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 Post subject: The "Slow" chapters--necessary or not?
PostPosted: September 11th, 2009, 11:49 pm 
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This thread is for debate/discussion. Please state which position you take, on whether or not the slow chapters which introduce books 1 & 2 within FotR (covering the years in the Shire and the Council of Elrond) are really necessary and what part they play in the story.

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PostPosted: September 13th, 2009, 7:45 pm 
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As with any type of fantasy novel the author should always take great care in introducing their protagonist and his world, especially if it is a made-up world that readers will not essentially recognise. Therefore, I think it is necessary, for the sake of introduction and exposition, to include "slow chapters" at the beginning of FotR. It is a chance for us to explore and immerse ourselves in Middle-Earth before being flung straight into the adventure.

However, chapters like The Council of Elrond are another story completely. If I'm not mistaken, the Council of Elrond chapter is perhaps the longest chapter in FotR, and boy is it an overload of information. We get almost the entire history of Middle-Earth in the space of a chapter. That's too much for me personally. Therefore, I always tend to skim this chapter.


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PostPosted: September 14th, 2009, 3:24 pm 
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The first times I read FotR I found the introductory chapters quite long and a little boring. I skimmed over them to get to the action! :-) Now, recently, I got the beginning of FotR on mp3 (unfortunately, I only have the first part of the book on audio). There's this old, English guy reading the story - I imagine he sounds like Tolkien himself - and it's so relaxing and pleasant to listen to. I think I have started to pay attention to the story in a new way when it's being read to me, noticing new things and details I didn't stress when I read it myself.

I agree with you, Larael, it is so important that Tolkien takes the proper time to introduce this new world, especially the Shire and the nature of the Hobbits because this is essentially what's at stake in the War of the Ring. This is what will perish if Sauron lays hand on The One Ring again. It would be the end of all good in the world, of innocence and peace - all symbolised and represented in the Shire. Also, I believe it is easier for readers to relate to the Shire once it has been so well introduced, and we come to cheer for the Hobbits all through the Trilogy.
The good thing about long introductions is that you don't have to read thorougly through everything the first time to understand the story, but you are able to go back and read deeper into the layers if you feel like it later on.

Concerning The Council of Elrond. I hated it the first time I read it and love it now when I have read all three books. For the same reason as with the introductory chapters it gives insight to the story and depth to the world of Middle-earth much the same way The Silmarillion does. And it's a great summary of the history of the Ring, like when Gandalf introduces Frodo to the Ring before he sets out for Rivendell. In fact, those are quite impressive chapters, though challenging on first-time readers!

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PostPosted: September 14th, 2009, 10:16 pm 
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That's exactly what I was trying to say, Eä. Without such introductory chapters as "Concerning Hobbits" I think readers would lose the ability to connect with our protagonists so clearly. Tolkien places this chapter at the beginning because he wants us to root for the Hobbits.


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PostPosted: September 25th, 2009, 3:33 pm 
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I agree with a lot of what Ea said for the same reasons. You need to set up the plot, create more personal characters, and establish their characteristics. You need to establish how peaceful, content, and almost uncaring normal hobbits are in order to make the changes in Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and (let's not forget) Biblo more significant.

As for the Council of Elrond, I think it's an essential chapter. It answers so many questions and explains so much that becomes important later. Not to mention introduces more important characters.

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PostPosted: October 4th, 2009, 5:05 pm 
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Just here at the start I may add that we are all a little biased on the part of Tolkien and the story. I know many people who ran out on the books because they thought it was too boring, so in the eyes of the general public I'm sure they'd disagree with most of us. :teehee:

But as everyone has said, they are important in several ways. Any good book has to have a sort of...depth, a reality. Without these chapters you'd lose the sense of background and fullness--the world wouldn't be fleshed-out as it should (and is). The way Middle-Earth is written gives us the feeling that it's gone on for a long time, will still go on, and that there's so much that we haven't heard about and we've only scratched the very surface. (Which is, of course, quite true, even with the additions of the Silmarillion and all the other books).

I'm going to disagree with the aggravated feelings toward the Council of Elrond chapter. Before anyone mobs me, I am a very very avid-to-obsessive reader and so long things don't bother me a bit. I like how this chapter tells you so many things. As with the other chapters, if you can stand it it entices you even further into this world with so many facets and such a rich history.

The slow chapters, in my opinion, essentially are those that give a background, a sweetness, and that which allows you to feel for the characters when bad things happen, to cheer for them when good things happen, and to keep the world close to your heart. So, yes, I think they're necessary.


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PostPosted: October 23rd, 2009, 6:25 pm 
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Concerning the first couple of chapters at the start of FOTR, as Haldir has said, its necessary to give the reader information like who, what where, when and why. If this si rushed it creates incoinsistances and makes th ereader feel that the whole thing was rushed. It gives it a less... considered feel. Thus it is a necessity.

The Council of Elrond is the same, but at a more advanced stage in my eyes. Since the author has given us a ok working understanding of middle earth in the first book, the Council section provides th ereader, not only with a sense of why things are the way they are, but help immerse the reader in the lore of the world. For example, while we learn at the start that Elrond is an Elven lord, only here do we really learn the extent of Elronds true might and majesty, as Gil Galads herald, and a chief figure amongst the Eldar in middle earth.
Also, I think that it makes sense that its a solw, large, packed with info chapter. Its the start of a great quest, with a great significance for all, so a while for consideration of how best to do it would make some level of sense to me. Ill admit, at first reading, I found it heavy, but Ive grown to love it through reading :)

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PostPosted: April 15th, 2010, 2:28 am 
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There isn't much that I can add that hasn't already been said. 'Tis true the "slow" chapters can be quite boring but in all honesty there are quite necessary. An author need to give background on the land they have created, its inhabitants, the characters we will be following, etc. Tolkien goes so in depth with this, that it makes a lot of the early chapters like a history lesson and turns some people off of the series. This all had to be told at one point or another and you have to understand the world and characters to better connect with them in later chapters.

As for the Council of Elrond, I always found it quite interesting. Sure you know about the Hobbits and what they went through, but now you get to hear about events happening around the other parts of Middle-Earth. You also get to hear about Sauron's deceptions and The Ring and fully understand why this object is to be feared if he obtains it; plus the history of what happened after the ring was cut from his hand until present time. Not to mention that vital characters have their introduction in that chapter.

The slow chapters may be information heavy and a little "boring" but the information in them is crucial for you to understand future chapters and character developments. (my opinion...)

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PostPosted: April 15th, 2010, 12:46 pm 
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I just reread FotR recently, and actually found the Council of Elrond to go really quickly. I think the slowest section for me was their journey down the Great River. It's interesting how people's perceptions of things change which chapters are entertaining or not. :)

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PostPosted: December 1st, 2010, 3:47 pm 
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When I first read them, I would have said absolutely not...but then again, I was young and impatient and I dearly wanted something to happen, so I wasn't really in love with the scene setting that was going on.

But then, when I reread them - not only are they needed, but I also like them a lot, lot more. I find the history and scene-setting a lot more fascinating the older I get!

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PostPosted: December 7th, 2010, 12:22 am 
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That's very interesting perspective!

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PostPosted: January 2nd, 2011, 12:22 am 
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I thought the most slow was the Old Forest. It seemed to take forever for Frodo and company to be rescued by Bombadil.

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PostPosted: March 10th, 2011, 10:56 am 
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Ashwise wrote:
I thought the most slow was the Old Forest. It seemed to take forever for Frodo and company to be rescued by Bombadil.


And in general for Frodo to move out of Bag End. But I did enjoy it. If slowly brings you into the mood of reading the book over again.

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 Post subject: Re: The "Slow" chapters--necessary or not?
PostPosted: March 29th, 2011, 1:31 pm 
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To me, it is the 'slow' chapters in Fellowship that make it my favorite. I'd say that Concerning Hobbits is nice not just for the introduction of Frodo, but also the passing of the torch from Bilbo to Frodo. From the Bilbo story standpoint, it is more of the epilogue of the Hobbit.

The Council of Elrond I never really thought of a 'slow' chapter. It seemed more like book such as A Tale of Two Cities, where a lot of time is spent describing the scene, and then you will have large meaty paragraphs containing a bulk of the information. It is a more difficult chapter to read, especially for reading unfamiliar with the plot, which can make it 'slow' in the sense that it can take a while to comprehend. As for its relevance, it explains the actions and modivations of many of the characters later on.

In my opinion, the slowest chapters aren't in Fellowship, but in Book 4 of Two Towers. I think that while it does illustrate the monotony of Frodo's journey at the time, it gets through very little in a long amount of time. It also may be in part that you usually just read the first half of Two Towers, which is arguably one of the fastest-paced sections of LotR.


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 Post subject: Re: The "Slow" chapters--necessary or not?
PostPosted: March 29th, 2011, 2:40 pm 
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^ I definitely agree there. I never found The Council of Elrond or Concerning Hobbits slow at all, but found book 4 of Two Towers to be somewhat tedious almost to the point where I didn't really care to learn what happened to Frodo, Sam and Gollum.

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 Post subject: Re: The "Slow" chapters--necessary or not?
PostPosted: March 31st, 2011, 3:47 pm 
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I was just thinking over lunch today: I wonder, if the books were written today would they be much more succinct? Would Tolkien have strategically placed the mini-background-stories from the Council chapter strategically through the narrative to speed up the pace better? Or how could that chapter in the marshes be re-written to speed the pace along while still letting the reader feel the endless tedium of Frodo's journey through it?

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