vacation; I read a few books while I was away and I haven't written about them all yet. One of the things I did do is finish The Hobbit, and the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings. This is about the first one.
The Fellowship of the Ring is the first volume of The Lord of the Rings, and it contains the first two books. There are six books in all; often broken down into three volumes,* other times, contained in a single volume. The last time I read it, I read a single volume copy. Its a little cumbersome in size, and is slightly different in very minor ways from the three volume version. There are no synopses** necessary in the single volume, as there are at the beginnings of the second and third volumes. When reading the separate volumes, there is no easy access to the Appendices, which are included at the end of the third volume only. And there is also no easy access to the introductory matter, which is included at the front of the first volume.
If you're strict about spoilers, be forewarned that I'm about to mention some elements of the storyline, but there won't be any dramatic reveals of information.
Fellowship begins by catching us up on what Bilbo Baggins has been up to since his adventures chronicled in the Red Book, titled: There and Back Again, better know as The Hobbit. Bilbo's adventures have left him rather well off, and quite comfortable. His old friend, Gandalf the Grey continues to visit him, being concerned as ever with the doings in the Shire, the small, quiet country tucked away on the East-West road, on the way to the Havens. But in the years since their adventure to the Lonely Mountain, Gandalf has been concerned about a quietly rising menace in the world, and it takes a number of years before things actually begin to move in ways that raise his concerns, for not only the Shire, but for all free peoples, everywhere.
Fellowship tells the story of how those feelings of dread finally break upon the sleepy Shire, and Gandalf, and his hobbit friends find themselves in terrible danger, seemingly far beyond their ability to cope with, but as Gandalf has always asserted, hobbits are made of far tougher stuff than their outward appearance may convey.
The wise have determined that by power alone, they can not overcome this evil. It now falls to the hobbits, and a fellowship representing the other free peoples of Middle-earth, to take it upon themselves to do what they can to save Middle-earth from the rising evil in the east.
Of course you should read this book. This is just the first volume of course, and when you're done, you should put it on your shelf so you can read it again. and don't say, I saw the movies. if you saw the movies you don't know the lotr
* Don't call it a trilogy, Tolkien was pretty clear about that, its a single novel broken down into three parts.
** The synopsis in the second volume, actually includes information that didn't yet occur in the story. It actually takes place in the first part of the second volume. If its your first time through, you may want to skip the synopses all together (for this reason alone!) If you're planning to read all three volumes straight through, you probably won't need any reminders.