A chapter by chapter as well as general discussion of Tolkien's masterpiece
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Also, if you DO read the Prologue first, most of the characters mentioned mean nothing to you because you haven't read the story and become invested in the characters yet. Plus, there are so MANY names mentioned with no real emotional connection that they don't necessarily stick with you. It reads much more like anthropological or historical background for the story you are about to undertake. THEN, when you start reading the story, you are simply swept away by it, and you forget the Prologue.
I recall reading the Prologue and immediately becoming disappointed that this story wasn't going to be about Bilbo! I was absolutely convinced that I simply would not be capable of becoming as fond of other Hobbit characters as I was of Bilbo and wondered if I'd be able to stick with such a long tale that was NOT about Bilbo. I was never more happy to be wrong in my entire life!
“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”
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Interesting - I never noticed that Tolkien gave the game away. I couldn't have read the prologue at all the first time I read the book (the very word 'prologue' would have put me off) and the second time through doesn't count as we know it all by then anyway
Lucky Tolkien never wanted to write murder mysteries. 'Having solved the great riddle of Colonel Mustard's murder in the study with the candlestick, and seen Miss Scarlet convicted, Detective Plod was promoted to Chief Inspector and never left Midsummer again.'
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.