A Study of Tolkien’s Fellowship
New to the book, and finding it hard to read? Lots of people report this, and we mostly hear from those who do finally managed it. 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 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 both the Jackson films and 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’ve made a detailed study of how Gandalf identified the One Ring. Also ten separate sections on the first ten chapters of Book One:
- I A Long-expected Party
- II The Shadow of the Past (with a note on why the gold would not melt)
- III Three Is Company
- IV A Short Cut to Mushrooms
- V A Conspiracy Unmasked
- VI The Old Forest
- VII In the House of Tom Bombadil
- VIII Fog on the Barrow-downs
- IX At the Sign of The Prancing Pony
- X Strider
The remaining chapters I am still working on, with the intention of completing two a month.
- XI A Knife in the Dark
- XII Flight to the Ford
In addition, I did a study of why Gandalf took so long to identify the One Ring.
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.