By J.R.R. Tolkien
Houghton Mifflin, 398 pp, 1954
First off, let me point out that I
read this from the new edition that contains all three books in one
volume, published to coincide with the new movie. It's this volume I've
linked back to Amazon, rather than a stand-alone paperback version.
Speaking of the movie, after watching
the previews, it seems like it took some liberties with the book. For
example, there appears to be an elf warrior babe who protects Frodo, who
is not in the book, and it also appears to concoct a romance with
Aragorn and another lady (maybe the elf babe?). Other than that, and the
obvious defect that the hobbits (Frodo, Sam, et al) look just like Men
and not like hobbits.
But enough about the movie. I'm sure
I'll go see it, and maybe even enjoy it, if it even pretends to follow
the book. But I know this. The book will be better. It always is.
This is the first I've read Tolkien,
though I do have dim childhood memories of watching an animated cartoon
in a movie theater. It may have been The Lord of the Rings, or The
Hobbit, but one image still stays strong with me, because I thought
it was the neatest thing I had ever seen. In this cartoon, Gandalf
attacks an army of orcs, cutting through the creatures on horseback and
slicing their backs with his blade. Blood flies everywhere. That's all I
remember. Perhaps someone can let me know
what this cartoon was, when it came out, etc. I'd appreciate it.
Anyway, again back to the book. Many,
many people are no doubt familiar with the storyline, so I won't go into
too much detail here, but Frodo Baggins is a hobbit living in the Shire
who has inherited a ring from Bilbo, the hero from The Hobbit.
This ring is very powerful, and Sauron, an ancient dark lord, is
searching for it. Gandalf urges Frodo to undertake a dangerous quest to
cast the ring into the Cracks of Doom, thus destroying it forever. This
book is Frodo's quest.
Along the way he meets many friends
and more than a few enemies, including the very cool Black Riders, who
are servants of Sauron.
The book starts out slowly but picks
up once Frodo embarks on his journey. While not action-packed in the
modern sense, it is quite exciting, and I can't wait to see what the
movie does with the special effects.
The book's main attraction, for me at
least, is the fantasy world Tolkien creates. I've read some fantasy
series, and his is by far the most extensive and believable world. He
refers to ancient histories, and lineages dating back centuries, plying
the reader with detail that wasn't entirely necessary but adds a rich
context and flavor to the book. His imagination was just outstanding.
So I loved the book, will see the
movie, and read the next book (The Two Towers) very soon.