Fellowship, Finished

I am so late writing this post!  But the Lord of the Rings Readalong is continuing, and I am combining the end-of-Fellowship questions from Clare and the start-of-Towers questions from Teresa all in one post.  I can do that.

Since we’re dealing with the first third of a novel, instead of the first novel in a series, do you find anything different?

The pacing would be sort of whack if this were the first novel in the series.  Book 1 of Fellowship spends all this time being hobbits and getting the hobbits out of the Shire, and then in Book 2 they go lickety-split through Rivendell and Moria and Lothlorien, and then Frodo and Sam ditch everyone else, and you have no clue what the rest of the Fellowship is doing while Frodo and Sam are ditching them (fighting Orcs, it turns out, or if you are Boromir, getting shot repeatedly while redeeming yourself for your previous naughty behavior).  I think the film of Fellowship found a pace that was far more first-in-a-series than first-third.

Do Books One and Two have significant differences to you?

Book Two went much faster, but I enjoyed Book One more (apart from horrible, horrible Tom Bombadil).  To me, the time the characters spend in places-not-the-Shire is ridiculously short, compared with the time they spend in the Shire.  I kept thinking, Sheesh, slow down, people.  Moria’s not that bad.  It’s atmospheric.  Enjoy it. So Book 2 felt rushed in a way that Book 1 didn’t.

Who’s your favorite character so far into the novel?

I actually felt very fond of Bilbo in this book.  I know he’s not around much, but he’s a darling.  The bit in the Council of Elrond where he offers to take the ring to Mordor is the sweetest moment.  After Bilbo I love Sam, of course, who could fail to love Sam, and I like Boromir a lot.

What surprised you the most?

DID Y’ALL KNOW that Legolas is one of those MEAN ELVES?  Remember those MEAN ELVES from The Hobbit, those elves from Mirkwood that were MEAN and they imprisoned the gang and Bilbo had to pull a cunning trick with his ring and some barrels in order to get them out?  Legolas is one of those MEAN ELVES!  Those elves, they are not only MEAN, but they are also incompetent, because they first let thirteen dwarves walk out of their prisons, and then they lost Gollum.  Nice going, mean incompetent Mirkwood elves.  Elrond should have sent a Rivendell elf for the Fellowship.  Mirkwood elves are plainly no good.

What was your favorite scene?

I always enjoy Bilbo’s birthday party.  The Council of Elrond, maybe my favorite scene in the Fellowship movie, is super boring in the book, apart from the mind-blowing revelation (seriously, I was so surprised) that Legolas is Legolas Mirkwood of the Mean Elf Mirkwoods.

So much for Fellowship.  On to Two Towers.

What’s your past experience with The Two Towers?  If you’re rereading, how does it stack up against the other books?

Last time I read Lord of the Rings, which was in high school or early college so it’s been, ah,  a few years, I liked The Two Towers best.  I love it the best, including the fact that it ends on a wretchedly despairing note.  I like The Empire Strikes Back best out of the Star Wars movies too.  That is just my taste.  I am hoping The Two Towers lives up to my memory.

If you’re a rereader, what are you most looking forward to?

Frodo and Sam in Mordor.  I love those parts.  Love.  I cannot wait for Gollum to show up.

What about the movie?  If you’ve seen it, what did you think of it, and how much do you think it will color your experience with the book?

I liked Fellowship of the Ring best of the films, though it’s my least favorite of the books.  I don’t know whether this is, in fact, an accurate reflection of the respective merits of film and book, or a prejudiced assessment based on my encountering the film of Fellowship before the book, and the books of the other two before the films.  Whatever the case, The Two Towers is not my favorite of the films.  I hate what they did to Faramir, and I do not like the guy they got for Wormtongue, and that foolishness with Aragorn and the Warg and the horse was just totally unnecessary.  On the other hand, Eomer is wonderful (nice teeth on the man), Aragorn continues to be amazing, I love the actor who plays Faramir, and Rohan is bloody gorgeous and so its is violin theme song.  Oh, and I cry every time at the end of the film during the Battle of Helm’s Deep.

There!  Finally!  I managed this post at last.  Now to start reading The Two Towers.

Update on Fellowship

It is now the middle of the month – tell us all how Tolkien is treating you over at The Literary Omnivore:

(omnivore = all standards)

If you’ve been with us since the beginning, how do you feel about the narrator compared to the narrator in The Hobbit?

BETTER.  I didn’t hate the narrating style of The Hobbit or anything, but it didn’t feel like the Middle Earth world.  Reading Fellowship is nice – it starts out sounding rather cheerful and hobbity, like The Hobbit, but more Lord of the Ringsy, and then it slowly gets darker and darker.  By the time Frodo and them get to Bree and meet Aragorn, the tension is crazy.

How’s your pace going? Is it smooth sailing or have you found passages that are difficult to get through?

Excellent!  Totally smooth sailing!  Glorious!  Except for Tom Bombadil.  I hate Tom Bombadil.  He makes me stabby.

If you’ve read this series before, is The Fellowship of the Ring, for the most part, as you remembered? If not, is it what you expected or something else?

Tom Bombadil is exactly like I remember him, the only difference between my memory and the reality being that I didn’t remember how Tom Bombadil WOULD NOT GO AWAY and just when I thought I’d finally got away from him and I could go on to Bree (tension! tension!), and I was so relieved, and Strider was going to show up, TOM BOMBADIL CAME BACK.  Tom Bombadil is awful.  I can’t stand him.  Neil Gaiman is perfectly right, and there is no reason for Stephen Colbert to do that.  Basically this reread has made me realize that my enormous love for the Bree parts is just a reaction against Tom Horrible Bombadil.

Are you using any of the extra features- maps and indexes, for instance – in your book?

I am surprised at this.  I like maps, but ordinarily I don’t use them while I am reading.  Ordinarily I can’t be bothered flipping all the way to the back and front of the books to check out the maps.  In the case of my edition of Fellowship, not only is the map in the back of the book, but it is a massive fold-out one.  Yet for some reason whenever I get confused about where stuff is, (like Bree. And Tom Bombadil’s home SO I MAY BOMB IT) I can be bothered to slither out from under my blankets, prop myself up on pillows, and unfold the entire map to consult it.  Maps!  Maps!  Maps!

In conclusion, I hate Tom Bombadil, and if you have decided to skip out on this readalong because you hate him too, it is perfectly legitimate to skip this book and join back in when we get to The Two Towers.

Beginning Fellowship

Wow, it has been a long time since I read Lord of the Rings.  I own a shiny hardback box set of them, which I got on sale at Bongs & Noodles for $15, and which I now discover are the editions with fold-out maps in the back.  I want to snip the maps out with careful snips and hang them around my room – except I know my snips would not be tidy, and even if they were, the maps would get all Blue-Tac-y in the corners and need to be folded up and stored next time I move, and eventually I would wish the maps were back inside the books.  My cover looks like this:

It says "Being the first part of THE LORD OF THE RINGS".  I love it when books say stuff like that.

My edition of Fellowship starts out with an introduction that explains that Tolkien made a lot of revisions.  A LOT.  He revised different texts, in different ways, so that different editions ended up with different information.  Including the well-known case of “Estella Bolger”, which the writer of this introduction seems to think everyone knows about.  This is very boring and several pages too long, and could have been condensed so it said this instead:

Dear Reader,

The edition of Lord of the Rings that you now hold in your hands is the best and most authoritative edition of all the editions that have ever been published.

A Bigger Tolkien Geek Than You

Now that I have written this letter, and been all snarky about the introduction guy, I’ve expanded my mental imagining of what it will be like when I meet Tolkien in heaven. The scene now includes the person who wrote this introduction, Douglas A. Anderson, who will have been talking to an interested and appreciative Professor Tolkien when I interrupt, and who will proceed to stand around looking smug until I realize who he is, remember this blog post, and retire in embarrassment.

I am like, ridiculously excited to be reading this again.  Gandalf mentioned Aragorn in passing to Frodo, and I was all Yes!  Aragorn!  Bring it, Tolkien! though in fact, when I am not being all screen-plagued (“gone Hollywood” did not win the word contest although I wanted it to) by Viggo Mortensen hotness, I actually really like Boromir better, in the books.  Because he is more interesting, and Aragorn is heroic but a bit dull.  I am looking forward to seeing Boromir again.