Several of my friends mentioned that they were going to read or re-read The Lord of the Rings series this summer, so I has been on my mind to re-read them myself. I have read them, but it’s been quite some time and I’m not overly familiar with the plot or all of the characters.
However, it wasn’t until my friend, Katie, started posting as she read on Facebook that I was really motivated to read it now. I’m quite far behind her (she’s already on Return of the King, and for me, Frodo and company are just leaving Tom Bombadil’s house), so I spent some time creeping on her Facebook page to see what her comments were at each point. This will make my buddy-read a little asynchronous.
(A quick comment about formatting…. I think I’d like – for myself – to write these out on my blog, so that I can reference them later in their entirety. However, I’ll also be cross-posting to Facebook, to allow others to participate/comment as they wish. Because I love sharing stories with others. There will be spoilers and, in general, these will be my initial reactions vs. anything really well thought out.)
Chapter 1: A Long-Expected Party
I’m not really sure what to think of Bilbo; he seems rather rude and condescending to other hobbits. At some point in the distant past, I’ve read these books before, but not particularly attentively. I’ve watched some of the movies (but still haven’t made it through The Hobbit) and the scene where Gandalf is trying to get Bilbo to leave the Ring felt more oppressive and ominous than in the book version. Bilbo is kind of a jerk with the presents he left – highlighting flaws in others.
(My first encounter with Bilbo was when we were assigned The Hobbit to read in the 7th grade. I didn’t want to read it and I kept calling him Biblo.)
Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Past
It was a little surprising to me that Frodo got to be 50 years old before his adventure began. Also, if hobbits’ lifespans aren’t that much longer than humans’, why don’t Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin have wives and families? Gandalf seems to be far more cautious about drawing conclusions than I am. Was Sméagol always evil/selfish/murderous, or was that just the influence of the Ring? The Ring seems to corrupt more quickly and more fully the more the owner wears it and uses its powers.
Chapter 3: Three is Company
What of the morality of Frodo selling Bag End to the Sackville-Bagginses, when he knew that the Enemy was coming after the Ring and knew the name “Baggins”? The Sackville-Bagginses may have been grasping after Bag End for some time, but did they deserve death?
Frodo kind of complains a lot – his heavy pack, how much weight he will lose on the journey – before they even begin. Is he really this self-absorbed, or is he more nervous than he lets on?
Sam seems to be portrayed as a bit bumbling and naive, but he’s shouldering adversity and change remarkably well.
I do not trust these cloaked riders sniffing around. Why are they deterred by the Elves?
Chapter 4: A Short Cut to Mushrooms
Sam is shown to be more thoughtful and perceptive than he was initially made out to be. I’m kind of getting a Mary vibe from him. Frodo is the focus and Sam is happy to support him however he can and ponders things within his heart.
All of their songs remind me of the cadences sung at march in the military.
Already, we can see how much Frodo needs his friends – Pippin gave good advice about the road being quicker (that fortuitously wasn’t taken) and helped immeasurably with Farmer Maggot.
Mrs. Maggot was a little funny with gifting Frodo a basket of mushrooms when he used to steal their mushrooms as a youth. Maybe Bilbo wasn’t so much of a jerk before, and hobbits just like to give snarky presents?
Chapter 5: A Conspiracy Unmasked
I low key love all of Frodo’s friends right now, when they tell him they know all about his mission and refuse to let him go into danger alone.
What is the tall, white tower that Frodo dreams of?
I’m kinda mad at Frodo for not having left earlier. I know, it increases the plot tension….Katie
Hmmm…. I get where Katie’s coming from. As a third-party observer, we are sitting here with our popcorn, yelling at him to get going before the Enemy catches up with him. But, I think it makes a lot of sense for Frodo to drag his heels here. Hobbits are the homebodies of the fantasy creatures in this world, so leaving Hobbiton has to be hard for him – I get that he wants to stay as long as possible and drink it all in, especially if he thinks it’s likely he may never return.
Birthday celebrations and gift-giving seems to be a pretty big part of hobbit culture, so I get why he wants to have one more birthday at home.
Chapter 6: The Old Forest
“They do say the trees do actually move…” – Ents?
“But the hobbits came and cut down hundreds of trees, and made a great bonfire in the Forest…” – now I’m a little horrified. How did the trees and the hobbits become enemies? Who was the first aggressor?
It’s funny how the forest herded them. Sam catching on that their sudden sleepiness is suspicious – he’s a smart cookie!
Tom Bombadil sings and the trees obey. The hobbits arrive at Tom’s house and are bathed in a golden light. He’s such an interesting character. I’m not sure what to make of him.
Chapter 7: In the House of Tom Bombadil
Frodo: “Who is Tom Bombadil?” Goldberry: “He is.”
Tower in the middle of a circular plain, an old man and an eagle – Frodo’s dreams seem prophetic.
Very odd were Tom’s interactions with the Ring. Frodo just gave it over (with no resistance) and Tom didn’t become invisible when he put it on. Tom seems to be able to see Frodo when Frodo has the Ring on.
I’m a little confused over the significance of this interlude at Tom’s house. What am I missing?