The Fellowship of the Ring tells the story of the Hobbit Frodo Baggins and of how he discovers that the invisibility ring handed down to him by his uncle Bilbo is in fact the One Ring of Power, the most dangerous of artifacts, forged by the evil lord Sauron to ensnare all the peoples of Middle-Earth and bent them to his will. It has to be destroyed! Following Gandalf the old Wizard's advice, Frodo leaves his quiet Hobbit hole in the Shire and with three of his friends, makes for Rivendell to seek the Elves' counsel. There he volunteers to be the Ring-Bearer, the one who must destroy the Ring by casting into the very fire in which it was forged, in the furnaces of Mount Doom. With eight companions, he sets off on a most perilous quest, over mountains and under them, on rivers and through forests beautiful beyond words, to the heart of Mordor.
The adventure goes on in The Two Towers. The Fellowship has just been broken, and as the Hobbits Merry and Pippin are captured by Orcs to be brought to the traitor wizard Saruman, now the ally of Sauron, Frodo and his friend Sam are slowly making their way through desolate plains and treacherous bogs, to Mordor. Soon they realize that Gollum, a nasty creature who once possessed the Ring, is following them. Captured, and still under the irresistible lure of the Ring, the twisted wretch agrees to become their guide to the forsaken land. Meanwhile Aragorn the Heir of Kings, Legolas the Elf and Gimli the Dwarf are running across the grassy plains of Rohan, the domain of the Rohirrim horse masters, to rescue Merry and Pippin and later help ThÃ©oden, King of Rohan, defend his people against Saruman's army in the battle of Helm's Deep.
In The Return of the King, as Frodo and Sam are ineluctably treading closer to the heart of danger, putting the goal of their quest in jeopardy every day a little bit more as Frodo's mind threatens to give in to the power of the Ring, Aragorn and his companions must defend the beautiful white city of Minas Tirith, capital of Gondor, in a hopeless struggle against Sauron's reckless army of berserkers.
How does one go about writing a review of such a masterpiece, now that The Lord of the Rings is not only the second most read book of the twentieth century (after the Bible), but also a blockbuster movie trilogy? How does one do it justice? One just can't. That's it, I admit defeat. I simply lack superlatives to describe the tidal waves of emotions that overwhelm me each time I read this book. So I'll just say this: read it. And re-read it. And again.
The Lord of the Rings is timeless, atemporal. Even though Tolkien himself was notoriously not fond of allegories, I can't help seeing that, in these dark and sad days of our time, it stands as a beacon, a bright message of peace, telling us that even when evil and fear threatens to drown us all, there's still hope... May it be tomorrow's Bible.