Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bedtime Stories: The Fellowship of the Ring

Title: The Fellowship of the Ring
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Image via ANNIE HORN

After we finished The Hobbit as a read-aloud back in December, I was a little surprised, though certainly pleased, that Our Girl was eager for more Middle Earth adventures.  Nearly seven months later, we have just tonight completed the first book of Tokien's Lord of the Rings, entitled The Fellowship of the Ring.  "That's it?" she asked as I closed the book on the last page, clearly expecting a more dramatic finish.

"Well, that's it for this book."

"Can we start the next one tomorrow?"

"It's just as long as this one."


"And there's one more after that, just as long."

"Okay.  Is Gollum in the next one?"

"Oh, yes."

"Cool." So, we'll start Two Towers tomorrow night. 

There were 17 years between the publications of The Hobbit (1937) and The Fellowship of the Ring (1954).  As much as I adore the first book, there's no denying that the time in between was well-spent.  A far richer world is offered in this longer and broader story.  This was, I think, my third time through the Fellowship.  The Ringwraiths are always scary.  Tom Bombadil is good fun and I find myself asking the same questions the hobbits do: why not just leave the Ring with him?  This time, I was particularly touched by Gimli asking for the strand of hair from Lady Galadriel and his sorrowful parting from Lothlorien. 

While I would admit that The Lord of the Rings is the superior story to The Hobbit, it's far more challenging as a read-aloud.  There are sections of the earlier work which really come to life.  "Riddles in the Dark" is gorgeous and one can hardly read Gollum's lines without a creepy, dregs-of-the-mud voice.  While I did not actually sing all of the songs in Fellowship, I did my very best to slog through the Elvish.  I'll be interested to see if the reading gets easier with the next book, especially with Gollum playing a more prominent role.  We may need a flow chart going forward as there will be a lot more characters to keep track of soon.  Our Girl forgot, for instance, that Aragorn and Strider are the same person - understandable, and not the last time such confusion is likely to come up.

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