The Return of the King: Being theThird Part of the Lord of the Rings

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Hardcover, 1988

Call number



Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (1988), Edition: 2 Rep Sub, 448 pages


Fantasy. Fiction. The evil Saruman has been defeated by Gandalf, but in Mordor the battle for the Ruling Ring continues. Wounded by the giant spider, Shelob, Frodo has been captured by the dreaded orcs. Sam, alone and in possession of the Ring, must rescue his master if their mission - to find the Cracks of Doom, and there destroy the Ring - is to continue. Meanwhile, the other Fellowship members are preparing for war against the armies of the Dark Lord, Sauron... Widely regarded as a broadcasting classic, the BBC Radio dramatisation of 'The Lord of the Rings' stars Ian Holm, Michael Hordern, Robert Stephens, John Le Mesurier and Peter Woodthorpe.

Media reviews

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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member ChocolateMuse
Warning to those out there who haven't read it - I cannot discuss this book without what may be considered as major spoilers.

Tolkien does not flag at any point in this epic story. He's also the master of the slow reveal, so that as the story goes on, and particularly in the demoument (which is
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pretty lengthy), we as the reader shift back and back, and slowly come to realise the immensity of the story, and the vastness of what has just been going on. The fact that an Age has come to an end, and the Elves and Gandalf just disappear from Middle Earth never to return, gives a sense of sadness and loss amid the victory. And with Sam left bereft of Frodo after all he did for him, well, I admit it: I cried.

I'm not sure what I think about the communist/fascist angle that suddenly emerges on returning to the Shire. I felt for a while as if I'd wandered into Animal Farm by mistake. It felt a bit like Tolkien was labouring a political point too obviously at that point. But from the story point of view, within the confines of Middle Earth, that part of the story was still absorbing, complex and heroic like the rest of the book.

I appreciated Eowyn's part in the book - woman as a hero, sensitively portrayed. I like how her character has a whole story of its own, though she is not one of the Fellowship.

Merry and Pippin really emerge as characters in this last book - it takes them a while, but once they do, they are truly awesome.

I like how once Frodo achieves his quest, he is spent, and becomes just a shadow for the rest of the book. It's sad, and more realistic than a 'happily ever after' would have been. His burden truly was too great, and the wound he took really did have a lasting effect. This works so well, and takes the story far beyond any last hint of the 'fairytale'.

The scene at Mount Doom is magnificent. I gasped out loud while reading it. The Gollum event is predictable yet inevitable. The eagles coming afterwards, despite their use earlier in the book and Gandalf's role, still feel a bit too much like deus ex machina for my liking, but that's a petty argument. I loved it. All of it. I don't really want to find any fault with it.

I feel like saying I'm sorry I took so long to discover the incredibleness of LoTR, but actually, I think this was the exact right time for me to discover it. Greater than fantasy, much more than escapism, vastly huge and yet masterfully intimate, this is indeed a work of genius.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
The first thing I should say for those unfamiliar with it, is that The Return of the King isn't a self-contained book, one of three in a trilogy, but the third volume of what was conceived as one novel--thus when you look to the table of contents you'll see it starts with "Book V" and in some
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editions the page count starts at over 700.

The Lord of the Rings is a "must-try" for anyone who likes fantasy if not a must-read. Not everyone I know who has tried it loves it, but as someone who has read widely in the fantasy genre, I can tell you no novel is more influential in post-World War II high fantasy and there are authors, particularly Brooks and Jordan, whose fantasy novels come across as cheap imitations--especially having tackled both those authors recently. The work repays second and third readings because of the depth Tolkien gives his world of Middle Earth. According to the introduction, Tolkien had worked out an entire history for Middle Earth before he'd ever written the first volume and it shows. Other made-up worlds seem like painted trees on a drape--Tolkien's trees have roots. At the end of Return of the King, you'll find appendixes including notes on language, maps, and family trees as well as an index.

Some complain of Tolkien's style. And I remember once seeing his prose as stiff, although this time I was mostly impressed with its readability and the glints of humor, at least in Fellowship of the Ring. But when the fellowship splits after Fellowship of the Ring and especially when the hobbits disappear from the narrative, Tolkien often goes into heroic saga mode. Out of characters' mouths come out words like: verily, alas, forsooth, ere, aught, oft, nay, yonder, thee and thy. This only increases in the first book of Return of the King much of which reads like the love child of the King James Bible and Beowulf. I think that is what contributes to the reputation of The Lord of the Rings as stiff (and those songs--which I skip over.)

There are antique touches even in Fellowship of the Ring--like Gimli's adoration of Galadriel and how female characters are depicted--notable for their beauty than any other quality. (Although Galadriel is certainly more than a pretty face.) But then there's Eowyn. According to the index at the end of the last book, she can be found on 44 pages of this thousand-plus page novel--and that's more than any other female character other than Galadriel. All but 7 of those pages are in Return of the King where she's the most prominent female character. At first she shapes up to be a kick-ass heroine. Aragorn asks her what she fears and she answers "a cage." She wants to fight--to do "great deeds."

And she does. And certainly when she faces an enemy who tells her no living man can hinder him, her answer, "But no living man am I. You look upon a woman," my inner feminist wanted to cheer. But in the end, her ambition and courage is seen as a sickness, and she's healed and "tamed" by the love of a man and declares she "will be a shieldmaiden no longer" but a healer. Goodness knows in this novel war is shown to do damage--and those words wouldn't be out of place having come from Frodo's mouth. And it could be seen as healthy to turn from death to life, from war to peaceful pursuits. But something in the context--of an ambitious woman now "tamed" and happily caged, made me gag, maybe all the more because Eowyn is the only female character with a heroic dimension.

On the other hand, some of the most memorable and powerful passages come from Return of the King (including Eowyn's heroic deed). Particularly chapters such as "The Pyre of Denethor" and the first three chapters of Book VI dealing with Frodo, Sam and Gollem in Mordor are striking. And though it's not a favorite chapter and might seem out of place to some, I rather appreciate what I think is the message of "The Harrowing of the Shire" (beyond the anti-industrial message.) Tolkien doesn't end with martial triumphalism, but with the displacement and damage of war--of how a veteran feels to find his home changed on return and that not all wounds heal.

Not everything is equally engrossing. Generally, I liked the choices of cuts and compressions the film made. My eyes glazed over at the frequent songs and I skipped over them. So yes, I have my share of criticisms. But so much shines in this novel--not all of which riches you're going to get by watching only the movie.
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LibraryThing member reading_fox
The third and final part of the trilogy comprising of books 5 and 6 as originally written and, at least in this edition, a substantial Appendix - fully a third of the page count. If you've got this far then you've come to grips with the language, you've loved or skipped the songs (not many more to
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go) and you just want to see how it ends.

Book 5 is perhaps the most exciting part of the story. Once again it deals solely with the fates of the companions. War is coming to the human stronghold of Minas Tirith, although no longer ruled by the kings of old, it is still their citadel overseen by the powerful Steward Denathor father of Boromir and Faramir. He is upset over the loss of one son and not pleased with the conduct of the other. The arrival of Gandalf and Pippin on Shadowfax is one ray for the forces of Light, but Aragorn must lead the others, and poor Merry is almost overlooked again. Having defeated the first and least of the hosts of Mordor at grievious cost, thoughts turn to Frodo and Sam. Aragorn decides to challenge the Black Gate itself in order to clear their way.

Book six opens with Sam desperate to find and rescue his master after the terrors of Shelob's lair - he was unconscious not dead! Together they crawl, creap and grovel their way thorugh yet more stoney mountains. Thank goodness for the lack of swamps! Until at last in a very contrived sense of timing, (a hallmark of the trilogy) the plot is resolved at the Cracks of Doom. Fortunetly for cynics everywhere Frodo is not too heroic. There is a great reference back to the Hobbit for sharp eyed readers. Yet another example of the terrific detail that makes LoTR such a definative work. Merry could only overcome the King of Angmar with the blade picked up by chance in the barrows some 1000 pages earlier, yet little reference is made to this. Whence Eowyn came by such a blade is one of the few (very very few) plotholes.

There are many discussions on the meaning of the final chapters, but whatever else they may be, they are certainly a definative ending with all the loose ends tied up (apart from the Entings - what was seen on the moors and discussed in the Green Dragon way back at book 1?). This is a referreshing change form many more modern writers who prefer to leave the ends sufficiently loose for future sequels. JRR and no plans to write any more. The appendix is fascinating, and if you thoroughly enjoy it, then you should to go on and read the various works of Christopher Tolkein - The Silmarillion and all the rest. If however partial fragments of old history and re-written and changed plot evolutions, tales of descendants etc leave you cold then you can fearlessly skip the whole lot.

At times it is a very sad tale. At times magnificant and elsewhere boring. Much like life. Read it, and revel in the artistry of a story and world written and composed over a lifetime. You won't find the like again.
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LibraryThing member deslni01
Tolkien wraps up the final volume in the Lord of the Rings "Trilogy" (technically it should not have been a trilogy) rather quickly. The majority of this book is appendices to help flush-out and enrich the world of Middle-Earth. It includes histories, songs, genealogical trees and the various
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languages through Middle-Earth to help strengthen one of the most fully complete and interesting worlds of fantasy. But more importantly, it finalizes the epic journey to Mordor and the defense of Middle-Earth from Sauron.

One very interesting aspect of LotR is how a reader may perceive certain characters if she re-reads the trilogy at different junctures of her life. Faramir really caught my attention, this time around, as did his father Lord Denethor. The actions of other characters seem weaker or just out-right goofy (Aragorn yelling his fifteen names every time he meets someone). But the last time I read the books my thoughts were different - and they will be the next time, I am sure.

Regardless of any downfalls - the very few of them there are - this is an epic journey that no one should go without reading. It is a fantastic story of adventure, courage, compassion, morality and out-right fun. Absolutely fantastic.
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LibraryThing member Narilka
Then Elrond and Galadriel rode on; for the Third Age was over and the Days of the Rings were passed and an end was come of the story and song of those times.

Finishing this series always makes me sad. I'm never quite ready for the journey to end. Even writing this review has made me a bit melancholy
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as it reinforces the story is done for now. Even so, Tolkien's tale of hope is just what I needed to read, to be my light during our own dark times, a reminder that darkness is but passing and it cannot endure.

This book has so many great moments. The battle for Gondor is epic. Eowyn and Merry facing down the Wraith King. Sam carrying Frodo when Frodo couldn't go on. Ghan-buri-ghan! The Paths of the Dead. Frodo and Gollum and the Ring. Theoden's tragic death. Denethor's madness. If I was to list them all out, I'd be here all day.

One thing I appreciated this time around is how the story comes full circle, showing the growth of the four hobbits who left the Shire and have come back changed. It's a shame the impact of this is left out of the movies.

It should be noted that the final third of this book is devoted to appendices. While I skimmed through them a little as I read the story, I did not read them word for word on this read through. The end of Appendix B contains the highlights of "what happened after" for those of the Fellowship who remained behind. It was nice to see what everyone was up to after the main story.

I really need to do a full movie re-watch soon. And not wait so long for my next series reread.
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LibraryThing member anandrajan
Atrocious. Horrible book. Retro-romantic medieval crap fueled most probably by racism and white man's burden.
LibraryThing member XIIIAxel
This book is the third book of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord Of The Rings", and it's amazing!
I like this book because it adds a lot of detail and has very interesting characters, like their races, such as an elf, hobbit, or dwarf.
This book has a lot of imagry in it, and it commonly adds a few events
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that you would not expect (such as in the previous books, those who have read, you know what I am talking about).
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fiction, a descriptive, moderately challenging book with a good plot.
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LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
I cannot understand why Peter Jackson did not like the section on the scouring of the Shire. This gets a bit high-minded, and starts to sound a bit artificial, like contrived epic, but overall it holds together wonderfully, and brings the little buggers home with style.
LibraryThing member Crowyhead
A magnificent ending to a fantastic trilogy. This particular edition has gorgeous paintings by Alan Lee, many of which served as inspiration for the sets and artwork in the films. It's really worthwhile to invest in the expensive edition, I think, if you're like me and plan on re-reading and
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keeping this book forever.
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LibraryThing member ex_ottoyuhr
If _The Two Towers_ started the tradition of the dark middle story, _The Return of the King_ started that of the idiotic third part -- although mercifully without muppet crimelords, savage insurgent teddy-bears, highly unexpected sisters, or protocol droids.

The first half of the book is just
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insultingly obvious melodrama heaped on insultingly obvious melodrama (does anyone seriously expect Sauron to _win_? I certainly didn't, though I almost reached the point of rooting for him), and as a bonus throws into sharp relief the moral problems with having an entire species of sapient beings who it's just fine to slaughter. The first five books of the second half are an impressive stylistic accomplishment: Tolkien sets out to write a narrative that it's almost impossible to slog through, matching Frodo and Sam's experience, and succeeds. A little too well, I suspect...

The denoument in the south is pretty unsatisfactory, but we probably all know by now that Tolkien originally had rather different matrimonial plans for the new king of Gondor. (Hint: Who does Eowyn fall in love with at first sight?) The Scouring of the Shire, however, _works_ -- almost well enough to redeem the rest of the book. _Here_ is a conflict that he really knows how to do, and it feels exceptionally solid, credible, all-around good -- and the reader realizes that maybe he didn't want the smug little hobbits to get what they had coming to them after all. Between the miserable, and self-sustained though arguably not self-inflicted, condition of Saruman, and the all-around awkward position of the hobbits, this is a chapter that gives the lie to claims that _The Lord of the Rings_ is entirely black and white.

Of course, the rest of this book really *is* entirely black and white, but even so...
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LibraryThing member Lindsey_M
I was very pleased with the Return of the King. So much is revealed in this book. The ending was perfect. I could not imagine it any other way.
LibraryThing member tipsister
RR Tolkien was a literary genius in how he created his world. He didn't just place characters in a fantasy land, he came up with time lines, family trees, Middle-Earth history, and a whole language. It boggles the mind. I am a struggling writer -struggling to get the words out -and I have no idea
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how someone can do what he did. I find myself lost in thought, plotting my own characters, but they live in the real world. I wonder how Mr. Tolkien spent his day. I'm sure there's info out there on his life, I just haven't pursued it.

I love the book, I was sad that it was over. I wanted to continue with life in the Shire. I want to know more about Merry, Pippin and dear Sam. I didn't quite cry, but I came close.

Let me gush over Sam. For one thing, he was masterfully played by Sean Astin in the film. Genius casting there. The last half of this book was Sam's story. It had started out as Frodo's. Frodo had the ring, it was his job to destroy it, and everyone else was supporting. By the third book, Frodo was lost. The ring had taken him away and he was but a shell. The story was told through Sam's eyes and it was beautiful. Sam was the one who kept them going. His devotion to his Master Frodo is as lovely as any tale of friendship there is.
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LibraryThing member rincewind1986
perfection pure and simple, should have 6 stars. enough said.
LibraryThing member penguinhoarder
The Return of the King is a fantasy/adventure novel. It is about a war that is going on between the evil Sauron and the rest of Middle-Earth (the location the book takes place in). Sauron is searching for the Ring of Power, and the rest of Middle-Earth is trying to destroy it. They have sent out
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Frodo, the main character, and eight others to make sure the job gets done. Sam, Frodo's used-to-be-gardner and now-companion, and Frodo are in Mordor (the country where Sauron is). They are trying to get the Ring to the place where it was made to get rid of it once and for all, while the seven others of the original Company are attempting to buy Sam and Frodo time to get it done.
I really enjoyed this book. It is well written, but one thing bugs me. It is how he chooses to tell the different points of view in the story. In Book Five (the first part of the Return of the King) the story is not focused on Sam and Frodo, and in Book Six it is. When it the point of view "switched" back to Frodo and Sam, it was like going back in time which really confused me. The book also uses old English, which did not bother me but it could bug others. The plot was interesting and it had a few interesting twists. Overall, this was a very good book.
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LibraryThing member jjohlend
The final part of The Lord of the Rings recounts the last stand of the forces of good against the Dark Lord and the rebirth of hope in the decimated Middle Earth. The world of Middle Earth is as richly described by Tolkien as ever, and the appendices provide those truly interested in the world a
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massive amount of back story and guides that those only here for the main story can safely skip. The diverse set of characters is as rich as ever, and the many separate plots all come to satisfying conclusions. The narration of the audio book, done by Rob Inglis, brings the characters to life with interesting voices, although some may find the singing of the songs within the book to be rather unpleasant to the ears. This trilogy has endured for a long while, and the strength of this final volume shows just how powerful a story it is that will remain on many "must read" lists for time to come.
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LibraryThing member Darthtony0
Book one of The Return of the King
As Aragorn and his party comes out of Isengard, the Rangers of the North come and tell Aragorn that he neads to hurry to stop the war that is raging in Minis Trieth. As he leaves the king Theoden with Merry, Gandalf and Pippin are ariving into Minias Trieth as
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Sarons army marches twords the Capitol of Gondor. Aragorn and the few men that went with him rode all the way to the Rohan to take the fastest way, and to gather an army of dead soldiers to take the rivers back. King Theoden then rides to Minas Triethand charges the advancing army. The army recoils for a little wile, but they lose their leader as he is stabbed in the head by Eowin. As the armies charge each other again, the sails of the corasairs come and attack with their crew with Aragorn in the lead. After the war, Aragorn takes a Army of six thousand to come and fight aginst the armies of Saron at the black gate.
I liked this book because it was breath taking how detailed all of the seans were and how graet the battles were.
Book two of The Return of the King
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LibraryThing member aang2014
This book was amazing, it has a very good story line. Tolkien is very good at depicting the characters and battle's that are in the book. J.R.R. Tolkien is also a genius for the languages he created in the books. I definitely recommend this book to anyone that is above13 years of age. Make sure you
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have the time for it though (it took me 2 months to read), if you don't the audio book works just as good (Rob Ingles does the best job of reading the book).
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LibraryThing member susanbevans
The world J.R.R. Tolkien has created is simply breathtaking. It was hard to say goodbye to Middle-Earth once I'd finished the trilogy, but I know I'll be back again someday.
LibraryThing member gbill
The last book of the trilogy was anti-climactic for me. It also drags on way too long, both in the buildups to critical moments, and in their aftermath. I suppose my main beef with Tolkien, with apologies to his legions of devoted fans, is that he spent a lot of effort creating this world, its
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geography, its history, its language, and described all of it, often tediously, to the nth degree – and not enough effort creating more dimensionality to his characters. The fight between good and evil is too black and white (literally as well, which was unfortunate), the emotions are too simple, and there was not nearly enough behind the life (and death) of Sauron. That and there was way too much walking. :p

On the other hand, the book is quite an adventure story. Tolkien did a clever thing in figuring out how to put the Ring, which was of such singular importance (indeed, destroy-or-fail), in the hands of Frodo, a simple young Hobbit, by giving it the insidious power of seduction. Isn’t that what power does, after all, seduce us? There are mighty wizards and mighty warriors, but in this case innocence is what’s wanted, and the humble must also summon their courage and rise to the occasion. Of course, in the ultimate moments even Frodo succumbs to the ring, but thank goodness for Gollum, who was the novel’s best character.

For me, in one sense this is a parable about growing up, about being brave enough to confront Evil and even more importantly, not being tempted by it. It’s about sticking together, and brotherhood amongst those of differing backgrounds, for there is strength in diversity. It’s about having hope and faith despite what appear to be insurmountable odds. It’s telling to me that the hobbits are stronger and a couple of them are literally taller when they return to the Shire, and at that point they are more than capable of fighting their own battles. What parent could want more for their kids at the end of childhood’s journey?

I do love it for inspiring reading in so many people, including friends, and I’m glad for having finally read it myself, decades after my misspent and obviously deprived youth. Now perhaps the movies will make some sense. :)

Tolkien again creates some creepy adversaries; this one stood out for me:
“The great shadow descended like a falling cloud. And behold! it was a winged creature; if bird, then greater than all other birds, and it was naked, and neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers; and it stank. A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, lingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eeyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed. Down, down it came, and then, folding its fingered webs, it gave a croaking cry, and settled upon the body of Snowmane, digging in its claws, stooping its long naked neck.”

On love unrequited:
“Then Eomer was silent, and looked on his sister, as if pondering anew all the days of their past life together. But Aragorn said: ‘I saw also what you saw, Eomer. Few other griefs amid the ill chances of this world have more bitterness and shame for a man’s heart than to behold the love of a lady so fair and brave that cannot be returned. Sorrow and pity have followed me ever since I left her desperate in Dunharrow and rode to the Paths of the Dead; and no fear upon that way was so present as the fear for what might befall her.”

Lastly, on hope, with one of my favorite lines and images ‘there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach’…
“Then at last, to keep himself awake, he crawled from the hiding-place and looked out. The land seemed full of creaking and cracking and sly noises, but there was no sound of voice or of foot. Far above the Ephel Duath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master’s, ceased to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo’s side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep and untroubled sleep.”
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LibraryThing member danBerk
The Return of the King is far and away the best book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In this third chapter, the events of the other two books come together as the land of middle earth is plunged into all out war between Sauron and his orcs and the pitifully fragile humans. Frodo continues his
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journy to destroy the ring of power while facing trickery from the devlish Gollum/Smeagol. Meanwhile, Sauron is putting together an army to destroy all humans left, focusing on Gondor's capital of Minas Tirith, and with the help of his Nazgul Witch-King, almost succeds in doing so. However, just in the nick of time, Aragorn shows up with an undead army to overwhelm Sauron's forces and restore hope that men will survive, as Frodo grows ever closer to destroying thier source of pain. Finally, after a long and ardous journey, Frodo makes it to Mount Doom, where he casts the ring into its fire, destroying it once and for all. After this success, Aragorn is rightfully named king and Frodo and his hobbit friends return to the shire, only to discover it has been taken over by Saruman, an evil wizard. After a brief uprising they manage to take back thier home, and they can finally live in peace. While the movie adaptaion of this book is ceartainly very good, it leaves much left out, and anyone who was intrested by the movie should definetley read the book as it is truly a classic
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LibraryThing member hlselz
Amazing books that focus on humanity. What it means to be human and human nature. These books inlude all of them classical story themes, including good vs. evil, love, hope, god, morals, friendship, mortality, ect ect ect.
LibraryThing member Wanderlust_Lost
The third and final installment of Lord of the Rings. A gorgeous book that I hardly need to talk up.
LibraryThing member jd234512
What more can really be said about this? Although it seemed to resolve in a rather fast manner compared the rest of the epic, it was delivered in such an excellent manner that it still worked. The ending is quite lovely and makes me want to be a hobbit, shortcomings included, so long as I got to
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live in the shire
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LibraryThing member LotRchica
A lot of people are complaining about there not being enough battles in LotR. Well you know what? Personally, I think that Tolkien had enough of war to last him a life time, so I'm pretty sure he isnt going to go write about people dieing and being wounded and the horrors of war more than he has
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to. And the racisim bit, I higly doubt that it was written to show racisim, show me some proof that Professor Tolkien was a rasist man and maybe I'll consider it.

Clarly, The Lord of the Rings is the best fantasy series ever written. Every single fantasy book that has been written after it will carry at least one Tolkien inspired plot point, or character or paragraph, or sentence. There is no getting away from it.

Tolkien has written these books in such a way, that its indescribeable. Lyrical, poetic, moving, dramatic, sad, realistic. Everything.
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LibraryThing member nillacat
A fantasy classic. I wonder how many people who have seen and enjoyed the movies made it throught the books though... I imagine the books are most attractive to people who share some of Tolkien's passion for linguistics, European mythology, the Norse Sagas. Although I'm one of those, I stalled out
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in the second and third books the first two times I started the trilogy, and didn't really appreciate it until I read them as an adult (and, to be honest, I liked both the Silmarillion and the Hobbit better - the Hobbit was more fun, and the Silmarillion was more hardcore mythological.)
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