Genres: Adventure Fantasy, Speculative fiction, Fiction, High fantasy, Chivalric romance, Adventure novel
One of the greatest works of fiction of all time, The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite books. It is usually called a trilogy, because it is split into three parts: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. It also has a prequel, The Hobbit.
This amazing, incredibly written story has endured for many years and “...will go on and on.”* C.S Lewis wrote: “...none so relevant to the actual human situation, yet free from allegory.” The Lord of the Rings is no ordinary fantasy story. It expresses such things as courage, faithfulness, joy, friendship, wisdom, beauty, and the true meaning of love.
The story begins in the peaceful region of The Shire, where a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is about to celebrate his eleventy-first birthday, and his adoptive heir Frodo (who shares Bilbo’s birthday) is about to turn 33- his “coming of age.”
After the party, Bilbo plans to leave his cozy hobbit hole and go on another adventure, leaving everything he owns to Frodo-- even the extraordinary Ring he found deep under the Misty Mountains. Not only could the Ring make you invisible, but it also bestowed long life upon its owner.
But when it came time for Bilbo to go on his journey, he found he could not bring himself to leave the Ring. Something seemed to draw him to it. Only with the firm but kind help of Gandalf the wizard was he able to give it up.
He may have struggled, but in giving up the Ring, Bilbo had done something no-one had ever done before.
The life of a hobbit is wonderful. They have large families, good fellowship, and enjoy simple pleasures such as gardening, singing, enjoying the beautiful countryside and, of course, eating. Their cozy, family-oriented life never fails to give me warm fuzzies.
Many years past. Frodo had lived happily in the Shire his whole life, yet now he felt a strange restlessness, and a desire to follow in the steps of Bilbo.
Meanwhile, Gandalf had been searching over all Middle-Earth for more information on Bilbo’s ring, and had discovered its true identity. The ring was the Ruling Ring of Power, and if the Dark Lord, Sauron, got his hands on it, all would be lost.
Gandalf knew that the ring had to be destroyed, and he also knew that he was unable to take charge of it himself. So he asked Frodo to take it to the dark land of Mordor, with the aim of throwing it in the Cracks of Doom, and thus destroying it --and the Dark Lord-- forever.
Soon later, Frodo, along with his faithful friends Samwise and the inseparable Meriadoc and Peregrin, set out for the town Rivendell. The friends had hardly left when they met the terrifying Dark Riders, accomplices of the Dark Lord. The riders were searching for the ring.
Yet even with the awful Dark Riders on their heels, the company reached Rivendell more or less alive. There they met Gandalf, and with the help of the Elven king Elrond formed the Fellowship of the Ring: Frodo (the ring bearer), Samwise (along with his beloved pony Bill), Meriadoc and Peregrin, Gandalf, an elf named Legolas and his good friend Gimli the Dwarf, Boromir (a man from the town of Minas Tirith), and the mysterious Aragorn (also a man).
From Rivendell, the Fellowship continued their journey to destroy the One Ring, travelling deep under the Misty Mountains, through mysterious forests, on the great, rushing river of Anduin, and across endless, green plains. They battled orcs, wargs and other fearsome creatures, and met many new friends, such as the elven-folk of Lothlorien, or the extraordinary tree-men of the forest.
I would like to add something I noticed about two of my favorite characters, the hilarious and ever-cheerful pair, Meriadoc Brandybuck (‘Merry), and Peregrin Took (‘Pippin’). They have a story that is important to most of us. Pippin and Merry both felt as if they were rather useless members of the Fellowship, and more like luggage than anything. Yet in the end they both played parts that were crucial to the success of the mission.
This I found encouraging. Many Christians who live normal lives can wonder what use they are to God. Merry and Pippin’s story shows that “normal” people are important!
Far from Rivendell, the company was split, leaving some of them chasing after an evil band of orcs, and Frodo and Samwise travelling on to Mordor alone- or so they think, until they notice a shadowy figure following them...
The friendship between Samwise and Frodo to me defines the true meaning of love. Sam would gladly have given his right arm, or even his life, for his master. And Frodo, weighed down by the ring as he was, depended utterly on his support. Neither could have completed the task alone.
And as the Ring Bearer and his faithful friend continue their difficult journey, the rest of the Fellowship are battling to defend the city of Minas Tirith against the dark hordes of Sauron. And Aragorn is preparing himself. For Minas Tirith has been without a king for many years, and Aragorn is the rightful heir to the throne.
Footnotes: *Naomi Mitchison