THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE KING, the opening volume of Demetrious Polychron’s ambitious sequel to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, picks up in the Shire’s Bag End two decades following the events of that saga, in the 22nd year of the reign of High King Elessar. Elanor Gamgee Gardner, daughter of Samwise, is about to celebrate her debutante party when Blue Wizards from the East arrive with terrible news: the original Rings of Power—the last of those powerful relics created by Celebrimbor and corrupted by Sauron—have been discovered. Dark forces seeking the return of Morgoth, Sauron’s former master, hope to recover the Rings of Power that will enable Morgoth to bring all of Middle-earth under his control. Elanor and her two Hobbit friends, Fastred and Theo (son of Merry Brandybuck), join Crown Prince Eldarion (the Half-elven son of King Elessar and Queen Arwen), his uncles Elladan and Elrohir, and Alatar, one of the Blue Wizards, on a quest to find the Rings of Power and prevent Middle-earth from falling to Morgoth’s servants of evil.
Given its immense mythos, attempting a followup to The Lord of the Rings is a monumental undertaking, and while Tolkien experts may quibble with Polychron’s scholarship, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE KING is obviously a labor of love by a dedicated Lord of the Rings superfan. While the novel frequently delves into cavernous rabbit holes of Middle-earth lore, for LOTR fans, there’s an undeniable pleasure in returning to the world of Hobbits, Elves, and Orcs and battling malign Ringwraiths over magical rings. Every great story leaves readers curious to learn what happened after “The End” to their beloved (and feared) characters, and Polychron more than delivers, imagining the fates of Frodo, Gandalf, and the rest, while filling in gaps in the backstory of the original saga.
Even if Polychron’s tale doesn’t measure up to Tolkien’s masterpiece as a literary work—and, to be clear, it doesn’t claim to—the writing is more than serviceable, and there’s no denying the author’s affection for his source material. Also notable are the ways in which Polychron expands upon the original, with the introduction of Chinese-inspired characters Xiang and Pingyang, and moments of genuinely terrifying violence that would not have been acceptable in Tolkien’s day. While unabashedly derivative, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE KING offers LOTR fans a fun, appropriately epic return to Middle-earth.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE KING, Book One in Demetrious Polychron’s The War Of The Rings series, offers J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings fans a well-written, expanded and appropriately epic return to Middle-earth.
~Edward Sung for IndieReader