The One Ring

Book Review: Lord of the Rings from the Shire to Mordor

We all know that the epic trilogy of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings is based on the classic books by J.R.R. Tolkien, but the big question is, what kind of books were they? While several of us may have already read the books out of sheer interest in all things fantasy, or others may have had to read it as part of their education -the fact is that not many people have actually read all three books. So what is it like to read all the three books? Let's find out.

The Lord of the Rings Books

The Fellowship of the Ring

Like many stories, the Lord of the Rings' main protagonist is an unlikely hero -in this case, it is Frodo Baggins of the Shire. He is a Hobbit, and like many others like him, he prefers a simple yet happy life. Unlike other Hobbits however, Frodo is curious about adventures -this curiosity, however, gets pushed to its limits when he finds himself becoming the recipient of a ring from his uncle, Bilbo.

Most of you already know that that the ring in question is none other than the One Ring; a powerful artifact created by the dark lord Sauron. There's actually a bit of fancy backstory here -involving the creation of several rings of power that were distributed to the Dwarves, elves, and men, but to cut things short, here's the lowdown: that ring is dangerous and must be destroyed.

Soon Frodo finds himself sent on a quest along with Gandalf the wizard and three other Hobbits -their main goal is to destroy the ring (by bringing it to where it was originally forged). They would then be accompanied by other characters -Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas, and Gimli. Like most stories, things do not always go as planned and soon enough, the ‘fellowship' is quickly split apart.

Despite starting out as a light hearted adventure (not to mention all the silliness with tom Bombadil), this volume ends on a rather sad note. Gandalf fell along with a balrog (in order to protect the rest of the party) and despite the heroic sacrifice, the group is eventually splintered by Boromir's attempt to take the ring. This action isolates Frodo from the group -forcing him to continue the quest on his own. The only good thing is that these initial issues get ironed out in the next part of the story.

The Two Towers

Unlike most trilogy stories where the second installment puts the protagonists in dire straits -the Two Towers is different (as is the Fellowship). While the Fellowship ends leaving the readers without hope, the Two Towers sees the protagonists turning things around for the better.

Of course, the Fellowship has been split up: Frodo is carrying the Ring while Sam accompanies him. The two other hobbits, Merry and Pippin are first taken by orcs, but would later escape and meet the ancient Ents (who are, for lack of better words, magical trees that can walk and talk). Gandalf returns from his ordeal with the Balrog and he is much stronger than ever -he then reunites with Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas.

Despite being split up, the Fellowship put their faith in Frodo's quest and they do what they can in order to keep the Eye of Sauron from learning about the true whereabouts of the ring (nor the fact that Frodo even has it). They decide to seek the help of Theoden -who commands a mighty army of mounted cavalry, the Rohirrim. Together, they would confront and defeat Sauron's marching forces at Helm's Deep -and Gandalf would gain the help of the Ents to defeat the evil wizard Saruman.

While that part of the story ends quite well, Frodo and Sam are faced with tough challenges on their end as they are betrayed by Gollum and are led to a trap which involves a giant poisonous spider, Shelob. Frodo is then captured by Orcs and Sam goes off to rescue him.

Despite Frodo's predicament at the end, The Two Towers serves as a rallying story. The protagonists are able to realize what they want to do and take the necessary steps to make things happen. Despite the little distractions to the plot (like Grima Wormtongue), reading through this volume is one of the most exciting parts of the story.

The Return of the King

Thanks to a little mishap with Pippin and one of the Palanthirs near the end of the previous volume, Sauron now believes that it is Pippin who holds the ring. Gandalf uses this to their advantage by bringing the Hobbit to Minas Tirith -intending to face off against Sauron's army there while Frodo and Sam make their way into Mordor.

The king referred to in this volume's title is none other than Aragorn -who has long let go of his royal lineage and has chosen the life of a ranger. But with the fate of the world in the balance, he is forced to reclaim his birthright. One of his first actions is to regain the might of the Dead Men of Dunharrow -spirits who are forced to acknowledge their oath to the rightful king. This force, along with the armies of Minas Tirith and Theoden's forces manage to fight and win against Sauron's vast invading forces (who were after Pippin).

Meanwhile, Sam manages to save Frodo and the two travel on their way to Mordor -which is the most dangerous stretch of their quest as they are most likely to be found by Sauron at this point. When Sauron sends an emissary to face Aragorn's forces, he makes the mistake of bluffing that he had Frodo hostage (if he truly did, then the Ring would be in his possession). Seeing that Frodo is still continuing his quest, Aragorn attacks Mordor in the hope that it would provide enough of a distraction. Fortunately, it works -Sauron is too distracted to realize that Frodo has reached Mount Doom and after a little skirmish with Gollum, the Ring is destroyed.

Much of the books' premise relies heavily on the faith that the Fellowship puts upon Frodo and Sam -as well as their constant amazement at the capabilities of Hobbits (which is also mentioned in The Hobbit). It makes for a very exciting read as the characters make such earnest decisions based on faith alone. Aragorn's attack on the gates of Mordor is basically a sacrificial move -one that is supported by their army (who had just barely won defending Minas Tirith). While this may all seem a little too idealist in terms of delivery, it does show a side of humanity that many of us aspire to achieve. This is probably why the protagonists of Lord of the Rings manage to become such timeless and influential characters.