Thursday, September 26, 2013

LOTR Read-Along: On Your Marks... Get Set... Read!

Time to begin the read-along!  I'm going to start with the prologue, and post my reactions and thoughts as soon as I've finished (probably on Sunday).  Please join me!

IMPORTANT:  if you haven't read this or The Hobbit, but you're watching Peter Jackson's Hobbit movies and do not want to know how it all ends, this prologue contains spoilage about that.  It's in the fourth section, "Of the Finding of the Ring."  Skip the first paragraph and you'll be okay.  Or, if you've seen The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey, you can skip the whole first part of that section and begin again with "Now it is a curious fact..." because the movie dealt with everything related to Bilbo getting the ring from Gollum.

If you want to skip the prologue, you can, but it does have some great info about the world inside this book, and it always help me slip into my Middle Earth mindset, so I recommend reading it.

A quick note about how I've set this up.  I'll post a new chapter every couple of days, always with the "LOTR Read-Along" tag in the title, and then the name of the chapter.  In those, I'll post my thoughts on what happens in that chapter (sometimes more coherent that other times, I'm sure), my favorite lines, and maybe a discussion question if I can think one up.  You then respond to that post once you've read that chapter.  You can comment on what I've written, mention your own favorite passages, answer the discussion questions if I posted some, and ask your own questions, etc.  There's totally no time limit on this -- you can join us next year if you want!  Please do be sure to click the "Subscribe by email" thingie so you get notified by email when other people respond -- that helps us get a good discussion going.

You'll notice there's now a tab at the top of the page that says "'Lord of the Rings' Read-Along -- Chapter Posts Index" -- click on that to quickly access particular discussions.  I'll do my best to remember to link each individual post to its title there as I post them.

Also.  I'll be doing a small giveaway at the end of every book, open to participants only.  By small I mean "giving away one LOTR-related thing that I bought myself."  Now you know.

If you're participating, please consider putting one of these buttons in your own blog's sidebar, posting about it on your blog or FB, whatever, and linking back here so others can join us.  Thanks!


  1. Alright, so I wanted to tell you a little of the backstory of how I came to read LOTR, and this seems to be the best place to do it. I was three, four, and five when the movies came out, so obviously I wasn't watching them, but my whole extended family went to see them together those Christmases in the theaters and were obviously doing a lot of talking about them. Don't ask me why as a really young girl I was so intrigued with the story. Just don't. I would sit there and listen agog to everything they were saying, even though I probably didn't understand half of it, and then I began to make up my own stories about the characters. For no reason I can figure out now, I centered everything on the four hobbits (Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin) and left out all the other characters except Gandalf and Gollum, who were minor characters for me anyway. For several years I told myself tales about these hobbits. They strayed pretty far even from what I knew about the stories (i.e., I made Frodo my hero/protagonist in any dangerous situation I pleased), but I am also surprised now at how a few of those old stories I still remember came very close to a few of the chapters in the books.

    Anyway, all that to say, I've been a LOTR fan since before I even had a very clear idea what the stories were all about. I quit telling my spin-offs after several years, but I never lost my fascination with Lord of the Rings. My dad is a tremendous fan, but my mom doesn't really like the books, so it has been a long wait to actually read them. But now my dad, brother and I are reading them aloud, and Tolkien has not disappointed me. Even though I've spent most of my life as far back as I can remember fascinated with (the very little I knew about) Middle Earth, he still blows me away with his vivid descriptions and story-telling ability. I'm really enjoying reading the books, and I have so many thoughts about them that it'll be quite fun to share them with fellow fan(s) here, even if I am writing a couple of years after this read-along happened.

    1. Marcy, I don't think that's strange at all. I've done similar things myself, even as an adult. Like when I saw The Avengers (2012) for the first time, I hadn't seen any of the other Marvel movies, and I made up what I thought the first Thor and Captain America movies would be about, based on stuff they say in The Avengers and pictures I saw online. Then I actually watched their movies, and they were quite different from what I had imagined, and I was like, "Wait, this is how it goes? This isn't how it should go!" Heh. Took me a while to replace my headcanon with the actual stories. And I was 32 at the time. But I did that kind of thing as a kid a lot too. Just based on what the front cover of the Raiders of the Lost Ark VHS tape box looked like, I made up a ton of Indiana Jones movies when I was like six. Didn't actually see the movie until I was like twelve. You don't have to know all about something to have it grab your imagination!

      I think I'm going to read LOTR aloud to my kids when they're all old enough to handle and enjoy it, before I let them see the movies. Seems like an ideal way to experience it!

    2. Thank you for telling about your experiences with imagining things you didn't really know about! I realize I'm not alone in that. The only mystery now is why I got so fascinated with LOTR when I was far too young to understand. I'm quite sure I didn't even have a ring in my imaginary stories.

      Yes, I've been very much enjoying the chance to read the books first. A major reason is that Tolkien describes the countryside his characters are passing through so well that it really sets the tone for what is going on, and if I had seen the movies first, I'd have lost the chance to imagine the country for myself. I know I'd have been visualizing it the way the movies did in my head, and Tolkien describes so well that I almost feel like I'm in the different countries themselves. I'm sometimes amazed by the way the description of the countryside fits with what is going on; i.e., Rohan feels open and free, Minas Tirith feels anciently beautiful and majestic, Ithilien has a feel of quiet but temporary peace, Mordor is utterly shattered and devastated. It all fits so well with what is going on that I enjoy being able to visualize it for myself very much. I'm sure you'll have a lot of fun reading it aloud when the time comes!
      -- Marcy

    3. Tolkien's descriptions are so rich and vivid -- you're making me really eager to reread LOTR starting next month!

    4. Rich and vivid is so right! And a lot of authors are pretty good at describing (L. M. Montgomery is one that springs instantly to mind) but Tolkien’s descriptions feel a bit different to me. They aren’t just a way of immersing us in his world – they are part of the story. They push the story forward almost as much as the action and conversation do. They set the tone so much that they feel an integral part of the story to me that most other author’s descriptions don’t, if this makes any sense.

    5. Yes, exactly -- his settings are an active part of the storytelling. And yet, they feel so real and natural that it's hard to remember Middle Earth isn't real.


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