I was bowled over by the movie. I have a copy of the book for the past 6 years, but never had the time to read it. Finally yet again thanks to e-books, I was able to get my hands dirty with this splendid opener to an epic trilogy.
The book is a fantasy. My love for reading started with this genre. Enid Blyton took me to lands far far away where gnomes and elves abounded and toys spoke. My imagination used to run wild and books were such a pleasant escape from speed and distance calculations or the nuances of spelling and grammar. There has always been a huge fan following for this genre -given the sky high popularity of the Harry Potter series, Lord of The Rings, Game of Thrones et al. But I don't know when I 'grew up' and shunned fantasy books. For me contemporary books ruled.
But the LOTR series has always been something I wanted to read. And as I read I found this book even more fascinating. The book is of the journey of a Hobbit Frodo Baggins to dispose a ring which can spell doom on all of Middle Earth (the fantasy land where the events are based). Frodo is an unlikely character to have such a great responsibility. Not only he does not possess the typical strength and physical prowess to carry on this task - he never had any inkling such a thing might ever happen in his lifetime. He was meant to lead an ordinary life when out of the blue - the ring came unto him! I quite like such situations where unassuming characters do something heroic and splendid! My love for under dog manifests in my utter liking for movies like Forrest Gump and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and books like the 100 year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared.
But when an impossible target is thrust upon you, there are formed formidable alliances to reach it. The fellowship is formed of mighty mortals (Aragorn and Boromir) , an elf (Legolas) , a wizard (Gandalf), a dwarf (Gimli) and 3 of Frodo's friends (Sam, Pippin and Merry). They set out to assist and support Frodo. The book is an interesting journey of these characters, the changes in their personalities, their pre-conceived notions of the other race and how these change over the course of their trials.
The visual imagery of the book is simply splendid.But there are portions where the characters converse in elvish - which is a mythical and of course imaginary tongue. There are pages of songs in this language. There was an instance where I could skip 4 pages of a song. (Hobbits are quite fond of singing and making songs)I am not sure what the author's intentions were in doing this. Maybe a different audience appreciates this. For me they were a waste of time and space. The book at 500+ pages was tad long and given my ultimately snail's pace of reading compounded with a toddler in tow - it took me close to a month and a half to complete! (Go on - snigger all ye fast readers :( )
Well - a review my style is not done without some famous quotes :-
"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo."So do I" said Gandalf, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given, us.
Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea.That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported , "a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all'.Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.
Somehow I got reminded of my parent's place in BBSR when I read those lines. There was a wave of nostalgia :(
"The others go with him as free companions, to help him on his way. You may tarry, or come back, or turn aside into other paths , as chance allows. The further you go, the less easy will it be to withdraw , yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know what each may meet upon the road."
"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens " , said Gimli.
"Maybe", said Elrond, "but then let him not vow to walk in the dark , who has not seen the nightfall."
"Yet sworn word may strengthn quaking heart," said Gimli.
"Or break it," ,said Elrond." Look not too far ahead! But go now with good hearts"
I quite like the liberty and the belief in conscience that is paramount in what Elrond says. I too feel rules tend to give rise to severance. It free will that leads to all good things.When people are left autonomous and their judgement is trusted -the environment is more enriching and rewarding.
I shall be delving deep into the subsequent parts. But for now I back in England following another "common man's" journey. I think something inside me that used to devour fantasy is dead - but...... the flame has been rekindled for sure :)