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Author: J.R.R. Tolkein

This novel is the first part in the well known trilogy The Lord of the Rings. It also serves as a sequel to The Hobbit, but one can be read without the other. It is a fantastic story located in Middle-Earth, an area that has been so changed by time that it would not be recognizable today. In this installment of the story, a menacing “shadow” has befallen the land. He is the Dark Lord of Mordor and is known by the name of Sauron or, more often, just the Enemy.

Years before this tale, many Rings of Power were made for the Elves, Dwarves, and Men — a total of nineteen — that had magic in them like never before. At this time, one additional Ring was made, but this one was forged with evil by Sauron’s hand to control the others. This, “the One Ring”, had since been lost thought gone forever. In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins had found this Ring and now, in the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, has passed it on to his heir, Frodo. It is up to him to see that the Ring does not fall into the hands of the Enemy again.

The story of the Ring is developed at a depth rarely seen today. Histories of lost ages and old heroes visit the pages in songs and verse, from the drinking songs in the town of Bree to the melodic lyrics of the Elves in the forest of Lothlorien. It is obvious even from his prose that Tolkien has a talent for poetry. It seems at times that the words are demanding be sung aloud than read silently. Such wonderfully rich use of the language — including, at times, the language of the Elves — is so rare that you haven’t really heard English until you’ve read The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien is as talented a storyteller as he is a poet. In the first half of The Fellowship, there are passages where the imagined sounds of evil Black Riders galloping along the roadway seem as loud as the beating of my anxious heart. It is also unbelievable how much design has gone into the story. The history of Middle-Earth often becomes just as important as the current narrative and it becomes hard to believe that the races of Dwarves, Hobbits, Elves, and Men were not real at one time. The Lord of the Rings deserves an adjective magnitudes stronger than “believable” alone.

This trilogy is definitely not a light read. Tolkien is so effective with the language that each word and sentence is crucial and cannot be skipped. Also, The Fellowship alone will not finish the story. It flows readily into The Two Towers and from there into The Return of the King. The entire trilogy must be read together, and indeed The Lord of the Rings, even more so than The Hobbit, is a must read.

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