Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 1

In the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo Baggins arranges the most spectacular party imaginable in order to pass his wealth on to his nephew and heir, Frodo Baggins. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.

Oh, I am truly, truly excited to finally start this project. I had a lot of fun with The Hobbit, so I have less of an expectation to dislike this book. Instead, I’m actually super excited to get a chance to learn why so many millions of people (and all my close personal friends, who are flabbergasted I’ve avoided this for so long) are in love with J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings. The only thing I’ve allowed people to spoil me on is the opinion that this book is better-written and darker than The Hobbit, and I’m perfectly okay knowing this. You know why? Because this is what I’ve managed to retain from pop culture regarding The Lord of the Rings.


  • You can’t walk into Mordor.
  • There are twins?
  • One of them likes potatoes a lot? I honestly am so stumped as to why this is a thing at all and what the fuck have you done fandom.
  • Gandalf is in it
  • There’s a hobbit named Frodo, and Elijah Wood plays him.
  • I’ve heard that John Noble, who plays the brilliant Walter Bishop on Fringe, is in one or some of the movies! I don’t know who he plays.
  • There’s a character named Legolas and Orlando Bloom plays him and his name was always distracting because I’m a huge LEGO fan and I’m like IS HE MADE OF LEGOS. He’s not and that upsets me.
  • You know, I spent time intellectualizing LEGOS a couple weeks ago, especially since I’ve had a resurgence in my obsession (AKA I can actually afford like one set a month), and I realized that because my brain is spatially-challenged, LEGOs allow me to feel like I can build and construct things with my hands. I’ve always had a problem with arranging things in physical space, and I think that’s where my clumsiness comes from. I always feel so accomplished when I complete a model.
  • WELL OKAY THAT WAS FUN. Um…Gollum is in this? I think?
  • There’s a Shire.
  • um
  • well
  • There’s a ring? And someone is lord of it? Is it the same ring that Bilbo took from Gollum?
  • ??????
  • ?????????
  • ??????????????

It’s weird that I’m starting two HUGE fandom-heavy properties (LotR here, and Buffy over on Mark Watches) and I can’t seem to recall learning anything about either of them. I’ve tried to think about why that is. Why don’t I know jack shit about The Lord of the Rings? The book was already huge in the group of friends I hung out with in junior high and high school, but I think that’s one of the reasons why I avoided it. I was already a nerd; teachers loved me, I was a straight-A student (except for one damn semester in AP Physics GODDAMN IT), I was in nerdy-as-hell clubs, and that’s just what I was known as. Did I want to get into high fantasy and make myself look like more than the nerd I already was? I had to struggle with this bizarre identity of mine, because I was a hardcore kid who was also a gigantic loser to the social population of my school. And I had to straddle those two worlds, as someone who grew up listening to hardcore, punk, and metal and wanting to be accepted by those people, and desiring to be a good student and succeed.

It involved me making conscious decisions to avoid certain things because I was so concerned about how I was perceived by others. Which is what a lot of people do in high school, isn’t it? Hell, lots of us (myself included) do care how we portray ourselves to the world in different ways, but I cared in ways back then to avoid getting beat up between classes. I think that’s a pretty reasonable justification. Plus, if I’d read this before, I COULDN’T DO THIS NOW I WIN IN THE END.

But I’m glad to take the chance to read The Lord of the Rings in one go. There will be no breaks between “books.” (Yes, I know this is one single book, but I won’t do anything but this until it’s done.) I’m committing to doing this for at least a third of 2012. On top of that, I will hold liveblogs on the weekend after each of the “books” that we finish so that I can finally see those monstrosities. AREN’T THEY LIKE 324 HOURS EACH. oh god i am so excited.




The first thing I picked up after reading this chapter is that the writing has improved; it’s leagues above The Hobbit, though I’ll miss the weird first-person interjections from Tolkien. (Don’t you dare expect me not to find a way to force one of those father-son reviews in again, though. I’LL DO IT AND YOU CAN’T STOP ME.) But I was completely impressed by the improved pacing, a lot of fantastically-written passes, and the immediate change in the tone.

But what I liked the most was that we start things off with a familiar character.

When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.

I swear to you, I had no idea he was going to be in this book! THIS IS SO TERRIBLY EXCITING TO ME. I just expected to be thrust into a brand new situation with new characters. I don’t know why I thought The Lord of the Rings took place hundreds of years after the events in The Hobbit, but I must admit to smiling every time there was a reference to that book.  The idea that Bilbo has just been this weird, odd character in the Shire for sixty years straight just fills me with so much joy. It’s easy to think back to his characterization at the beginning of The Hobbit and see all the changes since then, but I mostly latch on to the fact that he’s happy. He is perfectly joyous to be different, to have gone on that adventure with Bilbo and the dwarves, and to have lived a life full of discovery and thrills.

Honestly, though, it’s Bilbo’s eccentricities that make me feel so wonderful. I get the sense that hobbit society has a very well-defined rules; some of those are spelled out in The Hobbit, and even more are given to us in this first chapter. But Tolkien is a lot more subtle than he was before, and we’re left to figure out how hobbits react to one another and what we can expect from them. They enjoy extravagance, that’s for sure. They have an entire culture built around the concept of wealth, but it’s not at all similar to what we have in our world. (On that note, are there poor hobbits? Can hobbits be homeless? THESE ARE PRESSING QUESTIONS I MUST HAVE ANSWERED.) They love gifts; they love fireworks more than fans of Larry the Cable Guy. (Which is not an insult to fireworks, for the record, because sweet summer child do I love fireworks, but they were the only social group who might base a fanaticism around them that I could think of.) And they love eating.

Oh, how they love eating. And now I’m hungry again.

But let’s back up a bit. Very quickly, we’re introduced to Frodo Baggins, a young hobbit that Bilbo adopted as his heir, which made me shriek with delight because that meant the Sackville-Bagginses were forever doomed to never inherit anything that belonged to Bilbo. And look, I don’t care if I’m falling right into where Tolkien wants me: they are gross hobbits because THEY WANTED TO KEEP BILBO’S STUFF AFTER HE WAS CLEARLY NOT DEAD. Oh, no joy over his non-death? Then no inheritance for you. That’s how it works!

Anyway, even right from the very start, Tolkien introduces a small plot that is fascinating and entertaining, even if there are only hints towards what The Fellowship of the Ring is actually about. This epic get-together and birthday party that Bilbo plans on holding suddenly grasps me as well, and I start wanting to know if the rumors associated with it are true. Is he going to throw a spectacle of a party for himself and for Frodo’s coming-of-age? (OMG you are not an adult until you’re thirty-three in hobbit society? THAT IS BRILLIANT.) How is it going to affect the other hobbits? Tolkien gives us bits and pieces of the reaction from other citizens of this part of town, and I love how it manifests in the form of gossip. Plus, then I get introduced to Ham Gamgee, who is rather lovely in his own way. Of course, I’m biased because he defends Bilbo against the ridiculous notions others try to put forth, making sure it’s clear that he doesn’t care how queer the hobbit is: he’s a fantastic friend and neighbor to have. Do you know how much I enjoyed reading that? Because it’s true! Who cares how strange a person is? If they’re a good friend, that’s all that should matter.

The Day (I adore that it’s capitalized by Tolkien, as if it’s some sort of national holiday) approaches rapidly, and it only gets stranger. I felt a burst of happiness when a wagon rolls up and it’s clearly the dwarves who survived the adventures of The Hobbit. (Possibly more?) AND THEN GANDALF IS WITH THEM oh god THIS IS GOING TO BE AMAZING.

And we finally get a hint at what’s going on, and it is not at all what I expected.

‘You mean to go on with your plan then?’

‘I do. I made up my mind months ago, and I haven’t changed it.’

‘Very well. It is no good saying any more. Stick to your plan–your whole plan, mind–and I hope it will turn out for the best, for you, and for all of us.’

‘I hope so. Anyway I mean to enjoy myself on Thursday, and have my little joke.’

‘Who will laugh, I wonder?’ said Gandalf, shaking his head.

‘We shall see,’ said Bilbo.

He’s holding the party as a joke??? Or at least some aspect of it will be a joke??? Oh, Bilbo, you lovable troll. Now I’m obsessed and it’s only like page six. THIS IS SO AWESOME.

And so the spectacle continues. I really adore the pace at which this unfolds. So many people have told me that The Lord of the Rings is fairly dense for a novel, and I certainly am anticipating it to be. But if this is the way in which he describes things, I’m kind of okay with it. I mean, Tolkien isn’t even addressing the main plot yet, and I’m entirely stricken by this story, eager to know how this is going to unfold. The man’s narration here is a bit coy, as if he’s holding back a huge smile because he know Bilbo’s grand secret. When the party arrives, the tension becomes unbearable. (That’s a compliment.) And what a party it is! The writing is incredibly energetic at this point as Tolkien  jumps from one event to another. There’s gift-giving for the children in the neighborhood. There are songs. (I mean this wouldn’t be a story involving hobbits if there weren’t any songs, right?) There’s food for lunch, then there’s tea, then there are FIREWORKS. Also can we discuss how Gandalf is the best friend ever:

The lights went out. A great smoke went up. It shaped itself like a mountain seen in the distance, and began to glow at the summit. It spouted green and scarlet flames. Out flew a red-golden dragon–not life-size, but terribly life-like: fire came from his jaws, his eyes glared down; there was a roar, and he whizzed three times over the heads of the crowd. They all ducked, and many fell flat on their faces. The dragon passed like an express train, turned a somersault, and burst over Bywater with a deafening explosion.

This is just so touching to me, okay? It’s a celebration of the wonderful life of Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit from Bag End who may have lived a life of mediocrity if he’d not gone on that adventure with Gandalf. (Well….he was tricked/manipulated to go on that adventure, to be fair. STILL.) It’s beautiful, okay? WILL SOMEONE DO THIS FOR ME ONE DAY. Wait, what would that entail? Fireworks that explode into….me discovering Hagrid? Or maybe falling onto the stage at LeakyCon. That’s a wonderful way to commemorate someone’s life, isn’t it?

So, the time arrives when Bilbo’s private party of just one hundred forty-four guests gets to hear his post-dinner speech. Of course, I just wanted to know whyBilbo was doing this and what his little “joke” was that he’d been planning for quite some time.

Why was it important that a Gross of hobbits be present? What did Gandalf have to do with this? As Bilbo got into the meat of his speech, he says the best thing ever:

I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. This was unexpected and rather difficult. There was some scattered clapping, but most of them were trying to work it out and see if it came to a compliment.

HAHAHAHAHA HOLY SHIT, THAT IS SPECTACULAR. Insult people by confusing them about whether they just were insulted or not. But it continues! He states that inviting a Gross of hobbits was merely a number, offending guests who think it’s rude just to meet some sort of bizarre quota. So at this point, he’s pretty much loss the entire crowd, and it certainly doesn’t help that he makes references to Esgaroth and a barrel and the Long Lake and all these things most hobbits have never seen or experienced. But it was becoming clear to me that this entire affair wasn’t for any of the hobbits at all. This was Bilbo’s day, and he was going to end it exactly as he desired.

He spoke this last word so loudly and suddenly that everyone sat up who still could. I regret to announce that–though, as I said, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to spend among you–this is the END. I am going. I am leaving NOW. GOOD-BYE!

He stepped down and vanished. There was a blinding flash of light, and the guests all blinked. When they opened their eyes Bilbo was nowhere to be seen. One hundred and forty-four flabbergasted hobbits sat back speechless.

WHAT THE HOLY HELL IS GOING ON. His joke was to DISAPPEAR. First of all, HOW CAN HE EVEN DO THAT. Where did he go? WHAT THE. Predictably, it sends the hobbits into a furor; most of them are upset and think whatever “joke” Bilbo just pulled is in bad taste. Some believe he’s gone out of his mind, and others believe it’s just Bilbo being weird for the sake of it. Tolkien briefly switches over to the perspective of Frodo Baggins, who’s left behind and faced with an endless stream of questions about his uncle, all of which he either ignores or defers.

Of course, I somehow forgot that Bilbo had a ring that made him invisible. WOOPS. That was an easy one. IT’S RIGHT THERE. But there’s still a joke here, and one that does have a purpose beyond simply doing it for the hell of it: he really is leaving forever. Gandalf arrives to see him off, and their entire conversation is one of the more confusing things I’ve read. I feel like there’s something unspoken or assumed here that I’m missing out on, as if this is a continuation of a conversation I wasn’t around to have. Plus, both of them just say weird shit. I’m not surprised that Bilbo wants a long holiday, and who could blame him? The chance to escape life in the Shire and the hope of finding some new (albeit not that dangerous) adventure to have is intriguing, especially for someone like Bilbo.

But why does Bilbo frame this as if he feels something wrong about his life? Does he regret staying in the Shire the last sixty years? What does he mean by saying he feels “all thin, sort of stretched“? He hadn’t been doing much of anything in his home. I mean, I understand his desire to see the mountains again. It makes a whole lot of sense.

And then comes the issue of the ring. Lord, Bilbo really doesn’t want to give it up, and Gandalf really insists that he should give it to Frodo. Um….why are mom and dad fighting again? Look, maybe I’m reading too much into this (LOL WHEN HAVE I NOT DONE THAT), but I seriously feel like I’m not being told something about this argument they have. I get that the ring is amazing and anyone would be reluctant to give it up, but Bilbo at one point calls it MY PRECIOUS. um what are you doing Bilbo. Also, I call bullshit on Gandalf’s “professionally interested” line. lol dude you cannot bluff worth anything. But seriously, this situation escalates extremely fast, doesn’t it? Suddenly Gandalf is threatening to uncloak himself, which frankly sounds like he’s going to flash Bilbo, but that makes no sense. And as Gandalf gets more persistent and serious, Bilbo becomes more and more defensive. WHAT IS GOING ON EVERYONE? (That’s rhetorical, obviously.) It takes some well-placed guilt-tripping from Gandalf for Bilbo to leave the ring behind:

‘I am not trying to rob you, but to help you. I wish you would trust me, as you used.’ He turned away, and the shadow passed. He seemed to dwindle again to an old grey man, bent and troubled.

WELL PLAYED, GANDALF. WELL PLAYED. Though that only partially works, as Gandalf eventually has to snatch it off the ground after Biblo drops it. There’s a weird sense of sadness when Bilbo does finally leave, and now I sort of think we won’t ever see him again. But why was Gandalf so upset about the ring? AHHH I KNOW NOTHING NOTHING AT ALL.

Frodo concerns himself in the days that follow with handling Bilbo’s inheritance, doling out the proper items to the right hobbits. Again, Bilbo is a trolling genius, since he gives Lobelia Sackville-Baggins the very silver spoon set she was stealing from while he was on his journey. GOD I LOVE HIM FOREVER. Especially since just a few pages later, the Sackville-Bagginses prove to be some of the worst, unthankful hobbits in the entirety of existence, insisting that Frodo is now to blame for their poor inheritance. You know, it might be because you stole from a man you thought was dead but he was alive and you still stole from him. And I bet y’all smell, too. HOW’S THAT. Seriously, they are so rude!

‘Why didn’t you go too? You don’t belong here; you’re no Baggins–you–you’re a Brandybuck!’

‘Did you hear that, Merry? That was an insult, if you like,’ said Frodo as he shut the door on her.

‘It was a compliment,’ said Merry Brandybuck, ‘and so, of course, not true.’

Oh, bless. I already love Merry Brandybuck and I know nothing about him.

Before this chapter ends (as does this exhausting day), Gandalf shows up once again being all *~mysterious~* about the ring that Frodo has now inherited. Not only does he warn him to be careful, but he cuts his stay a week short to go…well, I imagine he’s off to find out more about where it came from. And the ending doesn’t make me feel too great about whatever it is that’s happening either:

He gave a final wave of his hand, and walked off at a surprising pace; but Frodo thought the old wizard looked unusually bent, almost as if he was carrying a great weight. The evening was closing in, and his cloaked figure quickly vanished into the twilight. Frodo did not see him again for a long time.

Okay, I’m hooked. What the hell is going on?

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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433 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 1

  1. Seamyst says:


    Ahem. I’ve been waiting for this forever! I feel like going back to the pre-movie days, when I was (re)discovering LOTR and falling completely in love with it.

    A non-spoilery mention so you can hopefully avoid spoilers in the future, Mark: The end of the Fellowship of the Ring movie includes some material from the start of the The Two Towers book.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    • @ljrTR says:

      this appeared at the end of your post
      "[WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us '0 which is not a hashcash value. "
      I'm new, so can you or someone else tell me what thie means?

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        I'm pretty sure WordPress Hashcash is an anti-spam thingy, and that at the end of a comment is a fairly accurate indicator (though not completely accurate, obv.) that the comment is spam. I'm not entirely sure how it screens them, but if you go to the Site Rules/Spoiler Policy page, there are generally quite a few of them marked like that where the user ID is obviously a spam link.

        ETA: So apparently that thing at the end is supposed to signify that the comment was probably sent by a bot.

      • echinodermata says:

        I still have no idea what that is. It's a bug, and probably has to do with WordPress given what it says. Sometimes it shows up at the end of people's comments, and I haven't figured out who gets them and why.

        So just ignore it.

        Also, comments on both sites seem to be buggy lately with constant "less than 1 minute ago" timestamps.

    • ladililn says:

      Same with the Two Towers movie including things from Return of the King. Mark, it might be best for you to just hold off on the movies until you've finished all the books? Or something. I don't know.

      • hymnia says:

        I second Mark saving all of the movies until he's done with all the books. The three "books" are really one book and, in much the same way, the three "movies" are really one movie. It would be better to keep them separate, IMO. Another reason is that Peter Jackson et al had a tendency to take quotes and even thematic elements and move them to a different place in the films from where they are in the books–not anything majorly spoilery, usually, but enough for me to think it's better to keep the movies until finishing the books. Doing that would also mean experiencing the films as the fans did (at least, those who read the books before the films came out).

  2. Bard says:

    Ah, man! I thought I was the last one to know nothing about this story! Unlike your awesome self, though, I’d read the blurb. Maybe I should stop doing that, because your way sounds more and more awesome with each book.

    Anyway, I confess my initial reaction to the writing style was “you’re sure this was written by the same guy?”

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  3. Thiamalonee says:

    One thing that really stuck out at me when reread this chapter is that Tolkien starts his story at the beginning of the story. I feel like if LOTR was published today, the author would definitely start with an in media res scene that would then return to this point, or it would at least include some sort of prologue in which “far from the Shire exciting! and ominous! action is occurring!!!” I don’t know if it’s the writers or at the publishers’ insistence, but it’s become so common to have a scene to “hook” the reader, that the lack of one really drew my attention.

    • flootzavut says:

      True – in one of the DVD's appendices they actually comment about how many "rules" of storytelling he breaks. I rather like it because it just suits the nature of the story. After all, it's not fiction – it's a myth 🙂

    • kbrooks says:

      That's why you can start over reading again from the beginning as soon as you're done, and see everything in a totally different light.

  4. Jenny_M says:

    As someone who was also born on September 22nd, every time I settle in for a re-read of LOTR, this chapter just feels like coming home.

  5. @ChloeKEvil says:

    Oh my god you have no idea how excited I am for this I have been refreshing for like half an hour and it's here and oh my god it was like half an hour sooner than I was expecting at least but I am SO GLAD YOU LOVE IT ALREADY.

  6. cait0716 says:


    I like the juxtaposition between this and the beginning of The Hobbit. That book began with "An Unexpected Party" while this one begins with "A Long Expected Party". Every book should start with a party of some sort to get you all excited for what's to come.

  7. Eefje says:

    Oh yes! Bilbo’s party is so amazing, I love that the start of this book is so awesome for Mark too.

  8. Xue_Bai says:

    LEGOLAS WILL BE MADE OF LEGOS SOON! Legos just got the rights to LotRs and the Hobbit….the first sets are expected to be out in June! (And I plan on buying them despite being a grown woman.)

    …just so you know….XD

  9. Ryan Lohner says:

    It was extremely fitting that the last LOTR film was released in the year of Tolkien’s own eleventy-first birthday. Also, you’re going to want to hold off on watching the first film until you’re a couple chapters into book two. The story goes a bit beyond the point where the book ends, including a pretty major spoiler, as it made more dramatic sense (Tolkien didn’t intend for the story to be a three-parter, and all).

    And now, for the wonderful, marvelous music of Howard Shore. Science fiction has Bear McCreary, and fantasy has him. First, the overture for lack of a better term (mod note: Mark, don’t watch, as these are from the movies.)

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Darn it, somehow I posted the first one twice. Here’s the Hobbiton theme, hopefully.

      • @ChloeKEvil says:

        Concerning Hobbits is like a jolt of pure happiness to my soul.

        • flootzavut says:

          Yes 😀 Howard Shore managed to distill hobbitness into music, it's amazing.

          • AmandaNekesa says:

            Haha…distilled hobbitness. It's so true though – I don't think anyone could create a better Hobbit theme than Howard Shore did with Concerning Hobbits.

            • flootzavut says:

              I feel like Howard Shore must have visited Middle Earth…

              • AmandaNekesa says:

                He must have, because his score for LotR seems to be truly inspired and very much embodies the spirit of Middle Earth and the story.

                • flootzavut says:

                  I don't know if you're a Pratchett fan, but it reminds me of pTerry's comments about Paul Kidby's artwork – that it gave the impression he'd just wondered into the Discworld and drawn what he saw. Although Shore's music is obviously more ambitious than I can easily imagine hobbits producing, the themes, the instruments, etc, give that impression – he had a wander around Middle Earth and wrote down what he heard 🙂

                  • AmandaNekesa says:

                    You know, I've never read any of Pratchett's books but I'm beginning to think that I should check them out sometime. I have so much respect for artists, writers, and musicians who are able to come up with truly inspired works like that. I used to be rather artsy as a kid even into high school, and when I see or hear works like Howard Shore's LotR score, or Alan Lee's artwork, or Peter Jackson's film, it makes me well up with joy and appreciation for their beautiful creations. <3

                    • flootzavut says:

                      ^ so much agree.

                      If you want to dip a toe in pTerry, as it were, I think Mark is going to read Good Omens at some point (co-written with Neil Gaiman, and Terry's later style becomes more like this IMO – one of my favourite books to the point where I'm considering buying a Kindle copy despite already having both a hardback and a softback of it…). Also, I love his YA stuff – Nation is one of my favourites though I know some people really dislike it… I thought it was great. Also, it's not linked with Discworld, or any other of his books, so you can read it as a standalone.

                    • AmandaNekesa says:

                      Thanks for the suggestions! Maybe I'll start out with Good Omens when Mark reads it, since I've never actually followed along with a book that I haven't read before. I think it would be fun!

                    • flootzavut says:

                      Cool 😀

      • lattemama says:

        That entire score never fails to make me smile. The Hobbiton/Shire part of the score most definitely. Thanks for posting this!

      • monkeybutter says:

        I think it's okay to post music as long as it doesn't give away what scenes are in the movie, but I had to change these to links because the screengrab is the movie poster, and shows characters that Mark hasn't seen yet.

      • Depths_of_Sea says:

        Aaaahh, oh Howard Shore my love. Every time I hear the Shire theme I feel all warm inside.

        • tanbarkie says:

          Is it weird that, out of all the people associated with the LOTR trilogy, the one person who I considered absolutely indispensable for the new Hobbit films was Howard Shore?

          I mean, I loves me some PJ, but Shore's score is one of the crowning achievements of modern cinema, as far as I'm concerned.

          • Ryan Lohner says:

            And it's so weird to think that before these movies, he was best known as David Cronenberg's regular composer, who only did scary music (outside Cronenberg, he also did great work on Ed Wood (the only Tim Burton film not scored by Danny Elfman), Seven, and Panic Room).

            • stefb4 says:

              He also did the soundtrack for Silence of the Lambs! You can kind of hear his style while listening to it…it's actually a really moving soundtrack that is very underrated.

          • Depths_of_Sea says:

            No arguments from me on that. It just wouldn't have been the same without Howard. Like, with the Harry Potter films, the scores for number three onwards just didn't have quite the same sparkle as the scores John Williams did for the first two. They were decent scores, don't get me wrong, and the Deathly Hallows score was actually REALLY good, it just wasn't quite as magical.

            Same with Voyage of the Dawn Treader for the Narnia films. Just ain't the same without Harry Gregson-Williams at the helm.

            So I'm super glad Howard managed to get himself on board for The Hobbit. It's gonna be so awesome! I want to see if he takes any of the themes from the trilogy and finds new ways to insert them into The Hobbit.

            • tanbarkie says:

              Yeah, it's always a bit upsetting to me, as a music nerd, when the producers of film series seem to think that their composers can be replaced at a moment's notice. You wouldn't replace your lead actor or director without damn good reason – what makes you think that replacing the musical voice of your movies wouldn't be similarly disruptive? 🙁

              • Depths_of_Sea says:

                Exactly! Finally someone else who understands how weird it feels when the music in a sequel sounds different. I dunno, maybe most people aren't paying that close attention but I can always tell when they've used a different composer. Film composers just have unique styles and sounds and ways of orchestrating that I can pick up and tell apart. (I can pretty much always recognize one of James Newton Howard's scores.)

          • flootzavut says:

            I think it is AMAZING to watch the films again and realise just how many themes are woven throughout the trilogy and how the music tells a story all by itself, he did such a wonderful job. There are pieces and songs that make me bawl.

          • Dreamflower says:

            Amen! I love the movies to pieces, but like any book-lover I occasionally get annoyed by nits. I just remind myself I can forgive PJ the nits because he had the genius to use Howard Shore! That music just makes me so happy!

      • Genny_ says:

        I listened to that song endlessly while writing my NaNo, so as well as just being the most stunning, gloriously joyful piece of music I can imagine, I also have all these lovely fuzzy feelings of success and accomplishment associated with it now. So great.

    • echinodermata says:

      I would make the argument that the music really is best listened to while watching the movie for the first time. The music is a story unto itself and I feel like listening to the music for certain scenes before seeing the movie removes a lot of the impact of how the music couples with the movie.

      Also, I'd argue that we're really not ready for what you called the overture yet. It's at the beginning of the soundtrack but it's not for this chapter and sets an entirely different mood.

    • @unefeeverte says:

      I'd also recommend for Mark to save the music for the movies, as it's one of the great strengths of them vs. the books.

    • Lizzy says:

      You'll need to be careful once you get to films two and three as well though, because they mix up the contents from the later books and there would be spoilers involved. Might be an idea to hold off entirely until you've read the book if you don't want anything spoiled.

    • flootzavut says:


      I may be slightly too excited for this…

    • notemily says:

      I was very sad that I didn't get into Tolkien fandom until after the eleventy-first birthday celebrations had passed.

  10. pennylane27 says:

    I'm sorry, I just can't stop laughing at what you know about LOTR. It's just… beautiful. Legolas is not made of Legos oh my god hahahahaha also cb-gn-gbrf, obvy 'rz, znfu 'rz, fgvpx 'rz va n fgrj lbh unir ab vqrn.

    Okay, then, reading the review now.

    Oh and also your unpreparedness amuses me, as always.

  11. threerings13 says:


    I first read this book when I was 11. I can't tell you how many times I've reread it since then. I wore out one set of the books and now I'm on my second set. But it's already so much fun to read this book from the point of view of someone who has never experienced them. There's so much that I take for granted. Like I don't remember this chapter as suspenseful at all, because of course I know what's going to happen. So, um, YAY MARK READING LOTR!

    • @ljrTR says:

      you put your finger on why it is such fun to read along with a Tolkien virgin! I've done it once before. It's the closest you can get to reading it again for the first time.

      • flootzavut says:

        I don't know if you were about during Mark Reads Harry Potter, but that is EXACTLY what it was like then, too – it was SO GOOD and it was almost like reading for the first time. I think Mark might be even less prepared for LOTR and I AM SO EXCITE it is not healthy… 🙂

  12. ADB says:

    I knew you would love the "Half-as-Well" line.

    I can barely contain my excitement! In the words of Shang Tsung, "IT HAS BEGUN!"

  13. Dru says:


    I don't remember the Lord of the Rings as a series with a shitton of humour (J.K. Rowling had it right when she said she had better jokes) but LOL FOREVER at Bilbo trolling his relatives!

    (also, Elijah Wood and Daniel Radcliffe look freakishly alike despite the ten-year age difference. More HP-LotR rambling connection, if inadvertent). Are you going to watch the movies, too? They are pretty excellent, even if Peter Jackson's occasional change to the story made me wince in places.

    • Seamyst says:

      (also, Elijah Wood and Daniel Radcliffe look freakishly alike despite the ten-year age difference. More HP-LotR rambling connection, if inadvertent).

      So true! Haha, there’s this one shot toward the end of Sorcerer’s Stone where Radcliffe looks just like a young Elijah Wood.

      [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  14. Jenny_M says:

    Also, it makes sense that Bilbo is such an awesome troll – he learned from Gandalf, who (as we all know) trolls so well that he even trolls trolls.

  15. lattemama says:

    Oh this is so exciting!! I have so many feelings about you starting this book. I think I'll read along as well – it's been a while.

  16. knut_knut says:


    I love troll Bilbo!!! It was sad to see him go, but SHIT IS GETTING SO REAL AND IT’S ONLY CHAPTER 1. I first read LoTR when I was 10 or 11 (around the same time as Harry Potter, actually! Year 11 of my life must have been like a black hole of nerdy-ness) and I used to re-read the books every Christmas (PERFECT TIMING, MARK!). It’s been a really, really long time since I’ve read them, so I’m super excited for this project!

    V yvxr gung Znex xabjf nobhg Ryebaq'f gjvaf (V'z nffhzvat gung'f jung ur zrnag ol gurer ner gjvaf?) ohg abguvat ryfr ernyyl. V pbzcyrgryl sbetbg nobhg gurz, gunaxf CW -_-

    "Nyfb, V pnyy ohyyfuvg ba Tnaqnys’f “cebsrffvbanyyl vagrerfgrq” yvar" UNUNUN VS BAYL LBH XARJ. Vg'f abg ERNYYL n yvr…

    • @ChloeKEvil says:

      V jbhyq thrff gung ur npghnyyl zrnaf rvgure Zreel naq Cvccva be Fnz naq Sebqb, gubhtu arvgure bs gubfr gjb frgf ner npghnyyl gjvaf!

      Cebonoyl Zreel naq Cvccva, gubhtu.

      • lattemama says:

        I was confused about that too. I think you may be right.

      • knut_knut says:

        OOOOO that makes sense! WAY more sense, actually 😀

      • Pt_0 says:

        Yeah, that's what I thought too.

      • flootzavut says:

        That's what I assumed too.

        V guvax ur vf tbvat gb YBIR Zreel naq Cvccva :Q

        • @SableFlag says:

          V jubyr-urnegrqyl nterr. Gur frcnengvba bs Z&C va EbgX jnf gur cneg gung znqr zr pel gur zbfg V guvax. V pevrq n ybg va gung zbivr.

          • AmandaNekesa says:

            Lrnu gung cneg jnf fb fnq. V'z whfg abj svavfuvat EbgX naq jura Zreel naq Cvccva ner frcnengrq gurl obgu frrz fb ybaryl. 🙁

          • flootzavut says:

            LRF! Bu gung'f fbbbbb fjrrg! V guvax Ovyyl Oblq jnf bar bs gur ryqrfg bs gur Uboovgf ohg ur znantrf gb znxr Cvccva fb lbhat-frrzvat, naq vaabprag (abg va gur qevaxvat naq fzbxvat fgnxrf ohg vaabprag urnegrq fbzrubj). Jura Cvccva naq Zreel trg frcnengrq naq gurl ner abg fher jura (vs) gurl jvyy frr rnpu bgure ntnva vg'f whfg fbbbb… nuu. V gubhtug gurl obgu qvq oevyyvnagyl, pbafvqrevat gung va znal jnlf gurve fgbevrf ol arprffvgl orpnzr fhofvqvnel gb gur ovt fgbevrf, lbh ernyyl *srry* gung sevraqfuvc whfg yvxr lbh srry Fnz naq Sebqb'f.

            Juvyr jr'er ba zbzragf gung znxr lbh gel: Cvccva fvatvat sbe Qrargube nf Snenzve evqrf bhg gb nyzbfg-pregnva qrngu. Gung jubyr fprar nyjnlf yrnirf zr va ovgf, naq gur zrybql bs gung fbat vf fb unhagvat.

            • AmandaNekesa says:

              LRF. GUVF FB ZHPU. Gung fprar whfg grnef zr gb fuerqf rirel gvzr. Lbh ernyyl srry ubj ubcryrff naq nybar gur punenpgref ner srryvat ng gung cbvag. Nabgure cneg gung unf NYY GUR FNQARFF vf (va gur obbxf) jura Sebqb naq Fnz ner fgnttrevat guebhtu gur cynvaf bs Tbetbebgu naq gurl cerggl zhpu npprcg gung gurl'er abg pbzvat onpx; gurve bayl tbny vf gb trg gb Zbhag Qbbz. Gura bapr gur Evat vf qrfgeblrq, Sebqb gura qrfgeblf hf nyy jvgu guvf yvar:

              "V nz tynq lbh ner urer jvgu zr. Urer ng gur raq bs nyy guvatf, Fnz." :'(

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      Er: gjvaf, V'z guvaxvat ur'f cebonoyl ersreevat gb gur snpg gung Cvccva naq Zreel ybbx dhvgr fvzvyne? Ng yrnfg, V guvax gung'f zber yvxryl orpnhfr Ryynqna naq Ryebuve nera'g cebzvarag va gur zbivrf, naq gung'f cebonoyl jurer zbfg bs gur Znex'f fcbvyref unir pbzr sebz. V qvqa'g rira erzrzore gung gurl unq nccrnerq va gur zbivrf, be gung gurl jrer gjvaf, npghnyyl.

      • Bard says:

        Vs lbh guvax Ryynqna naq Ryebuve ner cebzvarag va gur obbxf, lbh fcrag jnl, jnl gbb zhpu gvzr ba Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq onpx va gur qnl. (Gung, be gurl’er va gur Fvyznevyyvba. Jbhyqa’g xabj, vs fb.)

        [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

        • calimie says:

          Gurl qb fubj hc va gur EbgX jvgu Nentbea'f cnyf gb tb envfr gur Nezl bs gur Qrnq ohg gurl dhvpxyl snqr vagb gur onpxtebhaq.

      • knut_knut says:

        V pbzcyrgryl sbetbg nobhg gurz hagvy V fnj Znex’f abgr, naq gura orpnzr ernyyl vzcerffrq ol uvf fgenatr YbGE xabjyrqtr KQ Fhccbfrqyl, va gur zbivrf gurl’er fgnaqvat arkg gb Ryebaq jura gur Sryybjfuvc qrcnegf sebz Eviraqryy. Znlor gung’f bayl va gur RR, orpnhfr gurer’f gung jubyr cebprffvba jvgu Nejra? V pna’g erzrzore jung jnf phg naq jung jnfa’g.

        • Mauve_Avenger says:

          V unira'g frra gur svefg gjb zbivrf fvapr gurl pnzr bhg va gurngref, naq unir bayl erpragyl pnhtug ovgf naq cvrprf bs gur ynfg zbivr ba GI, fb VQX. V xabj gurl'er obgu ng gur pebjavat ng gur raq bs gur ynfg zbivr, ohg bayl orpnhfr V ybbxrq vg hc gb frr vs gurve punenpgref unq orra pbzcyrgryl ercynprq ol Unyqve.

          • knut_knut says:

            unun, bu Unyqve. V'ir arire npghnyyl frra gurz va gur zbivrf, V'ir bayl urneq gung gurl'er va gurz….fbzrjurer. V nyjnlf sbetrg gb ybbx naq V unir ab vqrn vs gurl'er qerffrq qvssreragyl guna gur bgure ryirf, fb V qba'g rira xabj vs V'q or noyr gb cvpx gurz bhg :/

    • roguebelle says:

      These are Christmas books for me, too! I have no idea why, but they're solidly set there in my brain. These were the books I always smuggled into the Christmas Eve service my parents dragged me to.

    • BlueMoon says:

      "Gjvaf" pbhyq cbffvoyl or Tbyyhz naq Fzrntby.

  17. pennylane27 says:


    I wish I didn't have to go to lunch now, but I'll comment properly in a while. Dammit Mark, why do your reviews come up at lunch-time for me? grrrr

  18. confessionsfromseminary says:

    SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited that you're starting The Fellowship of the Ring!!!! Seriously, I'm sitting here, two days past my due date and moping over the fact that my baby's not on its way yet, and your post just put the biggest smile on my face. My day is about 102983587% better because you posted this.
    And I don't think I can comment on anything else for fear of spoiling something (pregnancy brain makes one far too forgetful to comment carefully).

  19. Saphling says:

    Awwwww yeah. Mark, you have no idea how much your review with its enthusiasm and confusion and delight has left me sitting in my office being all smug and happy and dancing slightly in my chair when no one can see. ^_____^

    As usual. 😀

    You are not prepared, but I think you knew that.

  20. Mauve_Avenger says:

    I kinda expected today to be devoted to a prediction post, so clearly I was not prepared. My memory of this first chapter pretty much consists of the "half as well" speech, the sign reading "No admittance except on Party Business," and Bilbo's wonderfully snarky gifts to his relatives.

    Fb Znex qbrfa'g xabj gung Frna Orna cynlf Obebzve? Rkpryyrag! Pbhyq jr znlor pbafcver gb xrrc guvf vasbezngvba sebz uvz hagvy ur frrf gur zbivr? V'z guvaxvat gung vs ur svaqf bhg orsber vg'yy or n qrnq tvirnjnl (ab cha vagraqrq).

  21. @mairywo says:

    Coming out of lurking just to say: Oh good grief, John Noble IS in one (or two?) of the movies…!!! I saw all three movies at least ten times each and have seen all of Fringe twice and I never realized. Without you I probably never would have… That to me is proof of his brilliance as an actor.

    • Pt_0 says:

      V xabj, ur ybbxf naq npgf fb qvssrerag va bar sebz gur bgure.
      Gur bayl ernfba V xarj ur'f va obgu vf orpnhfr V pna'g uryc gb jngpu gur perqvgf jurarire V jngpu gur ynfg zbivr. Gurl ner fb ornhgvshy. <3

      • flootzavut says:

        The credits are amaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyzing.

        • AmandaNekesa says:

          Gur jnl gurl qvq gur perqvgf va EbgX jnf fb ornhgvshy! V'z cerggl zhpu gur bayl bar bhg bs zl sevraqf jub abgvprf naq nccerpvngrf gur yvggyr guvatf yvxr gung, fb V'z tynq gb xabj gurer ner bguref bhg gurer!

          One day my friend asked me if I'd like to watch Fringe with her (which I'd never seen before). She kept saying that she couldn't quite place where she'd seen him (John Noble) before. I knew from the moment I first saw his character in Fringe that he was from LotR, and told her. I definitely got a "you're such a nerd" look from her, mostly because of my quick response.

          To add to the nerdiness, I'm totally listening to the FotR soundtrack right now, and it is AWESOME.

        • notemily says:

          and fifty years long.

    • Jenny_M says:

      Ur jnf bar bs gur ernfbaf V fgnegrq jngpuvat Sevatr. Orgjrra Cnprl naq Qbpgbe Qrargube vg'f n irevgnoyr pbeahpbcvn bs npgbef V yvxr naq pna'g fgbc pnyyvat gurve punenpgre anzrf sebz bgure cebwrpgf!

    • tanbarkie says:

      V yvxr gb guvax gung Qrargube vf onfvpnyyl Jnygreangr va n guveq nygreangr havirefr (nxn Zvqqyr Rnegu).

      V nyfb rawbl gung, haqre guvf snaba, Jnygre Ovfubc jvyy NYJNLF UNIR SNGURE-FBA GEBHOYRF. AB ZNGGRE JUNG HAVIREFR UR'F VA.

      • calimie says:

        Yby sberire bzt

        Crgre vf Snenzve? Ur jnf gur obbxvfu bar.
        (V'yy fgvyy nyjnlf ybir lbh, Obebzve, rira vs lbh qvqa'g ernq nf zhpu nf lbhe oebgure)

        Naq Byvivn vf Rbjla bs pbhefr.
        (V fubhyq fgbc guvf, V'ir bayl frra unys f2 bs Sevatr)

        • tanbarkie says:

          Naq Wbua Aboyr ortng gjb fbaf.

          Frna Orna, jub ortng svir puvyqera, nzbat gurz Eboo Fgnex, Neln Fgnex, Fnafn Fgnex, Oena Fgnex, Evpxba Fgnex, naq Wba Fabj. Nyfb ur jnf na rivy ZV6 ntrag.

          Naq Wbfuhn Wnpxfba, jub nf lrg ungu abg ortng. Ohg jub va uvf fubeg yvsr ungu orra n snzbhf puvyq ubpxrl cynlre, naq jub nggraqrq uvtu fpubby jvgu Wnzrf Ina Qre Orrx.

      • @mairywo says:

        Gung'f irel cynhfvoyr. Gurl qb funer n ybir sbe sbbq…

    • ljrTR says:

      He IS a brilliant actor, as you say.

    • marie says:

      I never realized until very recently either! Just by chance I was picturing his lotr character's face and it matched up with Walter's face – blew my feakin' mind. And yeah, I came to the same conclusion about why I didn't notice, he just embodies the characters so well that we didn't see the actor that linked them.

  22. James says:

    I am SO GLAD you like it already! I wasn’t planning on re-reading, but dammit, it’s been a while and your enthusiasm is so infectious! MERRY <3 I love him, too 😀 And you'll hear this a LOT but you are SO UNPREPARED, it makes me cackle in delight.

    And I think someone's already said, but don't watch the first film until you've read at least the first chapter of The Two Towers.

  23. msw188 says:

    Okay ladies and gents, I'm gonna go ahead and be the presumptive jerkface and declare right here and now that we need to have a final discussion on the following:
    When does Mr. Oshiro have the okay to watch the first movie?

    I know that he has at least been warned to wait until after the first chapter of the Two Towers. I am claiming that even that is not far enough, and that he must further in that book. I will put exactly how far, and my reasons, in ROT13, but I wanted to make sure the man himself could read my initial claim.

    • msw188 says:

      V guvax Znex fubhyq ernq ng yrnfg hc GUEBHTU gur guveq puncgre bs gur Gjb Gbjref orsber jngpuvat gur svefg zbivr. Gur ernfba vf fvzcyr. Va gur obbxf, gur ernqre QBRF ABG XABJ JUB FRAG GUR BEPF JUB XVYYRQ OBEBZVE, naq nyfb QBRF ABG XABJ VS RVGURE, BE OBGU, BE ZREEL NAQ CVCCVA NER NYVIR hagvy gung cbvag. Ba gur bgure unaq, va gur zbivrf, Fnehzna vf pyrneyl fubja beqrevat uvf qhqr gb tb naq oevat onpx gur uboovgf nyvir.

      Guvf vf, gb zr, n znwbe cbvag! Gur jubyr 2aq puncgre bs gur Gjb Gbjref qrevirf cneg bs vgf rkpvgrzrag naq hetrapl sebz abg xabjvat jurgure gurl ner nyvir, be jurer gurl ner orvat gnxra. Svaqvat Cvccva'f yrns oebbpu vf uhtr va gur obbx. Naq gur guveq puncgre bs gur obbx vf na njrfbzr erirny jurer jr svanyyl frr fbzr bs gur cbffvoyr zbgvingvbaf bs gur bepf cerfrag, abg gb zragvba irevsvpngvba gung Zreel naq Cvccva ner nyvir.

      Fb V nz qrpynevat urer, gung Znex Bfuveb fubhyq abg jngpu gur Sryybjfuvc bs gur Evat zbivr hagvy nsgre ernqvat guerr puncgref bs gur Gjb Gbjref. Qvfphff!

      (Naq V ncbybtvmr vs nal bs guvf unf orra qvfphffrq naq qvfzvffrq nyernql, ohg jr qvqa'g ernyyl trg gur punapr gb unir n pbzcyrgr qvfphffvba ba gur fvzvyne guernq va gur Uboovg)

      • Saphling says:

        I agree.

      • calimie says:

        Good point.

      • valmarkont says:

        V guvax gur vzcnpg bs zbivr'f raqvat jbhyq npghnyyl or terngre vs ur qvqa'g xabj jung jnf pbzvat. Lrf, vg qbrf fcbvy n srj guvatf sebz Gur Gjb Gbjref, ohg vg'f dhvgr n zvabe fcbvyre, nf gur gvgyr bs gur svefg puncgre bs GGG vf npghnyyl n fcbvyre va vgfrys.

        • echinodermata says:

          Gur jnl Znex'f erivrjf jbex, gur obbx-rkcrevrapr gnxrf cerprqrag bire gur zbivr-rkcrevrapr.

        • msw188 says:

          Did you read what I wrote? I'm not referring to the first chapter of the Two Towers; I'm pretty sure that's already been discussed. I think there's a much more subtle spoiler in the first movie (not just the end of the first movie) that hurts the reading experience of the Two Towers PAST the first chapter.

    • nanceoir says:

      If Mark plans on watching the movie the weekend after he finishes the book, he'll be a couple of chapters into the next book anyway, if the schedule stays at five chapters a week, right? (Though, how far will depend on whether there's a prediction post or not.)

    • Genny_ says:

      I am really tempted to suggest he just… watch all three after he's finished the entire trilogy. Which sounds kind of extreme? But there's all sorts of stuff messed around with in the films, and it just seems safer.

      • calimie says:

        The more I think about it, the more I agree with that. It might be a bit extreme, but we read The Hunger Games in one go and that was fine. IDK

      • Genny_ says:

        Oh but! Err, as somebody who recently watched all three extended versions in quick succession: he would also possibly want to spread them out a bit. That is EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTING. Also, *literally* exhausting. (I am not quite looking forward to my Dad making me watch all five films back to back when The Hobbit is out…)

        • tanbarkie says:

          Speaking of which, Mark IS going to be watching the Extended Editions, right? They're so much better than the theatrical releases that it isn't even funny.

          • Genny_ says:

            I believe he said so!

            I haven't ever seen the theatrical versions and I never intend to, personally. But lord are the extended editions SO LONG.

            • calimie says:

              Gur svefg gjb barf ner ernyyl tbbq, gur RR ner whfg gung, rkgraqrq fprarf. Gur ynfg bar, ba gur bgure unaq, srryf yvxr ybat genvyre sbe gur RR. V ybirq vg, ohg V jnf qvfnccbvagrq.

              • Genny_ says:

                V xabj zl Qnq fnvq gung ur yrsg gur gurnger srryvat n yvggyr qvfnccbvagrq va gur ynfg svyz, ohg yvxrq vg sne zber hcba erjngpu. Fb gung jbhyq rkcynva n ybg.

        • misterbernie says:

          …you kinda made me want to do an EE marathon now. Dammit I need to rewatch Buffy, too.

      • roguebelle says:

        I sort of want to agree with this, not even so much about the FotR/TTT split, but more with TTT/RotK, where things get so wonky and shuffled about.

      • ljrTR says:

        agreed. definitely wait for all movies til after having read all books. that's my 2 cents.

      • flootzavut says:

        I've been thinking the same thing. In some ways, the films are their own trilogy and in some ways I think both the books and the films would suffer from the intercutting. If that makes sense…?

  24. Tauriel_ says:

    It’s started, w00t! 😀

    The young hobbits stared at the door in vain for a while,
    and then made off, feeling that the day of the party would never

    This is exactly how we felt when you announced that you’d do “Looking for Alaska” before LOTR, Mark… 😀 😀 😀

    We jump forward 60 years from where The Hobbit left us, but the tone of the book is still very much as it was in The Hobbit. There is a nice symmetry to the chapter titles – The Hobbit started with “An Unexpected Party”, and The Fellowship of the Ring starts with “A Long-Expected Party”. And there is a real sense of anticipation, as we read about all the preparation.

    The party itself sounds very enjoyable and delicious, and you can see that the hobbits love to have fun and good food and good drink and a lot of entertainment.

    The items Bilbo left for his relatives (those that had a point) are funny. I like Bilbo’s dry sense of humour. Very British. 😀 But it also says a lot about Bilbo that he left the poorer hobbits many gifts that were actually useful to them.

    We meet Frodo in this chapter, and I really don’t envy him for having to deal with the inquisitive onlookers and uninvited visitors, and especially with the Sackville-Bagginses, who are very unpleasant people.

    And then Gandalf turns up again and asks Frodo about the ring.

    ‘Which story, I wonder,’ said Gandalf.
    ‘Oh, not what he told the dwarves and put in his book,’ said
    Frodo. ‘He told me the true story soon after I came to live here.

    This also refers to the fact that there were two versions of the Hobbit – in the original version, the chapter “Riddles in the Dark” was quite different. Tolkien later changed it as he began writing LOTR and the story changed somewhat…

    • echinodermata says:

      Fvapr Znex bayl jebgr nobhg uvf pbashfvba nobhg Ovyob naq Tnaqnys er gur evat, V qryrgrq fbzr cnegf bs lbhe pbzzragf gung qrfpevorq be uvagrq ng gur qnex angher bs gur evat fvapr vg'f abg lrg rkcyvpvg va gur obbx naq Znex qvqa'g pbasvez ur'f nyernql znqr gung pbapyhfvba.

    • Katie says:

      That's _exactly_ how we felt 🙂

    • flootzavut says:

      I feel obscurely proud to be British like Bilbo even thoughBilbo isn't really British. I may be a little too hooked on LOTR….

  25. maccyAkaMatthew says:

    Welcome to the beginning of an epic journey Mark.

    We probably can't talk about this properly until the end of the book, but the "are there any poor Hobbits?" question is an interesting one. There are a few clues in the opening chapter, with Gaffer Gamgee and Rory Brandybuck being named as among the poorer Hobbits. The conversation at the inn, as well, places the Gaffer as part of a rural working-class, in terms of his speech and mannerisms. If you're looking for analogous social conditions in the western world (or more specifically the UK) then what we've seen of The Shire so far seems to consist of working class still employed in rural work and the middle classes who rose to prominence as a result of industrialisation, but without any reference to the industrial. So we see the spoons and umbrellas, but not the works where they were made. In short, you could read it as a version of a rural area of late-nineteenth or early-twentieth century England – or at least that seems a better fit than a medieval society, which is often the default assumption for high fantasy.

    Interestingly, we haven't met any upper class people of authority figures among the Hobbits (or at all in this book, so far, although there were various leaders in The Hobbit). No princes or kings or lords of the manor or town councils or anything.

    When considering fantasy, it's possible to imagine a continuum from allegory and fable at one end to alternative reality at the other. At the fabulous end, imagining a realistic alternative world in all its detail, is not really the point of the story – the invention has a symbolic meaning or just a storytelling logic, but dealing with the imaginary as if it were real isn't the object. At the other end, we have "world building" which I can't help but feel is an offshoot of the reasonably recent (ie late nineteenth century onwards) trend towards naturalism and realism in fiction (in that sense you could say that world building fantasy is part of the same tradition as George Eliot and that fabulist fiction more akin to Charles Dickens).

    Now The Hobbit has quite the lot of the feel of a fairy tale but with a level of detail that rounds things out from it just being a fable. Even at this stage in The Lord of the Rings there is even more detail (all those regions of The Shire, for example). However, going forward, I think it'll be interesting to see how the storytelling develops and a mistake to assume that its all about creating a "realistic" fantasy world or that it will have someone failed if it doesn't address issues that would inevitably arise if Middle Earth were a real place, rather than just the setting for some stories.

    It's obviously spoilery, but there are some interesting thoughts about these areas over here.

  26. Ryan Lohner says:

    Probably the part I'm most looking forward to here is frrvat ubj ybat vg'yy gnxr Znex gb pngpu ba gung Gur Gjb Gbjref jba'g or tbvat onpx gb Sebqb naq Fnz nal gvzr fbba. Zl thrff vf vg'yy gnxr sbhe puncgref sbe vg gb ernyyl fvax va.

    • Bard says:

      Gung cbbe fbhy. Yhpxvyl ur’yy cebonoyl pner n ybg zber nobhg Ebuna guna V qvq ba gur svefg ernq bs gung obbx. Thl’f cnffvbangr nobhg rirelguvat.

      [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

      • Erik says:

        Yrnivat Sebqb naq Fnz sbe gur svefg unys bs gur Gjb Gbjref jnf onq rabhtu. Ohg yrnivat Fnz pbyyncfrq bhgfvqr gur ghaary tngr bs Pvevgu Hatby ng gur raq bs Gjb Gbjref, naq yrnivat uvz gurer sbe gur ragver svefg unys bs Erghea bs gur Xvat? QRINFGNGVAT! V tbg GG sebz gur yvoenel, naq qvqa'g unir EbgX. Zl 13-lrne byq frys jnf qlvat sbe n qnl naq n unys juvyr V znantrq gb genpx qbja n pbcl sebz zl orfg sevraq'f byqre oebgure.

    • flootzavut says:


    • AmandaNekesa says:

      Ururur…lrnu gur jnl Gbyxvra fcyvgf gur qvssrerag wbhearlf vf whfg oehgny. V pna bayl vzntvar ubj sehfgengrq Znex vf tbvat gb trg jvgu rnpu puncgre gung qbrfa'g vapyhqr gur fgbelyvar bs Sebqb naq Fnz, rfcrpvnyyl nsgre GG, naq gung ZNWBE PYVSSUNATRE ng gur raq. Rira va zl er-ernqf V'z nakvbhf gb trg onpx gb gurve fgbel, cnegvphyneyl jura rirelbar vf ng gur Oynpx Tngr va EbgX naq gur zbhgu bs Fnheba synhagf Sebqb'f zvguevy fuveg naq bgure orybatvatf va sebag bs gur erfg bs gur Sryybjfuvc. Znex'f urnq vf tbvat gb rkcybqr fb znal gvzrf guebhtubhg gur frevrf.

      So freaking unprepared.

  27. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    Mark you are so unprepared, it is glorious.

  28. Fran says:

    LOVE the Lord of the Rings. But I wouldn't watch the films until you've read all of it, as e.g. the first film contains a whole chapter from the second book etc.

    "Suddenly Gandalf is threatening to uncloak himself, which frankly sounds like he’s going to flash Bilbo, but that makes no sense."

    I am never going to be able to read this scene without thinking of that.

  29. monkeybutter says:

    One of them likes potatoes a lot? I honestly am so stumped as to why this is a thing at all and what the fuck have you done fandom.

    This from Mister Potato Baby, huh?

    Man, the Weasley twins would totally love Gandalf.

    This is my first time reading, too! I've seen the movies, so I know what's going to happen, but still, I'm excited to finally get to these books. For instance, the loving detail about the Sackville-Bagginses sour faces at being turned back brings me extreme joy. Bilbo's passive-aggressive gifts did take me aback, but also made be giggle, so good for him.

    Naq fvapr V ernq Pbapreavat Uboovgf, V xabj gung gurer ner evpu naq cbbe uboovgf, naq gung "zngubzf" ner guvatf lbh unir ab vzzrqvngr hfr sbe, ohg ner eryhpgnag gb guebj njnl, bs juvpu V unir znal.

    With the whole thirty-three = adulthood thing, I'm ready to convert to hobbitism.

  30. Brett says:

    You may want to wait for the movies till the end, because they are kinda spoily and dont necessarily end how/where the books end.

  31. Ryan Lohner says:

    Also notable about Orlando Bloom as Legolas: it was his FIRST FILM ROLE. That had to be pretty darn intimidating.

  32. @redbeardjim says:

    I just want to say "thank you" once again to my fifth-grade teacher (now deceased), who read LOTR to us, one chapter at a time. I got so hooked on Fellowship that I asked for the trilogy for Christmas that year. I tore through them and finished the whole thing before school started up again in January. That, and Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time, were what really send me headlong into nerd-dom.

    Thanks, Mrs. F.

  33. Jenny_M says:

    V oryvrir fur'f zragvbarq ol anzr jura Sebqb pbzrf gb Eviraqryy gur svefg gvzr, ohg V qba'g guvax fur unf nal qvnybthr.

    • calimie says:

      Lrnu, V qba'g guvax fur fcrnxf ng nyy. Jura V svefg ernq gur obbxf V fxvccrq gb gur raq bs EbgX gb frr jub fheivirq naq sbhaq Nejra zbheavat Nentbea (zl rqvgvba unq gurve fgbel ng gur raq) naq jnf qrrcyl pbashfrq nobhg jub gur uryy gung jnf.
      V'z ernyyl tynq CW syrfurq bhg ure punenpgre.
      (Cneg bs zr jvyy nyjnlf fuvc Ébjla/Nentbea)

      • Jenny_M says:

        Zl Nejra/Nentbea fuvccvat pbzrf sebz gur snpg gung zl qnq gbyq zr nobhg gurz va pbawhapgvba jvgu gur Orera/Yhguvra cnenyyry jura V jnf yvggyr, orsber V'q rira ernq gur obbxf. Fb V unq guvf jryy-sbezrq vqrn bs jub Nejra jnf naq ubj vzcbegnag fur jnf jura V svefg fgnegrq ernqvat. Onfvpnyyl V jnf gur nagv-Znex orpnhfr zl qnq envfrq zr ba Gbyxvra fgbevrf. Jnl gb abg nqurer gb gur fcbvyre cbyvpl, QNQ.

        • Smurphy says:

          Can't stop laughing…. brilliant.

          • Jenny_M says:

            Seriously, until I was like…six or seven, I thought Bilbo and Frodo were related to us. "You were born the same day as Bilbo and Frodo!" was the common refrain and like…one day it dawned on me that THEY WERE FICTIONAL CHARACTERS and my dad did not actually know them.

            I could never be a Tolkien scholar, man, the characters are too much like family!

            • flootzavut says:

              Awwww that is so fab. I mean yeah, major spoilers but I love that you thought you were related to them 😀

  34. msw188 says:

    Abg gehr. Jr ner vagebqhprq gb Nejra naq gur cbffvovyvgl bs ure naq Nentbea juvyr gur Uboovgf ner va Eviraqryy; V guvax vg vf orsber gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq. Naq V qba'g pbafvqre guvf orvat nany. V whfg jnag Znex gb unir gur bccbeghavgl gb ernq gur Gjb Gbjref jvgubhg nal znwbe fcbvyref.

  35. bookworm67 says:


    This is going to take a while.

  36. Ryan Lohner says:

    Are you planning on watching the Ralph Bakshi film and the Rankin-Bass Return of the King too? I wouldn't really recommend either, especially with the Peter Jackson films available, but it might be fun for completion's sake. Plus, the Rankin-Bass film naturally uses the same art style as their film of The Hobbit, which gives a nice sense of continuity.

  37. @ljrTR says:

    Hi again – I have searched but cannot find how to put something in spoiler-gibberish or read spoiler-gibberish. There must be a FAQ that is eluding me. If someone could reply and point me to the answer it would be much appreciated.
    Secondly – I wouldn't watch the films until t had read ALL the books. If Mark could visualize it all for himself first that would be so cool. Just my opinion.

  38. Becky_J_ says:

    I read this chapter so long ago, that I took notes so I could write an interesting comment. Here are my notes from Chapter One:

    1. OMG Tolkien invented the word 'tween.' What DIDN'T he invent??
    2. "Jools" LOL
    3. Oh, Mr. Sandyman, you just got OWNED.
    4. "The art of Gandalf improved with age." So… Gandalf is like fine wine?? AWESOME.
    5."…and he was never seen by any hobbit in Hobbiton again." Well, THAT'S ominous.
    6. "…like butter that has been scraped over too much bread." Yeah, it's usually a bad sign ANYTIME you feel like butter.
    7. LOL. Drunk hobbits in wheelbarrows. I would LOVE to see that!
    8. Bilbo's a jerk! But a funny one!
    9. Obviously, what Tolkien is saying is that WINE SOLVES ALL PROBLEMS.
    10. My roommate told me, "You could be a hobbit… you're short, you like rings, and you like to hang out with old guys!" Gee… thank you. Thank you.

    Also, I know some of you were interested in seeing my finished Whomping Willow book sculpture…. so here it is, all finished!

    <img src=""&gt;

    • monkeybutter says:

      It's great!

    • Bard says:

      Rirel gvzr V’ir unq qvssvphygl fcernqvat zl oernq fvapr, V’ir erpnyyrq gung cuenfr. Exact quotes were big obsession fuel for me when I was a kid; between 2003 and 2005, I would flinch whenever anyone said “hidey-hole”.

    • knut_knut says:

      that's AMAZING! How did you make it? O_O

      • Becky_J_ says:

        Thank you all!!!

        I make them and sell them over on my Etsy, this was a commission out of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban of the Whomping Willow. It's all made with the pages of the book itself and wire! The grass was all hand placed with tweezers 😀

        I'm so glad everyone likes it!!!

        • MidnightLurker says:

          …That is beautiful.

          But you DESTROYED A BOOK to make it.

          I AM CONFLICT.

          • Becky_J_ says:


            The first one I ever did, I seriously thought the book gods were going to strike me down right then and there. But then after that one it got easier…. UNTIL HARRY POTTER. I BROKE THE SPINE OF A HARRY POTTER BOOK AND I FELT LIKE I HAD MURDERED A CHILD. AND THEN I TORE A PAGE OUT AND I ALMOST CRIED.

    • Smurphy says:

      First off. That's amazing… seriously. wow.

      Second off. DID TOLKIEN INVENT TWEEN. Google and the internet are letting me down to actually prove this…. if someone could find this they would make my day… and I'm having a bad one (outside Mark reads and watches).

      Last. BILBO IS A HORRID LITTLE HOBBIT. I have never and will never like him very much.

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        As a contraction of "between," tween's been around for a really long time, but it looks like tween as a way of signifying a person's age is a pretty recent. The Online Etymology Dictionary says that that use was "attested by 1988," but I think Tolkien's use here is pretty close to that definition, some 35 years earlier.

        Mental Floss claims that he did coin the term, but Wikipedia says it's just a coincidence. There's an old forum discussion of the issue here, where someone points out that the Oxford English dictionary has the first use of the word "tween" in that sense in New York in 1941. So it does look like Wikipedia is right on this one.

        • Smurphy says:

          I had a feeling it was too good to be true… thank you!!

        • roguebelle says:

          To the OED!

          As a shortening of "between" or "atween" (a word I think we should totally bring back), it dates to 1330. "c1330 – Guy of Warwick – Þemperour cleped Herhaud him to, & aresound him tvene hem tvo."

          For direct reference to someone's age, that 1941 date appears to be correct" "A person who is nearly, or has only just become, a teenager. While the age to which tween applies varies, it is nearly always within the range of eight to fourteen years old. 1941 – N.Y. Herald Tribune 10 Aug.- Beauty for tween-teens"

      • ljrTR says:

        It's the sign of a well written character that people can have differeing views and discuss the character. So I think Bilbo is indeed a well written character.
        I'm having a bad day too, and this site is definitely helping.
        feel better – sorry I don't have the answer re "Tween"

        • Smurphy says:

          After a good dose of Mark, I am feeling much better and my question was answered. Not the answer I was hoping for but…

          I really just do not like Bilbo.

      • Becky_J_ says:

        In this chapter, the word is used like this:

        "At that time, Frodo was still in his tweens, as the hobbits called the irresponsible twenties between childhood and coming of age at thirty-three."

        So essentially, it's the same meaning, although they use it to refer to the twenties, while we refer to the age between childhood and teenage years.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:


    • flootzavut says:

      That is amazong!

      And amazing too, but I rather liked the typo…

    • Dreamflower says:

      That is absolutely amazingly awesome!

    • OH MY.
      The tree is GROWING OUT OF THE BOOK.
      I had to state that. This is absolute Tremendoumazinglendor (Tremendous-Amazing-Splendour).

    • notemily says:

      ahahaha I love "jools" as well! also, that book sculpture is fantastic!

  39. Openattheclose says:

    Yay, LotR! Just wanted to say that, now I have to go to work. I'm super excited that you're reading it though!

  40. msw188 says:

    Haha, this first chapter is so awesome. Oh what a pity that there is a character named Daddy Twofoot, and he only appears once in the chapter!

    Other awesome lines:
    "G for Grand!" (hobbit children are the best)
    Old Gaffer Gamgee stopped even pretending to work in his garden. (except for the Gaffer, he's REALLY the best)
    "filling up the corners" (this is awesome)
    "Indeed it would take away the only point I ever saw in the affair" (never change, Gandalf)
    Gardeners came by arrangement, and removed in wheel-barrows those that had inadvertently remained behind (hahaha good plan)

  41. tethysdust says:

    Oh man, I am so full of excitement that I can't fully express because spoilers (It's always like that when you start a new project)! What a fun party! What great hobbits! What will happen next!?

  42. Ryan Lohner says:

    I'm kind of surprised someone hasn't done it already: "PROUDFEET!"

  43. echinodermata says:

    So I was going to read along with LotR with you Mark, since I've watched the movies but when I tried reading the series before I had some trouble getting through it. So I never finished reading the series, and was excited at the prospect to try them again.

    But then you started Looking for Alaska and I got impatient and read the whole series in about two weeks. Whoops.

    Anyway, I love this chapter. It's so great seeing Bilbo and Gandalf again, and the world-building of hobbit culture is one of my favorite things and the party is just excellent. Also, I believe the fannish habit of calling the Eleventh Doctor Eleventy comes from Bilbo's age.

    And Mark you know so little! This is gonna be fun!

    • flootzavut says:

      I read the first book in a week… then the second book in a week… then had to wait a few days for the person I'd borrowed them from to finish the third book and read it in 3 days flat. Heehee.

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      I'm just now wrapping up RotK. It started as just reading 4-5 chapters of Fellowship, in anticipation for the start of LotR. I tried to hold off from from reading further into the books, but then there came Looking for Alaska. I was going to read LFA along with Mark but couldn't find it in any of my local bookstores, and then I was quite busy for awhile too, on top of things. By the time I thought of possibly buying the ebook, Mark was already well into the book, so instead I occupied my time with LotR and Brotherhood 2.0/vlogbrothers videos.

      The last time I read LotR was my first time reading the books, in 2003/2004, I started reading just before the 3rd movie came out. So, it had definitely been awhile since I dove into the LotR books. Gurer jrer fb znal cnegf gung V jnf ba gur rqtr bs zl frng whfg er-ernqvat vg. V'z fb rkpvgrq gb frr Znex'f ernpgvbaf!!

  44. ElisabethMK says:

    dear mark. i love you. and i am so happy you are finally reading LOTR. that is all.


    Between finals and no access to Looking for Alaska I couldn't participate in the last one but my gosh, I'm so excited for this. And I love that you like it too, Mark, because honestly I kind of freaked out when I saw that there was going to be a book between and I panicked because I thought it was because of dislike for Tolkien, which really would have made me sad. Because these books were my Harry Potter. I am not joking. My father read The Hobbit to me and my younger siblings, and then I began devouring that book. I reread it till the covers were falling off, so my father gave me Fellowship to keep me from trashing The Hobbit. And it really is a shame he gave it to me at such a vulnerable age (I was 9) because ever since then I've fallen in love with Middle Earth (esp. the Shire) and never wanted to go back.


  46. Smurphy says:

    I may or may not have sat and laughed at this line for a good 5 minutes. "You can’t walk into Mordor."

    Mark, I really do adore you and what you do on this site. To be able to read THIS BOOK again with so many amazing people… I just love this experience. So let it begin.

    My thoughts on this chapter before I finish reading your review.

    Oh dear. I forgot how absolutely long winded Tolkien could be. I also forgot a good number of the details regarding this chapter. Especially the ending…. I have been quite spoiled by the movie which I have indeed seen a few more times than I have read the book.

    I love how Bilbo is turning 111 and Frodo is turning 33 and that makes a gross…. the hobbits may not have found it funny but I sure did. OH I thought Frodo was Bilbo's nephew. It is amazing how wrong we can be sometimes.

    For awhile… even after I read all of the books every time I thought of Gandalf I thought of fireworks (and often vice versa).

    There are a few quotable lines in this chapter. I absolutely adore his entire speech but the line "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." … it is no wonder he won the riddle game with Gollum.

    And I used to have a really beautiful… plaque… I'll call it a plaque… that had "The Road Goes Ever On and On" on it…

    What else is there to say….

    Regarding the rest of your review.

    "There are twins?" Ner gurer gjvaf? Va nyy gur geniryf bs gur sryybjfuvc naq orlbaq ner gurer gjvaf? Rire?

    I hate LEGOs. Like… do not like them at all… which is a problem because I want boys…. which means I'm bound to have at least one who likes LEGOs… I AM GOING TO BE SO ANAL RETENTIVE ABOUT LEGO ORGANIZATION…. my poor futuristic children.

    There’s a ring? And someone is lord of it? Is it the same ring that Bilbo took from Gollum? guvf vfa'g n uhtr yrnc naq V guvax zbfg znxr vg ohg fgvyy jryy qbar…

    "Plus, if I’d read this before, I COULDN’T DO THIS NOW I WIN IN THE END." – as I just tweeted… I love you forever.

    "(Don’t you dare expect me not to find a way to force one of those father-son reviews in again, though. I’LL DO IT AND YOU CAN’T STOP ME.)" – PLEASE DO!

    "Now I’m obsessed and it’s only like page six." – *GRINS*

    … it never NEVER ever EVER occurred to me that that was the reason they had a dragon firework. I always just assumed a dragon was a common thing to have as a firework…but what you are saying makes so much brilliant sense that OF COURSE that's why Tolkien had it as a firework. Oy.

    … were you really not sure how he disappeared? Really Mark?

    Vg jnf vagrerfgvat gb frr Znex pbashfrq ol gur pbairefngvba orgjrra Sebqb naq Tnaqnys juvyr abj vg irel cynvayl znxrf frafr.

    Znex qvqa'g rira pbzzrag ba gur xrrc vg uvqqra xrrc vg fnsr yvar… ntnva V guvax Vz birefcbvyrerq ol gur zbivr.

    You are not prepared…

    "Frodo did not see him again for a long time…"

    • Smurphy says:

      Oh wow this was long…. ALSO I CAN NOT BELIEVE I FORGOT TO READ THIS AHEAD OF TIME. I set myself an alarm for when he was posting it and meant to read it over the weekend and then just forgot. ALSO I DO NOT LIKE THAT YOU ARE A MORNING PERSON. I'm on the east coast and I still think you are awake earlier than me most mornings.

      • Becky_J_ says:

        I AGREE. I wish that these came out later in the morning!! I literally set an alarm, get up, read the review, write a comment, and then go back to bed for a few hours. Haha.

    • @unefeeverte says:

      Ryynqna naq Ryebuve ner gjvaf. Ohg gubfr ner gur bayl barf V pna pbzr hc jvgu bss gur phss.

    • @owldragon says:

      Bs pbhefr Znex xabjf gurer ner gjvaf. Vg fnlf vg evtug va gur gvgyr bs gur frpbaq obbx – Gur Gjva Gbjref. Gung boivbhfyl zrnaf gurer vf ng yrnfg bar frg bs gjvaf yvivat gurer, evtug? 🙂

  47. stellaaaaakris says:

    It took me 4 YEARS to read this chapter. It's soooo long (it's the whole first CD in my audiobook) and I just couldn't do it for ages. I would keep trying because I'd remind myself how much I enjoyed The Hobbit, but there's so much world building that I kept feeling daunted. I did manage to power through and finish FotR before the first movie came out, but I did have to resort to listening to the audiobook for the last few chapters in a final push. Which means I didn't know about that spoiler that people keep talking about that happens it the beginning of the second book. I was quite…confused.

    I love everybody in this chapter, except the Sackville-Bagginses. They can go suck an egg, as a coworker of mine often says. I want to go to a hobbit birthday party. Also, look at that, more women were named in this one chapter than in all of The Hobbit! Progress, I say, progress.

  48. Pam says:

    I’m going to ditto the suggestion that you wait until you’ve finished ALL THREE books to watch the films, because they don’t end where their respective books end.

  49. Depths_of_Sea says:


    <img src="; />

    Oh Mark I'm so excited for you. I hope you enjoy the books as much as I do. (I'll admit I prefer the movies a tad more, since I'm a movie-birthed Tolkien fan and as wonderful and beautiful as the books are I do think Tolkien could have benefitted from an editor. But both are dear to my heart.)

  50. pennylane27 says:

    Okay, I'm back.

    Oh man, this is brilliant. I read LOTR after watching the trailer for TTT before Chamber of Secrets, so I was 12. It just looked so awesome that I went to my aunt and demanded the books from her. It's funny, because I had seen the trailer for FotR the year before, and thought it was too scary and dark or something.

    Anyway, my aunt said I should read The Hobbit first, and then I spent the next few weeks devouring the four books. So I finished in time to go see TTT and I left that theatre wanting to go back in and see it again.

    I just wanted to say that, because all my thoughts about this chapter are either spoilery or capslock run-on sentences that express my overall excitement.

    Also, Mark, Suddenly Gandalf is threatening to uncloak himself, which frankly sounds like he’s going to flash Bilbo, but that makes no sense. OH MY GOD I CAN NEVER LOOK AT THAT IN THE SAME WAY. Ohg ur vf fb abg cercnerq. Gur Tnaqnys jr frr va gurfr obbxf vf fb qvssrerag sebz gur Tnaqnys sebz Gur Uboovg, naq rfcrpvnyyl jura lbh'ir ernq Gur Fvyznevyyvba.

  51. ravenclaw42 says:

    "Suddenly Gandalf is threatening to uncloak himself, which frankly sounds like he’s going to flash Bilbo, but that makes no sense.

    THIS IS WHERE MY BRAIN GOES, TOO. For me it's because I have the BBC radio drama version of LotR (the one with Ian Holm as Frodo), and when the Gandalf-actor says that line it just sounds so suggestive, I can't even.

    For the first time, I noticed this:
    "An old man was driving [the fireworks cart] all alone. He wore a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, and a silver scarf."
    In my head I saw metallic silver, or like a bedazzled gray scarf. Gandalf's been with the dwarves and they gave him some bling, perhaps? XD

    Bu, gur svefg vgrengvba bs "Gur Ebnq tbrf rire ba". V ybir gung cbrz fb qrneyl, naq gur yvggyr punatrf va qvssrerag fgntrf bs gur fgbel nyjnlf uvg zr fb uneq.

  52. feminerdist says:


    First off, I'm gonna go ahead and agree that it might be wise to wait to watch the movies at the end of this project. Each movie sort of blends some stuff from all three books, so it might be spoilery to watch them before you're done with all of the books.

    I love that the first thing you "know" about LOTR is "You cannot walk into Mordor." Hilarious. And it comes with a story. Non-spoilery, I promise. My friend named his wi-fi server "Mordor" and his password is "You cannot log into Mordor."

    And I seriously LOLed at this: Suddenly Gandalf is threatening to uncloak himself, which frankly sounds like he’s going to flash Bilbo, but that makes no sense. This is now part of my head cannon.

  53. Genny_ says:

    Man, I suddenly wish I was a Hobbit so I could not be an adult yet. THAT WOULD BE SO FABULOUSLY GREAT.

    And I know what you mean about how quickly you get in the grasp of what Tolkien is doing with this party. There's nothing immediately thrilling!!! or exciting!!! going on or anything, but I got so completely swept away. There's a party! And it's so great! It has fireworks! And pranks! And foreshadowing! Who needs plot? I would read an entire book of day to day life in Hobbiton tbh. Or a book, as written by Bilbo: How To Be The Grestest Troll, Basically Ever.

    rot13 to be safe: V jngpurq gur svyzf svefg (naq fgvyy unira'g rira svavfurq guvf obbx!) naq V nz NZNMRQ ng ubj… pbzcnengviryl fybj gur obbx vf! Abg va n onq jnl, ohg jbj, Gbyxvra fher ybirf jbeqf abj qbrfa'g ur. Naq rirelguvat gnxrf cynpr bire fhpu n ynetr crevbq bs gvzr, gbb. V jbaqre ubj ernqvat gur obbx *svefg* jvyy nssrpg Znex'f ivrj bs gung pbzcnerq gb zvar. Uzz. Vg'yy or vagrerfgvat gb ernq uvf gubhtugf, sbe fher.

    • Dreamflower says:

      I would read an entire book of day to day life in Hobbiton tbh.

      So would I. *sigh* I wish Christopher would have discovered a huge trove of notes on hobbit-life and the Shire. Ah well, that's what fanfic it for.

  54. @unefeeverte says:


    I love that you picked up on so many little details. You have SO MUCH to discover. I can't wait. 😀

    (As with all your Mark Reads projects, this is like reading the books again for the first time – except better, because I saw the first two movies before reading the books, so I was already mostly spoiled. YAY.)

    And yeah, we'll let you know when you can watch the movies – the timelines were adjusted, mostly with good reason, imo.

  55. Alex says:

    So I laughed really hard when you said "lol dude you cannot bluff worth anything" about Gandalf, because I was imagining what he would say if some random person walked up to him and said that, with that exact wording. Somehow that seems like it would be hilarious. My mind is weird.

  56. settlingforhistory says:

    I’m new to LotR and even though I read The Hobbit when it started here I don’t have the feeling that I’m even the slightest bit prepared. I can blame my country’s school system, which left me with almost no knowledge of English or American literature. Before the movies were released in the cinemas here I didn’t even know LotR existed and that still left me completely oblivious to The Hobbit.
    So I’m glad I finally have enough motivation to start reading these dense books (which is an understatement, the introduction and the Prologue alone are about 50 pages).
    First of all: Is the prologue part of every Fellowship edition? V ybirq vg n ybg; gur qvssrerag Uboovg pynaf, ubj Uboovgf vairagrq gbonppb, vg nyy srryf yvxr gur orfg uvfgbel yrffba V’ir rire unq.

    I’m happy that we get to read about Bilbo again, even though he is only there for a short time. He is so much fun, I loved the jokes on all the gifts he gave his ungrateful relations and neighbors. What makes him one of my favourite people is his absolute honesty, he insults everyone at his party by telling them that they are only invited so that he has a certain number of guests , he does not politely pretend to like people who treat him poorly (even though he turns that remark in to a riddle, a great challenge to people’s intelligence by the way) and he leaves when he thinks it is time for him, not caring that the others think him strange. Love that little guy!

    The most interesting part of this chapter are the Hobbit customs though.
    Giving gifts on your own birthdays seems to s*** a lot, until you find out that everybody does that and there are a öot of people in(on/at?) the Shire so that you will get presents more than once a month. This is a great tradition, I want that , too!
    Also I like that they have a different calendar, dating everything as S.R. and before S.R. This is fun especially when you consider that in order to get to the year of Men and Elves (or do they have their own calendar, too?) you need to add 1600 years. Wow, I already love how complex all of this is.

    I’m so excite for these books; I know a bit about the movies, but that still leaves me clueless.
    I have no idea what is going to happen in all these chapters and that is half the fun of reading them.

    • @ljrTR says:

      so excited for you reading the books for the first time!

      • settlingforhistory says:

        Thanks, so am I, though I'm probably going to make a lot of wrong predictions. 🙂
        At least I'm a complete Buffy fan and don't have to start two new things at once.

    • echinodermata says:

      I don't think Mark read the prologue, and while I'm not sure whether or not it's actually spoilery, just to be safe I edited your comment.

      Hope you'll enjoy the story!

  57. hpfish13 says:

    And so it begins!!! I love that quote of Bilbo's, insulting people and confusing them at the same time is always hilarious.

    And, as promised, here is the first illustration by Alan Lee from my copy of the books

    <img src=""&gt;

    • ravenclaw42 says:

      I LOVE that illustration! I love that it's so similar in composition to most of the paintings of Bag End from the beginning of The Hobbit, but the shift in color palette and stormy-looking weather makes it look so much older and more ominous. And the perspective gives the impression of a road leading away from Bag End, while all the Hobbit illustrations seemed to lead towards it… *right click save* Bye desktop!Smaug! Time to start a longer journey. 😀

    • arctic_hare says:

      Yay, thank you for posting this! 😀 What a beautiful shot of Bag End!

    • flootzavut says:

      Alan Lee! <3

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      Oh, Alan Lee…. <3<3<3

  58. shortstuff says:

    I also love that fact! It's adds a great deal to the movies for me.

    Also: Potatos!

    • shortstuff says:

      Oops, this was meant to be a response to a comment on page 2, now I look like a weirdo who just shouts potatos from the rooftops.

      Anyhow, Mark I love how you are interested in the feud with the Sackville-Bagginses, it’s such a tiny thing but so funny to me. Naq V oryvrir gur cebybthr Pbapreavat Uboovgf zragvbaf gung uboovgf yvir va obgu ubyrf naq ubhfrf, ohg vg jnf bayl gur cbberfg naq evpurfg uboovgf jub unq uboovg-ubyrf, be fbzrguvat gb gung rssrpg. You should definitely read the prologues after you have finished the books. People were right to warn you away from them, but there is so much MORE in them.

      That’s a theme of most of Tolkien’s work: that no matter how much story he gives you, there’s is always something MORE, whether it’s a history of the world, or events currently happening in other parts of the world (like the Lake Men, and the news from the dwarves). It’s how people get sucked into reading even unfinished stories.

      • echinodermata says:

        I don't think Mark read the prologue, and while I'm not sure whether or not it's actually spoilery, just to be safe I edited your comment to rot13 discussion of its contents.

  59. Suzannezibar says:

    Okay, I caved. I finally have an IntenseDebate account!!


    Sharing time: Every year the sci-fi club at my college has a Baggins Birthday Bash on the Day of Frodo/Bilbo's birthday. We have cake and we do a dramatic read-aloud of this first chapter. IT IS KIND OF THE MOST FUN.

    And I will never say no to more father-son reviews, those were the best :D.

    And you have already hopped on the Merry bandwagon THIS MAKES ME EVEN HAPPIER.

    • vermillioncity says:

      Every year the sci-fi club at my college has a Baggins Birthday Bash on the Day of Frodo/Bilbo's birthday. We have cake and we do a dramatic read-aloud of this first chapter. IT IS KIND OF THE MOST FUN.


  60. enigmaticagentscully says:


    • Jenny_M says:

      You mean you weren't sitting here refreshing the page every two seconds starting at 7:59 going COME ON COME ON COME ON COME ON?!?!?!

      Not, um, that I was doing that or anything.

      • Saphling says:

        Nor I. >_____>

      • stefb4 says:

        Uhh I went to the page like an hour earlier than he usually posts and kept refreshing, frantically thinking "BUT WHAT IF HE DECIDED TO POST EARLY JUST THIS ONCE? WHAT IF I MISS IT?!"

      • enigmaticagentscully says:

        To be fair, I was at work. 😛

        What's 8:00am for you is 2:00pm for me! It does kind of suck that I can hardly ever be here for when the review goes up but what can ya do?

        • AmandaNekesa says:

          Yeah, I work 7-4 and it's at about 8 am when the reviews post, so I either have to read it on lunch or once I'm home from work. Unfortunately if I tried to read it at work I'd probably lose my job because of 1- accessing non-work related links, and 2- being highly unproductive and giggly. It kind of stinks, but like you said, what can ya do?

  61. There’s a character named Legolas and … his name was always distracting because I’m a huge LEGO fan and I’m like IS HE MADE OF LEGOS. He’s not and that upsets me.

    Of course he isn't, because he's LEGO-less! *ducks and runs*

    (Unless he was a girl, in which case he could be LEGO-Lass, but that makes him sound like something out of the early Legion of Super-Heroes…)

    • Emily says:

      Have I mentioned lately that I love you? 🙂

      • *smishes you*

        One day I will find a way to get this site to send me replies to my comments (yes, I have tried "Subscribe to Replies", but WordPress hates me and doesn't want me to be happy).

        I am not willfully ignoring people, I swear. I just have no way to know if they've said anything to me unless I go back and hunt down my comment manually. FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS, YO.

        • notemily says:

          Well, it's weird–when I mouse-over your user icon and name, it links directly to your site, rather than to an IntenseDebate profile. So maybe you need to set up one of those? I have no idea.

  62. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Whenever I read this chapter (much though I love it) it just reminds me of the line from the spoof book 'Bored of the Rings' which succinctly describes Hobbits as 'A race of boring gluttons.'

    In other news, I love Bilbo forever in this chapter. I also love that Gandalf seems to be an occasional visitor to the Shire. I mean, you get the impression he has much more important things to do, but he still takes the time to visit his old Hobbit friend.

  63. Maris says:

    I'm so happy that you started LotR!!

  64. Elethayn says:

    I've been lurking around here forever, but Lord of the Rings just can't go uncommented! First I have to say, I've reread this triology at christmas every other year since I was eleven, so good timing!

    Want to be at that party soo bad! The descriptions are so vivid. As a lot of you have said already, Tolkien's writing is greatly improved compared to the hobbit! This chapter leaves me with a fuzzy feeling in my stomach. Who wouldn't want to live in the Shire after having read this?

    Can't wait for next chapter!! Oh, and I have to agree with all of you, Mark you are even less prepared than usually, and it's marvelous!!

    Now about the movies; personally I think that Mark should watch the extended versions, since they contain many precious character moments (fznyyre punenpgref yvxr Snenzve, Rbjla rgp. trg zber fperra gvzr naq qrirybcrzrag naq vg jbhyq or n erny funzr vs Znex zvffrq vg), but I know their length is off putting to some.

    What do you all think? Is it enough to watch the short versions the first time?

    • calimie says:

      V guvax gur svefg gbb ner svar, jung jnf phg jnfa'g greevoyl vzcbegnag (yrnir gung fjbeq nybar, Obebzve!) ohg gur ynfg bar sryg yvxr n genvyre jura V fnj vg ng gur gurnger fb vg fubhyq or RR (V fgvyy pna'g oryvrir gurl phg Fnehzna).

  65. arctic_hare says:

    FINALLY! 😀 It's a shame this wasn't started right after The Hobbit, as that would've coincided perfectly with the tenth anniversary of the film's theatrical release, BUT ALAS. AT LEAST IT IS REALLY HAPPENING. <3

    Eeeee. I'm so glad you're hooked already! I love the title of the chapter, "A Long-Expected Party." Pairs nicely with "An Unexpected Party", doesn't it? Bilbo has not gotten any less awesome in the ensuing sixty years between the end of his adventure and the beginning of this one, if anything he's become MORE awesome. What with his mastery of trolling. And you forgot he had the ring, how… precious. xD Ah, speaking of that, that's a disturbing moment, isn't it? No, Bilbo, don't talk like Gollum. 🙁

    I love Gaffer Gamgee and Merry for the same reasons you do. 😀 Also the Sackville-Bagginses do indeed suck. Lastly, I wanna go to a hobbit party.

    BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY. As those who frequent the spoiler blog know, I am in possession of a collection of Tolkien illustrations called "Realms of Tolkien". I have decided to scan my very favorites and share them with you all. I have nothing from this chapter, sadly, but I do have two from The Hobbit which I quite like. Both are by a pair of artists named Gerd Renshoff and Ron Ploeg; Ploeg did the drawing, whilst Renshoff colored them).

    Bilbo Flies on Eagle's Wings

    Rough Steps Going Up the Lonely Mountain

  66. elyce says:

    yayyy! We finally get to it. Although, Mark, I do want to warn you about watching the movies after each book as some of the timelines have changed. For instance, if you don't want to be spoiled for the Two Towers, you shouldn't watch FotR until after you've read a few chapters into the next book. It isn't like Harry Potter since this was intended as one long book originally.

    Anyway, I love this book. End of story. and Merry, my heart.

  67. Laura says:

    As of today, it's been exactly ten years since the Fellowship of the Ring movie was released in theaters. Talk about fitting. Love it.

    And I love that you know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about what's coming. Hurrah for being so unprepared!

  68. arctic_hare says:


    • Tauriel_ says:

      Yeah, but I don't think he should watch it just yet – possible spoilers for LOTR films…

      I think after Mark has watched FOTR, he can watch all the Hobbit production videoblogs and the trailer.

      • calimie says:

        V guvax V'q yvxr uvz gb frr zber Tbyyhz orsber gung. Gurer'f fb irel yvggyr bs uvz va SBGE

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Bu, lbh zrna Naql'f "gelvat gb trg onpx vagb Tbyyhz'f urnq"? Tbbq cbvag, V unira'g gubhtug bs gung…

          • shortstuff says:

            Bu, nabgure ivqrb oybt? Gur ynfg bar V fnj jnf gur 3Q grpuvapny rkcynangvba ivqrb. Zhfg tb svaq!

            Also, must add "Watch The Hobbit trailer and squeel like a little fangirl" to my to-do list for tomorrow.

  69. Lugija says:

    I have been waiting for this since I bought a new version of the trilogy (which has a font that is actually nice to read), and here we go. It's too big to carry around so I'll wait until bedtime and begin reading it in bed (that's how I read the Hobbit, too).
    Yes, I do love these books, I don't just say it to get into the bed with them.

    But I remember promising to post my predictions for Season 5 of Lost in Mark’s LotR one. This one’ll have to do. Upcoming spoils seasons 1-4, obviously.

    Prophecies for Season 5 of Lost

    -Fnjlre jvyy trg orngra gjvpr va gur svefg svir rcvfbqrf. Orpnhfr vg frrzf yvxr rirelbar jnagf gb qb vg ng yrnfg bapr.
    -Guvf frnfba jvyy or frg hc gb fubj ubj crbcyr ner qbvat ba Vfynaq, jvgu synfusbejneqf gb Bprnavp 6 gelvat gb trg onpx
    -Ba Vfynaq, vg’f tbaan or Ybeq bs gur Syvrf, orpnhfr Evpuneq jnagf eriratr naq Ybpxr jvyy or uvf chccrg. Arne gur svanyr (be va gur ortvaavat bs gur svefg rcvfbqr) jr’yy svaq bhg jung’f gur znggre jvgu Evpuneq xrrcvat hc jvgu snfuvbaf.
    -Gurer jvyy or fbzrbar anzrq Trbetr Orexryrl be Trbet Urtry, orpnhfr gung’yy or nabgure cubybfbcure sebz gur 18gu praghel. Urtry unq n gurbel gung rirelguvat eryngrf gb rirelguvat, naq Orexryrl gubhtug gung abguvat rkvpgf jvgubhg orvat creprvirq. Obgu vqrnf svg vagb gur riragf bs Ybfg
    -Bprnavp 6 jvyy trg onpx, ohg fb jvyy Ze. Jvqzber. Ur jvyy fubj ubj ovt rivy obff ur vf ol hfvat fbzr fbeg bs n anab-ryrpgevp-qlanzvgr-tha ba gur Zbafgre, qrfgeblvat vg. Naq gura ur’yy fnl “gurer’f n arj furevss va gbja”. Bxnl, gung jba’g unccra, fvapr V pbhyq frr vg unccra. Jr ner gnyxvat nobhg Ybfg.
    -Ohg lrnu, Jvqzber naq Ora ner gur onq thlf, naq bgure punenpgref ner gur cnjaf ba gurve qrpnqr-byq tnzr. Gur dhrfgvba vf, ubj jvyy gurl trg gb gur bgure raq bs gur obneq naq orpbzr dhrraf?
    -Ybgf bs nafjref, ohg ybgf bs arj dhrfgvbaf nf jryy (jryy, guvf bar jnf rnfl). Jr’yy svaq bhg jung ner gur pbaarpgvbaf orgjrra Qunezn, Unafb naq Jvqzber, zbgvirf bs Ze. Jvqzber, fbzr bs gur uvfgbel bs gur vfynaq (yvxr Oynpx Ebpx, gur napvrag fghss naq jung rknpgyl unccrarq gb gur Serapu crbcyr naq jul qvq gurl urne ahzoref?
    -Dhrfgvbaf jr jba’g (lrg) trg nafjref gb: Gur ovt fghss, yvxr ubj qb lbh zbir gur vfynaq? Jung vf gur Zbafgre naq jurer qvq vg pbzr sebz? Jurer qvq gur bguref pbzr sebz? Jub ner Nqnz naq Rir? Jung rknpgyl vf n gehr Uhssyrchss, naljnl?
    -Wva fheivirq. Ohg jurer?
    -Ab bar jvyy trg n unccl raqvat (nsgre Zvpunry qvrq, V jnf n yvggyr… V qba’g xabj, qvfnccbvagrq? Jul pbhyqa’g ur naq Jnyg unir n unccl raqvat? Gurer pbhyq unir orra zber gb gurve fgbel. Gung znqr zr guvax gung vg jnf Qrfzbaq va gur pbssva, orpnhfr gung jbhyq unir orra pehry naq vg jnf znqr pyrne gung gur znxref pna or pehry)
    -Qrnguf: “Ybpxr” (V qba’g guvax ur’f ernyyl qrnq. V unir n gurbel sbe guvf) ybgf bs erqfuvegf, yrg’f fnl frira bs gur haanzrq fheivibef, bar bs gur sbhe sebz gur uryvpbcgre (yrg’f cynl snve naq abg fnl gur cvybg, jub jbhyq or gur boivbhf bar. V’yy fnl Puneybggr vafgrnq) naq Whyvrg. Npghnyyl V unir ybfg pbhag bs ubj znal fheivibef bs Syvtug 815 ner fgvyy nyvir. Orsber gur svanyr, zl pbhag jnf 51, bs juvpu 13 ner jvgu gur Bguref (jbhyq yvxr gb frr zber bs gubfr). Nsgre gur svanyr naq gur zrff jvgu gur obng, V unir ab vqrn.
    – Zl “Eba vf Qhzoyrqber”-gurbel nobhg Ybpxr naq Puevfgvna Furcureq:
    Nsgre gnyxvat gb Bprnavp 6 naq Jnyg, Ybpxr fbzrubj frag uvzfrys gb gur Vfynaq (qba’g nfx zr ubj). Gur obql erznvarq nsgre uvz, whfg yvxr Puevfgvna’f qvq. Jura gurl gnxr vg gb gur Vfynaq va guvf frnfba, ur jvyy jnyx bhg bs uvf pbssva, yvxr Puevfgvna qvq. Ubj guvf vf qbar, jvyy or unaqjnirq nf abg vzcbegnag. Ohg gur ovt cbvag vf gung Puevfgvna jnf abg qrnq, uvf zvaq jnf genafcbegrq gb gur Vfynaq (jurer ur unf orra orsber QHZQHZQHZ)
    -Ybgf bs xrlfznfu va zl oenvaf

    V sryg gung znal bs gurfr cerqvpgvbaf jrer rnfl gb znxr, nf gur sbhegu frnfba ernyyl gvrq guvatf gbtrgure naq fubjrq hf gur ovt cvpgher. Abj vg’f “whfg” ohvyqvat gur erfg bs gur chmmyr.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      HAHAHAHAHAAHA oh to be in your shoes with LOST.

      My predictions went a totally different direction than yours.

      • Lugija says:

        MARK REPLIED TO ME! This evening is awesome.

        Generic spoilers of Lost, rotted to be sure:
        V guvax V unir n ivrj bs ubj rirelguvat jvyy tb, ohg gung'f orpnhfr V'ir erjngpurq gur svefg guerr frnfbaf naq jebgr qbja jung unccrarq va rnpu synfuonpx, jub pbhyq or vzcbegnag punenpgref, rirel qrgnvy bs gur zlgubybtl gung unf orra zragvbarq, naq V unir xrcg pbhag bs rirelbar ba gur Vfynaq, vapyhqvat qrnguf.

        Ohg nz V cercnerq? Yby ab. Cebonoyl gur Vfynaq jvyy oybj hc va gur svefg rcvfbqr be fbzrguvat. V'yy svavfu erjngpuvat Frnfba sbhe fbba, gura V'yy jngpu Svir nf fybjyl nf cbffvoyr (guvaxvat gung gurer jnf n jrrx orgjrra rnpu rcvfbqr jura gurl svefg nccrnerq). Nsgre gung vg'f gur Terng Erjngpu bs 1-5.

    • stefb4 says:

      Have fun with Lost! Hahaha season five…

  70. @ttown2 says:

    "Suddenly Gandalf is threatening to uncloak himself, which frankly sounds like he’s going to flash Bilbo"

    OMG, why is this so funny?

  71. arnenieberding says:

    A few weeks ago, you reblogged a vlog of mine on tumblr (Single Ladies Nerdfighter Gathering) that had someone quoting that speech and you didn't even notice. xD Tee hee.

    I'm so excited for this, though. Too bad I can't read along.

    • Genny_ says:

      The hilarious thing is that he didn't know because he had put off doing LotR to do… a nerdfighter related book.

      Hahahaha, ow, irony.

  72. misterbernie says:

    I have a shameful confession to make: I've never made it past this chapter. I've tried, the first time I got to "eleventy-first" and thought "what is this rubbish" and put the book down, the second time I clogged down somewhere in the first dozen pages…

    And yet, I'm looking forward to reading you read this, because this is just awesome.

    • ljrTR says:

      I tell the students at the high school library where I work that "everybody likes different things" – It's ok if you don't like a book others of us obsess over. It's very cool you're still going to read Mark's comments.

      • misterbernie says:

        The weird thing is that I actually love the world Tolkien created; both for its depth and detail and for the huge impact he ultimately had on conworlding/conlanging (hobbies I've taken up myself), it's basically just a prose incompatibility between us.

  73. tigerpetals says:

    Now see, I knew nothing about Tolkien before the first movie came out. I saw it and read the following books to find out what had happened, and I received more Tolkien related books as presents over the next few years, but somehow never got around to this book before now even though I meant to.

    I like the little humor, which is similar to Rowling's humor about petty small-minded people with, for example, the Dursleys. The description was actually rather busy. I wished for something more impressionistic to set the scene, with less detail, but I suppose that all leads up to the tone, bs tbbq guvatf cnffvat njnl naq hapregnvagl ohg ubcr nobhg gur shgher. Gung vf bar bs gur boivbhf vzcbegnag gurzrf bs Ybeq bs gur Evatf (cerfrag va gur Fvyznevyyvba nf jryy), naq V qb ybir vg fb. V erzrzore guvf sebz zl pbcl bs gur Fvyznevyyvba, fbzrguvat nobhg gur zbba nffbpvngvba jvgu zrzbel naq gur ryirf.

    I like the old-fashioned feel of the writing, and it makes me nostalgic for when I first came into these, heck when I first came into fantasy with Narnia years before that. I went into Lord of the Rings soon after first reading Harry Potter. Good good times. Now I'm sad.

    And I'm editing to add what I forgot, but you probably already know. I can't tell whether there are poor as in homeless hobbits, but the narration says Bilbo gave stuff to poorer hobbits. We don't know how poor; let's see if further chapters elucidate on this point.

    And if I were Bilbo, I would be dying to leave. Hey I'm dying to leave right now, only I'd miss my stuff. I want to travel along but have my stuff safe, and away from nosy relatives. What I'd do with my poor cat I'm not sure.

    Editing once again, because I also forgot to note that I didn't reread the Hobbit with you because I was busy, but I may reread it now, alongside FotR for the first time. Might be interesting to compare.

    • shortstuff says:

      In regards to your rot-13: Gur srryvat bs gvzr cnffvat naq gur xabjyrqtr gung gurer'f n uvfgbel orlbaq jung'f unccravat va gur cerfrag va gur fgbel vf cebsbhaqyl fnq gb zr, jura V trg gbb vairfgrq va Gbyxvra'f jbeyq.

      Spoiler for the appendices at the end of the books: Ernqvat gur gnyr bs Nejra naq Nentbea vf nabgure bar bs gubfr irel fnq fgbevrf. Vg fubjf gung lbh pna or gur tbbq thl, gur ureb, trg gur tvey, naq fgvyy qvr va gur raq, naq gung gur jbeyq znepurf ba, naq rira gura, gur jbeyq jvyy punatr naq abg rira erzrzore. Bar bs gur zbfg rzbgvbany yvarf gb zr vf gung bar nobhg Nentbea ynlvat va tybel haqvzzrq orsber gur oernxvat bs gur jbeyq. FB tynq gur zbivr jnf noyr gb jbex gung fprar va, whfg ornhgvshy.

      Also: you've never read Fellowship? Would you be so kind as to post some of your thoughts along with Mark's? I'd love to read differing opinions of these books, to see what different people take from them.

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        YES. I love that scene from the movie, and the way they included that line.

        • tigerpetals says:

          I love that scene too.

          Vg'f nyfb terng orpnhfr vg tvirf Nejra zber vzcbeg naq gvrf ure va gb gur fgbel shegure ol rzcunfvmvat ure pbaarpgvba gb gung gurzr bs guvatf cnffvat njnl, ohg gung fhpu guvatf ner jbegu vg. Yvxr gung Wncnarfr pbaprcg V pna'g erzrzore gur anzr bs, gur bar nobhg gur vaurerag ornhgl bs genafvrag guvatf.

          V'z nyfb tynq nobhg gung orpnhfr jr trg zber bs n srznyr cerfrapr gung jnl. V xabj fbzr snaf jrer hcfrg nobhg gur punatr, ohg frrvat ure va gur genvyre tbg zr nf n yvggyr tvey gb jnag gb jngpu gur zbivr naq or cneg bs guvf nznmvat fgbel naq snaqbz.

      • tigerpetals says:

        Late response is incredibly late. But yeah, I'd like to post my thoughts chapter by chapter. I'll hopefully have a comment ready to post today in like an hour.

  74. Lady X says:

    Oh, Mark you really aren’t prepared for this are you?
    1)”You can’t walk to Mordor.” No comment.
    2) Yay! I love Merry! He’s pretty much my replacement for Fred Weasley
    3) Sackville-Baggins are really horrible aren’t they?

  75. @silmerin says:



  76. @stephen_g says:

    Nooo I am being sucked in by the comments! Mark, I'm excited to see that you're reading these – I thought you were starting them a lot sooner, like back in November, so I'm already on to Return of the King! However reading your thoughts on things I've already (in this case, recently) read is like having a second side to the one-sided discussion I've been having with myself.

    Boy that sentence didn't make very much sense at all. Anyway, I am also reading these books for the first time, so even though I am ahead by two books, we are in the same boat.

  77. Jenny_M says:

    I would just like to add that as a result of this post, I have been listening to the Fellowship soundtrack on Spotify all day at work, and have not been one tiny bit productive. It is hard to do work when you're hanging out in Middle Earth with your friends all day, y'all.

    • nanceoir says:

      Yeah, someone mentioned reading the books along with the appropriate soundtracks, and since I've seen the movies, like, a frajillion times, I'm doing that. It's kind of fabulous. 😀

  78. Meltha says:

    There’s a character named Legolas and Orlando Bloom plays him and his name was always distracting because I’m a huge LEGO fan and I’m like IS HE MADE OF LEGOS. He’s not and that upsets me.

    Have you actually seen Orlando Bloom? Because there's actually very little there that falls into the categories of "disappointing" or "could be improved upon if made out of plastic." Purrrrr.

  79. thesimplyuninspired says:

    Eee, this is going to be fun. I've never actually done one of these along with Mark. But I feel like all I'm going to be doing is cackling evilly and leaving utter nonsense in these comments. It'll be a grand time all around.

    "I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."
    YES. AMAZING LINE. Bilbo, why so awesome.

    Beyond that, I shall simply laugh mysteriously to myself and leave: "You are not prepared."

  80. Sinnive says:

    Ever since I discovered Markreads about half a year ago and had lots of fun with Twilight and Harry Potter, I thought that it would be so incredibly cool if there were LotR-Reviews, also. And then I thought that there is no way he hasn't read this already ten years ago or something. And then I was so excited to discover I was wrong, and now it has started, and I even got myself an account for this. I'd like to know how many people here never commented before and now finally couldn't but join for LotR?

    Also, I love that, while I was always a bit disappointed that when I was reading "Looking for Alaska" reviews, there were never any comments when I first clicked the page (conveniently, the uploads always happen in the middle of my afternoon, when my boss walks his dog and I take a short break before the last bit of the workday), today there were dozens and dozens of comments, and I was only a few minutes late. I'm not the only one who is excited for LotR, apparently!

  81. Harlock says:

    Hi Mark, for all your questions about Hobbits – and this is NOT a spoiler – you should've read the prologue "Concerning Hobbits" before immediately starting witch chapter 1. It explains a lot about Hobbit culture, their origins, their lifestyles, their society structure and the peculiarities of their race. It might seem like dull reading but it adds a lot of background and helps understanding of the books and the hobbits.

    • Jenny_M says:

      It was recommended that Mark not read that until he's finished the books because of potential spoilers about the eventual outcomes of several different characters. I'm sure he will get to it eventually, though!

    • elyce says:

      yes, there are lots of spoilers in the Concerning Hobbits section.

  82. wuxxia says:


    I'm going to re-read with you! School ended yesterday so I actually have time!!!

    Seriously I have no idea what my feelings are doing right now. I had the chills the entire time I was reading and tears in my eyes at some point. This is my ORIGINAL FANDOM and I JUST CAN'T HOLD ALL THESE FEELS.

    It can't be normal to have an actual physical reaction like this. OH GOD WHAT HAS MY LIFE BECOME.

  83. maisontv says:

    I'm so excited for this because I will be reading the series for the first time too! (I have seen the movies though, so I already know the plot.) I attempted to read them back when the movies came out, but high school me found them too dense. Hopefully by doing it one chapter per day and having a post to look forward to, I can push through the tough parts.

    • ljrTR says:

      even though you know much more of the plot than Mark, the books are different from the movies in many ways. I'll be very interested in your comments as you read along.

  84. @alexiel921 says:

    I have been at a major disadvantage by not reading the Hobbit first; I was so uninterested in this chapter. It really took me quite a while to get into this book. I only forced myself through it because my brother and dad wanted to see the movie and I wanted to wait until I had read the book; so I had to go through it quickly.

  85. stingingpetals says:

    I am so excited to watch you read this book and fall in love with it(I assume) like the rest of us. <3

  86. Danielle says:

    Okay, honestly, I think it might be best to finish the book first and then watch all three films. The films mess with the storyline a wee bit in fitting the narrative to the screen, and we don't want you being spoiled.

    • ljrTR says:

      I agree. the movies should come after all the books.

    • Emily says:

      Yes. Rereading it recently made me realize how the movies spoil the heck out of the second two books, especially Fnehzna'f arsnevbhf fpurzrf (yvxr uvf perngvba bs gur Hehx-Unv naq gur xvqanccvat bs Cvccva naq Zreel), nf jryy nf Nentbea/Nejra naq Fnz/Ebfvr, obgu bs juvpu ner uvagrq ng va gur obbxf ohg abg arneyl nf rkcyvpvg nf gur zbivrf znxr gurz. Rfcrpvnyyl Nentbea/Nejra. Really, Mark, watch the movies after you've read them all. REALLY.

      After all, Tolkien considered LotR to be one book, and was highly disappointed when his publishers insisted on splitting it into three. You wouldn't see DH 1 without having read the whole book, would you? 🙂

  87. ChronicReader91 says:

    Fellowship of the Ring! OMGYAY! Break out the party hats and noisemakers! I completely forgot this was going up today, so it’s like a surprise gift. 😀

    I love your previous knowledge, Mark. Legolas being made out of LEGOs, LOL. Also, it’s funny because I don’t watch Fringe but whenever I see previews I think John Noble should be his character from the movies.

    There's so much to love about Bilbo here. “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve” and his trick with the ring, and all the ironic gifts later. Kind of dick moves, true, but all awesome.

    V trg gung gur evat vf nznmvat naq nalbar jbhyq or eryhpgnag gb tvir vg hc, ohg Ovyob ng bar cbvag pnyyf vg ZL CERPVBHF. hz jung ner lbh qbvat Ovyob.

    Ununun. V jbaqre vs ur erzrzoref Tbyyhz pnyyvat vg gung ng nyy. Vg’f orra fb ybat ur zvtug unir sbetbggra. Bu, guvf vf tbvat gb or sha gb jngpu.

    Prediction: you are not even remotely prepared.

  88. flootzavut says:


    I am excited. 😀

  89. flootzavut says:

    Oh and can I mention that I love that the first chapter of The Hobbit is An Unexpected Party and the first chapter of LOTR is A Long Expected Party. I See What You Did There and I Liked It, Mr Tolkien!

  90. stefb4 says:



    I'm actually on like chapter 8 or 9 in this reread right now, but I went back to review the first chapter a little bit and wound up rereading it in its entirety again. Oops.

    I love that Bilbo's kind of an asshole. LOL WHERE DID HE LEARN HOW TO TROLL, GANDALF?

    Also, you know amusingly little about LotR….HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE IT IS EVERYWHERE.

    Also, Merry's line is win. YOU ARE LIKING ALL THE THINGS I LIKE 😀


  91. flootzavut says:

    "The man’s narration here is a bit coy, as if he’s holding back a huge smile because he know Bilbo’s grand secret."

    Mark YOU ARE SO RIGHT what a wonderful way to describe it and SOOOO TRUE.

    I am sooooo late to the comment party *sad* but I am so psyched that LOTR has fiiiiiiiiiiiiinally got here so I am having a little party with myself*. Sorry.

    *OK that sounds kind of rude… 😮

  92. Rain says:

    Mostly lurker, and clearly a bit more… um… Gandalf-y than many of the readers here. (In years, I'm talking about. No hating. ;D )

    Anyway, just wanted to share the cover of The LotR: Fellowship of the Ring as I first read it, in high school quite a few years ago. I still have an inexplicable love for these crazy covers. ;D Tolkien hated them, I gather.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

  93. empath_eia says:

    Ahh, so excited. This book has been a dear friend of mine since the age of nine, and I still reread it all the time. I find something new and beautiful every time, I swear.

    I have things to say about the first chapter, but I’ll wait until you’re further in so as not to spoil you even tangentially. Looking forward to this so much.

  94. stefb4 says:

    Haha, Mark, the movies aren't 324 hours each. That's silly.

    They're 465.

  95. stargaterejects says:

    Oh my god I need to buy these books and read along with you, I just wish I hadn't already seen the movies 🙁

  96. stefb4 says:

    Now, a more serious review 🙂

    I love that in this very first chapter, Tolkien establishes so much about Hobbit culture and to do it so naturally through the hobbits themselves. We know what drives them as a people, and how they view certain families (we know from The Hobbit that Tooks are seen as sort of "wild" and strange, and it also seems that the Brandybucks are viewed the same way–but I Iike what I see of Brandybucks so far, if Merry is anything to go by).

    Mark….how could you have forgotten about Bilbo's magic ring of invisibility already? D:

    I love that Bilbo's parting gifts to many relatives were rather ironic and trollish.

    I believe Tolkien's editor after The Hobbit was actually the little boy who wrote the first review! So Tolkien went to his original editor's son. How fitting, since Tolkien was writing for a generation that was about twenty-years older. It was a long awaited sequel. There's a nice segment with him in the appendices for the FotR EE dvds, but his name escapes me.

  97. Nick says:

    Mark, I actually think that your chapter-a-day pace is absolutely perfect for this book. Each chapter is very densely written so I'd say it's *meant* to be read at a slow pace, rather than raced through.

  98. MsSméagol says:


  99. Fuchsia says:

    i think i'm even more excited for you to start lord of the rings than i was for buffy (and i was pretty excited for that!). the lord of the rings will always, always hold a special place in my heart. my dad introduced me to it when i was twelve and i absolutely loved it (although i didn't read the hobbit until college, strangely enough). when my dad died three years later, i only inherited a few things from him: a sword, an antique typewriter, and these books (which were copies from his childhood) and they're absolutely priceless to me. the books have traveled the country with me, were some of the few possessions i haven't lost/sold/ruined in countless moves in the last ten years, and i even got one signed by my favourite actor from the films when i met him at the One Ring Convention on my 21st birthday (ovyyl oblq, rot13'd his name just in case).

    aside from that, the movies were my first midnight premiere ever (growing up in a rural town, especially pre-harry potter, movie theaters didn't open at midnight for anything so i never got the chance to attend one until i was in college), complete with sewing my own cloak for it. the fandom was one of the first i was ever involved in, and ORC was the first convention (of any fandom) i ever attended. and i still love it all. so… welcome. i'm glad to finally have you joining us!

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