It is pretty interesting because the development of the story is so un-uniform. Parts spring up very early in nearly their final form, while others are entirely absent. When he started writing, the party in Hobbiton that starts matters is all there, but much of the rest of the world is blank – Gondor, Mordor, Isengard…all missing. In fact, for much of the book “Strider” is a hobbit! Of course, his name was ‘Trotter’ then.
It also was probably a good thing when Frodo got his name…Bingo Bolger-Baggins might not have worked very well.
Pretty quickly, though, the tone seems to shift away from a strict second book like the Hobbit – one geared towards children – with the introduction of the Black Riders. They reached final form very quickly, although the number of them was pretty flexible.
This volume takes the story up to the MInes of Moria. Even at this point, what would happen on the other side of the mountains was a blank slate.
Interesting stuff, and I went through it a lot quicker than the other books in this series. I’m already into the next one.