Book 319: The Return of the King (LOTR #3) – J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien, J.R.R. - LOTR3 - The Return of the KingWith this book, and my previous reading of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, I’m one step closer to finishing my 30×30 list. What better way to start off my response than with Treebeard/Fangorn’s words to Galadriel: “It is sad that we should meet only thus at the ending. For the world is changing: i feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air. I do not think we shall meet again.” (290)

It’s so true though! What a sad, beautiful and perfect ending to this epic novel (apparently it’s counted as one in a lot of lists). I mean I knew it was great and I remembered a lot of it, but nowhere near as much as was included in the book. I even read Appendix A which gave the brief history of the race of men and Gimli’s heritage which was excellent to learn more about them. I didn’t go into the other appendices as they were a bit too technical for my liking, but I did seriously consider buying a few more Tolkien Middle-earth books when I saw them at the used bookstores last weekend and I may yet!

I won’t go into the movies versus the books as I’ll talk about that in my 30 x 30 recap post early next week, but having re-read the books the movies are nowhere near as bad or as far from the truth as people made them out to be. I think Peter Jackson made some very smart decisions ans I’m looking forward to an epic re-watch of the extended editions!

Let’s start by completely dismissing the Sam and Frodo gay lovers thing. Didn’t happen, obviously, only line in this book that really made me go “Hmmmmm, maybe…” was

“He cared no longer for Shagrat or Snaga or any other orc that was ever spawned. He longed only for his master, for one sight of his face or one touch of his hand.” (204)

But nah, I’m still not convinced. Although, the idea of little gay hobbits is both adorable and hilarious. Now Gimli and Legolas on the other hand, that is something someone should talk about 😉

The second thing that I REALLY enjoyed about this novel was how bad ass Éowyn was. I mean she kills the Witch-king of Angmar and does it with such confidence and sass all I could think was “You go girl!” (Only because go and girl provide great alliteration, not anti-feminist.) And the fact that in all of Rohan the women are trained like the men, or at least that’s how I read it. I mean Jackson nailed her character perfectly and the only thing I wish is that we knew more about her history.

The third thing that drew to conclusion and was highlighted very well was Gandalf’s role in everything,

“‘Well,’said Pippin, ‘I have known of him all my short life, as you might say; and lately I have travelled with him. But there is much to read in that book. and I cannot claim to have seen more than a page or two. Yet perhaps I know him as well as any buy few. Aragorn was the only one of our Company, I think who really knew him.” (35)

This came to light with comments made by Aragorn and Saruman throughout this final installment and even more so with the appendices and footnotes within where Tolkien highlighted his involvement and drew lines between seemingly disparate events.

“‘All the same, I wish it was over for good or ill,’ said Pippin. ‘I am no warrior at all and dislike any thought of battle; but waiting on the edge of one that I can’t escape is worst of all. What a long day it seems already! I should be happier, if we were not obliged to stand and watch, making no move, striking nowhere first. No stroke would have been struck in Rohan, I think, but for Gandalf.” (41)

As much as the books was about Hobbits, I mean Tolkien explicitly said that before the first, the story really is a tale of Gandalf for a specific time in his life. I mean if Sauran is playing the black chess pieces, Gandalf is definitely moving the white. Even before his first meeting with Thorin Oakenshield (thank you Appendix A footnote) Gandalf is setting the pieces in motion to eventually rid Middle-earth of the evil shadow!!!

I think that’s all I’m going to say, I’ll have more to say about The Hobbit and it’s film adaptations and more about the complex relationships and my shock at how easy it was to read when I get around to my 30×30 post mid-next week.

Recommnedation: DEFINITELY DEFINITELY DEFINITELY read these three books! (Four including The Hobbit!) Tolkien’s creativity and world building is incredible and then when you expand it to all of the things that so many people don’t read you can’t help but be a little overwhelmed at his mastery and sheer awesomeness!

Opening Line: “Pippin looked put from the shelter of Gandalf’s cloak.”

Closing Line: “He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.” (Whited out.)

Additional Quotes from The Lord of the Rings
“And she answered: ‘All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when he men have all died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men need it no more. But I am of the House of Eorl and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.’

‘What do you fear, lady?’ he asked.
‘A cage,’ she said. ‘To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.'” (62)

“For a while the king sat silent. At last he spoke. ‘So we come to it in the end,’ he said: ‘the great battle of our time, in which many things shall pass away. But at least there is no longer need for hiding. We will ride the straight way and the open road and with all our speed.” (81)

“Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like a ring of steel. ‘But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.’
The winged creature screamed at her, but the Ringwraith made no answer, and was silent as if in sudden doubt. Very amazement for a moment conquered Merry’s fear. He opened his eyes and the blackness was lifted from them. There some paces from him sat the great beast, and all seemed dark about it, and above it loomed the Nazgûl Lord like a shadow of despair. A little to the left facing them stood she whom he had called Dernhelm. But the helm of her secrecy had fallen from her, and her bright hair, released from its bonds, gleamed with pale gold upon her shoulders. Her eyes grey as the sea were hard and fell, and yet tears were on her cheek.” (127-8)

“‘No, they eat and drink, Sam. The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real things of its own. I don’t think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them; and if they are to live at all, they have to live like other living creatures. Foul waters and foul meats they’ll take, if they can get no better, but not poison. They’ve fed me, and so I’m better off than you. There must be food and water somewhere in this place.” (210)

“But even as hope died in Sam, or seemed to die, it was turned to a new strength. Sam’s plain hobbit-face grew stern, almost grim, as the will hardened in him, and he felt through all his limbs a thrill, as if he was turning into some creature of stone and steel that neither despair nor weariness nor endless barren miles could subdue.” (234)

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9 thoughts on “Book 319: The Return of the King (LOTR #3) – J.R.R. Tolkien

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  3. Do I live under a rock? Hadn’t heard about the Sam/Frodo lover bit. Um, I don’t see it. The one bit you include is only just a hint, but come on, that’s a stretch like you say. This was a great series. I’m sure I’ll read it again at some point.

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  4. I think people just came up with the Sam/Frodo thing because seeing a loving. non-hyper-masculine, relationship on screen made them a bit uncomfortable without an explanation, but it’s just silly.

    I’m planning to re-read The Hobbit early next year after seeing the final movie, but maybe I’ll have to re-read LotR next year as well. It’s been many years.

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