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Fellowship - Rookie Reader Review
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Cygnus
Lorien


Jan 14, 5:38pm

Post #1 of 160 (2772 views)
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Fellowship - Rookie Reader Review Can't Post

I didn't even have to open the book to get my first shock. The back cover said that Bilbo is not Frodo's uncle. They're cousins as I'm sure everybody here but me knows!
When I did open it I found I had a ways to go before I got to the first page. There was Note on the Text....Note on the 50th Anniversary....Forward to the Second Edition....and finally, the Prologue concerning hobbits and other matters.....all of which I read.
Right off the bat I was surprised to learn that LOTR is considered to be one novel, not a trilogy. Even though my edition is one physical book, it will be tough for me to think of it as one novel.
I also smiled at this quote, that the different editions and revisions have "caused a great deal of confusion for librarians and other researchers." Wow! If the experts keep them all straight I probably should never try. It did make me wonder about the costs of older versions of the book. I would assume it depends on rarity, age and condition. Maybe someday I'll buy myself a retirement present.
I learned a lot by reading these 4 sections, like for example how long it took Tolkien to write it. Mostly I loved the Prologue. I read it twice! The differences in hobbits, Harfoots, Stoors and Fallohides was pretty cool. These 15 pages are a real treasure and I'm sure I will return to them often.
It wasn't all good though. I was disturbed by something that I am choosing to ignore (after this post at least). I doubt it bothered many of you but it is not consistent with the way I want to approach this fantasy. On the last page of the Prologue is this quote: "The full tale is stated to have been written by Barahir, grandson the the steward Faramir, some time after the passing of the King."
I don't think I want to imagine a world without Aragorn. It's not because I like him so much, it's because I like happy endings and if the story continues long after Galdalf puts the crown on him I don't want to know what happens....simply because I don't want to hear of his death or the death of anybody I grew to love. The older we get in real life the more people we've seen die. I can accept that but I will try to avoid any news of any more death in LOTR....simply because I don't want to or have to. (please let me know what other texts to avoid LOL) It's possible I'll change my mind someday but not soon. I don't blame other fans for feeling the complete opposite that I do. I respect that 100%. I don't know why I feel this way. Maybe it's because I'm a lucky 58 year old and have seen less loved ones die than most folks my age. More likely though, I think it's because I am so attached to the movie characters after seeing all 6 movies a dozen times. I'm sure book readers were attached too, so who knows? Either It's me being different (which is likely) or a visual attachment has a different effect than a strictly imaginary one. Long live the King!....forever in my mind.

"I found it is the small things.....everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.....simple acts of kindness and love." - Gandalf

(This post was edited by Cygnus on Jan 14, 5:42pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 14, 7:02pm

Post #2 of 160 (2378 views)
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Funny about Bilbo; don't read all of Appendix A [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo: I think of him as the de facto uncle of Frodo, even if they were cousins. Given how the movies didn't have time to explain their genealogy, I think that was a good shortcut to just call him "uncle."

Aragorn: I suggest you skip "Here Follows a Part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" in Appendix A because while it talks about Aragorn's youth and how the two fell in love, it also goes up to the death of both of them, and it's sad.


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Jan 14, 9:14pm

Post #3 of 160 (2361 views)
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I have [In reply to] Can't Post

an admission to make: it's been a long time since I last read LOTR because its ending (the slow break-up of the Fellowship and then Bilbo and Frodo leaving Middle-earth) makes me melancholy for a day afterward, and I hate that feeling. So I get where you're coming from.

CuriousG has a good point about the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen. Skip it until you feel ready for that one.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jan 14, 10:08pm

Post #4 of 160 (2352 views)
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Variations between different editions of LOTR are interesting but minor. [In reply to] Can't Post

Unlike The Hobbit, where there is a very important change to "Riddles in the Dark" between the first (1937) and second (1951) editions, probably the most notable variation between the text you're reading of The Lord of the Rings (1965 with corrections through 2005) and the now quite rare first edition (1954-55) is the foreword. If you wish to read it, you can probably find the original foreword online; I believe it's also been printed in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion (2008). There are indeed many, many other variations between the editions, but most of them are just Tolkien (or subsequent editors) correcting mistakes or slightly refining an earlier idea.

A lot of people skip the opening material on their first read! I'm impressed you went through it all.

Tolkien thought of LOTR not as a trilogy as one book in six parts (plus prologue and appendices). It was published as a trilogy for economic reasons, and he struggled for a while deciding what the three volumes were to be titled -- particularly The Two Towers.

The six books that relate what everyone thinks of as the story of The Lord of the Rings end just where the movies end. If you stop there and skip the appendices, you'll avoid the additional heartache you fear. That said, you will have observed from the preliminary materials that Tolkien's conceit is that all of the story happened long ago on this world. He definitely wanted readers to have a feeling of loss. But not only that.


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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Chen G.
Lorien

Jan 14, 10:29pm

Post #5 of 160 (2349 views)
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Melancholic Tolkien is the best Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

Going around his melancholy would be to rob his work of so much of his gravity.

The tale of Aragorn and Arwen is one of his greatest achievements in this regard - haunting piece.


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 14, 11:17pm

Post #6 of 160 (2342 views)
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Agree - it's that idea of eucatastrophe [In reply to] Can't Post

or "good destruction". Middle-earth is changed because of the destruction of the Ring, and the changes are both good and sad (not bad, but sad).

I love the ending of LOTR for that melancholy, mixed with happiness. Every time I reach the end, I read slower and slower, not wanting to stop. I'm grateful for the Appendices that allow me some time to detach from Middle-earth and return to the "real" world.


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 14, 11:19pm

Post #7 of 160 (2339 views)
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So glad you love the Foreword! [In reply to] Can't Post

I love it, too, and never skip it when I re-read. It has lots of delightful information.

LOTR is an emotional roller-coaster, even more than the movies, I think. You will be happy, and sad, and triumphant, and your life will never be the same Smile. Enjoy!


Chen G.
Lorien

Jan 14, 11:21pm

Post #8 of 160 (2341 views)
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Correction [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
or "good destruction". Middle-earth is changed because of the destruction of the Ring, and the changes are both good and sad (not bad, but sad).


Middle Earth is more than changed: its effectivelly destroyed.

The end of The Lord of the Rings places you in a world that's that much closer to our own: the Elves, wizards, dark lords and all the elements that give this world its wonder and sense of romance are gone.

That's why Tolkien couldn't bear to continue writing "The New Shadow". To write any significant story that would take place after the end of Return of the King (outside of the more abstract, eschatological ones like Dagor Dagorath), was to rob the latter of its sense of finality. And he just found the world after the departure of the Elves to be too mundane.

Its also in the stories of the characters: Frodo essentialy lays down his life for the quest. He doesn't die a physical death, but he is removed from his land and his friends to a place which is a form of heaven - in that sense, he does die at the end of the quest. His story is a tragedy.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Jan 14, 11:23pm)


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 14, 11:26pm

Post #9 of 160 (2335 views)
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I was trying to avoid spoilers, [In reply to] Can't Post

although I know Cygnus has seen the movies, so there aren't that many spoilers. Wink. I agree - Middle-earth is not at all what it was, even though the geography is the same. But parts of its essence is gone - maybe not at the end of the book exactly, since some elves linger, and Aragorn is still King, but one can see that the final days are coming.


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Jan 14, 11:40pm

Post #10 of 160 (2333 views)
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Yep, I know. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Middle-earth is changed because of the destruction of the Ring, and the changes are both good and sad (not bad, but sad).


It's one of the many elements that lifts LOTR into its own stratum of fantasy. My comment wasn't a critique of Tolkien's story; rather, it was an explanation of why I haven't read it for many years.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 15, 1:06am

Post #11 of 160 (2334 views)
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So it begins.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm glad you are one of the ones who liked the introductory material! It bodes well for your enjoying certain other sections of the story too, I think.

Remember in the movie when Pippin is explaining his relationship to Frodo to someone at the Prancing Pony? "He's my second cousin, once removed, on his mother's side". Yeah, hobbit genealogy is like that. "Uncle" was simpler for the purposes of explaining the general nature of the relationship without confusing the audience too much.

Silverlode

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.




Chen G.
Lorien

Jan 15, 12:02pm

Post #12 of 160 (2204 views)
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Not just Hobbits [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Yeah, hobbit genealogy is like that. "Uncle" was simpler for the purposes of explaining the general nature of the relationship without confusing the audience too much.


Ditto Balin being Gimli's "cousin".

Even Dain isn't Thorin's first cousin, which is what contemporary audiences take "cousin" to be.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 15, 12:33pm

Post #13 of 160 (2201 views)
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There's a scene [In reply to] Can't Post

in RotK which was taken from The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen, so reading that will help him understand it fully.

When he's ready to read it, of course!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jan 15, 3:08pm

Post #14 of 160 (2183 views)
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The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen [In reply to] Can't Post

Another option is to read it for the background on Aragorn, but only up to the events of the War of the Ring. The rest can be skipped over, at least for now, and read later if desired.

"I reject your reality and substitute my own." - Adam Savage


Plurmo
Rohan

Jan 15, 4:54pm

Post #15 of 160 (2139 views)
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By the time you reach the end, [In reply to] Can't Post

You will be begging for each morsel of closure Tolkien was generous to provide.


Cygnus
Lorien


Jan 15, 5:09pm

Post #16 of 160 (2128 views)
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thanks [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Bilbo: : I suggest you skip "Here Follows a Part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" in Appendix A because while it talks about Aragorn's youth and how the two fell in love, it also goes up to the death of both of them, and it's sad.

Oh no, Arwen dies too?! I didn't want to know that! Seriously though, I'm okay with it. Thank you very much for the warning. I will avoid that. The scene in the movie where Arwen was grieving over Aragorn's dead body made me realize I don't want to see any more. I wouldn't mind reading about how they fell in love though. So, the appendix cover the past and future?

"I found it is the small things.....everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.....simple acts of kindness and love." - Gandalf


Cygnus
Lorien


Jan 15, 5:19pm

Post #17 of 160 (2126 views)
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the end [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
its ending (the slow break-up of the Fellowship and then Bilbo and Frodo leaving Middle-earth) makes me melancholy for a day afterward, and I hate that feeling. So I get where you're coming from..

I'm glad I'm not alone. Every time I watch "Return of the King" I am tempted to shut it off before the closing scene and just imagine Frodo lives in Bag-End forever. But I never do. And I always end up glad I didn't shut it off early. Still, I can handle that part since I'm used to it and all good things must come to an end. But just because I'm accepting of that final scene doesn't mean I want to see other sad endings....especially what will eventually happen to Aragorn and Arwen. By the way, is where Gandalf, Frodo and Bilbo went in an appendix?

"I found it is the small things.....everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.....simple acts of kindness and love." - Gandalf

(This post was edited by Cygnus on Jan 15, 5:20pm)


Cygnus
Lorien


Jan 15, 5:25pm

Post #18 of 160 (2124 views)
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LOL [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
You will be begging for each morsel of closure Tolkien was generous to provide.

Right now it seems like I won't but there is a good chance your prediction will come true.

"I found it is the small things.....everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.....simple acts of kindness and love." - Gandalf

(This post was edited by Cygnus on Jan 15, 5:25pm)


Cygnus
Lorien


Jan 15, 5:27pm

Post #19 of 160 (2119 views)
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spoilers [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
although I know Cygnus has seen the movies, so there aren't that many spoilers. Wink. I agree - Middle-earth is not at all what it was, even though the geography is the same. But parts of its essence is gone - maybe not at the end of the book exactly, since some elves linger, and Aragorn is still King, but one can see that the final days are coming.

I'm not too worried about spoilers anyways. I don't want folks to feel like they're walking on thin ice so feel free to post anything.

"I found it is the small things.....everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.....simple acts of kindness and love." - Gandalf


Lissuin
Valinor


Jan 15, 5:48pm

Post #20 of 160 (2114 views)
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This was how I felt, too. [In reply to] Can't Post

I was going to write it, but you beat me to it.Laugh


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jan 15, 6:19pm

Post #21 of 160 (2110 views)
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Into the West. [In reply to] Can't Post

"By the way, is where Gandalf, Frodo and Bilbo went in an appendix?"

Not really. The story largely keeps its p.o.v. in Middle-earth, but there are numerous references throughout the text to what lies beyond the sea.


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
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entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 15, 10:17pm

Post #22 of 160 (2081 views)
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The Appendix covers it all, [In reply to] Can't Post

but I would wait until you get closer to the end - it's really hard to know now how you will feel about more information when you're at that point.
The story of Aragorn and Arwen is lovely.


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 15, 10:19pm

Post #23 of 160 (2082 views)
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Yes. This. [In reply to] Can't Post

When ROTK was first published - there were NO Appendices. They came later. I could not imagine that.


squire
Half-elven


Jan 15, 11:06pm

Post #24 of 160 (2083 views)
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Oh, it wasn't as bad as all that. [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien included the Appendices in The Return of the King for its first publication. It was delayed by almost a year, compared to the gap in time between the first and second volume, because it took him so long to cook all the info he had down into the amount of space the publishers gave him.

Then he whined that he wished he hadn't put them in, as all they did was provoke his readers to ask the kinds of questions no other author would have been asked, about all the details of his imaginary world that he hadn't worked out yet, or that he didn't even care about himself!



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 16, 2:20pm

Post #25 of 160 (1987 views)
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Though of course... [In reply to] Can't Post

The first readers of FOTR and TT (as opposed to ROTK) had no Appendices, and also had to wait after each volume for the next to be published.


Quote
The three books in The Lord of the Rings trilogy were published in the following order:

The Fellowship of the Ring – 29 July, 1954 in an edition of 3,000 copies

The Two Towers – 11 November, 1954 in an edition of 3,250

The Return of the King – 20 October, 1955 in an edition of 7,000

https://www.peterharrington.co.uk/...kien-first-editions/



As has already been said elsewhere Tolkien's publisher Unwin's wanted to split the story into three. Tolkien had, after all been commissioned to write a Hobbit sequel and had instead come back ten years later with something rahter different.


Quote
This novel took much longer to write, with Tolkien composing on and off between 1939 and 1952, and its final length was an astonishing 1,192 pages. Allen & Unwin were wary. Rayner Unwin, the little boy who had enthusiastically endorsed The Hobbit, was now a young man working with the family firm, and he wrote to his father that the book was “a work of genius” (Hammond & Anderson p. 88). But the cost of printing was immense, and commercial success, despite the popularity of its predecessor, was uncertain. To minimize their financial risk they convinced Tolkien to publish the novel in three installments, with the understanding that if the first failed they would not publish the remaining books. They also came to an arrangement, unusual for that time, in which the author would not receive profits until after the books had paid for themselves. These novels would not be illustrated, but Tolkien did design the dust jackets and his son Christopher drew the maps.

[ibid]


It was, of course a brilliant decision by Rayner Unwin & his company, which must have paid off hansomly. As in other instances, I feel that Tolkien (and so ultimately we) were lucky to have hit on a publisher so willing to support the work. This especially after Tolkien had flirted with defecting to Collins instead, in the hope they'd expand LOTR's already door-stopping length even more to include his unfinished - and in the event unfinishable - Silmarillion.

It's also worth remembering that Britain at ths time was still recovering from the costs and damage of World War II. Rationing in Britain ended only in July 1954 (meat being one of the last items to come off-ration). There were shortages of paper and of publishing and printing workers (because of many wartime casualties). Moreover, LOTR was (arguably) to create the fantasy genre, and therefore Allen & Unwin were breaking ground, publishing something entirely novel into a difficult economic situation.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.

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