What The Frodo?! (In Which Katie Begins The Lord of the Rings)

April 11, 2013 Classics, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythology 63

Vedui’ Parma Loki!

Oh yeah. That just happened. I just greeted y’all in ELVISH. Thanks to some random internet English to Elvish translator, I was able to come up with “Greetings Book Snakes!” (Worms was not listed in the translator. I improvised.) I have a feeling if, say, Legolas, were out there reading my blog, he’d be all, “You’re bastardizing my people’s beautiful language!” Luckily, Elvish isn’t a real language, so I doubt I’ll catch too much flack. YES! I FINALLY started the Lord of the Rings trilogy! I just finished The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien, and you bet your sweet lembas bread I’ve got some things to say. I may as well just go ahead an give a big fat SPOILER ALERT for this whole review, but really, if you haven’t read the book, seen the movies, or have any concept of the story, you probably don’t care. However. I’m working on being RESPONSIBLE, see?


Nerd Cred!

You may recall a while back I read and reviewed The HobbitThe Fellowship of the Ring picks up with Bilbo Baggins as an old hobbit, ready to enjoy his retirement (from what exactly, I’m not sure, because he had a crap ton of money from his share of Smaug’s booty, but whatever…) Anyway. Bilbo has “adopted” Frodo Baggins as his heir. They really ARE family, but more distant than nephew and uncle. Tolkien is rather fond of the describing the genealogical origins of his characters… In great detail. (More on that later…) Bilbo and Frodo have a big birthday bash (if you recall from the movie, it’s the one Gandalf shows up for with his fancy fireworks.) Bilbo pulls a disappearing act in the middle of the party and heads off (presumably to his condo in Boca) after an intense parting with his ring.

In the movie, Frodo leaves home on his quest to destroy the evil ring the very next day. In the book? It takes SEVENTEEN YEARS! I’m not saying that in an “OMG that took FOREVER” sort of way. I literally mean it took from Frodo’s 33rd birthday to his 50th for him to get a move on. In the meantime, we learn a lot of stuff that’s not especially critical to the plot about the Shire and the cantankerous branch of the family that will inherit Bag-End once Frodo skips town. Eventually, Frodo, his eavesdropping gardener Sam, Merry, and Pippin go adventuring. Along the way they acquire a really sweet pony named Bill. I liked Bill.

Bill the Pony for President!

Bill the Pony for President! (Sam and Bill are BFF.)

There were moments of excitement and great dialogue and serious bro-mances of the equine variety… But in order to GET to those parts, you have to wade through endless description of landscapes and geography and genealogy and songs. Have I ever mentioned that I have incredibly poor spatial skills? I can’t tell north, south, east, or west in the real world- I don’t know how I can be expected to be concerned with the debates on route between Aragorn, Boromir, and Gandalf. And the SONGS. I’ll be honest. While I was slogging through this bad boy, I would completely skip the songs. And, um, the songs in made up languages? Yeah. Not happening.

I will give Tolkien major props for excellent world building. It’s impressive for sure. I can completely understand the dedicated ravenous leagues of fans these books have acquired, and while I skip over the songs, I see why some would dissect the songs for even MORE Middle Earth goodness. I get it… I’m just not that fandom. Now, if JK Rowling published an entire book on the assorted family histories of the Harry Potter characters, gave them a fake language, and wrote volumes of verse for them, I’d be ALL ABOUT IT.

Have any of you Bookworms out there been to Middle Earth? Did you share my experience, or would you like to burn me in effigy? I’m open to both possibilities, because it’s the INTERNET and you still LOVE ME and you wouldn’t try to burn me alive for something as silly as not LOVING the Lord of the Rings… Right?

63 Responses to “What The Frodo?! (In Which Katie Begins The Lord of the Rings)”

  1. smoothreentry

    There are not many books I have read more than once. I have read the LOTR series many times. Every time I re-read them I am amazed at the attention to detail, and always fine new and interesting parts. It is amazing how no other fantasy series has come close to touching LOTR…

    • Words for Worms

      I cross a lot of genres, but fantasy has always been a little bit out of my comfort zone. It warms my heart to know that the series means so much to you, though. I love to hear about people unabashedly loving books!

  2. Claire

    Hey, you gotta give yourself props for even attempting the Lord of the Rings … some folks poo-poo it without even picking the book up!

  3. orangepekoereviews

    I REALLY tried with Lord of the Rings when the first film came out and got halfway through the second book before I decided I couldn’t get the trilogy to a charity shop fast enough!
    Oh, I’d forgotten about the songs… Thanks for reminding me 🙂
    Great world but just not a page turner….
    I think some fans agree the books are hard work.

    • Words for Worms

      Oh thank GOODNESS I’m not alone! I was worried I’d be raked over the coals for this post, but it’s nice to hear others share in my experience! 🙂

  4. Ashley F

    Gotta love Tolkien but he can be very dry. He’s created this elaborate world and he wants to tell you about every single rock, mountain and blade of grass I swear. I remember at one point he took like 10 pages to describe the mountains or something. I’m glad I read them in the end but overall they are VERY TEDIOUS to read.

    Btw….when I was in England and went to Oxford I totally visited the tree that Tolkien based the Ents on. As soon as you see it you’re like OMG, that’s totally the tree.

      • Ashley F

        I read them over a period of 3 years. I would read the book 3 months or so before the movie installation was released then essentially had another year to read the next book and so on. It was a good method.

        Loved Oxford. If I ever win the lottery I’m doing my Masters at Oxford. And between the Tolkien and Lewis Carrol stuff around there it’s a book nerds fantasy University. And did I mention the hall they based the hall at Hogwarts on is at Oxford?

        • Words for Worms

          I DID know the part about HP, which was part of my initial jealousy. Stuff in England is so old and cool. “The New World” isn’t nearly as much fun for history buffs…

  5. therelentlessreader

    I love this post and I love the comments. I’m chuckling away over here. I’m super glad you’ve started this series. He can get a wee bit descriptive but man oh man is it worth it! I skip songs/poetry and all sorts of crud like that in books, don’t feel bad.

    Believe it or not, I’ve never watched the films. (Gasp!) I own them and STILL haven’t watched. I think I’m scared that they’ll ruin my love for the books. I don’t know. I’ll get to them eventually I’m sure.

    • Words for Worms

      I really enjoyed the movies, I must admit. Those orcs are REALLY scary. And they throw in some funny one-liners, like when that guy from Lost who played a hobbit gets this giant beer in a pub and his eyes go wide and he’s like “It’s a PINT!” Delight. Pure delight.

  6. Cindy

    I love these books so much, I have re-read them several times. But I always skip the elvish songs and poems. And somehow I missed that it took Frodo seventeen years before he started on his quest! I may also be guilty of skipping the ten pages of descriptions of mountains. Those I skim more than read. But I love the story. I think they did a really good job on the movies for the most part too.

  7. Liesel Hill

    I read The Hobbit very recently, but I haven’t read the trilogy since high school (right before the films came out, actually) so I think I’ve forgotten a lot of the details. I didn’t mind the songs, but for time’s sake, I think I often skipped them too. I remember being really excited to get to the Council of Elrond. I love alternate histories and back stories and I knew a lot would be explained at the is part. I was so disappointed because, to me, that was one of the hardest parts to get through! Tolkien was first a linguist, second a writer, and it shows. But, as you say, the world-building is fantastic and the overall story is just too likable to not read. 😀 Great review!

    • Words for Worms

      Oh, yes. And I got REALLY happy every time they got to hang out with the Elves, because those were my favorite parts. They got good meals and a good night’s sleep. I worried about those poor hungry hobbits!

  8. Milo

    I was introduced to Lord of the Rings way back in middle school by my English Teacher. He started the class with the Hobbit and two days later I was all “Hey man…got any more?” like a fiend in a fit. He clued me in to The Lord of the Rings and it was love at first page. I’m such a fan that a trip to New Zealand with a map that has all the locations for the movies circled in red and dated chronologically is not outisde the realm of possibility. (I do not have this map…yet)

    One of the things I love so much about it, one of the things I love about ANY series really, is the depth of history behind the actual story. I love the idea that an author knows so much about his world, has put so much history into his world, that it can’t all fit in a three book series.

    Don’t worry about the songs though, I do that too.

  9. Laura Lynn

    I’m a die hard LOTR fan. Mom started reading The Hobbit aloud to us and I finally went to the library-at 9- to get the book. I just HAD to know and she would only read a chapter at a time. Raced through the series and started it again. I read it every 5 years. Certain books are like that. What about Gone With the Wind? Not fantasy but a real WOW book that even the great film didn’t do credit to. Read that over and over too

  10. Mikels Skele

    Leaving aside the fact that you have broken a poor old man’s heart by not liking LOTR (never mind that, I’ll die soon, and the world will go on…), you have done the Anglophone world a major service. I’m texting the Queen right away to see about getting a dameship for you, or whatever they call it. I mean, booksnake! Bookworm was always so…wormish.

  11. Charleen

    I know a lot of die-hard fans of the books don’t like how many things were changed, and while I really can’t defend changes that are made for seemingly no reason (like, wouldn’t affect the length or anything else in the movie, but they changed it anyway), I do try to judge movie adaptations on whether or not the movie holds up on its own, and not how faithfully it tells the story in the book. And by that standard, I think the movies are great.

    I read the books AFTER having seen the movies, and I did enjoy them, though they are a slog sometimes. I think Fellowship is the sloggiest of them all. So much traveling! In the other books, stuff starts happening and I could get through them much easier. So, I’d say that if you got through Fellowship, it should pick up from here on out. But, of course, your mileage may vary.

  12. Megan M.

    While I am in awe of Tolkien’s world-building skills as well (I want to invent a language, darn it!) I have no interest in reading (or watching!) The Hobbit or LOTR. I like to torture my husband by reenacting Randal’s reenactment of the LOTR films in Clerks 2.

    But Harry Potter geneaologies? I am right there with you, sister.

  13. Sami

    I applaud you for reading the books…I can’t bring myself to read a book if I have already seen the movie (which I loved!!!) although I don’t have a problem with the other way around!! I totally skip over parts that get too descriptive…I did the same thing when reading parts of the Game of Thrones series….if I was a script writer making a movie I might read every detail but just little ‘ol me doesn’t have the time or patience!

    • Words for Worms

      Game of Thrones can get a bit wordy and sloggy too, but then there’s some incest or some insane disease or unexpected execution that keeps pulling you back in.

  14. Akilah

    I haaaaaaated reading LOTR. Ugh. So, so boring. I did read the first book and that was more than enough for me. I also couldn’t make it past the first movie (fell asleep during the second one). Like, I seriously felt like I needed to prop my eyelids open with toothpicks or something to get through the novel.

    I do get the love for it, though. I just recognize it’s not my cuppa.

    But, yes, I’m right there with you on HP.

  15. Daddio

    In many languages, a diminutive is an acceptable substitute for the proper term for something smaller than a standard item (snake). You might try ‘small snake’ or ‘tiny snake’ for ‘worm’.
    With respect to LOTR, however, I don’t think ‘3 hour movie’ is an appropriate diminutive for ‘The Fellowship of the Ring.’ Really good effort but the exercise gained from lugging the books around for the inordinately long periods of time required to read them was not aerobic but definitely more isometric exercise than gained from lounging through a 3 hour movie. Books win here!

  16. tinykitchenstories

    Years ago I decided to make some curtains for my bedroom (Why? funny story for another time), and decided to get the LOTR on tape. (Yes, it was *that* long ago.) It was kind of a cool experience, because you actually got to know who was speaking from the voices, even though it was just one guy reading it. Now anything LOTR makes me think of the curtains I had in London. Bet you didn’t see that one coming?

    • Words for Worms

      Ha! That’s fantastic! When I listen to an audio book it’s almost always in the car, so I tend to associate it with the trip I took. Never curtains. I should learn how to sew, because I now want this to by my story to tell at cocktail parties…

  17. lostinliterature108

    I’m so glad you started the series. I read it the same way you are, one, then other things, two, then other things, you get the idea. All in all it took me about a year to finish.
    The first and the last both took me a month each but I felt soooo rewarded at the end. (Proud of myself actually. (My friend in book club, however, thought we should put it on our job resume for having endured it.)

    I didn’t watch the movies first so it was all new to me. Even though I hate all the description, the language and writing was just soooo beautiful! There were things I would go back and read just because it sounded so lovely and I wished that I had written them myself.

    Hang in there. The second one is full of Orcs. Orcs from the East, Orcs from the North, blah, blah, blah, but The Return of the King is just magnificent!! I never re-read anything (except Charlotte’s Web) but I will read this again.

  18. Zen A.

    Lord of the Rings is one case where I prefer the movie over the book. I get that Tolkein is brilliant, and the world he created is truly awesome, but the descriptions were too much for me. My eyes often glazed over while reading and I would forget where I stopped. That said, I found the Hobbit to be more bearable than the trilogy (but again the movie was still better!).

  19. Sarah Says Read

    OMG the forests. I read this book not too long ago and while I remember good things here and there, mostly I remember not giving a damn about travelling through the freaking forests. SO MUCH WALKING AND NATURE-DESCRIBING.

    However… just reading this post makes me kind of want to go start the 2nd book soon, so maybe I’m ready to dive back in!

  20. Heather

    LotR is definitely a classic epic fantasy, which means world building, long descriptions about lots of stuff, songs, etc. It’s definitely not for everyone, and I can understand the urge to skim. I personally loved all of it, but you don’t deserve to be strung up by your thumbs or anything. Hahaha!

    (The movies suuuuuuck compared to the books. They’re almost totally different.)

  21. Jenny

    I’ve never loved Lord of the Rings the way some people do, and I came to it later in life. Fellowship is not my favorite. There are a lot of things in Fellowship that make me bored. PRIMARILY TOM BOMBADIL. WHY IS TOM BOMBADIL.

    I eventually just skipped Fellowship of the Ring — I saw the movie and was like, Okay, fine, now I know the plot — and started with The Two Towers. It worked much better that way! The Two Towers is a more interesting book with more cool events.

  22. themidnightmama

    this is so great. i haven’t read the trilogy yet but it’s certainly on my list. i absolutely love the movies (though i’m not going into the books with any expectations). looking forward to seeing your thoughts post-read.

    • Words for Worms

      I’m hoping The Two Towers goes a bit easier for me- I have heard it’s a LOT of walking, but also there’s more wars and stuff. Plus that warrior lady. I like her, so, my hopes are high :).

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