Along with elves, dwarves, and humans, this book features a people Tolkien created: hobbits -- short, round, hairy-footed folk who love a good meal and fireworks. Young Frodo Baggins has been given a magical ring by his cousin Bilbo. Along with the ring, which is treacherous to its owner, comes a great responsibility neither Bilbo nor Frodo foresaw. This ring is the One Ring of Sauron the Great, the Dark Lord. Sauron must not get the ring again, or Middle-earth is doomed.
So Frodo, under the advisement of Gandalf the wizard, leaves with his servant Sam and his two friends Pippin and Merry to protect their home from the ring's evil. Along the way they are tracked by Black Riders -- fearsome wraiths under Sauron's power. They also meet Strider, a.k.a. Aragorn, who Sam in particular at first distrusts; but it turns out Strider is a friend of Gandalf's and intends to help them any way he can.
So begins the dark journey to destroy the ring. The characters experience both heartache and joy, and it is these unforgettable characters, coupled with Tolkien's descriptive writing, that will keep you turning the pages. If you've never read this one, now is the time; if you have read it, you might consider reading it again. When we first read this book in high school, we were impressed. Our return to it was not a disappointment.