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LoTR Fellowship of the Rings is such a slow book. The battle of five armies in The Hobbit was only around 40 pages. In Fellowship, I'm 80 pages in and Frodo is still in the process of leaving the shire.. wtf. I'm glad the movies skipped 90% of this. Nobody would watch the movie if 2 hours was dedicated to him attending his estate while waiting on Gandalf to finally show back up 15 years after telling Frodo to keep the ring safe. Roughly 15 years he was gone.. wtf. In the movies, its like he went and made a cell phone call and came right back all worried. In the book its a boring Hobbit's life with Frodo eventually taking care of his belongings, selling his house, getting his affairs in order, getting some breakfast with Sam, etc. x_x
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Thanks for the warning about the silmarillion. After reading the hobbit I was interested in getting more of his books but after reading the first 20 pages of notes, etc. that is the prologue of fellowship and then the first 80 pages of the book, Tolkien has almost burned me out in 100 pages. X_x All the hobbit lore in that prologue was all pointless details to me that add nothing to the plot. It completely lines up with what you said tho. It's all world building. This guy is more detail oriented in his writing than Peter Straub. However there is one part of the notes that really intrigued me. Tolkien, in response to critics saying his books was a metaphor for his experience in the war, gave an example of an alternate version of LoTR if it was. In the alternate version Sauron would have gotten the ring back and Saruman would have created his own ring of power and their two armies would have raged war against each other for control of middle earth. That would have been cool. Lol.
Meh, that was mostly there for those who hadn't read The Hobbit before getting into LOTR (I know I hadn't read The Hobbit before I read LOTR, was a nice little intro into what happened before the events currently taking place).
Don't get me wrong some of Tolkien's best work is in The Silmarillion (in fact it is my favorite book out of everything he's written) but like I said its a pain to read through all of it. I actually like that Tolkien took the time to actually set up his world and give us the details, it made it feel more alive). Too many books these days don't take the time to do that and just throw you into the fray without even a "Hey, this is whats kinda going on just so you know". Shit just wait until you get to the appendices in The Return of the King (if your copy has it, mine did). There is so much information on who's who, the elven language (which is actually a language, Tolkien was a Linguist), another few pages of story not mentioned in the book proper (like the Grey Havens scene from the movie, what happened after Sam and Frodo got back to the Shire, what Pippin and Merry were up to after everything, etc), and so much more (The Silmarillion has something similar but its not as bad).
Reading Tolkien is a huge commitment and is something I learned the hard way back when I first started reading his work. If you can put up with the amount of information he throws at you the reward is well worth the boredom.