“The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door were it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

and I must follow, if I can.

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say.”

– A song sung by both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins

“The Fellowship of the Ring / The Lord of the Rings Part One”

By J.R.R. Tolkien

Copyright, 1954

When the autumn nights grow long and the darkness presses hard around me, I often take pleasure in reading again the adventures of those little, hairy-footed people known as hobbits. When I am sick and lacking the mental capacity for books, I may turn to Peter Jackson’s three-film set of “The Lord of the Rings.” But in health I normally prefer to let J.R.R. Tolkien tell the tale. He sets out at first a leisurely pace, though soon enough we grasp that this story’s hero, a hobbit named Frodo Baggins, must save his world of Middle Earth by destroying a great ring of power.

Tolkien energized generations of fantasy writers by tapping into deep myths, not just with the inclusion of elves and dwarves, but in a tale that stirs us to consider whether there are boundaries that we as humans should not cross. The ring tempts with its great power, but all who use it become twisted and enslaved by it.

These days I find myself skipping large sections of Book One. (Forgive me, Tolkienistas, but I do not read whole chapters on Tom Bombadil.) What I find myself drawn to most are the conversations between ordinary creatures who find themselves caught up in a struggle for which they seems so overmatched. Nonetheless, they remain faithful to their task and to one another. They are willing to fight for goodness, no matter the cost.

— Robert Digitale