READ THIS BEFORE WATCHING THE MOVIES!!!
I read this book in the third grade, and have read it some 5 or six times since. It is simply THE best fantasy book that has ever been written. C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling just lack the ingenuity or the skill to weave a tale of such depth and magic. We pass through the spectrum of human character, through greed, hate, lust, friendship, loyalty, courage, and evil, but most importantly hope. In a world that grows darker daily, with the world of men outmumbered and surrounded, the elves sundered, and the dwarves dispersed, it is the heroic tale of small people who change the world, and mercy which in the end saves it. Gandalf, alone defying the witch-king of Angmar, alone holding the gates, Eowyn, protecting the dying body of her king and father with her own life, pitted against a foe she knows is much more powerful then her, and in the foreground, Frodo, fighting against the consuming power of the ring, and Sam helping him. And the characters also are marvelously well developed: Denethor, driven mad with hopelessness from his visions in the Palantir, Gollum, torn between his lust for the ring and his promise to protect his master, and Frodo, slowly weakening under the power of the ring, supported only by Sam. This is, to put it mildly, a must-read for every single person on the face of the globe over the age of 8.