Lord of the Rings, Tolkien, group read – completion of The Fellowship of the Ring
Finally finished Book No.1. Really enjoying the experience of rereading this, particularly with all the discussion. So, I won’t do a recap because I’m already so late with this post!!
This time the discussion starter points were conjured byAndrea at the Little Red Reviewer. Other discussion posts are at:
Stainless Steel Droppings
Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf
The Written World
Sorry if I’ve missed anybody off or if the link is incorrect – let me know if so. Ta!
Gandalf and the Balrog, just Wow. Just a short scene, but oh so intense! With their mentor gone, how will the group go on? Even when they do reach Lothlorien, no one seems to know how to get where they are going. They had been dependent on Gandalf making the decisions, and now he is gone.
I really though the whole Balrog scene was brilliant – even though it obviously ends on such a sad note. Gandalf is brilliant – it’s only a short speech but it made my pulse race ‘I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udon. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass’. Couldn’t help that! Back to the point. After Gandalf was gone I felt like the group really floundered. They were full of sorrow and just so unsure of what to do next, even Aragorn seemed at a loss and I felt that continued until Frodo reached his own decision at the end. It’s sort of a sad note to end on really because I like reading about the Fellowship and the rest of the book obviously takes a much darker turn.
Galadriel and her Ring. She knows the Ring of power must be destroyed, but with it’s destruction comes the de-powering (is that a word?) of her Ring as well. The Elves must leave Middle Earth or forget who and what they are. For her, this is a no win situation. Frodo’s success effectively means the banishment of the Elves in Middle Earth. I wonder if that makes him more likely to do everything in his power to succeed, or less?
It’s a tough one. There are no easy choices in this book. Somebody always seems to be at risk but I suppose with the Elves this was never really their true home and though they were sad to an extent I also felt they would be glad to return to their own people. I loved the scene with Galadriel and I’m almost dying to quote my favourite of her lines but best not! Except this one – ‘I pass the test, I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel’. So basically with the destruction of the ‘one’ ring she is losing her power and it was only really her power that was keeping her here? Never thought of it like that before!
Boromir – I didn’t trust from way back at the Council at Rivendell. His conversation with Frodo at the end of Fellowship made him look like a know-it-all with a world view of colonialism and imperialism. Is this Tolkien taking a shot at the old fashioned British world view, or am I reading way, way too much into it?
Mmm, Boromir, what can you say. In one respect I feel sorry for him and in another I could shake him. He’s just too stubborn and blinkered. That being said, his little rant at the end did eventually help to push Frodo into making a decision!
After spending some time in Lothlorien, Sam realizes the Elves aren’t quite as scary or as strange as he first thought. I wonder if when he gets back to the Shire if he’ll realize the Hobbits in the next town aren’t quite as strange as he once thought. I really don’t think this is an overt “message” story, but I do wonder if Tolkien didn’t mind throwing in a little message of “those folks in the next valley aren’t as different as you think”.
I definitely think Tolkien used this to pass on a message and I suppose Sam was a good one to use to do so. He’s a lovely warm character and doesn’t seem to have any mean spiritedness in him at all and yet he has a very small view of the world and is quite old fashioned. But by the end of Book 1 his eyes have been opened and his horizons expanded. (I still think he’ll be very happy to get back home to his garden and his gaffa though!)
I only started reading fantasy a few years ago, and I keep running into this undercurrent of choice. Bilbo has to choose to give up the Ring. Frodo has to choose to take on the quest and be the Ring bearer. Even Boromir is choosing how he feels about the Ring and what it could bring him. In the end, this is all coming down to how we choose to live our lives from moment to moment.
On the face of it it seems really simple – a choice between good and evil – but the eventual choice will have an impact on so many people (such as the elves) and that makes it much more difficult. Personally, I would never be able to decide what to do! Not for the lack of wanting to do the right thing but simply because I would be thinking of the impact on everyone else. In that way I’m terrible at making decisions because I never want to upset anyone!
And the obligatory: what was your favorite part of this section?
This is difficult. I enjoyed the growing friendship between Legolas and Gimli (although I would have liked to have been party to some of their conversations), I love the exchange between Galadriel and Frodo but I think on reflection the mines of Moria are still ‘it’ for me. I love the description of the mines and think the writing in that respect is excellent and I love the tension that increases as you hear the drums starting to beat to the final scene with Gandalf and the Balrog on the bridge.
Thanks for the discussion points 🙂