Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

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Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby Nathan Bransford » 08 Apr 2010, 16:49

Okay Internet, question of the ages. I'd like to resolve my most glaring gap books.

But should I start with THE HOBBIT or THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING??
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby marilyn peake » 08 Apr 2010, 16:58

I’d recommend reading THE HOBBIT first, since THE LORD OF THE RINGS novels are sequels to it. THE HOBBIT’s also a lot easier to read. I’ve read THE HOBBIT, but still need to read THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby Bryan Russell/Ink » 08 Apr 2010, 17:01

That's an interesting question, really. They're fairly different stories, in both conception and execution. The Hobbit is basically a novel for kids that's easily enjoyable by adults, while LOTR is, in some senses, the reverse: a book for adults that can be enjoyed by kids. The Hobbit is sort of a traditional adventure story, a journey (quest) with lots of interesting happenings on the way, some of them fairly incidental but usually interesting. LotR is much more epic, the tone and style much grander (and more beautiful). The story darker, grimmer... more thematic, really, and with much more depth. The Hobbit is full of rhymes and riddles, the LotR is full of song and poetry. The Hobbit provides the first part of the story, but most of the necessary information is covered in the opening of The Fellowship.

Neither open particularly fast, it should be noted, particularly The Fellowship. It's not entirely without tension and interest, but it takes a number of chapters to really get into the heart of it (and if you ever read anything about the composition of the story you'll see why... the story changed greatly as he wrote it. The story started, really, as a sequel to The Hobbit, but it became something much more in the writing).

Does that help at all? It's all a riddle in the dark, really... and, yes, that's an insider joke. You'll get it soon enough... if you survive the journey :)
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby layinda » 08 Apr 2010, 17:02

The Hobbit, no question. That's what I did instinctively in middle school, and I've never regretted it. A natural progression, and you'll have the backstory needed to proceed with LOTR.
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby Bryan Russell/Ink » 08 Apr 2010, 17:03

And, yes, I know too much about all this. My store was called Inklings for a reason. :)
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby Nick » 08 Apr 2010, 17:08

As I said on Twitter, I recommend The Hobbit, but it's not necessary to start with. There's really only vague continuity between them, which gets some explanation in Fellowship and at this point most people are probably aware of it anyway. Plus, the Hobbit is a somewhat breezier read. Much as I love LOTR, it's a touch on the slow side, and if one is not in the mood for it it kind of kills any effort at reading. At the end of the day it's up to you, really.

On an only slightly unrelated note, if you enjoy them I recommend reading the various histories. Very good reads. Actually for that matter I recommend anything Tolkien. There's a reason he's the largest single author in my veritable library.
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby timkeeton » 08 Apr 2010, 17:12

I read The Hobbit in the early 70's (my older brother had it, so I knew it was "cool"). It was basically a stand alone story for me, and I could have stopped there. However (and this is the important part), I didn't. My brother also had the trilogy, FOTR, TTT, & TROTK. He also had the Silmarillion (first edition, newly published). I read them (over and over and over until the bindings broke) and I was done. I was captured and my life has not been the same since. Middle Earth was my first real foray into a new world, and it captured me heart and soul. All that being said, I would read The Hobbit at least for the back story, and then read the trilogy (and then the Silmarillion, and the Books of Lost Tales, and the Children Of Hurin, etc. etc. You will never get enough...)
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby timkeeton » 08 Apr 2010, 17:17

Wow, I sound a little obsessed with Tolkien, don't I? I'm not really, but it did really affect me as a a 12-13 year old kid. I even learned how to speak and write Elvish (Quenya and Sindarin) - I know, how big a geek am I? Oh well, enjoy it, whatever you choose.

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby dusk2bluedawn » 08 Apr 2010, 17:22

If you really wanted to get into the stories start with The Sillmirillian.It explains how Middle Earth came to be and tells of it's history and evolution for the first 2 ages.The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy take place in the 3rd age of Middle Earth.
The hobbit takes place 60 years before Fellowship of the Ring and should be read second.
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby Wendy Qualls » 08 Apr 2010, 17:25

Given that you've never particularly felt the need to read them before (I'm guessing), start with the Hobbit. It's the most like a good-ol'-fashioned story, with a clear cast of characters and good vs. evil and dragons and all that. It's also much easier to read.

Once you've read the Hobbit, then start on LOTR. If you don't start LOTR already being determined to like it, the slog through happy hobbit land at the beginning would probably dissuade you from reading any more. If you can get through the shire, though, the series picks up quite a bit.
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby Josin » 08 Apr 2010, 17:27

Start with the Hobbit. It's a simpler book, and LoTR is actually set after the events from that one. Staring with Fellowship is like teaching someone to swim in a riptide at night.

DO NOT start with Sillmirillian. You'll never touch Tolkein again. Even hard core Tolkein nuts trudge to get through that one.
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby Nathan Bransford » 08 Apr 2010, 17:34

Sounds like the consensus is mainly THE HOBBIT. Don't know when I'm going to have time to read them all but I shall report back!!
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby marilyn peake » 08 Apr 2010, 17:40

Have fun, Nathan! THE HOBBIT is an awesome book! This discussion reminds me that I need to read THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. I loved reading THE HOBBIT, and I loved THE LORD OF THE RINGS movies.
Marilyn Peake

Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby Alenta » 08 Apr 2010, 18:01

I would recommend RETURN OF THE KING.

Kidding. But I would echo the suggestions of starting with THE HOBBIT. It was read to me before I was old enough to read it myself (several times), and it whetted my appetite for more. There's a unique joy you feel after reading the last page of a great book, only to realize there are ONE THOUSAND MORE PAGES of the same kind of thing.

A word of caution: When you get to the chapter "The Council of Elrond" in FotR (about the halfway mark), grit your teeth and soldier on. It's a brutal chunk of backstory and exposition, to varying degrees of immediate relevance, but after that the pace really picks up and it all becomes worth it.
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Postby Robin » 08 Apr 2010, 18:21

I think you should just jump into Fellowship of the Ring, (I take it you've probably watched all 3 movies already).
Enjoy!
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