I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit. In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose. (source)
Growing up, I was a Harry Potter kid. And I don't know why, but I thought that you weren't allowed to be both a Harry Potter fan and a Lord of the Rings fan. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I had friends who weren't allowed to read Harry Potter, and they were HUGE Lord of the Rings fans. Anyway, for whatever reason, I thought that you weren't allowed to be both, and as a result, for years, I adamantly refused to read Lord of the Rings. Sometime around high school, I came to my senses and realized that, duh, just because you like one series doesn't mean you can't like the other. But even so, I just never got around to reading Lord of the Rings. It wasn't that I was against reading it anymore, I just never had a desire to do so.
Then, my friend Lizzy added Lord of the Rings to our longer reads list in our book club. I'm so glad she did - she provided me with the motivation to read a book that I just never was able to bring myself to try. We started with The Hobbit, and I was amazed by not only how much I enjoyed reading it, but by how little effort it took to read. I'd always assumed that Lord of the Rings would be super difficult - I'd heard that Tolkien was big on detail and I assumed that his books would be tedious as a result. The Hobbit showed me that nothing was further from the truth - yes, Tolkien is detailed, but he has to be, in order for the reader to understand his world. He's also humorous, endearing, and clever - and the result is wonderful.
Fellowship of the Ring is more mature than The Hobbit, and as a result, it is more challenging. But it's not unmanageable, and I've read much more difficult books (*cough*Anna Karenina*cough*). It, too, is filled with wonderful characters, each with his own unique personality and quirks. They're funny and at times infuriating; not a single one is perfect and likewise, of the Fellowship, not a single member is entirely flawed, not even the conflicted Boromir.
Fellowship does a wonderful job of setting up Frodo's part of the story. I say Frodo's part because we were already introduced to the Ring in The Hobbit, although, of course, we didn't yet know what was so special about the Ring. I must admit, at times, I got bored by the constant traveling. For the vast majority of the book, Frodo & Co. are travelling with the Ring, taking it to first to Rivendell, and then to various other places en route to Mordor. The troubling part is, there's no real plan for how to get to Mordor, since the journey is so difficult that making a plan is actually impractical. I was frustrated by the fact that by the end of the book, Frodo's still travelling. He hasn't yet reached his destination; in fact, he's not anywhere near his destination. He can't be - we still have two more books left in the series. And, yes, he's made an important decision concerning the remainder of the journey. But I have to admit, as a reader, I felt the end to be anti-climactic.
Another thing that really gets under my skin is how insignificant women are in this book. The only two that have really been important thus far are Arwen and Galadriel. I know it's not necessary to have women strewn throughout the book... but I still wish that this story didn't just consist of male characters (with the exception of two fairly minor characters). I guess it's not really that big of a deal, but some gender diversity would be appreciated.
Overall, The Fellowship of the Ring is a wonderfully written book by a man with an absolutely incredible imagination. It blows my mind how well-thought out this series is - I mean, not only did he create his own world, he created his own language. That's SO crazy to me. I don't think that this will ever be a favorite of mine, and I still prefer Harry Potter (personal preference - I will go so far as to admit that Tolkien is a more skilled writer than Rowling, but I enjoy her stories more than this one). However, I'm glad that I had a chance to read this, finally. Fellowship was a good book and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.