Book Review – The Fellowship of the Ring
I do not believe my words could offer any praise worthy of this author and the wonderful world he created. A world that has captivated many hearts across many generations. This book needs no introduction and definitely does not need my review. However, what I hope to do in this post is explain why I feel that this book is a must-read, especially for Christians, in our time.
The Lord of the Rings could be considered the centrepiece, the crescendo of J.R.R Tolkien’s writing. Tolkien (1819-1973) was a philologist and an academic, known for his writings and poetry. He began chipping away at the world and history of Middle-Earth in 1917 by writing a series of stories that were not published initially. In fact, during Tolkien’s lifetime, the only Middle-Earth novels to be published were ‘The Hobbit’ & ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (henceforth LOTR). The rest of the books were edited and published later.
The popularity of the book only grew with the making of the movie trilogy by Peter Jackson which each won a gazillion Oscars. In fact, I myself have been a long-term fan of the Lord of the Rings movies without having read the book. A marathon of the movies is a yearly tradition in my home. But now that I am reading the books, I can clearly see why committed fans of this franchise have long preferred the book over the movies. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel that among those movies that were made from books, LOTR stands out to me as the one that has been the most faithful. Yet, no movie can rise to meet the standard of a book, especially a book of such acclaim.
But coming back to my point, the thing that makes this book a must-read in our time of moral confusion about what is right and wrong, good and evil, acceptable and refutable, this fantasy novel stands true. The tales and wonders of the characters and the circumstances they navigate resonate well with the Christian worldview. Author N.D Wilson advises that the world of fiction would do well to borrow its design from the archetype of this world that God created. If the morals are anchored in the truth of Scripture and virtue is expressed alike, then the story will come alive though it is quite imaginary.
In this story, the Ring of Power, forged by the Dark Lord Sauron, has been found. It was the same ring that Bilbo the hobbit found in Gollum’s cave as accounted in The Hobbit. And if Sauron were to get a hold of this ring, he could cover the world again in another darkness. Here it begins, as Tolkien traces the journey of four young hobbits, a race of human-like creatures though much smaller in stature, who are forced to leave their homeland because of the urgency of their quest, to keep the ring from the hands of the enemy and to find a way to be rid of it. They travel through perilous and foreign lands meeting both friend and foe in their quest to destroy the evil ring as the fate of the whole world becomes bound to theirs. Evil is portrayed as evil, and good as good. The story depicts the strength and glory of masculinity, the grace and gentleness of femininity, the sweetness of friendship, the peace of humility, the power of loyalty, the cost of pride, and the foolishness of haste. So much it describes and so much it explains, that this book of fiction touches more issues of the heart than most of the non-fiction that rests on the shelves of bookstores today.
The first of this trilogy is ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ and it is a must-read for all Christians, especially for those who have a desire to enter the world of Middle-Earth.
P.S – It was particularly special to have this book read to me by Andy Serkis. My oh my did Andy teach me how to read! The audiobook read by Andy is available on Audible and it is special. I would be remiss not to praise Andy for a beyond-wonderful rendition of this beloved book.