Woo! It's time to start in on the meat of the LOTR Read-Along, with the first eight chapters of Fellowship of the Ring. (The Hobbit and LOTR Read-Along is hosted by Little Red Reviewer and Geeky Daddy)
It's been an interesting re-read for me so far; I find that I'm noticing different aspects of the writing. Of course, I'm also reminded that the beginning of FOTR is slooooowwww. I like these books, but they take their sweet time to ramp up. These are all the chapters that when I heard they were cutting a lot of it for the films, I said: "yeah, okay, I mean, I'll miss it, but that makes sense." (Unlike the big section at the end of ROTK, but we'll get there when we get there.)
Discussion questions provided by Little Red Reviewer follow!
1. Hobbits seem to have songs for everything! I didn't realize this was a musical. . . . how are you liking all the songs?
It's fine. I generally like poems with plenty of rhyme and rhythm, and memorizing the Ring poem was a big deal for me when I first read the books.
Although, I'm actually finding them a little distracting this time through, because my brain is caught between musical styles, and I can't quite picture the tunes. I was completely thrown by A Walking Song (when Frodo, Sam and Pippin are walking toward Bucklebury), realizing how drastically re-purposed it was by the films. The fact that I was so surprised reminded me how long it's been since I've read these books in any depth.
2. I love that we learn about Gollum and his past so early on. It gives a dark and foreboding (dare I say, perilous?) feeling to the whole thing. Were you surprised that the story took a dive towards the dark and scary so quickly?
I admit, I kind of skimmed this part this time through. (Everybody who was along for the Hobbit last month, I hope you caught the reference that when Gandalf disappeared on the dwarves and Bilbo, it was because he and the other Wizards were fighting Sauron.)
3. Tom Bombadil! what and who is he??? If you met him in a forest, would you trust him?
No one knows, because Tolkien wouldn't say. Seriously, he's some sort of nature guardian. He's like Kipling's version of Puck. As such, you can trust him exactly as long as you aren't acting against whatever he's protecting. I liked that he had some weird moment of communion with a brooch. It made me think about the Silmarils, and Bombadil and Goldberry's place in Tolkein's pantheon of great couples.
4. What did you think when Pippin, Merry and Sam told Frodo about their "conspiracy", and that they pretty much knew what he was planning from the beginning?
This part I didn't remember clearly, and it was pretty funny. One of the main things I like about this section is that they're so terrible at planning. Frodo's terrible at hiding what he's doing, they don't know what direction to go, they get lost in the woods, they keep getting in trouble, they don't have any weapons. They're all willing, but very silly about it. They have a lot of growing to do to survive the books, and this lays the groundwork.
5. What's your favorite part of the book so far?
I'm fond of the creepiness of the sequence on the Barrow-Downs. It's the first time that Frodo is really faced with danger and death, and it always made an impression on me. The image of them waking up, dressed as sacrifices to an angry ghost is really a great image. Plus there's a nice little parallel to the Hobbit, where they come upon their weapons basically by luck.
Previous Read-Along Posts:
The Hobbit Parts 1 and 2
The Hobbit Part 3