It was a holy tome, an account of a mythical country steeped in its own elaborate history and times. I listened to the audiobooks when I was younger, given hints but… when was I able to throw myself into Middle-earth wholly? Soon.
But soon came slowly and I read other things, trivial things. Never the movies. Never. Not until I had read The Lord of the Rings. God forbid. It is not simply fantasy and nor is it just allegory. Middle-earth is a world achieved by Tolkien, not merely created. Plunge into Middle-earth as a secondary place: a place to let the imagination fly through the “faerie” reality – with the eagles.
And so, in late May of 2011, I achieved Middle-earth. I accompanied the four, uncertain hobbits through the terror of the Ring-wraiths, the uneasiness of the Old Forest (half-awake); I spoke with Bombadil, sang in the darkness of the barrow downs, met long-shanked Strider in the shadows, grew angry at the forgetful Butterbur, threw an apple at the evil-faced Ferny, trekked through the empty wild, and, in the ruins of an ancient watch-tower of Arnor was stabbed by the witch-king of Angmar. In a confused race through the rain-sodden hills I was rescued by fair Glorfindel, and found refuge in the quiet of Rivendell. And etcetera.
That summer I found refuge in all Middle-earth, too.