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The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
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The Return of the King (original 1955; edition 1975)

by J.R.R. Tolkien

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27,84215636 (4.46)341
Member:jtpapa1974
Title:The Return of the King
Authors:J.R.R. Tolkien
Info:Ballantine Books (1975), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:****
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The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien (Author) (1955)

  1. 23
    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (PaperbackPirate)
    PaperbackPirate: contains many Lord of the Rings references
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[The Return of the King] is my least favorite of the books; it is easily the least focused. Be careful, that is a matter of the books as compared to each other. Tolkien exists outside literatures typical realms. But the last book in the series actually highlights some weaknesses that could be overlooked in the earlier books because the surrounding material was so superior. Here, at the end of the matter, Tolkien exposes himself a bit.

First –
[The Return of the King] – who needs a king? I mean, come on, these are the same countries of men who have repeatedly exposed their weakness to evil and greed. Now, a man appears with an historically important sword and some claims about his lineage, and everyone melts. And I’m not sure that Middle Earth is going to be safe and free of trouble under the reign of men – at least, not these men. Don’t get your mithril shirt in a bunch, Strider is an impressive man, one who I’d follow. Only Faramir rivals him in terms of judgment, leadership, and skill. But Strider is the more impressive iteration of Aragorn’s personalities. The élan and mystery is lost when he begins to prance about. And Faramir, while the more sensitive and understanding, lets that quality devolve into weakness too often. I’d just as soon see Gandalf or Galadriel unite the world and lead. For that matter, Samwise, who becomes the Shire potentate, would be a fine unified leader. I just don’t trust that the time of men has come in Middle Earth – and Tolkien has exposed himself here with his over emphasis on the men and the king story. Remember, it was the Fellowship that saved the world, and the man in the group was the one who first put the Fellowship in danger. I would have been okay with less men and more elves or wizards or dwarves.

Second –
Where are the ladies? When Eowyn finally quits listening to all of the men in her life, all trying to protect her from being who she is, well, she kicks some Ring Wraith patootie. And Eowyn is really the only strong female character who has any real place in the story, save Galadriel. You have to look into the appendices before you find much about Arwen, save a couple of conversations and some vague references in [The Fellowship]. Why wasn’t there a female in the Fellowship? Tolkien overlooked the ladies in all of the books, but exposes himself by writing such a wonderful passage with Eowyn in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, making it clear that there should have been more strong women along the way.

Finally –
For all of Tolkien’s gearing his characters up for battle, there is a pretty significant lack of battles in the books. The Battle of the Pelennor Fields and the Battle of Helms Deep are really the only ones. There are others that he skims through, and a bunch that he recounts through a character’s eyes after the fact. Couple that with the number of times that someone blows their horn or mounts a horse or grabs a shield and sword, and you start to feel a little cheated. Tolkien spends far too much time preparing for battle and not enough time in it – a little balance is needed. The same phenomenon appears when Tolkien begins peeling everyone off and having the characters saying goodbye. They say goodbye over dinner, then over breakfast, then on their horses, and then someone comes back and does it again.

[The Lord of the Rings] consumes you, sucks you in and won’t let you go, and that’s a good thing. The few criticisms I’ve offered are in the way of wanting more, wanting the experience to be perfect. But there are a rare few set of tales that can so capture your imagination; Tolkien was a master, if a little obsessive.

Bottom Line: Perhaps it is a melancholy for the way things began in Middle Earth, but, even with a new king, that world is a lesser place without Gandalf and the Elves and Frodo – maybe that’s why it’s hard to like this final chapter as much as the beginning.

4 bones!!!!! ( )
1 vote blackdogbooks | Apr 19, 2015 |
**If you haven’t read the book, just skip this review. I tried to avoid spoilers, but there is just too much to talk about.**

The final book in the trilogy holds many battles. Some are with hordes of orcs and others are battles of the will. One thing I’ve always loved about this series is that you can have the most incredible showdown on the battlefield, but those scenes are no more powerful than Sam picking up Frodo and doing all he can to carry him to Mount Doom.

In The Return of the King we get to see the brilliant triumph at Minas Tirith and then the loss of hope at the Black Gate when the Mouth of Sauron shows Gandalf Frodo's belongings. We see Sam and Frodo lose their strength and we finally understand the role that Gollum and had to play in the whole saga.

I love that this final installment reaches what you think is the climax of the story less than halfway through the book. Then the rest of the novel is about the reuniting of characters and a glorious return to all of their lands. I think that's indicative of the true focus of the story being more on the characters and less on the war. Once their goal is achieved and the war is over, their stories still continue.

Rereading the trilogy reminded me why I fell in love with it in the first place. Although I love the movies, the books have so much more depth and heart. I think the Battle of Bywater is a perfect example. Because of the sheer length of the final movie, it was completely left out, but it's in that scene that we see just how much our little hobbits have matured. Merry and Pippin are now brilliant warriors and Sam's become a leader willing to stand up against any foe. Frodo has found that above all he values peace and knows that mercy is much more valuable than revenge. His journey changed him in a different way than the other hobbits.

The scenes in the Shire made me think about World War II. The few that stood up to Hitler were immediately punished. Ruling that way instilled a fear in everyone else which made them easier to govern. The same happened in the Shire and so the hobbits stopped resisting their cruel leaders. I was glad that Gandalf didn't fight the battle with the hobbits. He left them to return to the Shire on their own because he knew they were ready to defend it themselves.

"He is a moss-gather, and I have been a stone doomed to rolling. But my rolling days are ending, and now we shall have much to say to one another." – Gandalf on leaving the hobbits to visit Bombadil.

There are a few interactions between Sam and Rosie at the end of the book that I just love. When they meet back up in the Shire they were adorable with each other. After everything that Sam had been through I couldn’t help smile when he gets the girl in the end.

BOTTOM LINE: I have a feeling I'll never tire of returning to Middle Earth and I'll certainly never let 13 years go by between rereadings again! I'll always have more to learn from these rich characters. Tolkien tells so many beautiful stories within this trilogy and I got even more out of it the second time around.

"'I do not fear either pain or death. What do you fear, lady?' he asked.
'A cage,' she said. 'To stay behind bars, until use an old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.'"

“In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm.”

“Though here at journey's end I lie in darkness buried deep, beyond all towers strong and high, beyond all mountains steep, above all shadows rides the Sun and Stars for ever dwell: I will not save the Day is done, nor bid the Stars farewell.”

“And the journey's finished. But after coming all that way I don't want to give up yet. It's not like me, somehow, if you understand.” – Sam

"I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil." - Gandalf

A few tidbits where the book differs from the film:
- The beacons of Gondor were already lit before Gandalf and Pippin got to Minas Tirith.
- Only 13 days pass between Boromir's death and the beginning of the fifth book when we meet Denethor.
- Beregond is part of the city guard and he shows Pippin around the city. In the end he’s the one who saves Faramir by blocking the door from the guards when they're trying to burn the pyre.
- Aragorn is the one who heals Faramir, Eowyn, and Merry. He has the gift of healing and he’s the one who saves their lives.
- Eowyn takes a different name when she pretends to be a man in the Rohirrim.
- Sam is tempted by the ring and wants to go off on his own for a moment when he sees himself in a place of power. Even Sam couldn't resist the temptation for a second.

Appendix Notes:
I've always loved the appendices as well for the light they shine on the history of the characters, especially Arwen and Aragorn. Here’s a few other bits of info that they include…

- Galadriel is Arwen's grandmother. Whoa!
- Elrond's father was a man and Elrond's chose to be of Elven-kind.
- Gollum had the Ring for more than 450 years when Bilbo found it.
- Sam's daughter, Goldilocks, married Pippin's son Faramir!
- Arwen was more than 2,700 years old when she and Aragorn first met. Talk about a cougar!
- Sam went to the Grey Havens at the end of his life and passed over the sea after his wife Rose died.
- Leogalas built a ship and sailed over the sea with Gimli after Aragorn died. ( )
  bookworm12 | Mar 23, 2015 |
[The Return of the King] by [[JRR Tolkien]] The phrase "modern classic" is oxymoronic, yet applicable in the case of Tolkien's masterwork. Now over sixty years old, it is as popular as ever. It is the standard by which all fantasy is judged. Listening to this audio version, I'm struck by some of the subtleties of the work: 1) The emergence of Merry and Pippin as lords and princes among the hobbits is ironic, considering how foolish they appeared at the beginning. It is not merely coming of age, but also a comment upon how lords and princes arise in history: from lowly, humble people who do what has to be done. 2) The role of Frodo as a sacrifice of a hobbit for hobbits. He gave up his pleasure in the Shire to save the Shire. Along with Gandalf and Aragorn, he is another metaphor for Jesus Christ. 3) The similarities between the end of Sauron and the end of Saruman. Both were originally maiar, a lower level of angels, below the Valar, the equivalent of archangels. Sauron was caught up in the rebellion of Melkor, later named Morgoth. He may have been deceived at first, but he threw himself wholeheartedly into evil by the time of Numenor in the 2nd age. Saruman was a good maiar, sent in human form as a wizard, along with the other wizards, to fight Sauron. He fought many years, but settled down in Isengard and turned first selfish and then evil, perhaps aided and twisted by Sauron's influence through the palantir. Both turned into clouds upon their deaths, which rose up and disappeared.

I didn't review the plot, since it is familiar to many, and those who have not read or listened, should do so on their own, beginning with the Hobbit. Afterward, read the Similarion, if you want more backstory. Five stars, as I rate all books that have stayed popular for over 50 years and will probably be popular in another 50 years. ( )
  jjvors | Mar 14, 2015 |
One amazing end to a great fantansy ( )
  durgaprsd04 | Feb 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
Nobody seems to have a moderate opinion: either, like myself, people find it a masterpiece of its genre or they cannot abide it . . . The demands made on the writer's powers in an epic as long as 'The Lord of the Rings' are enormous . . . but I can only say that Mr. Tolkien has proved equal to them.
 

» Add other authors (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tolkien, J. R. R.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andersson, ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beagle, Peter S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blok, CorCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Domènech, LuisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaughan, JackCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hildebrandt, GregCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hildebrandt, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horne, MatildeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howe, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Inglis, RobNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juva, KerstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, AlanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ohlmarks, ÅkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olsson, LottaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pekkanen, PanuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuchart, MaxTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the shadows lie.
Dedication
First words
Pippin looked out from the shelter of Gandalf's cloak. He wondered if he was awake or still sleeping, still in the swift-moving dream in which he had been wrapped so long since the great ride began.
Quotations
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
J.R.R. Tolkien's complete work The Lord of the Rings consists of six Books, frequently bound in three Volumes, as follow:

Volume I: The Fellowship of the Ring, consisting of Book 1, "The Ring Sets Out" and Book 2, "The Ring Goes South";
Volume II: The Two Towers, consisting of Book 3, "The Treason of Isengard," and Book 4, "The Ring Goes East"; and
Volume III: The Return of the King, consisting of Book 5, "The War of the Ring," and Book 6, "The End of the Third Age," with Appendices.

This LT Work consists of Volume III, The Return of the King; please do not combine it with any other part(s) or with Tolkien's complete work, each of which have LT Works pages of their own. Thank you.

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While the evil might of the Dark Lord Sauron swarmed out to conquer all Middle-earth, Frodo and Sam struggled deep into Mordor, seat of Sauron’s power. To defeat the Dark Lord, the accursed Ring of Power had to be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. But the way was impossibly hard, and Frodo was weakening. Weighed down by the compulsion of the Ring he began finally to despair.
Haiku summary
Frodo destroys Ring/
Sauron gone forever more/
Carry on, dear Sam
(amaedel)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345339738, Mass Market Paperback)

The prequel to The Lord of the Rings—The Hobbit—is now a major motion picture directed by Peter Jackson
 
THE GREATEST FANTASY EPIC OF OUR TIME
 
While the evil might of the Dark Lord Sauron swarms out to conquer all Middle-earth, Frodo and Sam struggle deep into Mordor, seat of Sauron’s power. To defeat the Dark Lord, the One Ring, ruler of all the accursed Rings of Power, must be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. But the way is impossibly hard, and Frodo is weakening. Weighed down by the compulsion of the Ring, he begins finally to despair.
 
The awesome conclusion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, beloved by millions of readers around the world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:16 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

While the evil might of the Dark Lord Sauron swarmed out to conquer all Middle-earth, Frodo and Sam struggled deep into Mordor, seat of Sauron's power. To defeat the Dark Lord, the accursed Ring of Power had to be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, but the way was impossibly hard and Frodo was weakening. Weighed down by the compulsion of the Ring, he began finally to despair.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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