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Book Review: The Lord of the Rings (Return of the King) by J.R.R. Tolkien


Book: The Lord of the Rings (Return of the King)

Published: 1949

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings began as a sequel to Tolkien’s 1937 fantasy The Hobbit. It wound up taking on a life of it’s own, with the author writing in stages between 1937 and 1949. It wound up being published as three separate volumes over the course of a year from July 29, 1954 to October 20, 1955. The three volumes are: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. The Lord of the Rings is considered to be one of the best-selling novels ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.white longCharacters:

  • Frodo Baggins – A Hobbit burdened with carrying the One Ring to Mt. Doom
  • Samwise Gamgee – Frodo’s stalwart companion
  • Gandalf the White – A wizard of great power on the side of good
  • Aragorn – The”Ranger” from Gondor marking his rightful return, an a Human of the Fellowship
  • Legolas – An Elf of the Fellowship
  • Gimli – A Dwarf of the Fellowship
  • Gollum – A hobbit turned by the One Ring into a creature of darkness, seeking his ‘Precious’ ring
  • Peregrin (Pippin) Took – A Hobbit of the Fellowship
  • Meriadoc (Merry) Brandybuck – A Hobbit of the Fellowship

Plot: The Return of the King continues with the intrepid group of heroes still moving forward with their individual quests. Gandalf and Pippin are making their way to Minas Tirith to try to convince Denethor, the city’s Steward to join their fight to defeat Sauron. Aragorn is taking the legendary Paths of the Dead to Gondor, accompanied by Legolas and Gimli where he hopes to recruit an enormous army of Sleepless Dead. Lady Eowyn and Merry lead their forces against those of Mordor. And Frodo and Sam along with the untrustworthy Gollum as their guide, are continuing their long journey to Mount Doom, where they hope to destroy the Ring, once and for all. After many sacrifices, the forces of Good are victorious and defeat the evil Sauron and his minions. The victory does not come without a cost however. While Aragorn, now King and Arwen join in marriage and usher in a new age of peace and prosperity, and the Hobbits return to the Shire to rebuild their beloved home, Frodo who has never recovered from his burden of the Ringquest decides to leave the Shire and his friends. He sails away over the Great Sea with Bilbo, Gandalf, and the other Ring bearers to the beautiful and peaceful paradise in the West.

The Moment In: The Lord of the Rings – Return of the King

Book Six – Chapter 9. The Grey Havens: For me, the outstanding moment in Tolkien’s masterpiece is when Frodo makes his heartbreaking decision and tells Sam. While they were successful in defeating Sauron, the end of the Third Age also ushers in the fading of the elves, the foreshadowing of the deterioration of men, and Frodo’s suffering and eventually passing from this world. Words can’t really do it justice apart from the actual text:

“But,” said Sam, and tears started in his eyes, “I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire. For years and years, after all you’ve done.”
“So I thought to0, once. But I’ve been too deeply hurt Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.”

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Why it Matters: This was such a beautiful and fitting end for Frodo who despite his small stature, wound up being the biggest hero of them all. His tortuous quest was almost too painful to read at times, yet with the help of Sam he persevered. As is true so often in real life, his journey’s end is bittersweet. Realizing he will never be able to recover fully and attain everlasting peace, Frodo makes the difficult decision to leave his friends and his beloved Shire. By making this decision Frodo not only sails away to paradise, but ensures the Shire and his friends will remain safe for years to come. He is the epitome of a true hero.

Kim is a contributing writer for That Moment Visit her website By Hook or By Book



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