The book version of The Return of the King finishes in a different way than the movie. Saruman, although greatly stripped of his power, moved into the Shire. Using his powers of persuasion, he has turned to the peaceful, bucolic land of the hobbits into a center of industry that is corrupting the inhabitants in the land.
Most interestingly, however, before the hobbits make it back into the Shire, Gandalf provides them with a fascinating insight.
“I am not coming to the Shire. You must settle its affairs yourselves; that is what you have been trained for.”
The entire book has come full circle. Is it possible that everything that has happened up until this point was orchestrated? Is it possible that the world of Middle Earth is a world endowed with purpose? Bilbo was meant to have the ring, Frodo was meant to bear it and his companions were meant to go with them. They were meant to go on this training mission because, approximately one year after the beginning of their journey, they would need those skills to save their own hometown. They have been trained, and training implies purpose. Soldiers do not train for war if they have no intention of going to war. Baseball players do not take batting practice if they never intend to come to the plate.
As we come to the conclusion of this series then, I first of all hope you have enjoyed it. I love these books, and I hope that you enjoy them as well. Although some people will say they are long-winded and almost tiresomely descriptive, we see the beauty of the overarching narrative at work. Middle Earth is not a random place; it is the type of place where things happen for a reason.
There are many times throughout the narrative where you can find each of the four hobbits wondering why they ever left home, and Gandalf is providing a reason. If they had never gone through all of these trials, they would not be able to save their homeland. Even if everything else in the story had traveled along the same trajectory, the ring had been destroyed and evil ultimately defeated, if the four hobbits had not been prepared, this entire ending would’ve been different. They would not have had the skills they needed to finish the job and save their homeland.
I trust you might be able to look at your own life in a similar way albeit on a much less epic scale at least in my case. There are things in your past that were probably difficult, but looking back on them, you can see how they have bolded you into the person who is able to face what you’re facing right now. Middle Earth operate that way because it is a world driven by purpose, and if you can see it in your own life, that question must come back to you as well. Is our world driven by purpose as well? Is it the case that there is a Creator who has built the world in such a way that it is endowed with purpose?
I think the reason The Lord of the Rings resonates so well with me is because I can see a shadow of reality in it.
 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002), 996, Kindle Edition.