The Company of the Ring is sundered. Frodo and Sam continue their journey alone down the great River Anduin – alone, that is, save for the mysterious creeping figure that follows wherever they go. -Goodreads
My Rating: 5/5
-possible spoilers for The Fellowship of the Ring-
Two stories are written in parallel to one another, rather than chronologically, so this review will be done in two parts.
The book begins (essentially) with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli following Saruman’s Uruk-hai. This plotline leads us to seeing and experiencing much more of Tolkien’s world than we had in The Fellowship of the Ring. This is where the story becomes epic – in every sense.
A lot of the information we get in this book is done through dialogue – whether that is the main characters talking to one another, or them overhearing other characters talking. It’s a writing style that was a little jarring at first, but when the plot of the story starts to take over from what has been told (the “off-screen” scenes), it begins to pick up the pace and we are soon wrapped up in the adventure.
There are several moments of great character development with certain characters. It’s wonderful to see such complexity in the characters, and to watch as they grow and begin to fend for themselves.
There is a battle at one point (generalising so there are no spoilers) which is incredible. I’ve never read a battle depicted in such beautifully crafted language. Unlike a lot of modern fantasy, the scenes are of course more classic, heroic scenes, rather than the brutal stuff we see in R. F. Kuang’s The Poppy War or George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. The scenes are, however, filled with tension and sometimes it’s nice to feel like we’re witnessing an epic adventure from classical myths.
The second plot arc follows Sam and Frodo as they make their way to destroy the ring. This is the slower of the two stories, but it’s still fantastic as we see even more of the world and experience the wonderful friendship of the two hobbits. I think we can all agree that Sam is the best friend we all want in our lives.
The complexity of Gollum’s character was surprising as so often in fantasy from this era, the villains are just evil, but Gollum is of two minds and there are moments where we see him from Frodo’s perspective where we not only feel sorry for him too, but might also trust him.
Overall, this book has one story arc (the Aragorn plot) that feels like a complete story and the other is more of a bridging arc (Frodo and Sam) for what is to come in The Return of the King. We see so much more of the world than in The Fellowship of the Ring and it’s wonderful to experience both the complex present and deep histories through the eyes of our main characters.
(Possible) SPOILER SECTION
No spoilers for this review – I might come back to it in the future, or possibly start writing some discussion posts on the plots, books and characters of the series.