20 June 2010

Book Review: The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

Yes, after reading The Hobbit, I figured I continue on and read the first book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Remember that I do not read fantasy this often.

Anyway, the first book of the trilogy is a huge step away from the style of The Hobbit. If The Hobbit felt like a children's book, this one had a more serious tone. I have watched the famous films back in the days, so I kinda know the story, but there were several things that were excised from the book to fit the time limit of the film, I suppose. And I was glad that I read the original.

I don't want to do a synopsis of the book here, as perhaps this is one of the more famous works of fantasy literature, that it is way better to just google it and read for oneself, instead of relying on someone who didn't really enjoy the book, like me. So let me talk about why I didn't enjoy it, instead.

I may be mistaken, but fantasy seems to always involve some sort of travel. In The Hobbit, the characters traveled across some fantastic terrain and encountered fantastic other characters, and that was the main gist of the story. Here, it was the same. Yes, there is the motive as to why they are traveling, in order to get rid of the ring. However, it was still travel. Frodo and his escorts needed to go to Mordor in order to destroy the ring. Why is it that fantasy literature always involves a road trip?

Yes, I know, that there is a deeper meaning in this, which is basically the timeless battle between good and evil. And so far, every evil has been defended and purged by the good camp. Of course, Gandalf died, but if you have watched the movie, he gets resurrected in the second book. Is there a fantasy literature that is not predictable like this?

Oh well, I do not understand why people need to resort to fantasy in order to tackle the battle between good and evil. Perhaps because in real life, life is a little bit unfair, as the saying goes. Sometimes evil triumphs over good, and people get unfortunate. Only in realms like Middle Earth can one be assured that good still triumphs over evil, providing a temporary escape from the reality that to some people, can be unfortunate.

So, how do I rate this book? I give this one 2 out of 5 stars. Still, as I am one of those people who gives everything a chance, and given this is a trilogy, I will still keep the other two books in my reading list. Who knows, it may get better once I finish the three books.

See my other book reviews here.

(Moray Experimental Ruins, from my Moray Series)


  1. I think the reason people resort to fantasy is because it gives you an even bigger playing field - where you can build up your imaginary cities, people, things governed by your own laws. Interestingly, however, if you notice most fantasy tales are still constrained by whatever rulebook they chose to follow. Even in Lord of the Rings, by the third book, you'll realize that winning the war doesn't necessarily mean a happily ever after. Life is still unfair...even in this fantastical world. :)

    I like your bit about the road trip. Yeah, almost every fantasy book has that. Still in defense of Lord of the Rings, if I am not mistaken, it is one of the earliest of the fantasy novels of modern era. So what seem like stock plot devices and characters were really quite new then.

    er...sorry for the ramble. I came looking for a book review for Clavell's Tai Pan and got caught riffling through your book review section which is real good!

  2. Karthy,

    Hello and welcome! I agree that fantasy allows people to enlarge the playing field, something that realist fiction doesn't allow us. And I guess you're correct; all of the fantasy books I have encountered (I cannot say they're plenty though) set the rules, and follow the rules. Just because it is fantasy doesn't mean it is free for all.

    And yes, I still see the value of LOTR from a historical perspective. I've finished the second book and am planning to pick up the third book by summer.

    And I am glad you liked my book reviews!