I enjoyed reading Frodo's Quest, and I am, in fact, re-reading it again to get a deeper appreciation of the depth of Tolkien's insight in Lord of the Rings (Lord). I have (only) read Lord three times. I first read Lord in college, next some years later and again last year before the first movie came out. At each of these times, at different stages in my life, Tolkien never failed to catch me up in the story and depth of his characters. I know that I am not alone in this, for its not unusual to meet someone who confesses that he or she has read it many more times than that. But I have often wondered why the book appealed to me so much.
Dr. Robert Ellwood who, according to his web page, is both a priest, retired college professor, and a teacher / scholar of world religions, helped me understand just why Tolkien's Lord moves its loyal readers so. Ellwood, with insightful extracts from Tolkien's other works, shows that Tolkien wove into his story the universal themes of mankind's spiritual quest. After reading Frodo's Quest, one can never again see Lord as a mere fantasy story, for Ellwood demonstrates its appeal is that, at its core, it is about our own personal spiritual search. Frodo's Quest makes use of references and quotes from psychological and religious sources to establish that Lord is a quest story in the highest spiritual meaning of that term. In this sense, Frodo's Quest will ring true to readers familiar with the works and viewpoints of Joseph Campbell or Carl Jung. The reader of Frodo's Quest, like Frodo himself, will come to realize, like we all must sooner or later, that we all live in a world that is much more than just that which can be seen or touched. More importantly, we all have a role in the eternal drama of life
But Frodo's Quest is not for everyone. It unabashedly presumes that its audience both knows the Lord books and also has a the insight / spiritual discernment to understand exactly what a universal myth is, and what it does, so it is going to put off some people of a more rigid religious outlook. But if that is the price of such insights, so be it. Frankly, I don't find the exercises at the end of chapters especially useful to most people, but they don't detract from the main message of the book. Frodo's Quest has shown us Tolkien's grand vision of mankind and revealed that Lord of the Rings' appeal is that it speaks to the Frodo within each of us, ala Campbell or Jung. Frodo's Quest is a book well worth reading over and over again.