So finally getting around to reading the LOTR series. I've also booked tickets to go and see all extended editions back to back at the cinema in London in a week. 12 and a half hours in total. I hope I have the stamina to make it through, it's been interesting as someone who was a huge fan of the films to finally read the books and see the similarities/differences. I expected it to be wildly different, but I thought as far as book to film usually goes, Jackson and co stayed quite true to the books with slight alterations here and there. I'd wager it's probably to enhance the drama as the ideas moved to screen.
But anyway, back to the books. My favourite section of the whole book is the council of Elrond. I am for better or worse a political animal and I think the discussions over the ring and strategy most likely engaged that part of me. I thought it was the most tastefully written section of dramatic consequence in the book. The back and forth between Aragorn and Boromir and the stern nature of Elrond blend quite nicely to make the dialogue riveting.
The lore in particular is important. That is what the films struggled with at times, I never felt that the rings of power and their significance was properly fleshed out, although I'm aware the beginning sequence of the fellowship is dedicated to the rings of power and their story. With the books you see Celebrimbor brought into the fold, albeit briefly, as the forger of the Elven rings which he deceived Sauron with, thus hiding them from the rings pull and protecting the Elven elites from becoming wraiths like the kings of men. Then there is this interesting section I think in Lothlorien with Galadriel where she explains that if the one ring is destroyed, the power of the Elven rings will either be freed or wilt with the one ring. Should it be the latter the Elves culture will regress and so they must leave middle earth. It may have been Elrond thinking about it who details this properly, but I'm sure the lady of the wood has her piece on it.
This all goes some way to explaining why the powerful, elegant race of Elves who seem so wise and able are in fact declining and not in a better position to help the others defend middle Earth from the shadow.
One of the other things I noticed in the fellowship was the observations on human character portrayed through the different races. When the company is being led to Lothlorien by the Elves and they insist on blindfolding Gimli because he's a dwarf, at a time when there is an evil lord with the upper hand seeking dominion over all peoples creeping closer to all places of goodness. I just thought that was typical of the short sighted, tribal instincts that we tend to see in our own characters. People willing to forsake the easy, rational choice and the greater good for their own pride and political point scoring. Relishing in petty squabbling and stubborn, blatantly biased view points.
It's a good lesson on the dangers of division of good people in the face of encroaching danger and the folly of allowing petty, selfish grievances to get in the way of bonds. Further to this never admitting fault or blame, only seeking to look outwards when something goes wrong and point the finger and the division and resentment this causes. All based in a lack of wisdom, reason, empathy and humility.
I think the great strength of this book is its recurring theme. This idea that no matter how bleak things look and how marginalised the purity of the world is there are always things to cling to that can help change the tide. There is always hope no matter how unbelievable the odds seem to be. It doesn’t matter if you’re a minuscule hobbit constantly overlooked and underestimated. There are strengths that aren’t always considered or apparent that can tip the scales in a big way.
This also then leads on to the touching of philosophy and how Tolkien sort of alludes several times to the idea that very slight variations of action or chance would throw the entire fate of middle earth one way. Gandalf says that Frodo was meant to have the ring and that bodes well for the fate of middle earth, suggesting there's a pulling of the strings behind the scenes, but then there are times when it is suggested that if the person's character does not stand up to the test and they do not act the appropriate way to a challenge that will change the outcome of the war between good and evil. There are some spiritual ideas in play. I think as well this is what attracts me to LOTR ahead of A song of Ice and Fire. I find Martin's analysis of humanity to just be profoundly depressing and cynical and I have enough cynicism about the real world to want my fantasy escapism to be filled with the same.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship and I look forward to the two towers. Enjoy your weekend my tragically estranged (because I barely use BL anymore like a fool) BL companions.