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The Return of the King

The third volume of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic 3-part fantasy novel, first published in 1955.

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The Inspiration for the Final Fantasy Games (part 3)

  • Mar 14, 2002
Pros: Will whisk you off to a wonderful fantasy world and never bring you back

Cons: Don't start reading it during finals week

The Bottom Line: Middle-earth is a nice place. I suggest you vacation there sometime.

Well, I did it. It took me two long months of fighting with school and work, but I finally did it. I finally finished the third part of J.R.R. Tolkien's legendary Lord of the Rings trilogy. And I am now officially a Lord of the Rings fan.

I remember back when I wrote my review on the first book, The Fellowship of the Ring, someone left a comment (now erased) on it complaining about how I compared Lord of the Rings to the Final Fantasy series in the title of the review. I didn't compare it, first of all, my title is just a reference to the similarities between the two, but I'm not going to quibble about that detail right now. But the fact is: Anyone who's played Final Fantasy is going to note those similarities, especially after reading Return of the King, because this book is like the last leg of any Final Fantasy game: The villain is dangerously close to reaching his ultimate goal, the world in general is in total chaos, and the roles of the heroes, once troublesome thorns in the villain's side, have been reduced to little more than worker ants at a picnic-nothing more than tiny, insignificant pests that can easily be crushed.

In Return of the King, the forces of darkness are all out in the world now, conquering every bit of land that they touch and crushing those who resist. When we join our heroes, we find Gandalf and Pippin riding full speed ahead into Minas Tirith, where Pippin swears his allegiance to the king. In the meantime, back with the Riders of Rohan, Merry swears his allegiance to King Theoden. The first part of the book basically follows the adventures of the two hobbits, as the Riders of Rohan slowly make their way toward Minas Tirith, the people of which are defending themselves against Sauron's relentless onslaughts. After the Riders finally reach Minas Tirith and help the people drive out Sauron's army, the forces of Minas Tirith and Rohan mobilize and set out for Mordor.

Back in Mordor, Sam sets out to rescue Frodo. Afterwards, the two continue on the dark, craggly path to Mount Doom, where the Ring-bearer finally throws the One Ring into the Cracks of Doom, thus fullfilling his quest and driving Sauron's forces back into the shadows. Afterward, Frodo's stops on the way home include Rivendell and Bree.

Return of the King is the most action packed novel in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, due mainly to the fact that Sauron's armies are attacking everyone and everything now. The focal point is on the action, not on the characters, and Tolkien proves that by introducing a number of new characters, none of whom have any impact on the story in the long run. The battle scenes are all as descriptively graphic as they've always been, but there are a lot more of them this time around, and all of them are suspenceful, dramatic and unforgettable. Unfortunately, the battles also take their tolls on the established characters; the roles of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli have all been significantly reduced to the point where they're almost two-dimensional. Gandalf is still in there, but he is reduced to being the long-winded planner.

This complaint is a lot less minor than it may sound, though, as Return of the King is exactly what it should be: A spectacular conclusion to a spectacular trilogy of books that more than deserve their status as classics.

The Lord of the Rings: The Final Verdict
What can I say? I think I just told you my feelings in that last paragraph. In The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien has written the perfect book: A fantastic adventure full of danger, suspense, drama, humor, everything.

In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien has done something that very few people, if any, have ever done before. In creating their worlds, most authors simply set up a story, creating their worlds as afterthoughts in order to explain a few of the happenings. Tolkien has done just the opposite, or he at least makes it look that way. Middle-earth is a world all of its own, full of such rich history and legend that you could write a history book on it (come to think of it, I believe someone already has). He sets the wheels of his world in motion in the beginning, and continues to evolve it throughout the novel. Along the way, we learn a bit about how to speak Elf and the territorial habits of elves and dwarves, among many other things. And he does it using such beautiful, descriptive writing that sometimes you almost want to stop and admire the scenery.

(sigh) If only it really existed. That's the only bad thing about The Lord of the Rings-it doesn't exist. It's no wonder some people carefully study the history of middle-earth and learn the language in the same devoted fashion as Trekkies learn about their worlds.

I'm almost tempted to do it myself.


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More The Return of the King reviews
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
The adventure had to end, but it feels as if it was handled very well.
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Best book in the series!
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
A well-written story. I like it very much.
Quick Tip by . June 25, 2010
A real masterpiece. This final installment of the Lord of the Rings is moving and meaningful.
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
Wonderfully written! The world is well crafted (to say the least) and the entire series is intriguing and meaningful. The final book is no exception. Certainly worth all the hype it's earned over the years.
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book.
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
Best part of the series. READ THE APPENDICES!!!! Some of Tolkien's most moving prose appears there.
Quick Tip by . June 21, 2010
A beautifully written and touching final chapter in the epic Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Quick Tip by . June 21, 2010
extreemley well written
review by . February 23, 2002
In this life, all good things must come to an end and so must all journeys. THE RETURN OF THE KING is the third and final part of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. This final climatic chapter in Tolkien's masterpiece brings not only the War of the Ring to a close, but it tells of the final days of Middle Earth as well and the beginning of the Fourth Age, the Age of Man.Sam is left to rescue Frodo from the Dark Tower while Merry, Pippin, and Gandalf wage war in defense of Gondor. Meanwhile Aragorn has gone …
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Wikipedia page for The Return of the King
Tolkien conceived of The Lord of the Rings as a single volume comprising six "books" plus extensive appendices. The original publisher split the work into three, publishing the fifth and sixth books with the appendices under the title The Return of the King. Tolkien felt the chosen title revealed too much of the story, and indicated he preferred The War of the Ring as a title.
Tolkien may have hoped to publish the one large volume together with The Silmarillion, and to give names to the individual six books.The proposed title for Book V was The War of the Ring. Book VI was to be The End of the Third Age. These titles were used in the Millenium edition.
The Return of the King was in the end published as the third and final part of The Lord of the Rings, on October 20, 1955.
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Author: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Adventure, Classic Literature
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Date Published: October 20, 1955
Format: Novel
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