Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3)
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Riveting conclusion of epic proportions...

Return of the King begins with the Gondor story line where The Two Towers leaves off. Sauron's eye is focused on the city and his forces are gathering for a final strike. Ringwraiths, men, ogres, orcs and trolls are on the move. In Gondor, Faramir struggles to gain the acceptance of his father, Denethor. The young hobbit, Pippin, swears fealty to Denethor on a whim and soon finds himself garbed as a soldier of Minus Tirith. As Denethor loses his grasp on reality, Pippin must decide whether to stay true to his oath or true to his conscious.

Likewise, Merry has sworn his services to the King of Rohan. But the King, unlike Denethor, does not want his small vassal in harms way and decides to leave him behind. His plight is noticed by another who would also fight, despite being told to stay behind, and the two join up and follow together, a decision that just might mean the difference between victory and defeat in the final battle.

Meanwhile, Sam and Frodo continue their desperate journey into Mordor. Frodo grows ever weaker under the weight of the Ring and the eye of the Dark Lord. Sam, for loyalty and love of his Master, gives up his portion of the rations and carries Frodo, at some points literally, towards the final goal. Soon, they realize that this mission will likely be the end of them, even if they succeed in destroying the ring.

I absolutely love The Return of the King. The world is beautifully described, the emotions of love, fear and loyalty are expertly derived, and the story is exciting. The final scene at Mount Doom is one of the most exciting conclusions of any book I've ever read (though about 100 pages of wrap-up remain at that point).

To be balanced, I must admit that the story gets a bit wordy (or a lot wordy, depending on your point of view). Also, I don't care for the poems and songs that the characters sometimes break into, though they are easy to skim past. Luckily, this final installment in the trilogy seems to go light on the poetry.

Unlike others, I won't denounce the movie. I think it's an excellent way to enjoy the story, especially for those with neither the time nor the patience to tackle this classic story. I will say that folks who only see the movie will miss out on the hobbits' epic return to the Shire and the associated battle that the movie skipped.

All in all, The Lord of the Rings is truly an epic fantasy, and for some, like me, it is the gateway to a lifelong love of the genre.

Missed my reviews of the other books in this series?  Check them out here:

Have you read this series?  Let me know what you thought in the comments.

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