Book Review #13: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Days to Read: 30-ish days
Synopsis (taken from Waterstones.ca): Concluding the story begun in The Hobbit, this is the final part of Tolkien’s epic masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. The armies of the Dark Lord are massing as his evil shadow spreads ever wider. Men, Dwarves, Elves and Ents unite forces to do battle agains the Dark. Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam struggle further into Mordor in their heroic quest to destroy the One Ring.
My Thoughts: You have no idea how excited I was at the thought of nearing the end of this trilogy. I have lived and breathed The Lord of the Rings for four months now, and couldn’t wait to finally say I had completed it. This last novel was everything I thought it would be: fast-paced (at least Book 5 was, the story following Aragorn), interesting and, oddly enough, romantic. I absolutely loved seeing the relationship between Eowyn and Faramir unfold before my eyes, but was slightly disappointed when Tolkien merely thrust the love between Aragorn and Arwen at my feet without any prior inclination of a romance between them. On the whole, though, I thought this was the best book of them all.
What irks me about Tolkien, however, is the fact that he always builds up to the battles with endless pages of journeys and discussions; but when it comes right down to the battle itself, he only writes about a page on it. The battle scenes always fall flat. But in the epic battle between the Black Rider and Eowyn, it was written with more description than any other battle. I could see her courage, her greatness and her love for her family and people and was rooting for her from start to finish. I grew to love Eowyn more than any other person (other than Sam) in the novel, and wanted nothing but happiness for her at the end. She was the fearless character the trilogy needed. But more interestingly, I was intrigued by the fact that she couldn’t save her people without dressing up as a man first, as if being a woman wasn’t good enough. In today’s society, feminism and female power is almost second-nature to us. We’re used to seeing female leaders now and figureheads; so it was cool to see how Tolkien’s world viewed women differently. I don’t blame Tolkien for creating a story where men were the primary characters (as some people do); instead, I thank him for showing the strength women can have in times of trouble. We’re not all damsels in distress.
Anyways, I’m digressing.
Simply put, I liked The Return of the King a lot more than I thought I would. After The Two Towers, finishing this series seemed like an impossible task — and I admit, a few times throughout the last novel I thought I would just give up altogether. Many people did give up, so why should I feel bad? But the important thing is that I didn’t. I kept reading and when Frodo and Sam finally reached Mount Doom, I couldn’t have been happier. Gollum played his part well, and while I did think his ending was a little anti-climatic, he did provide a reasonable and satisfying end to the One Ring. The part of The Shire in turmoil caught me by surprise because it wasn’t in the movie, but I liked how it wasn’t just a perfect ending for the hobbits. Nothing in life is perfect, and I liked how The Shire wasn’t perfect throughout the various wars and battles. Saruman saw to that. His death was a little strange and abrupt… I would have preferred if he had lived but withered away.
On the whole, I was pleased by this concluding novel and I am beyond thrilled to say I have, once and for all, completed The Lord of the Rings series!
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