Hey everybody! Week 1 of the Summer Book Club is wrapping up! I am really enjoying getting back into The Lord of the Rings book series, and if you're following along, I hope you are too. I remember trying to read The Fellowship of the Rings when I was about 13 or 14 and kind of thinking it was boring.
I don't know what I was thinking. The pacing is definitely different than a modern fantasy book, but the rich descriptions and excellent world-building from Tolkien make up for it. Right from the outset, the world feels fully fleshed out, from the little peculiarities of the hobbits to the languages and locations.
Before I get into some of my more specific thoughts, I'll go ahead and let you know that I am about to start Chapter 8, so if you're reading through the first time and don't want any spoilers, stop here!
Ok, if you're reading this, you want to be spoiled (or you're more cultured than I am and have already read the books). In any case, any discussion of The Lord of the Rings books would not be complete without comparing them to the movies. I kind of already do this with other books anyway, but it's obviously especially appropriate here. One of the things that stood out to me most was some of the major changes the movies made right out of the gate.
Of course, some important dialogue is preserved, whether it's my favorite, "I feel like butter scraped over too much bread," or Gandalf's cryptic warning, "Keep it secret, keep it safe!" Some important scenes from the movie are almost ripped straight out of the book as well, like Bilbo's birthday party and even the Black Rider stopping to "sniff out" the hobbits on the side of the road. I loved these parts because I have such a clear mental picture of these scenes due to the movie.
However, there are a couple of changes that took me aback a little bit. No, it's not that they took out Tom Bombadil (even though I think he and the River-daughter might have made for some cool on-screen moments). First, that seventeen years (!) passed between Bilbo's birthday party and Frodo leaving Hobbiton with the Ring, and second, that Farmer Maggot's actually a pretty nice guy.
That second one may sound lame, but we'll get to it in a minute. I'll preface the first point by saying that I recognize that putting seventeen years between the "Long-Expected Party" and Frodo's departure probably wouldn't have made for good cinema. It probably would have killed the suspense just a little bit. However, in the book, I think it makes sense. Obviously, Gandalf would have needed to have been thorough in his investigation into the Ring, for one thing. I mean, do we really think he would have gone to Minas Tirith for a couple of weeks just to conclude that this little trinket Bilbo had was THE Ring? Plus, at this point, the reader isn't really sure what the significance of the Ring is, even though they get a sense of it in the opening scenes. In the context of a book, there is space to create a sort of slow build that culminates with Gandalf's terrible revelation.
As for the second surprise, I just feel that the movies did injustice to Farmer Maggot's character (not to mention Pippin and Merry's just a little bit). In the movies, as you remember, Merry and Pippin are chased out of Farmer Maggot's fields after stealing some of his crops. I was surprised to find in the book that Farmer Maggot actually invites them in for dinner and vows to protect their whereabouts from the Black Riders! I feel like starting a petition to clear the farmer's name after he was smeared in the movie as this cranky old man. (#SupportFarmerMaggot, anyone?)
Eh, I don't get the sense that it will catch on.
What surprised you about reading LOTR so far? If you're rereading it, did you find out something new? Let me know here in the comments or on social media!
I'm a sci-fi/fantasy lover & writer who especially likes talking about Star Wars and futuristic tech. I like finding new things & finding the beauty in old things, especially in my "Everyday Snippets" series. I hope you'll join me on my blog and unleash your imagination!