000) Lord of the Rings, Chapter by Chapter

A Study of Tolkien’s Fellowship, and Beyond

New to the book, and finding it hard to read?  Many report this, so I’d suggest the following:

  • Jump straight into Chapter 2, The Shadow of the Past.  All you need to know is that Frodo inherited the ring from his uncle Bilbo, who is now far away.
  • Continue with Chapter 3, Three Is Company, where the Black Riders appear.
  • Then skip to Chapter 9, At the Sign of The Prancing Pony.  The story will still make sense.  And this is how it was done in the Jackson films, and in the much earlier BBC dramatization.
  • Once you are properly into the story, you can then go back and fill in the gaps.  You will now see where the details fit.  And be interested enough in the characters to want to learn more about where they came from.

But for those who have read everything but now want to see the overlooked details, I am making a careful study of each chapter.  As of February 2019, the project has got half-way through The Two Towers.  I hope to see it through to the end.  But each re-read involves a lot of work.  Brings out details I had not noticed before, despite many previous reads from cover to cover.

Be warned that some chapter-studies refer to future events.  But nothing that would be a ‘spoiler’ for anyone who had seen the films.

Book One:

  1. A Long-expected Party
  2. The Shadow of the Past
  3. Three Is Company
  4. A Short Cut to Mushrooms
  5. A Conspiracy Unmasked
  6. The Old Forest
  7. In the House of Tom Bombadil
  8. Fog on the Barrow-downs
  9. At the Sign of The Prancing Pony
  10.  Strider
  11. A Knife in the Dark
  12. Flight to the Ford

Wider views: Why Gandalf took so long to identify the One Ring
When Would Normal Gold Melt?
Who Is Tom Bombadil?.

Book Two:

  1. Many Meetings
  2. The Council of Elrond
  3. The Ring Goes South
  4. A Journey in the Dark
  5. The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
  6. Lothlórien
  7. The Mirror of Galadriel
  8. Farewell to Lórien
  9. The Great River
  10. The Breaking of the Fellowship

Book Three:

  1. The Departure of Boromir
  2. The Riders of Rohan
  3. The Uruk-Hai
  4. Treebeard
  5. The White Rider
  6. The King of the Golden Hall
  7. Helm’s Deep
  8. The Road to Isengard
  9. Flotsam and Jetsam
  10. The Voice of Saruman

Why am I doing this?

Back in August 2017, Dominic Russell took the initiative in forming a Coventry local branch (Smial) of the Tolkien Society.  I attended the first meeting of what became Rangers Of Mordor Minor (Coventry Smial).  We met on 7th September at a café and second-hand bookshop called The Big Comfy Bookshop, whose owners are Tolkien fans.

On that occasion, we discussed the poem Mewlips.  We also agreed to meet monthly, and in October we would begin a read-through of both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.  This soon switched to two chapters per month of Lord of the Rings.

The intention is to study the whole book.  If things go well, we should be studying the early chapters of The Two Towers by the end of 2018.  We are of course aware that the ‘trilogy’ format was the publisher’s idea, in part to limit expense on a book that was quite different from most.  The basic format is six ‘books’ in a complete work.

I myself prepared written notes.  I decided that these were worth putting on my website, though tidied and including some interesting comments made by other members.  And with various extra thoughts I have had since.  Some of them have expanded considerably.