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

Rate: 5/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (Spoilers Abound)

There are a handful of books that I attribute to significantly impacting my life, with Lord of the Rings (LotR) being one of the earliest titles that transformed my love of reading into a lifelong passion. The first time I read The Hobbit, it was like being struck by lightning. My Mom had bought it for me at a book fair with the deal that she would buy all of the other mindless books I was begging for, if she could buy me this series and I actually read it. Little did I know that through reading one could transport and lose oneself to a whole new magical world. I was quite young the first time I read The Fellowship of the Rings, with this series being the first one ever I’d willingly reread sometime in high school. Despite the series holding such high esteem in my memory, I hadn’t picked up Tokien’s works again since college when I took a LotR class. Instead, I have watched the movies an embarrassing amount of times. Actually, with the holidays approaching it is time I started my annual rewatching. The movies have been so ingrained in my memory such that the books and movies have become intertwined. With a reread being long overdue, I was excited to try the audiobooks, especially upon learning that there was a version read by Andy Serkis, the actor who masterfully brought Gollum to life. 

Upon finishing this first installment of the LotR today I am convinced of two hard facts. The first is that Tolkien’s story is utterly brilliant, so much more wonderful than my already fond memory attributed to it. Secondly, the movies might be my favorite adaption of all time and should never be remade. The casting and story modifications are genius, with the changes made being almost all improvements and the acting as a whole inspired. That said, I missed Tom Bombadil being left out of the movie. Tom’s chapters stood out to me as a child, and even more so as an adult. The chapters involving Tom gave us more time to recognize the resilience of the hobbits, while being introduced to the old magics of this literary world. Listening to the audiobook, Serkis brought this character to life, especially his infectious songs that I found myself singing days later to my year and a half old. 

That said, let’s talk a moment about the new TV show. I have been rather hard on the TV show, finding fault relentlessly with each episode. I feel like I must now take back every bad thing I said (well never about the magically transporting armor) about the TV show, as it helped highlight and give context to much of the history recounted in The Fellowship of the Rings from the legend of Gil-glad and weighted history between Galadriel and Sauron, not to mention the future fates of Isildur, Elendil, and Numenor. 

Moria is as terrifying a third time reading as the first, with Gandlf’s death being just as devastating. This review has so far spent significant effort comparing this book to the movies/TV show, but bear with me for one more tangent. Tolkien’s story captures your imagination, but really lets you fill in the gaps. Where the movies are pure perfection is that they take this story and bring to life all of the middle interactions glossed over, or the structures of this world and gives them the visual glory they deserve, that at least in my case exceeds anything I could have imagined. 

I have a book tattoo with iconic symbols from the books that have impacted me the most, with The Tree of Gondor being the foremost symbol on my list. I was a little nervous going into this reread that The Fellowship of the Ring would fail to live up the loft pedestal my preteen self had put this series. Thankfully Tolkien more than lived up to any expectations I had, as I found that I fangirled throughout most of this read despite knowing the material so well. As a general rule I tend to not do movie/book comparisons, so thank you for tolerating my rather unconventional review. That said, I eagerly look forward to starting the middle book of the Lord of the Rings to see if my love of this series only continues to grow. 

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