The Age Of Man Begins,
This review is from: The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings, Part 3 (Paperback)
As the last volume of the trilogy, the reader gets an end to the story, and in fact "The Return of the King" has several places where one could end, but for those who want to continue on past the end of Sauron, past the end of the War, etc., the story continues to the end of the Third Age. "The Return of the King" was originally published on October 20th of 1955. "The Lord of the Rings" was the last recipient of the International Fantasy Award for Fiction in 1957, it was also nominated for the Hugo for all-time series in 1966, and was nominated from 2002 through 2008 for the Prometheus Hall of Fame award, before winning it in 2009. As with the previous two volumes, this one contains two books.
Book V is titled "The War of the Ring" and it returns to the story of all those outside of the Ring Bearers. It starts with Gandalf and Pippin arriving at Minas Tirith to deliver the news to Denethor and takes us to the start of the battle in front of the Black Gate of Mordor. This book tells the story of a large number of characters. Only the ring-bearers are absent as characters, though they are certainly in the thoughts of those who fight the war.
Book VI is titled "The End of the Third Age", though it has also been called "The Return of the King" and similar to Book IV it is starts out focused on Frodo and Sam, with the specter of Gollum tagging along. Starting with Sam's daring rescue of Frodo, it continues with the two trying to make their way to Mount Doom. However, the changes less than a third of the way through the book, when their quest comes to an end, and the rest of the book involves all the characters again. Unlike many modern books and movies, the action doesn't end with the climax, and Tolkien takes his time telling the story of the aftermath of the war.
As with the previous books in the series when compared with the movie I personally prefer the book, though I have enjoyed the all the movies as well. However long the movies are, they are but condensed versions of the books, and if left unread, you will miss out on many significant characters and events, as well as be unaware of the changes made by those creating the movies from what was written originally. The movies were a valiant effort to bring this epic to the screen, and they honor Tolkien's overall story, but to fully appreciate what Tolkien created, you need to read the books.