Buddy Read

March into Middle-earth: The Fellowship of the Ring Buddy Read, Part One

March Into Middle-earth

Welcome to the first part of my re-read/buddy read of The Fellowship of the Ring! This series of posts will most likely consist of four parts, split into two posts covering five chapters, and two posts covering six. The buddy read is also taking place on my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks if you’re interested in joining over there.

This discussion will cover Chapters I – V of The Fellowship of the Ring, and will contain spoilers for the book.

  • Words cannot describe just how happy I was to re-read this book. From the very first chapter, I felt like I was at home. I have re-read the series almost every year since the age of 10, so it is so familiar – but I never get bored.
  • The opening with the Shire is just so perfect, instantly setting Hobbits up as country bumpkin folk, with a comfy, cosy lifestyle. A lifestyle that I WANT PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
  • One thing that got me thinking, and that I discussed a little with Claire over Facebook, is how do Hobbits make money? Obviously there are richer families, such as the Bagginses and the Brandybucks who seem to be the known, wealthy families of the Shire. But there are others like the Gamgees, who are clearly poorer. Sam and his father, the Gaffer, are both gardeners. In the first chapter we also see that there are Hobbit farmers, millers, barmen/maids, postmen and, later on, a mayor. I get the impression that a lot of Hobbits sustain themselves through farming and gardening, but they must have other sources of income.
  • I never really thought about the Mathom-house, as mentioned in the first chapter, but apparently it’s basically a museum of old and unwanted Hobbit gifts and items. Now that is one museum I’d definitely like to visit, just to learn more about Hobbit history and culture.
  • Some dwarves turn up before Bilbo’s party. Are they previous members of the Company? Obviously not those who died in The Hobbit, and perhaps not Balin, whose tomb the Fellowship visits later on in Moria (although there is quite a gap between the party and the Fellowship entering Moria, so he could be there), but are they old friends visiting? Or just delivering the dwarven-made birthday gifts?
  • Hobbits are in their ‘tweens’ between their 20s and the age of 33. That would make me a Hobbit tween!
  • One of the many reasons I'd be happy with a Hobbit lifestyle.
    One of the many reasons I’d be happy with a Hobbit lifestyle.
  • I forgot how beautiful the songs and poems that Tolkien added to the story are. I’m so glad they incorporated some of them into the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, even if they’re not always used in the same context.
  • This is something I picked up just by circumstance: the other day, I was walking between campuses at work, and went down Northmoor Road. I noticed a blue plaque on one of the houses, took a closer look – and it was Tolkien’s house! I was pretty excited to find that, maybe I’ll go back one day and take a picture. But it made me wonder if he named the North Moors, which only appear once or maybe a few times in passing, after the street he lived on.
  • The fact that Tolkien made up so many different languages, and went into so much detail about each one, always astounds me. His grasp of linguistics was seriously impressive.
  • I did notice that Tolkien often ignores that literary device of ‘showing, not telling’, and frequently has his characters narrate stories for the benefit of the reader and the other characters. I guess the problem here is that there is so much back story, that if he kept breaking off to narrate the history of Middle-earth and the One Ring, it might not work so well.
  • And another reason: SO GREEN AND BEAUTIFUL!
    And another reason: SO GREEN AND BEAUTIFUL!
  • With every line that was taken directly from the book and used in the film, I read in the voice of that character in my head, which was pretty fun!
  • This is hard to describe but LotR feels so easy to understand – I don’t know if it’s because it’s super familiar and I’ve read it so many times, or I’ve just read more ‘complicated’ fantasies lately. By complicated, I mean those with difficult names and an alternate word for EVERYTHING, where you basically need a glossary so you can double-check everything.
  • One thing I noticed was that, within the first few chapters, Sam said ‘Lor bless me!’ twice. This sounds like a very Christian saying, and kind of stood out in a book that is set in a world with its own, non-Christian deities.
  • If you’ve seen the film of The Return of the King, you might remember Pippin singing to Denethor as Faramir gallops into battle. The haunting song, called ‘Edge of Night’, is beautiful, but actually comes from Chapter IV of the book, and is in fact part of a walking song that the Hobbits sing as they make their way to Bucklebury Ferry.
  • I’m actually pretty glad that the Nazgul don’t speak in the same way in the film that they do in the book. They’re somehow scarier when they just utter a few words…

Phew! That feels like a lot of notes for just five chapters! What do you think of the beginning of the book?


7 thoughts on “March into Middle-earth: The Fellowship of the Ring Buddy Read, Part One”

  1. Oh man, I really wish I had time to re-read right now, because just reading the post makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! At the very least I will be able to read vicariously through you, even if I can’t re-read myself.

    I really like the idea of being a Hobbit tween. šŸ™‚

    1. Re-read when you can, and until then keep reading these posts for the warm and fuzzy feelings šŸ˜‰

      Haha, wouldn’t it be fun? I feel like it would be free of responsibility too šŸ˜›

  2. I’ve made it to Rivendell, and I’m enchanted all over again. Like you, I keep hearing dialogue in actors’ voices (although I’m often hearing the voices from the BBC radio dramatisation rather than the film) and snatches of music from the score. It all works šŸ™‚

    I’d forgotten how much detail there is about the landscape in the book – you really get a sense of place and the gradual changing countryside as they make their way down the Road. I’d also forgotten how much history is woven in – absolutely told not shown, but I don’t mind that for world-building like this – somehow there’s enough set-up of oral tradition and story-telling that it quickly feels entirely natural. There’s a bit (next week for you I think) where the hobbits comment it’s been 3 or 4 days since they had a tale – the histories and songs are part of the fabric (and a coping mechanism, I guess). It’s funny how it never feels overwhelming – maybe it’s just that hobbits are so relatable šŸ™‚

    My first post is really just happy flailing about revisiting a lifelong love. Thanks for giving me the motivation – I’ve been putting this off for years, because I’m an idiot. Next week I’ll get stuck into world-building unless I get distracted by stories of the Elder Days.

    1. Oh, we’re at the same place then! šŸ˜€ I just got to The Council of Elrond last night. I’m actually further ahead than my posts so I can get them scheduled in time… I’m sure I had a tape of either the BBC version of LotR or The Hobbit, but I can’t entirely remember. :/

      Yep, I can picture it all so well in my head. To be honest, some of it might come from the films and Lord of the Rings Online, but that’s still through the books.

      So glad you’re joining for this, and that you’re so happy to be back in Middle-earth. šŸ˜€ This reminds me that I really need The Histories of Middle-earth though.

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