The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien

fellowship of the rinReading level: 8.1

Series: Book 1 of The Lord of the Rings series

Genre: Fantasy, adventure

ELL-Friendly: No

Library recommendation: High school

I have mixed feelings about this book. The good: it’s a well-crafted adventure story, and the reader can feel the urgency of the situation and the importance of the mission. The interaction between the different members of the fellowship is interesting, and I’m just starting to get to understand who these characters are. Is Boromir such a jerk all the time or is he a legitimately good guy? Why does Sam love so much Frodo so much? Does Frodo return the sentiment? Must keep reading…

What I didn’t like: Tolkien is more a linguist than a novelist, it seems to me. He name-drops like nobody’s business, and I got lost in all the names of people and places. Tolkien seems to have a very clear picture of the land that he tries to help readers visualize, but I just couldn’t keep up with the strange names and directions. The maps didn’t help all that much for specific and in-depth descriptions of most places. The made-up words made my reading slower than usual, and I struggled to keep interest. There’s a also a lot of time committed to planning the next steps of the Company. I understand that planning is of course important, but I think that some of that dialogue and explanation could have been cut down.

Taking the good and the bad, I think high schoolers would like this book more than younger readers, and even high schoolers would need to be strong readers. In addition to made-up words, there are lots of real words with which I wasn’t familiar, and my reading level is far above 8th grade…or so I’d like to think. Die-hard fantasy fans (no matter how young) could certainly power through and learn some new words along the way.

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