The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King – JRR Tolkien

The final volume in the Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, was published in 1955, nearly a year after The Two Towers and I think that was a reasonable time span to have to wait, too much longer and you would have been tearing your hair out wanting to know what happened next. Of course it is the ultimate climax of the story as we enter war against Sauron, and Frodo inches closer to destroying the One Ring. It does not disappoint, and the drama is high throughout the chapters.

Again ‘time travel’ is used wonderfully as we go to yet again more perspectives as the Fellowship breaks up and each have an important story to tell. Once again we don’t hear about Frodo and Sam and their perilous journey into Mordor for the entire of Book Five, except for right at the end when everyone converges on the Black Gate for the final battle (which is really just a diversion to keep Sauron distracted from Frodo) where we have to fear the worst. Sauron’s lieutenant has some of Frodo’s belongings and it really looks like he has been captured and that they have lost all chance at winning, since Sauron himself must now have the One Ring.

Speaking of Sauron, what exactly is he? It sounds like he is almost a wizard (he isn’t one of the Blue who decided to become evil? Like an earlier version of Saruman was he?) but I don’t think so. Looking through the appendices it sounds like he is immortal since he was able to come back to Middle Earth as a spirit. But what was he to begin with? And then I learn in the appendices that he was just a ‘lesser-being’ of evil compared to Morgoth, as he was just a servant. So what the hell was Morgoth? Maybe he was just evil incarnated, like Apophis is the God of Evil. And then I must wonder how on earth does the One Ring work, what powers does it yield that we didn’t even see. What if Gandalf used it, or even Sauron himself? It sounded like Sauron put some of his power into the ring (definitely reminds me of Voldemort putting bits of his soul into various things), so in effect he just weakened himself a bit, though if he wears the ring I guess he is so much stronger and in control of Elves, Dwarves and Men who wear the lesser rings. But honestly I want to imagine what would happen if Sam didn’t take the ring from Frodo, and it was handed over to Sauron. What sort of doom would be unleashed? I know it would be bleak, and everyone would go enslaved, but what exactly would happen (I know that partially this was talked about, but they just said that everywhere including Tom Bomabadil’s domain and Rivendell would be overwhelmed)? How would he be able to unleash doom? Would it allow him to create vast armies? What powers would he have, or would he just be stronger, and could stroll up to everyone and make them be a slave? And what if all five wizards went up against him (even though we have no idea what happened to the two blue ones and was there a female wizard at all?) what would happen? There are too many questions? And I have to laugh forever since Tolkien has given us more information about his world than any other author ever, and still I have questions!

But then I remember that Sauron was once overthrown by Isildur (forgive me for any wrong spellings and complete incorrectness, I’m just a newbie to Tolkien) and his vast armies. I think they had help from dwarves and elves (possibly), but I guess they won just because they had a whole lot more people working together, and they even overthrew Morgoth, who I guess was more powerful. And I might learn more about it when I read more, but still, I wonder.

Thoughts:

  • Gondor, more specifically Minth Tirith, sounds like an amazing place. Seven rings, no wonder the enemy couldn’t prevail. But honestly it takes such a long time to get to the top, that it would be a great pain to travel to see the King (who hasn’t been around for ages). But I would have loved to see it in its glory, as well as Osgiliath and Minis Morgul.
  • I have to say it is really hard to keep track of all the locations, since they have about 5 different names in all the different languages, and then sometimes they aren’t even on the map supplied (which I turned to constantly)so it is hard to know where they are talking about.
  • Sam and Frodo are victorious, but only because of Gollum, he had the final part to play, and cast the One Ring into Mount Doom, something Frodo couldn’t bring himself to do. The passages leading up to it, are heart wrenching, as they try to get to the Mount, but their hope is fading, the get tired, hungry and thirsty, and Frodo’s burden grows heavier.
  • The eagles came once again, but only for a moment. I’d like to learn more about them, we saw them more in The Hobbit, and they seemed like an interesting intelligent species with their own king. Hopefully there will be more about them. Again I wonder, what other intelligent species are out there?
  • The king is restored to Gondor, and it is Aragorn. And he gets to marry Arwen and live a long life together. Peace is restored.
  • The scouring of the Shire is a nice little end of the war of the rings. Even as you pass by Saruman and Wormtongue, you don’t imagine that they can have one last part to play. But it is nice to see the Hobbits rise up and defend themselves, and rid the Land of Saruman (I guess he won’t come back like Gandalf did).
  • Then Frodo departs with Bilbo and the elves, off over the ocean to the west, where they will live forever. And I desperately want to go there somehow and see what is there. But I fear that we can’t know. Sam, Pippin and Merry remain and live out their lives, some having children, others not. But I love that Pippin and Merry have grown huge from the ent draughts.

And so ends the Lord of the Rings. I love it, so many others do, and I am happy that I decided to get back into the world. There is a lot more to discover and I am eager to do so, but it will take a long time before I read everything that I can from Tolkien. I’ll share what I can when I get around to them. Tomorrow: The Appendices! The Lord of the Rings is seriously one of those books you have to read at least once in your life!

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