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November 2nd, 2012

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: The Fellowship of the Ring

Author: J. R. R. Tolkien

Published: 1954

Number of Pages: 398

Rating: 5/5


Frodo Baggins knew the Ringwraiths were searching for him – and the Ring of Power he bore that would enable Sauron to destroy all that was good in Middle-earth. Now it was up to Frodo and his faithful servant Sam to carry the Ring to where it could be detroyed – in the very center of Sauron’s dark kingdom. [From Goodreads]


‘It would be the death of you to come with me, Sam,’ said Frodo, ‘and I could not have borne that.’

‘Not as certain as being left behind,’ said Sam.

‘But I am going to Mordor.’

‘I know that well enough, Mr. Frodo. Of course you are. And I’m coming with you.’


There’s a problem with reviewing books like this – beloved, well-respected classics that have been popular and appreciated for years: I don’t feel I have a right to say anything critical. Who am I to critique someone like J. R. R. Tolkien? Quite fortunately in this case, I loved it. I may not feel I have the right to critique, but I surely have the right to gush.

The Fellowship of the Ring is undeniably a masterpiece. The very moment you begin (seriously – just the prologue could wow you), you know that an immense amount of dedication went into the creation of this work. It’s not just the descriptions of landscape and people that are inscrutable. The dates, languages, events, cultures… the entire land of Middle Earth has been created by a man who clearly loved what he was doing.

Some could argue that dedicating that much time and energy to a fictional world is foolish, when so many other things require attention. That “some” should pick up the book and read it. There is no question, in my opinion, that Tolkien was inspired to create this world, splendidly different yet so like our own.

This first installment begins in the Shire, where Bilbo Baggins has peacefully resided since the journey of The Hobbit, and where he has mentored his nephew, Frodo. And then Bilbo’s birthday comes. And then Gandalf reveals things to Frodo. And then Sam comes in. And then Frodo plans a celebration. And then it takes off.

Admittedly, it takes a while to get into the story. It’s laden with detail and not much happens until you’re a chunk of the way through. My advice to anyone struggling to pay attention is to keep in mind that The Lord of the Rings series is one of the most epic tales of all time. It’s beloved for a reason. So keep reading and find out why.

Frodo Baggins is everything I expected him to be (not a bad thing, either). I was more intrigued, however, by some of the other characters. Merry, Gandalf, and Sam were particularly nice surprises.

I saw the movies in fifth grade, so I had very vague impressions of who these characters were. However, the characters listed above were far more complex and interesting than I remember. Merry, for his intellect. Gandalf, for his humor. Sam for his brewing heroism. The Strider is one character I remember as being totally awesome, and he definitely delivers. Sam is possibly the most surprising of them all. Every event in the story brings with it a new side of Sam. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to watch him as he delivers surprise after surprise, and I believe his character is developing the most swiftly. He truly is magnificent.

Aside from the characters, I appreciated Middle Earth and its intricacies. Places like Rivendale and Lothlorien are absolutely fantastic. The beauty and mystery of them are mindboggling, and I loved encountering them for the first time just as the hobbits did.

If one thing can be said with absolute certainty of The Fellowship of the Ring, it is that there is no end to the marvelousness of the world Tolkien has created. The languages are beautiful, the cultures specific and unique, the characters complex and constantly developing, and the lands and history constructed to give the feel of an entire other world, just as real and important as our own.

I can’t say that I was constantly excited while reading, or that this was a page-turner, but I can promise you that there is never a moment during which I forgot what the characters were striving for or the inevitable chaos to come. The Fellowship of the Ring sets the stage for what I’m sure will be one of the most epic tales I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.