I finished The Fellowship of the Ring at Starbucks today. One of my favorite things about Tolkien’s trilogy so far is the vividness with which he portrays evil. He makes you feel how terrifying, how black, how hideous it really is. For example, when Frodo puts on the ring to escape Boromir:
Then at last his gaze was held: wall upon wall, battlement upon battlement, black, immeasurably strong, mountain of iron, gate of steel, tower of adamant, he saw it: Barad-dur, Fortress of Sauron. All hope left him.
And suddenly he felt the Eye. There was an eye in the Dark Tower that did not sleep. He knew that it had become aware of his gaze. A fierce eager will was there. It leaped towards him; almost like a finger he felt it, searching for him….
He heard himself crying out: Never, never! Or was it: Verily I come, I come unto you? He could not tell. Then as a flash from some other point of power there came to his mind another thought: Take it off! Take it off! Fool, take it off! Take off the Ring!
The two powers strove in him. For a moment, perfectly balanced between their piercing points, he writhed, tormented. Suddenly he was aware of himself again, Frodo, neither the Voice nor the Eye: free to choose, and with one remaining instant in which to do so. He took the Ring off his finger.