Buddy Read

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

March Into Middle-earth

Alas, it is time for the fourth and final part of my reread/buddy read of The Fellowship of the Ring! If you’ve missed the previous discussions, you can find Chapters I – V here, Chapters VI – XI here and Chapters XII – XVI here. 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 XVII– XXII of The Fellowship of the Ring, and will contain spoilers for the book.

  • Only now can I link the Ori in The Hobbit with the Ori who kept histories in Moria. I think the films have helped me to remember more of the dwarves names.
  • It is stated that Oin was killed by the Watcher. Poor Oin. And Ori is that dusty old skeleton in Balin’s tomb, clutching the huge book that Gandalf picks up…
  • ori gif

  • GANDALF’S LAMENT NO NO NO. Even though I know he doesn’t die, I know he is reborn as Gandalf the White, the reaction of the Fellowship to his death is heartbreaking. And then the elves mourn Mithrandir – which was beautifully done in the film I must say, every time I hear that song I want to cry.
  • THE DWARF BREATHED SO LOUD WE COULD HAVE SHOT HIM IN THE DARK. Okay, it’s not written in quite the same way, but I liked how the film used a similar line and altered it into one that everyone remembers.
  • haldir gif

  • There is a seriously awkward moment where Gimli basically hits on Galadriel in front of Celeborn, and then there is a long silence:
  • “[Gimli] rose clumsily and bowed in dwarf fashion, saying: ‘Yet more fair is the living land of Lorien, and the Lady Galadriel is above all the jewels that lie beneath the earth!’

    There was a silence.”

  • Gimli again proves himself to be prime comic relief material by gobbling down an entire lembas bread in one go – which is pretty much three days worth of meals. How the boat didn’t sink after that, I don’t know.
  • Boromir. Oh Boromir. You break my heart. The moment when he realises what he has done after trying to take the Ring from Frodo just absolutely tears at my heart strings, even though I know it’s coming.

Thank you to everyone who took part in this read-along, or followed and commented on these posts!

lotr gif

Buddy Read

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

March Into Middle-earth

Welcome to the third part of my re-read/buddy read of The Fellowship of the Ring! If you’ve missed the previous discussions, you can find Chapters I – V here and Chapters VI – XI here. 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 XII – XVI of The Fellowship of the Ring, and will contain spoilers for the book.

  • I don’t fault Peter Jackson’s decision to add more urgency and speed up time, for example during ‘Flight to the Ford’. What is about 17 days in the book seems like less than 1 in the film, and it adds more excitement and peril – there’s not that much sense of Frodo’s life being in any particular danger otherwise.
  • I never noticed this before, perhaps because it only appears once and in passing – but Tolkien mentions that there are werewolves in Middle-earth. Are they linked to Beornings, the men who can turn into bears?
  • I forgot that Gloin was at Rivendell! It’s fun finding all the links between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. There are others too, like mentions of Bard the Bowman and Beorn.
  • It’s also funny to imagine the father-son dynamic between Gloin and Gimli. Gimli as the teenage son who is dragged, reluctantly, onto this road trip… and comes out of it as one of the Fellowship, as well as with a beautiful friendship.
  • tumblr_nhijatoHCf1t53etdo1_500

  • There’s also a mention of Bombur… and how he is now so fat that it takes six dwarves to lift him!
  • There was a bit of foreshadowing of what was yet to come in Moria, when it is mentioned that the dwarves do not know what has happened to Balin, Ori and Oin.
  • It was mentioned that Aragorn was not at the feast in Rivendell. My immediate thought was that he was… ‘catching up’ with Arwen, but it is later explained that he was in fact receiving news from Elladan and Elrohir, the sons of Elrond. Oh well.
  • There is a mention of Celebrimbor, one of the forgers of the One Ring, who is also a playable character in the video game Shadow of Mordor – one I’ve recently been playing. It’s quite fun to link the game into the book a bit more, rather than just the setting of Mordor and presence of orcs.
  • I remember skipping the chapter ‘The Council of Elrond’ on some read-throughs, and I now I remember why. It does drag quite a bit, and is packed full of exposition.
  • One of the bits that really made me laugh – the Council talk of how lucky it is that Gollum is safely locked away in Mirkwood, and then Legolas is like ‘Oh yeah by the way guys, he escaped! Whoops, lol’. Oh Legolas…
  • Probably what he was doing instead of sharing the important news.
    Probably what he was doing instead of sharing the important news.
  • Once again, time goes super slow and the Fellowship actually spend TWO WHOLE MONTHS in Rivendell.
  • One bit that completely disappear from my memory – the Fellowship fighting Wargs just before entering Moria! I remember this happening in the film of The Hobbit, but can’t think if it’s in the book. Was it lifted over?

How are you enjoying the book so far? Are there any parts within these chapters that you really loved?

Buddy Read

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

March Into Middle-earth

Welcome to the second part of my re-read/buddy read of The Fellowship of the Ring! I discussed Chapters I – V last week. 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 VI – XI of The Fellowship of the Ring, and will contain spoilers for the book.

  • OH GOD NOT THE OLD FOREST. It brings back horrible memories of trying to navigate that place on Lord of the Rings Online. It’s a horrible, horrible maze that you get lost it and can never leave.
  • That eternal question – who is Tom Bombadil, really? He knows EVERYTHING, he says he was there long before the elves, the Ring has absolutely no effect on him when worn and he does not seem to be tempted by it. I know there is a theory that he is one of the gods of Middle-earth, and the Lord of the Rings Wiki has other theories too, but whatever he is, he’s certainly interesting. If he is a god, I’m glad he doesn’t interfere with the quest any further than making sure the Hobbits manage to get past the Old Forest and Barrow Downs. It’s interesting to note that his Sindarin name was Iarwain Ben-adar, which means ‘Oldest and Fatherless’.
  • I was actually considering the fact that there is something odd about Tom Bombadil, and not necessarily a good kind of odd. Then I found this theory that says he could in fact be the most evil force in Middle-earth. What do you think?
  • The Barrow Downs would have been pretty wonderful to see in the films, and ever so creepy, but they would have required the character of Tom Bombadil to be included. I think the reason he was left out is because no-one knows who he truly is, and those who just watched the films and had not read the books might not have understood this, and thought it was something to exclude those who had skipped reading the books. In addition to some of those scenes perhaps not being entirely necessary, and the need to cut down a large book into a 2 1/2 hour film.
  • prancing pony gif

  • It takes the Hobbits around three chapters, or fifty pages, to reach Bree from the Shire. This feels slow when you consider how much the film condensed this time down. But it also makes a lot of sense, because the journey needed to feel urgent and perilous. The book gives us more time to ‘explore’ Middle-earth through the hobbits’ eyes, and hear some of their travelling songs. I love it, but I understand why it was reduced.
  • Oh, Barliman Butterbur. You lovable idiot.
  • We don’t even meet Strider/Aragorn until Chapter IX. And of course, the rest of the Fellowship later on.
  • ‘No, I don’t think any harm of old Butterbur. Only he does not altogether like mysterious vagabonds of my sort.’ Frodo gave him a puzzled look. ‘Well, I have a rather rascally look, have I not?’ said Strider with a curl of his lip and a queer gleam in his eye.

  • Look at the quote above, AKA Aragorn knowing that he rocks the scruffy look. What a man.
  • Alright, no need to get cocky.
    Alright, no need to get cocky.
  • All the geography of Middle-earth is so familiar from playing Lord of the Rings Online. All of these areas that are mentioned perhaps once in the books, are ones that you can actually visit in the game. It’s so wonderful reading about them and being able to picture them in my head.

How are you enjoying the book so far? Are there any parts within these chapters that you really loved?

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?

Buddy Read

Throne of Glass Readalong 2016 – Part Four

Throne of Glass Readalong

As I said in my post last week, I will be running a Throne of Glass readalong until 18th January. In case you missed them, you can find Part One here, Part Two here and Part Three here. I plan on re-reading the first three books in the series before finally reading the fourth and most recent addition, so I thought I’d turn it into a bit of a blog event and encourage my readers to join in! Whether you’ve read the book before or are reading for the first time, feel free to leave your thoughts! And of course, as this is a readalong discussion post, there will be spoilers for Throne of Glass ahead.

Today I’ll be discussing the fourth and final part of the book – chapters 40 to the end.

Part Four sees Celaena discover more about the Wyrd and Wyrdmarks, take part in the final Tests and finally, the duel to become King’s Champion – all the while trying to keep herself and her friends alive whilst a murderous force makes its way through the castle.

  • I can’t help but feel a little bit sorry for Kaltain. Despite the fact that she’s a spoilt, judgmental brat, it’s not quite all her fault… and then when she gets arrested for attempting to poison Celaena, you know her life has pretty much ended. Or at least as she knows it, we’re left with some rather ominous words of how she might be employed in the future.
  • ‘… Chaol didn’t know if he could sleep at night knowing that he had retrained and released the world’s greatest assassin.’ — pg. 327

  • Oh Chaol. As much as I love this book, I’m still not entirely sold on Celaena being the world’s greatest assassin. I guess because we’ve only heard of what she’s done, rather than actually seen anything. However, it’s quite tricky – showing Celaena as a brutal and ruthless assassin could serve to dehumanise her and drive readers away. But that’s her job. She’s an assassin, she kills people. She is a murderer – not by choice, but still.
  • Even though I know what happens, the last fifty pages felt just as tense as the first time that I read them.
  • I’m glad that Celaena makes the decision to be free, and makes it for herself. She refuses Dorian’s offer of any kind of serious relationship, because she knows she can’t be tied down. Once she’s done her four years service as the King’s Champion, that’s it – she’s out of there, regardless of any relationships. I love love love that she made this decision, and didn’t get all mopey about boys and romance and stuff like so many other YA heroines.
  • The ending is bittersweet. But it leaves you wanting more, more, more!
  • If you’re interested in reading my review from the first time I read Throne of Glass, you can do so here.
  • The readalong for the second book, Crown of Midnight, will most likely be held with my Goodreads book group only, not on the blog. This is because I never actually wrote a review, so I’d like to do that on here this time round, and discuss it in more detail on the group. Hopefully I’ll sort the buddy read out for February.

Now we’ve come to the end… what did you think of Throne of Glass? Do you want to carry on with the series?

Buddy Read

Throne of Glass Readalong 2016 – Part Three

Throne of Glass Readalong

As I said in my post last week, I will be running a Throne of Glass readalong until 18th January. In case you missed them, you can find Part One here and Part Two here. I plan on re-reading the first three books in the series before finally reading the fourth and most recent addition, so I thought I’d turn it into a bit of a blog event and encourage my readers to join in! Whether you’ve read the book before or are reading for the first time, feel free to leave your thoughts! And of course, as this is a readalong discussion post, there will be spoilers for Throne of Glass ahead.

Today I’ll be discussing the third part of the book – chapters 28 to 39.

The third part of the book sees yet another brutal murder of one of the Champions by an unknown force, and Celaena coming up with a plan to infiltrate the Yulemas masked ball.

  • This is quite possibly one of my absolute favourite quotes from this part of the book. It describes Celaena playing billiards.
  • Celaena jabbed the cue, and hit the ball with such force that it zoomed toward the back wall of the table, knocking three coloured balls out of its way before it collided with the number three ball, sending it shooting straight for a hole.

    It stopped rolling at the edge of the pocket.

    A shriek of rage ripped from her throat, and Celaena ran over to the pocket. She first screamed at the ball, then took the cue in her hands and bit down upon the shaft, still screaming through her clamped teeth. Finally the assassin stopped and slapped the three ball into the pocket.

    And I absolutely pictured Celaena having a screaming match a la Regina George…

    scream gif

    No? Just me? Okay then…

  • Celaena’s friendship with Nehemia grows. I love this friendship. There is a tendency in Young Adult fiction to use the female best friend as exposition – the main character can discuss boys and romance with them, therefore sharing this information with the reader too. And I say boys and romance specifically because they seem to be, about 80% of the time, all that these friends talk about. Celaena and Nehemia, on the other hand, discuss politics, languages, and they learn from each other. It’s a genuine friendship based on curiosity and mutual interest and I just want to cheer them on, maybe make them little friendship bracelets…
  • Chaol getting embarrassed over the mention of periods. Boys will be boys… even in a fantasy world. It’s all okay contemplating the fact that Chaol may have to kill someone in the future due to his position, or that he will most likely see (or has already seen) a lot of death, but periods? No way! Can’t deal with those nasty feminine issues! Menstruation reduces the toughest of men to screaming babies, apparently.
  • We’re told that Dorian is a womaniser, but somehow I can’t imagine it. I could see him as a big flirt – but actually sleeping around? He seems to have this innocent quality to him that makes me think he’s not done anything but sweet talk a little too much. Unless that is how he is actually meant to be and I’m just misreading it (or reading it correctly in that case…). What do you think?
  • Celaena’s reaction to sweets. Like a little child, so adorable. Or… like Andy Dwyer from Parks & Recreation. 😉
  • sweets gif

  • Dorian and Celaena finally kiss, after lots of lusting and wistful gazes. This is going to be a foolish move, and you know it. The Crown Prince and an assassin? Uh oh…

What did you think of Part Three?

Buddy Read

Throne of Glass Readalong 2016 – Part Two

Throne of Glass Readalong

As I said in my post last Monday, I will be running a Throne of Glass readalong for the next three weeks or so, and discussed Part One last Thursday. I plan on re-reading the first three books in the series before finally reading the fourth and most recent addition, so I thought I’d turn it into a bit of a blog event and encourage my readers to join in! Whether you’ve read the book before or are reading for the first time, feel free to leave your thoughts! And of course, as this is a readalong discussion post, there will be spoilers for Throne of Glass ahead.

Today I’ll be discussing the second part of the book – chapters 14 to 27.

Part Two sees the first Tests for the Champions begin, but we also learn a little more of Chaol’s background. Cain, who becomes Celaena’s main nemesis, is introduced – and shortly after, the murders begin. One by one, competitors for the King’s Champion are being picked off in an incredibly violent manner.

  • One thing I often wonder in fantasy stories is why our holidays are sometimes used. Maas mentions Sammhain (Halloween) and Yulemas (Christmas, although could be a winter solstice type festival).
  • We learn more about Celaena’s history with Sam, but there’s still a lot missing.
  • Both Dorian and Chaol seem to be falling for Celaena – one quicker than the other. When we see her through their eyes, she seems to be in a more vulnerable position, softened slightly.
  • I hate the use of the term Dark Lord! It’s so cliched and overused in fantasy fiction. However, it’s only mentioned once here, and used as a backstory element rather than being a current threat, so it’s not quite as bad.
  • The book takes on more of a ‘magical fantasy’ feel when Celaena finds the sarcophagus. Instead of being a book that could easily be set in our world, albeit in the past, it’s suddenly clearer that this is not our world when the magical elements come into play.

What did you think of Part Two? What do you think of the developing relationships between Dorian, Chaol and Celaena?