Recently, a friend of mine tried to convince me

that The Lord of the Rings is a story of good versus evil,

a simplistic fable of light triumphing over dark,

and that Tolkien liked to write in black and white morality.

This is a deep misunderstanding of morality

and the nature of conflict in Tolkien’s storytelling:

in fact, the pull toward loss and catastrophe

is far stronger than the certainty of victory,

and the world of Middle-earth

is always on the edge of a fall into darkness.