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

I had wanted to re-read The Lord of the Rings for several months and had only put it off because I find them so dense to read that they take up a lot of time. And there are other books I want to read as well. However, when I went up to the Lake District with my mum in September I finally succumbed and brought The Fellowship of the Ring up with me. The Lakes always remind me of Middle Earth, so it was the perfect setting.

This was my third time reading The Lord of the Rings and I have enjoyed it more with each re-read. Tolkien’s descriptive writing of the world he has created is a joy to read. The settings of the Shire, Lothlórien and Riverdale are so vivid that I feel that I have travelled to these places with these characters.

The relationships between our main cast is something that I appreciate even more as I grow up. Tolkien has given the world a cast of male characters who fiercely care about and protect each other. They are intimate with each other and are allowed to show their affection towards each other without it ever being seen as demeaning (aka. feminine). In The Fellowship of the Ring our characters are brought together and the found family trope that I love so much begins.

The Fellowship of the Ring does, of couse, have its flaws. I stand by my feelings that there are too many songs and I will openly confess that I am skipping over the songs this time. Also, female characters? Speaking female characters? They’re thin on the ground. I believe I noticed three in The Fellowship of the Ring: Bilbo’s irritating relative, Lobelia Sackville-Baggins; the elven Lady of the Wood, Galadriel; and the nymph-like wife of Tom Bombadil, Goldberry. I may have missed one or two out, but if I have then they must have played a small role indeed. Tolkien largely ignores the existence of women.

In spite of any criticism though, I love this book. I find myself smiling when reading about the slightly ridiculous Tom Bombadil and the merry tunes he sings. The fierce friendships that form the heart of this book warm my heart. This tale is about people trying to do the right thing and helping each other to do what is good. The world feels like a dark place at the moment and hatred seems to be growing. But Tolkien has written words that bring me comfort, hope and the belief that every one of us can bring good into this world:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

“The road must be trod, but it will be very hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it. This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet it is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: Small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.”

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