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"Return of the King" is the worthy climax to J.R.R. Tolkien's epic saga, the fantasy that created the genre as we know it today. Now, as the blockbuster movie adaptation is over, many readers are checking out the dramatic story that ends Tolkien's masterpiece, and the best known part of his life's work.

The story opens where "Two Towers" left off. Gandalf has ridden to the city of Gondor with Pippin (partly to keep him out of trouble), where the forces of Mordor are attacking. There is upheaval in the city itself, as the steward of Gondor is going nuts. Merry pledges his service to King Theoden of Rohan, not knowing what is ahead for the king and his relatives. And Aragorn is seeking out allies to fight Sauron on a military scale, even if they can't defeat him unless the Ring is destroyed. His search will take him to tribes of forest-dwellers, to Gondor -- and even to summon an army of the dead.

In Mordor, the unconscious Frodo has been captured by Sauron's orcs, and taken to the fortress of Cirith Ungol. Sam is desperate to free his friend, but knows that he can't take on an army, and that Frodo would want him to finish the quest. Sam manages to free Frodo from captivity, but they must still brave more dangers before they can come to Mount Doom, the only place where the Ring can be destroyed. As they travel Sam sees Frodo slipping further and further into the Ring's grasp. Will Frodo be able to destroy the Ring?

Usually, the climax of an epic adventure is a disappointment. "Return of the King" succeeds in almost every way, wrapping up each individual storyline, one by one. The ending has a feeling of finality; this is one story that could never have a sequel; Tolkien shows that in a war like this, there is no true "happy ending." Even if the good guys win, there will still be scarring, and death, and haunting memories of what once happened. And even if a person survives, he will never be the same.

This is the grimmest of the three books in this trilogy. Frodo and Sam are stuck in the vividly horrific Mordor, while the city of Minas Tirith is on the verge of completely crumbling. Tolkien does a phenomenal job of exploring the madness, despair, rage and sorrow that accompany a war, and the way it can affect even the idyllic Shire. And he doesn't forget the slow period of healing that follows -- for people, for civilizations, and even for nature.

Though a section of the book near the end descends into near-biblical prose, which changes post-Gondor, Tolkien does not waver in his ability to evoke emotion. One of the most touching scenes in the book is when Sam finds Frodo naked, unconscious and being beaten by an orc. Others include Merry's farewell to Theoden, Eowyn's slaying of the Witch-King, and of course the bittersweet final scene.

Speaking of Frodo, this trilogy's hero is almost unrecognizable in parts of this book. The bright, naive young hobbit of the first book has been worn down to a pale shadow of himself. As he grows increasingly attached to the Ring, we even see him doing what seems unimaginable: threatening Sam with a dagger. Sam has come a long way from the shy young hobbit who couldn't say a word around the High Elves -- now he's attacking orcs and carrying Frodo to Mount Doom.

And the supporting characters are not neglected either, with the younger hobbits being exposed to the horrors of war, Aragorn breaking fully into his role as the future king of Gondor, and passionate war-maiden Eowyn affecting the war as nobody else could. Some much-loved characters are lost, and others will be permanently changed.

The story doesn't really end on the last page; for more background, especially on Aragorn and Arwen, readers should also read the appendices at the end of the book. Another good addition is "The End of the Third Age," in which the unpublished epilogue of this book can be found. Though this is probably not canonical, it nicely concludes the story and is a heartwarming look at what happens in the years following "Return of the King."

It's difficult, once the story has finished, to accept that one has to say goodbye to Middle-Earth and its enchanting inhabitants. But as Gandalf says, "I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil."
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on February 3, 2016
Bought this from the Vanderbilt book reseller. Product took a while to arrive since I live out of the USA but it came in near-perfect condition. Staff answered my email regarding duties promptly and in a friendly manner. Flipped through it and saw no pen/pencil/highter/coffee markings at all.

The book itself has a nice weight to it and I enjoy the slightly larger print. Illustrations are gorgeous. I'm not a huge fan of the LOTR series but I quite enjoyed reading the first two series with these illustrations.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 23, 2013
This is the third volume in J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. It follows The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Be sure to read both of them first.

In the final volume the two main story lines reach their common end. The hobbits Frodo and Sam have been slowly working their way toward the volcano deep in Mordor where the ring can be destroyed. The other main characters and their allies converge by diverse paths on the city Gondor, where they will stand without hope against Sauron's invading armies. No matter what the outcome, there will be some who will not see each other again.

This book is necessary if you have read the first two volumes. In fact, it would take tremendous will power not to read it to see how the story ends. A warning if this is your first time through the trilogy. After finishing this book many readers experience a lingering melancholy, a sense of loss for a time. This seems to be only partially due to the story's events. Having traveled, suffered, and grown with the characters, you may miss them. There isn't any easy way to dispel this feeling. In time it will fade.
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"Return of the King" is the worthy climax to J.R.R. Tolkien's epic saga, the fantasy that created the genre as we know it today. Now, as the blockbuster movie adaptation is over, many readers are checking out the dramatic story that ends Tolkien's masterpiece, and the best known part of his life's work.

The story opens where "Two Towers" left off. Gandalf has ridden to the city of Gondor with Pippin (partly to keep him out of trouble), where the forces of Mordor are attacking. There is upheaval in the city itself, as the steward of Gondor is going nuts. Merry pledges his service to King Theoden of Rohan, not knowing what is ahead for the king and his relatives. And Aragorn is seeking out allies to fight Sauron on a military scale, even if they can't defeat him unless the Ring is destroyed. His search will take him to tribes of forest-dwellers, to Gondor -- and even to summon an army of the dead.

In Mordor, the unconscious Frodo has been captured by Sauron's orcs, and taken to the fortress of Cirith Ungol. Sam is desperate to free his friend, but knows that he can't take on an army, and that Frodo would want him to finish the quest. Sam manages to free Frodo from captivity, but they must still brave more dangers before they can come to Mount Doom, the only place where the Ring can be destroyed. As they travel Sam sees Frodo slipping further and further into the Ring's grasp. Will Frodo be able to destroy the Ring?

Usually, the climax of an epic adventure is a disappointment. "Return of the King" succeeds in almost every way, wrapping up each individual storyline, one by one. The ending has a feeling of finality; this is one story that could never have a sequel; Tolkien shows that in a war like this, there is no true "happy ending." Even if the good guys win, there will still be scarring, and death, and haunting memories of what once happened. And even if a person survives, he will never be the same.

This is the grimmest of the three books in this trilogy. Frodo and Sam are stuck in the vividly horrific Mordor, while the city of Minas Tirith is on the verge of completely crumbling. Tolkien does a phenomenal job of exploring the madness, despair, rage and sorrow that accompany a war, and the way it can affect even the idyllic Shire. And he doesn't forget the slow period of healing that follows -- for people, for civilizations, and even for nature.

Though a section of the book near the end descends into near-biblical prose, which changes post-Gondor, Tolkien does not waver in his ability to evoke emotion. One of the most touching scenes in the book is when Sam finds Frodo naked, unconscious and being beaten by an orc. Others include Merry's farewell to Theoden, Eowyn's slaying of the Witch-King, and of course the bittersweet final scene.

Speaking of Frodo, this trilogy's hero is almost unrecognizable in parts of this book. The bright, naive young hobbit of the first book has been worn down to a pale shadow of himself. As he grows increasingly attached to the Ring, we even see him doing what seems unimaginable: threatening Sam with a dagger. Sam has come a long way from the shy young hobbit who couldn't say a word around the High Elves -- now he's attacking orcs and carrying Frodo to Mount Doom.

And the supporting characters are not neglected either, with the younger hobbits being exposed to the horrors of war, Aragorn breaking fully into his role as the future king of Gondor, and passionate war-maiden Eowyn affecting the war as nobody else could. Some much-loved characters are lost, and others will be permanently changed.

The story doesn't really end on the last page; for more background, especially on Aragorn and Arwen, readers should also read the appendices at the end of the book. Another good addition is "The End of the Third Age," in which the unpublished epilogue of this book can be found. Though this is probably not canonical, it nicely concludes the story and is a heartwarming look at what happens in the years following "Return of the King."

It's difficult, once the story has finished, to accept that one has to say goodbye to Middle-Earth and its enchanting inhabitants. But as Gandalf says, "I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil."
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on September 7, 2012
As the last volume of the trilogy, the reader gets an end to the story, and in fact "The Return of the King" has several places where one could end, but for those who want to continue on past the end of Sauron, past the end of the War, etc., the story continues to the end of the Third Age. "The Return of the King" was originally published on October 20th of 1955. "The Lord of the Rings" was the last recipient of the International Fantasy Award for Fiction in 1957, it was also nominated for the Hugo for all-time series in 1966, and was nominated from 2002 through 2008 for the Prometheus Hall of Fame award, before winning it in 2009. As with the previous two volumes, this one contains two books.

Book V is titled "The War of the Ring" and it returns to the story of all those outside of the Ring Bearers. It starts with Gandalf and Pippin arriving at Minas Tirith to deliver the news to Denethor and takes us to the start of the battle in front of the Black Gate of Mordor. This book tells the story of a large number of characters. Only the ring-bearers are absent as characters, though they are certainly in the thoughts of those who fight the war.

Book VI is titled "The End of the Third Age", though it has also been called "The Return of the King" and similar to Book IV it is starts out focused on Frodo and Sam, with the specter of Gollum tagging along. Starting with Sam's daring rescue of Frodo, it continues with the two trying to make their way to Mount Doom. However, the changes less than a third of the way through the book, when their quest comes to an end, and the rest of the book involves all the characters again. Unlike many modern books and movies, the action doesn't end with the climax, and Tolkien takes his time telling the story of the aftermath of the war.

As with the previous books in the series when compared with the movie I personally prefer the book, though I have enjoyed the all the movies as well. However long the movies are, they are but condensed versions of the books, and if left unread, you will miss out on many significant characters and events, as well as be unaware of the changes made by those creating the movies from what was written originally. The movies were a valiant effort to bring this epic to the screen, and they honor Tolkien's overall story, but to fully appreciate what Tolkien created, you need to read the books.
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on June 11, 2001
In an epic conclusion to the Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King seizes you by the hand and guides you on a mystical journey filled with laughter, sadness, courage and some of the best descriptions ever in a book.
As the hobbits Frodo and Sam continue their treacherous journey deep into the foul land of Mordor, their fellow members of the fellowship (of the ring) hasten to aid Minas Tirith, Gondor's chief city and defense against Mordor, from the bound to be invasion by Sauron, the evil Dark Lord of Mordor.
Fate seems inevitable for Middle-earth, with Frodo and Sam being the last hope; to destroy the "one" ring of Sauron's power. To do this they must reach the heart of Morder, Mount Doom, and destroy the ring in the awesome "furnace" that once had created it, though the closer they get, the more powerful the ring becomes and Frodo's will starts to break down. Frodo and Sam must be wary of their furtive guide Gollum, who is the only one available through which they can find their way.
Back in Gondor, things are looking very bleak until Aragorn, the newfound king, returns with an undead army to re-conquer Minas Tirith from Mordor's wicked army. In a last ditch effort to reach Mount Doom, Frodo and Sam stagger to the imposing mountain past orcs, Gollum who betrayed them, and numerous other hurdles in their quest. Gollum plays a vital role in the destruction of the ring in the end, and Sauron falls.
In his third book of the series, Tolkien wonderfully concludes this magnificent story of fantasy and wonder. This is a very well written book, and I strongly recommend it to everyone.
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on February 22, 2002
This is the final book in the lord of the rings series. I personally would not say it was the best book but you have to read it to know if the ring has been destroyed or not. The fellowship is now even more scattered. Frodo has been captured and all gollums fault. Sam has the ring, luckily, and it is up to him to destroy it. Is he to faithful to his master not to destroy the ring but to go into the mist of danger and save Frodo? But trouble is brewing in the land of Gondor and Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas have been separated again from the hobbits. They are off to the dangerous Paths of the Dead. It is the fear Aragorn must face to save the ever brewing trouble in the middle earth. Merry is off with King Theoden to Gondor also but will he sneak into battle against his masters will? Will more of the fellowship perish in the end of this series? Find out by reading the conclusion to the lord of the rings series.
The only problem with this book was that J.R.R. Tolkien really stretched the book out a little too far. Otherwise it was a fantastic conclusion of this devastating series.
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on December 21, 2001
I somehow made it long past adolescence without reading THE LORD OF THE RINGS books. I read THE RETURN OF THE KING and the others (in order, of course) because I wanted to before the movies came out. Somehow I didn't get into these books as much as I felt I should. I found the battle scenes no less boring than the over-extended descriptions of journey. The smaller-scale conflict, especially the part of the story revolving around Frodo and Sam were more interesting, but requiring a greater suspension of disbelief. The climatic moment in the final book (more than 100 pages before the actual end of the book) was anti-climatic in the extreme, and while a friend of mine who is a devotee of these books found Sauron's lack of appearance to be "brilliant," I was disappointed. The evil faced by our heroes had a name, but no face, I guess (the move got around this by explaining that he is non-corporeal).
Still, the last 100 pages, essentially a post-script, brought the whole series together for me. The allegory was strongest, or at least most obvious, here. The hobbits are a race of Cincinatuses, only wanting to mind their own business. They are totally innocent and un-ambitious. That's why they were the only ones who could be trusted with the evil ring. At the same time, they were all too quick to accept authoritarian rule without question or resistance. Frodo lost his innocence to save the world, but a little loss of innocence was needed to save the hobbits from their own apathy. The message of the last part of the book is that evil must be engaged; those who hope to ignore evil will be suppressed like everyone else, and ultimately give in to its ways.
As for the battles and daring escapes, they didn't do it for me. Battle participants are often built up as Davids and Goliaths, with Goliath always losing because of David's will, luck, outside help, or reasons unexplained. Seldom do our heroes' wits or cleverness get them out of trouble, more often they are saved by eagles dropping out of the sky. Still I will miss these characters and enjoyed the movies. I'm actually thinking of re-reading THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. Maybe someday I'll re-read this one, too.
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on February 2, 2000
The Return of the King is the final part of The Lord of the Rings. In this last part the feeling of good versus evil reaches its pinnacle in LOTR. Tolkien gave incredible detail describing the War of the Ring, as it spanned several chapters. All of the characters are developed further, and for most of the TROTK, the story remains a two way split. TROTK has an amazing conclusion, and that is partly bad. Upon finishing the novel, I was sad that it was over, and I didn't want it to be over, because Middle-Earth is a great place to get lost in. You go on the journey that the Fellowship undertook, and feel everything that each member of the party felt. This is possible because throughout LOTR, Tolkien wrote vivid passages describing the regions of Middle-Earth, the characters, and what they were thinking. I read TROTK more slowly, because I wanted to stay longer than what the novel would allow. The four hobbits of the Fellowship become harden warriors, a trait that was virtually absent from their kind. Even though the novel finally came to a complete finish, it felt like it left room for more. It's to bad that there is no direct sequel, and while it answers most of the questions left from the end of The Hobbit, the reader can come up with plenty more questions upon finishing LOTR. Professor Tolkien did a work that was unexpected in its depth. He invented several REAL languages and writing systems, a complete history to back the novel, and created a wonderful world filled with diverse races and environments. Some fantasy authors may have tried to reach Tolkien's level in fantasy literature, but I am certain the The Lord of the Rings will never be duplicated. The Return of the King stands as the incredible conclusion of the greatest epic ever written. My only regret was that it ended.
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on December 14, 2001
I think this part of, "The Lord of the Rings," is the grandest part and has an epic ambience to it. In particular, the ascension of Aragorn to the Throne of Gondor and the other events in the south of Middle-Earth are evocative of early Middle Ages (c. 1000 AD) both in the pomp and circumstance of the feasts and ceremonies and in the speech of the characters.

Even though, "Fellowship of the Ring," is my favorite part of the story there are certain sections of the part that stand out in my memory. The concluding chapters, which have a royal and somewhat majestic feel, are:
The Field of Cormallen
The Steward and the King
Many Partings
One of the most famous chapters in, "The Lord of the Rings," is, "The Scouring of the Shire," where the four hobbits; Pippin, Merry, Frodo and Sam, return to the Shire (their homeland) after traveling around for over a year. Many have thought this chapter is some sort of comment on the effects of the industrial revolution on England; Tolkien has consistently denied that any events of the book are based on the real world.
One of the most endearing qualities of that chapter is the fact that the brave four hobbits lead a rebellion against Men (who in addition to being twice the height of the average hobbit, are much stronger) and corrupt hobbits. This is such a change from, "The Hobbit," and the depiction on the Shire in, "The Fellowship of the Ring," where the hobbits merely worry about food and live their lives in ease. The fact that their homeland was touched and damaged by the War of the Ring surprises the hobbits; they always expected to come back to find it unchanged.
Finally, the Elves, the oldest Race of Middle-Earth, depart and end the Third Age of the World. After the War and the departure of the Elves, the Fourth Age, the Age of Men begins. For those that are interested, there are several appendices at the end of this part that explains some of the background of the history, languages, characters and races of the novel.
As for why I love the novel so much, it is difficult to pin it down exactly. The sense of a simpler world without so much technology and bureaucracy, with mysterious forces moving about to do great deeds is part of it. So much of modern fiction is so dreary or mundane, that a bit of fantasy is good. The sense that the novel is a feigned history, almost mythical, is another endearing quality of the book, for I have always enjoyed reading history.
If you want to start reading, "The Lord of the Rings," either buy a single volume or buy it in the three parts. The story is continuous and there are not breaks as such between the parts.
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