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

Posted February 23, 2017 by Amber in Reviews / 3 Comments

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring

by J. R. R. Tolkien

Series: The Lord of the Rings #1
Publisher: George Allen & Unwin on July 29, 1954
Genre: Adventure, Classics, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy, High Fantasy
Target Age Group: Adult
Rating: ★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

Continuing the story begun in The Hobbit, this is the first part of Tolkien’s epic masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, featuring an exclusive cover image from the film, the definitive text, and a detailed map of Middle-earth.

Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered to him all the Rings of Power – the means by which he intends to rule Middle-earth. All he lacks in his plans for dominion is the One Ring – the ring that rules them all – which has fallen into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.

In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.


I think this book is much easier tackled in audiobook format.  The story is interesting, but the departures into detail and lore can be distracting and tedious – not because they’re boring in themselves, but because they are frequent.  Nonetheless, the book is worth a read to anyone who enjoys adventure or epic stories.



One thing I had immense difficulty doing as I read this is separating Gandalf from Sir Ian McKellan,  Merry from Dominic Monaghan, etc.  I have so much more exposure to the films than the books that their characterization takes prominence.  That said….

I think the characters are, individually, a lot stronger in the books in matters of personal usefulness, but they aren’t very different from one another.  Frodo has a bit more strength of character, but his personality reflects the same as Merry and Pippin – in fact, the only one who really feels different is Sam.  Aragorn and Boromir, as well, feel very similar as people.  Elrond and Celeborn and Legolas all feel the same.  However, the characters who stand out do stand out.  Galadriel is lovely and fearsome.  Sam is sweet and suspicious.  Gimli is hard and brave.  Gandalf is wise and protective.  Tom and Goldberry are magic personified.  These are the characters worth watching.



Tolkien is a master world-builder.  Middle Earth is intricately plotted.  It is a fierce character of its own right.  The Fellowship stop in many places that bear a weighty history, and Tolkien shares the right amount of these stories to distract the reader from the trek.  This world is absolutely alive and the reader can feel it in every cloud, stream, forest, and mountain.



It’s difficult to judge the journey of the Fellowship and still be fair to it, one way or the other.  Fellowship of the Ring is a travelling story, an adventure story, and a story discussing the balance between good and evil.  It doesn’t feel “original” in any of these places, but the reader must take pause because Tolkien helped create this genre.  Other books have copied him.  That in and of itself is just about the greatest compliment a story can get, if it has inspired thousands of other tales.

Aside from that, Fellowship can feel a bit bumbling to the reader.  I personally like it best of the trilogy, because I like the series of miniature adventures.  The barrow wight, in particular, I had forgotten and I adored that scene.  Moria, too, keeps the reader anxious for the group.

Writing / Narration

Here’s where the story loses some points from my personal taste.

On some level, I feel like Tolkien doesn’t want to be writing this book.  At every opportunity, he wanders off the path of the story usually to talk about the plights of the elves, or Gondor, or the history of the ring, or to just generally be talking about lore and not the quest.  It makes me impatient to get back to the story.

Also, the book must have been 20% poetry or song.  Mostly the unnecessary or distracting kind.

Which brings me to  Rob Inglis, the narrator.  Save for the occasional foray into using Merry’s voice for Frodo and the such, he did a truly excellent job with his pacing and characterization.  I think he did and excellent job reading the book, but the poetry, the songs?  There’s be an awkward pause before each one, and if anyone save Sam was singing it, the transition would be awkward.  He sings the songs in a deep bass that doesn’t match any of the characters and it was just plain weird.

Personal Thoughts


I think that overall, this is a well-told tale, despite my personal grudges about its telling.  I know many who would argue the importance of every word in this story, and any tale that ignites that sort of passion deserves respect.  Overall I think I would revisit this book, because I do like the hobbits.  I like the idea of the stories a lot and all the while we have Gollum following which, alongside with the “what happens next” is definitely enough to get the reader to pick up book two.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★ 1/2
Writing: ★★
Narrator: ★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★


Have you read this book or anything by this author?  If so, did you enjoy it?  Tell me all about your experience in the comments!

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