My newborn child takes after his father: when awake, he eats. Since we’re breastfeeding him, that means I have a lot of down time, just sitting there half-naked. (I haven’t quite figured out the whole “nursing in public” thing. At least, not with any sense of decency.) So while he’s just eating and I’m just chilling, I’ve also been reading.
The Fellowship of the Ring (part 1 of The Lord of the Rings, just in case you’ve made it through the past decade without hearing of Peter Jackson) is good. I would say it’s great, but it’s not. The Hobbit is great. The Fellowship of the Ring is exposition.
The thing is, Tolkien had this brilliant idea to write an epic adventure about a magic ring, some hobbits, and an all-out showdown between good and evil. And he did a good job of it. But his publisher was all like, “I don’t know, John. I just don’t think people are gonna want to read 1500 pages all at once.” So they split up the book and released it as 3 volumes.
Thus, The Fellowship of the Ring is quite literally the exposition of The Lord of the Rings. It establishes the basic conflict and gets all the background information out of the way – and with Tolkien, there is an unearthly amount of background information – but it doesn’t really do much to drive the story forward. By the end of the book, the story is finally starting to pick up momentum, so I was still excited to pick up The Two Towers and keep reading about these delightful little hobbits – but I certainly can’t recommend The Fellowship all on its own. At the end of the trilogy, I may be able to make a recommendation about the whole storyline, but for now, I’ll just say this:
I like Tolkien’s storytelling.
I do not like Tolkien’s elves. Personal preference.
I am indifferent about Tolkien’s addiction to song-writing.
I think Tolkien is a good author all-around, as evidenced by the fact that I’m already over 50 pages into The Two Towers.
My baby boy, John, eats more than I thought a newborn was capable of holding in one stomach. ♦