.  someone just like Bilbo, who at his party didn’t want to leave the ring behind.  I do loves me some dark and scary.

3. Tom Bombadil!  what and who is he???  If you met him in a forest, would you trust him?

Seems like people either love or hate Tom Bombadil? I’m not quite sure what I think of him, he strikes me as a sort of  forest spirit/demi-god who is suffering from amnesia and alzheimers. I don’t think he’s capable of leaving the forest.  Would I trust him?  If i was walking through a forest and a tree ate my best friend, I think I’d beg help of any weirdo who happened to walk by!  I would trust Tom to help me, but I don’t trust him to tell me the truth.

4. What did you think when Pippin, Merry and Sam told Frodo about their “conspiracy”, and that they pretty much knew what he was planning from the beginning?

oh, I thought it was hilarious!  Frodo is being all maudlin and making bad attempts at being secretive . . .  and his friends can read him like an open book. That’s how you know who your friends are, because it doesn’t matter if it’s a lie on your lips, they know the truth by looking at your face.  Frodo is a lucky duck.

5. What’s your favorite part of the book so far?

When Gandalf tells Frodo about Gollum and the history of the ring.   for me, that was pure gravity.   this isn’t some dumb magic ring that does a magic trick. This is the ring that will control the world and destroy it’s wearer.  It needs to be destroyed or imprisoned, but the ring has a will of it’s own, and doesn’t want to die. It doesn’t really get much more epic than that.

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34 Responses to "The Fellowship of the Ring discussion, part I"

There is another link to another post in Geek Daddy’s comments. Elena is doing this with us.

I feel the same way. When I am spending time with the Hobbits I want to drink a good stout beer. As Tolkien was certainly envisioning an ideal English countryside when he created the Shire it does not surprise me at all that the Hobbits like to imbibe a good brew. Lor’ love ‘em for it!

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the films put ‘everything’ out of order, but they did do some things to make the novels “movie-shaped”. Most of which I think worked, some of which didn’t. What is going to be weird fro you is when the characters break up and the story is not intercut in the same way they do in the movies. I like the contrast of the books and the films at that point. Once you finish reading Return of the King I highly suggest watching the three “Book to Script” sections on each of the extras on the the Extended Edition dvds. It is a great experience.

I too like that Gollum is introduced early and some of that darker stuff comes in early. The suspense picks up much more quickly than I recalled the first time around. I also like that hints are given, like with Aragorn’s mention, of things going on outside the shire that are setting in motion events to come.

I like what Elena said in her comments about Tom, that she would certainly accept his help but “trust” might be too big of a commitment. I liked Tom much, much better this time around. I found him less goofy and more mysterious, which I’m sure had a lot to do with the fact that I was prepared for him this time.

Frodo is definitely blessed with good friends, and I agree with you that it is great how well they know him and how they can spot what is going on between those ears of his. Love Sam’s role in it all too.

Yes, that whole section with Frodo and Gandalf is quite powerful, and words are said which reverberate through the entire story. It is moments like those that I am most in awe of what Tolkien did.

It’s been a few years since I’ve seen the movies, and I’m remember that Gollum bit coming way, way later. making them “movie shaped”, that fits perfectly!! I most likely will watch them after we finish all the books, it’ll be nice to see them through book’d eyes.

Oh you are right, much of that Gollum stuff comes in a couple of different parts of the films. Some later in Fellowship and the Smeagol/Deagol stuff is what begins the Return of the King.

When we watched Return of the King the other night the guy said “Is his name really Deagol?” and I couldn’t remember… Now with this reread I was able to say that yes, in fact that was his name…

When I watched the movies for the first time I had recently read the books and it actually drove me nuts. Well, actually, I drove the people I was watching with nuts. There were a few things that hugely bothered me… It worked out that someone else present had actually read the books, so we sat there and acted like nerds while everyone else pretended not to know us…

Hi! I decided to join in and managed to finish the reading. My post went up just a few minutes ago. I left everything too last minute… I will come back to comment a bit on your post, but I have to run out again. I just wanted to say I participated!

I was just over at your site reading your answers, good stuff! and I’m happy you and Carl were able to join in. stop by again when you’ve got some time, no worries. :)

I am one of those people that loves Tom Bombadil! He is just entertaining. I suppose they have just been through something dark, so they had to have something light afterwards. The book tends to follow that pattern… Something bad happens and then there is either a lighter scene or someone makes a joke. I think if you went through the book you could easily off-set everything bad with a scene where after that is good.

I actually liked a lot of the scenes that were not in the movies. I imagine that is because I have seen those movies a bunch of times, but I haven’t read the books in years. I am finding myself more drawn to the abnormal. If that makes any sense…

The problem I am having currently is my copies of the books are a bit beat up. I was rougher on books in the past, I guess. People probably borrowed them, too, so now I am browsing other editions for shiny new ones…. It’s fun because there are so many too choose from! When I bought my own set back in the day, I bought whatever was at the store at the time. It wasn’t like nowadays where you can buy the exact edition you want through the joys of the online world!

My Post is here: LOTR Read-Along FOTR Part One

I’ve been a smidge busy this week and left the reading until late, which resulted in me skimming a little over the bits I knew well, because I love these books, but I mostly love Two Towers and ROTK. Which is odd, because Fellowship is my favorite movie. Wait, maybe that actually makes sense. I am having some trouble with split movie-book vision this time. I was hyper-aware of what was missing/different in the movies when I first saw them, and now I’m getting the reverse effect.

The same thing is happening here. We recently rewatched the movies, so now I am comparing them constantly. When I watched the movies for the first time, though, it was the reverse… And, yes, I enjoy the other two books the best, too. This one was still good, though.

Tom Bombadil is where and why I stopped reading Fellowship of the Ring. I was just like, wtf. I do hear that if I can grit my teeth through that section, he goes away and never comes back, though…

I don’t understand people that don’t appreciate that strangeness that is Tom. I must just be strange! :)

I also like Tom Bombadil. I don’t mind being strange. ;)

Oh Alison, you are missing so much. Just skip that chapter and enjoy the rest. There is so much to like.

I will! Eventually! Let me get through The Hobbit first. :)

I am terrible when it comes to owning copies of these books. I have a set that I read, which I do try to take care of (although Fellowship has a few dings) and I have a nice boxed hard back set with the Alan Lee illustrations, but I want more. There is a nice one-volume hardback 50th anniversary edition that I would like and there is an older three volume hardcover set that is out of print that I would like to snag if I can ever find them. They would probably cost a fortune.

Well, mine are actually connected to the movie… That has bothered me since I bought them. I had read them before and didn’t own them, so then the movie was coming out and I wanted to reread… That’s what I got stuck with…

I think Geeky Daddy has the One Volume 50th anniversary edition. We started off with a falling apart paperback set, and then someone gifted the fancy UK 7 volume set to my other hand. Everytime I pick one up I’m afraid I might ding it up, maybe I should invest in a super cheap set as the “reading set”.

I have done that with books before, but then I end up treasuring the cheap set because that is how I experienced the book. So I’ve started trying to go ahead and read my collectible books, at least once, so that I have some sort of connection to them.

I as well am a fan of Tom B. To me he is fascinating , kind of wish i had somebody like him in “real life.” Who would not want to have someone appear and make everything better with you just singing a tune.

I was also wondering while reading these book, do you imagine the main characters looking like the actors or imagine them like someone else?

I almost made that a question – ” do you hear Elijah Woods and Sean Astin’s voice every time Frodo and Sam say something?”, because I do!

and Gandalf? sounds kinda like Magneto. ;)

I certainly picture the film characters and hear their voices, and since I like all the casting choices I am glad I do. Makes the book come alive for me even more.

Bwahaha! I have the opposite problem–whenever Magneto pops up in an X-Men movie, I expect the hobbits to show up too.

have you seen the photo where he’s wearing that shirt that says “I’m Gandalf AND Magneto!” cracks me up!!

I’ve read the books many times, but I had to hop in on this discussion just to answer #1: I’ve always been annoyed by the songs. I just skip over them. Maybe it’s because I’m a singer, but I hate reading song lyrics when I don’t know the tune. And I feel like I HAVE to make up a tune in my head to those LOTR songs, and I’m never satisfied with the tune. :) Plus, I just want to get on with the story. And I agree with you, the songs are just awkward and don’t really flow. Glad to see you’re enjoying the book!

I’m glad I signed up to this – it means Ill actually finished reading LotR, hehe. I loved the Gollum back story – it sets a damn good tone that everything isn’t going to be sunshine and parties, and gives you a taste of the darkness to come.

lol, maybe I’ll actually finish it this time too. Never was able to get past the Hobbit before.

Hi, I haven’t signed up to this unfortunately but I have read the books and seen the movie. Frankly, I’m ashamed to say I didn’t like all the little songs – in fact I skipped over them (very bad! hangs head). Tom B – it’s not that i disliked him but I couldn’t really fathom him out and so I guess this made me discount him a little.
In terms of my favourite character – it’s a close thing but I think it’s got to be Strider. I loved him in this book and had a total crush on him and then I loved him in the film.
Great post.
Lynn :D

I’m happy to add you to the mailing list if you’d like to get the discussion starters. :)

I was skipping through the songs at the beginning, but now that I’m a little further in either the songs are getting better or I’m getting used to them because they don’t seem so bad.

I had a total crush on Aragorn in the movies (Viggo Mortenson. . . sigh. . .), but now that I’ve met him in the book he seems cooler and gruffer, but not as crush-worthy. oh well, I suppose they can’t all have that famous Viggo jawline. ;)

yes, I totally agree, Viggo is gorgeous in that role, very manly and poetic. When one relies more on the text to awaken one’s inner eye, what one sees is often quite different from what the film maker presents.

Major omissions in LOTR: sex, and any socially repugnant natural bodily functions. A rather Victorian tale, after all.

My main experience is of a re-read, and I am comparing my mature (ahem) outlook with my memories of my 13-year-old self, so this reading is a special experience for me. I can’t possibly approach this material as if it were fresh, and yet I can bring my cool old-self gaze upon it.

Yes, Tolkien’s verse is far from wonderful, although if you try speaking the poems out loud, and strive for a clipped British accent, I think you can get the phrasing and emphasis correct enough so that the meter stands (if a bit wobbly.) Anyone listening to this in a recording? I tried looking for a recording of this, but I didn’t want a “performance”, I just wanted an excellent reading, and didn’t come up with anything. Y’all remember this dude named Shakespeare, yah? He’s hard to read until you understand the phrasing and emphasis, too, and you need a skilled speaker to pull that off. Forget Michael Keaton mumbling through his lines in Much Ado About Nothing. But I digress. On the whole, I don’t get much out of the LOTR verses either; they’re quite artificial.

Darkness? Yeah, but having previously digested this material, I don’t feel it. I actually don’t think it’s very effective. It’s about as effective as Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time material. In other words: not really scary; it just pretends to be scary. The real world is much scarier to me.

Tom Bombadil: The first time I read this (1972?!) I couldn’t stand this trite and sentimental magical fluff. This time I’m more tolerant, because I see that LOTR is full of triteness and sentimentality, and if I can’t tolerate it at all, I won’t be reading it. I see Tolkien as striving to hit certain notes, and not quite doing it, but still earning “A” for effort. Some parts redeem the other parts.

Skipping over to what seems relevant for my own reading: what I think is most effective is the experience of the journey; the quest in the wilderness, and the fortunate (and unfortunate) encounters along the way. I love Tolkien’s landscapes and nature descriptions. When I read it as a youngster, it resonated powerfully for me, as I felt trapped in life, and yearned for another way of living, a nobility of purpose, and a connection with the landscape.

My fav part so far, which didn’t even make it into the movie, was the hobbits trying to navigate in the Old Forest, and becoming lost. I loved the feeling of escaping out the back door and into a realm of deep dark secrets, nature spirits, and shamanic powers. I think JRRT describes this part beautifully and effectively. I was feeling their experience.

By the way, I’m reading LOTR on Kindle, and it’s quite a good edition, as e-books go. I find myself wanting to get an atlas so I can track their movements more closely; such a thing probably exists. The Kindle edition so far has only included one map, which shows the Shire, and no further.

Yeah, go on, add me to your mailing list – this discussion is very enjoyable! I love reading books but I must admit I also like discussing them!
Lynn ;)

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