Introduction: The Fellowship of the Ring
Every journey begins with a single step. The LOTR represents many things. But first and foremost, it is the tale of a journey (or many journeys, fused together at one point and broken apart at another). Reading this epic story for me has always been a "journey" - one that takes me into Middle-Earth for a couple of months out of each year.
I pursue that journey to a place that seems as real as any other that I'm familiar with. And reading about these same characters each time is like visiting old friends. It's like I'm along for this journey and opening the front cover of "The Lord of the Rings" is like taking that first step. As Bilbo Baggins counseled his heir, Frodo: "It's a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
I think perhaps because the start of the journey is so exciting for me that "The Fellowship of the Ring" has always been my favorite of the three books. It's like dipping your toe into a cold stream to test the waters and then gradually going in deeper and deeper to get used to the temperature. Tolkien starts his "magnum opus" quite slowly. It's easier to savor the experience as he starts in the Shire and introduces the reader to a very small and unique part of the world of Middle-Earth - from the hobbits' point of view.
Soon enough, all hell is going to break loose and the larger picture will become clearer. But at the start, the author is quite content to focus on simpler matters "concerning hobbits". We, the readers, start off blithely unaware and unconcerned about the evil brewing in Mordor (and beginning to fester at Isengard). There is plenty of time for worrying about all that later.
So now it begins...J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"...
We shall begin with the Prologue.