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[page 8] The Lord of the Rings {Title Art: The title is handwritten in cursive. Each capital letter is exaggerated in size and number of serifs.} The years between 1936 and 1934 were busy ones for John Tolkien. These were the years during which he wrote _The Lord of the Rings_. _The Hobbit_, the prelude to this work, had been published in 1937, and had been well received; hence, Tolkien was urged to write its sequel. _The Hobbit_ was originally written as a story for his children, and an illustration of the mechanics [page 9] of a good fairy tale. His prime motive for writing _The Lord of the Rings_ is best described in his own words,"...the desire of a tale teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them." In this, I think that Tolkien has been impressively successful. Throughout the nation, groups and organizations have been springing up in honor of Tolkien and his work. The members are enthusiastic followers who find in Tolkien's magic trilogy a better world than that of today. The followers are enmeshed in a work unparalleled in beauty and scope throughout the Ages of Man. _The Lord of the Rings_ is comprised of 3 volumes: _The Fellowship of the Ring_, _The Two Towers_, and _The Return of the King_. It starts in an obscure land of innocence and beauty called the Shire. Background knowledge of _The Hobbit_ is necessary for a better understanding of the story. In this prelude, a plump little hobbit named Bilbo Baggins takes the paths of adventure, and is absent for nearly a year. He returns mysteriously (anything out of the ordinary is mysterious in the Shire), with untold wealth. His return is the talk of the Shire for some time to come, and many legends grow up around the old hobbit. Bilbo had acquired an odd habit of disappearing whenever he pleased—usually to escape the unwelcomed visitor. The secret of his new ability was to play an important part in the history of Middle Earth in the near future, as the trilogy shows. Time passed, and Bilbo found an heir in his nephew Frodo. Between the two a great friendship had grown, and they would often be seen roaming through the Shire. Bilbo lost his interest in his native land, and decided that it was again time to leave. He chose his 111th birthday as the day of the departure. This day also corresponded to Frodo's "coming of age," as the saying goes. With a magnificent disappearance, Bilbo left the Shire. Frodo, now Master of Bag End, lived comfortably, though his thoughts were often following Bilbo. [page 10] Gandalf, an old, bent wizard who had helped Bilbo and his Dwarf companions on his adventure to kill Smaug, grew uneasy. He knew of the Ring, and this troubled him. The Ring was obviously a magic one, but what were its powers? Through many dark perils, including entering Sauron's fortress of Dol Goldur, Gandalf found thatFrodo's @that Frodo's@ ring was the most powerful weapon in Middle Earth--the One Ring of Sauron the Necromancer, into which the Black Spirit had put much of his evil power. Sauron was searching for his Ring, and he now knew of the Shire, so Frddo @Frodo@ was in great danger. Escaping with a few of his comrades, Frodo managed to leave the Shire without being caught by the cold Ring-Wraiths, Kings of eld who were now Sauron's most powerful slaves. Through many lands they wander, and with the aid of Aragorn, a friend of Gandalf, they finally reach the Last Homely House, the Elvish dwelling of Master Elrond. Here a great Council is held, and the fateful decision to destroy the Ring is made. Much is learned in this Council, especially about the Elder Days, and among other joys, Frodo meets Bilbo again. Companions for Frodo are chosen, including his hobbit friends and Gandalf and Aragorn, among others. South they journeyed, through quiet Hollin, dark Khazad Dum, where Gandalf falls, and finally to Lothlorien the Fair, where a power of adamant is part of the land. Past Lorien more tragedy befalls the Company, as Boromir, a noble Dunedain of the South, tries to take the Ring from Frodo. Orcs grab 2 of the hobbits, and finally Boromir is slain trying to defend them. Frodo and Sam, his servant, take the darkest road to Mordor, while the others who are left search for the captured hobbits. New characters are introduced, on both sides of the River, and we pick up more lore as the tale flows on. In the final volume comes the climax. The Lords of the West defeat the Morgul hordes on the Pelennor field, and pursue the battle to the very gates of Mordor. The Lord's @Lords@ are almost overwhelmed by Sauron's slaves, until the Ring is miraculously destroyed. Mount Oroduin erupts, and the Barad Dur falls. Aragorn is made King of the West, and a new age is forthcoming. The hobbits return to the Shire, but find that evil has entered. [page 11] With the skills they have learned, as if the whole War of the Ring had been a lesson, they overthrow the evil in the Shire, and make it more beautiful than it ever was before. The ending is realistic, because not everything is perfect. Sauron, though overthrown, had caused many evils which would take time to correct, though the world would never be completely healed. Other powers had exerted their influence. The Shire had been stained by outside civilization, and could not forget the bitter taste of the outside world. Frodo could no longer be content with Middle Earth, and departed across the Sea to seek the Undying Lands of the Elves, where he dwells to this day. This is but a rough outline of what Tolkien created. The scope is too broad to ever be covered in a report, no matter how long. Appendices have been added at the end to whet our curiosity, Tolkien is now writing the _Silmarillion_, which will tell of the Elder days, and the alliance of the Edain and the Elder against Morgoth, the Fallen Valar. There are also slight rumors about the _Akallabeth_, the story of Numenor. Fantasy has been called the most beautiful form of literature, and we can see how true this is in _The Lord of the Rings_. In Middle Earth we find another world, as real as the one in which we find ourselves today. Sauron and the desolation of Mordor are real as I trudge alongside of Frodo and Sam towards the ominous Pits of Fire, and Lorien blooms as I accompagny @accompany@ the fellowship through Nimrodel to the Cerin Amroth. Throughout the trilogy I perceive an optimism--an optimism in the survival and greatness of Man, regardless of the Saurons and Morgoths which blacken our days. In this trilogy is hope, and though the Elder Days have passed, the Fourth Age has begun. Doug Cross