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
Geeky Daddy
The Written World
Book Den

Sorry if I’ve missed anybody off or if the link is incorrect – let me know if so.  Ta!

My responses:

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 🙂



6 Responses to “Lord of the Rings, Tolkien, group read – completion of The Fellowship of the Ring”

  1. Carl V.

    Moria is hard *not* to consider a favorite scene. It is such an interesting location and so much that is important to the story happens there. Wow!

    I did a little more research on the whole elves and One Ring thing and it seems that I was partially correct in my views that a majority of the elves were leaving Middle-earth to begin with as it was not their home nor were they intended to remain there indefinitely. It seems there the three forged elven rings gave the elves wearing them (and I would assume by default those they lead) the ability to slow down time to a degree, to allow them to stay in Middle-earth and not suffer the effects of diminishing in the same way/at the same rate. So indeed the destruction of the One Ring, which would also destroy the power of their rings, does have actually hasten the time of their departure. That said I believe for the elves there wouldn’t be any choice but to see the Ring destroyed as none of them would want to consider any future in which the Ring might get back into the hands of Sauron.

    I love that line of Galadriel’s. It is filled with hope and release but also with sadness. Tolkien did that kind of thing so well.

    As you’ve probably read on others’ posts, I am not as hard on Boromir as some are. While many of the characters are the heroic sort that we would like to be, I think Boromir represents more closely the place that most of us would find ourselves in. Thus far out of the party Boromir is the one who has most recently and perhaps most acutely felt the destructive power of the enemy since the people of Gondor are currently in battles with the forces of Sauron. I find it only natural that he would want to turn the enemy’s weapon against him and that natural human reaction then gets twisted and perverted by both the Ring’s influence and Boromir’s short-sightedness and desire for self-preservation.

    I’m with you all the way on wishing we could see more of the friendship grow between Legolas and Gimli. These two races with such enmity towards one another mean that Legolas and Gimli are probably the least likely to be friends and I see their friendship as a powerful message and something of great importance that Tolkien included in his work.

    It has been such a pleasure reading and discussing this novel with you and all the other participants. I cannot wait until we can sink our teeth into The Two Towers. You are right, things get darker from here, but as we all know there are glimmers of hope and light in there too and it will be fun to revisit them in these books.

    • lynnsbooks

      It’s funny but reading your comments in relation to Boromir – Tolkien was actually quite hard on him. Strangely enough I never got the connection before that Boromir was the only one who wanted to use the ring and the only one out of the Fellowship that comes to a bad end. So another lesson in there or do you think it was accidental. I never really thought of that until – that’s the beauty of all the discussion, it makes you dissect them and see them in a new light!

      • Carl V.

        From a story structure perspective it makes sense that at least one person would try to take the Ring by force. It wouldn’t support the idea that this Ring was so powerful if it never tempted anyone that was near it. I also think that Tolkien had ideas of where he wanted the story to go and certain things had to happen to get it there. Something had to happen to drive Frodo to attempt the rest of the journey on his own. If all the companions were faithful to him then he would not have ever considered that option. Plus it sets up this suspicion that all the members of the Fellowship might be susceptible to the Ring’s influence as the journey went along. I think the idea there is that Boromir wouldn’t have been the only one to fall had they all continued on the journey together.

        Also there is a history of the men showing weakness. After all, Isildur chose not to destroy the Ring all those years ago and took it for himself, so there is an idea of an evil being sewn in the line of men and so there almost had to be some evidence of that, something that would by default make Aragorn himself have doubts and fears about himself. Boromir fills that role well.

        I don’t think everything an author does is on purpose because there is stuff that a reader brings to a story that the author couldn’t anticipate. And I think as an author is writing characters take shape and directions spring to mind that may not have been the author’s original intention, but make sense in how the story is working itself out.

        I understand why people are saying Boromir was untrustworthy to begin with because there is truth in that. Considering that Tolkien didn’t allow for him to exist through the whole story meant that he didn’t have that many pages to set up scenario for Boromir to fall in a way that would be believable. Had he not showed signs of weakness and suspicion early on then readers would have felt blindsided and lied to for him to suddenly turn on Frodo. All in all I think Tolkien did a really good job with the character. I just happen to feel like he is not simply a “bad guy” but that he is actually more of a representation of how most of humanity would react. Boromir isn’t a horrible person for trying to take the Ring. He is just a weak person, a person on the verge of despair who makes bad choices. His intentions may be honorable in his own mind. I love this line of Frodo’s to Boromir:

        “I know what you would say. And it would seem like wisdom but for the warning in my heart.”

        I don’t think Tolkien wrote that just to give Frodo a line to fearfully appease Boromir, I think it is genuinely how Tolkien intended Boromir’s character to be, a character who truly believed on some level that his intentions were right and one who did not have the benefit of truly knowing the evil of the Ring like Gollum does, like Frodo is beginning to feel, and like Gandalf, Galadriel and Elrond do because of their length of years and history in dealing with the Dark Lord.

  2. Coming to the end of The Fellowship of the Rings « the Little Red Reviewer

    […] other discussions: Stainless Steel Droppings Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf Geeky Daddy The Written World Book Den Lynn’s Books […]

  3. Geeky Daddy

    After reading the Fellowship of the Ring, I just cannot believe that I waited SO LONG to read these great books.

    I am with you as well I did like how Tolkien described the adventure into the mines. It as crazy to witness some of the action that the party endured throughout Moria.

    Frodo sure is realizing that the One ring is going to impact so many people in many different ways. Thanks again for participating.

    • lynnsbooks

      Oh, is this your first read?? I hope I haven’t been giving away spoilers (or have you seen the films in which case it won’t matter as much)? It’s so difficult when you’re coming at this the second time because you don’t have the element of surprise any more but it’s still really good doing this read along. Should definitely do this more often.

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