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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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Middle Earth is on the verge of falling, and Sauron's vast armies are about to swarm mankind's last defenses. Only two things can save us: a lost king returns to his throne, and a little hobbit makes it to Mount Doom. Yes, there's a lot of tension in "The Return of the King," the brilliant, rich conclusion to J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy saga. And rather than cheaping out with a "and they all lived happily ever after," Tolkien gives his saga's finale a bittersweet edge.

Gandalf has ridden to the city of Gondor with Pippin (partly to keep him out of trouble), where the forces of Mordor are attacking. There is upheaval in the city itself, as the steward of Gondor is going nuts. Merry pledges his service to King Theoden of Rohan, not knowing what is ahead for the king and his relatives. And Aragorn is seeking out allies to fight Sauron on a military scale, even if they can't defeat him unless the Ring is destroyed. His search will take him to tribes of forest-dwellers, to Gondor -- and even to summon an army of the dead.

In Mordor, the unconscious Frodo has been captured by Sauron's orcs, and taken to the fortress of Cirith Ungol. Sam is desperate to free his friend, but knows that he can't take on an army, and that Frodo would want him to finish the quest. Sam manages to free Frodo from captivity, but they must still brave more dangers before they can come to Mount Doom, the only place where the Ring can be destroyed. As they travel Sam sees Frodo slipping further and further into the Ring's grasp. Will Frodo be able to destroy the Ring?

Usually, the climax of an epic adventure is a disappointment. "Return of the King" succeeds in almost every way, wrapping up each individual storyline, one by one. The ending has a feeling of finality; this is one story that could never have a sequel; Tolkien shows that in a war like this, there is no true "happy ending." Even if the good guys win, there will still be scarring, and death, and haunting memories of what once happened. And even if a person survives, he will never be the same.

This is the grimmest of the three books in this trilogy. Frodo and Sam are stuck in the vividly horrific Mordor, while the city of Minas Tirith is on the verge of completely crumbling. Tolkien does a phenomenal job of exploring the madness, despair, rage and sorrow that accompany a war, and the way it can affect even the idyllic Shire. And he doesn't forget the slow period of healing that follows -- for people, for civilizations, and even for nature.

Though a section of the book near the end descends into near-biblical prose, which changes post-Gondor, Tolkien does not waver in his ability to evoke emotion. One of the most touching scenes in the book is when Sam finds Frodo naked, unconscious and being beaten by an orc. Others include Merry's farewell to Theoden, Eowyn's slaying of the Witch-King, and of course the bittersweet final scene.

Speaking of Frodo, this trilogy's hero is almost unrecognizable in parts of this book. The bright, naive young hobbit of the first book has been worn down to a pale shadow of himself. As he grows increasingly attached to the Ring, we even see him doing what seems unimaginable: threatening Sam with a dagger. Sam has come a long way from the shy young hobbit who couldn't say a word around the High Elves -- now he's attacking orcs and carrying Frodo to Mount Doom.

And the supporting characters are not neglected either, with the younger hobbits being exposed to the horrors of war, Aragorn breaking fully into his role as the future king of Gondor, and passionate war-maiden Eowyn affecting the war as nobody else could. Some much-loved characters are lost, and others will be permanently changed.

The story doesn't really end on the last page; for more background, especially on Aragorn and Arwen, readers should also read the appendices at the end of the book. Another good addition is "The End of the Third Age," in which the unpublished epilogue of this book can be found. Though this is probably not canonical, it nicely concludes the story and is a heartwarming look at what happens in the years following "Return of the King."

It's difficult, once the story has finished, to accept that one has to say goodbye to Middle-Earth and its enchanting inhabitants. But as Gandalf says, "I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil."
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 December 2012
In this final part of the trilogy the fate of the ring is conclusively decided - but the story doesn't end yet. Split into two parts, this final book follows the wars of men in Gondor and Rohan as Sauron finally releases his full might. The second part traces the journey of Sam and Frodo to their destination. Unlike the film which wraps things up in a rather hurried and less complex way, the book doesn't end here but follows the fates of our characters in the aftermath of the struggle - and back to the Shire.

Tolkein's writing style noticeably changes in this book taking on a more self-consciously `epic' tone but it feels fitting given the grave nature of events. I love the way the book doesn't offer a simple happy ever after ending, as events are shown to have an incalculable and lasting effect - and the end of the book feels exactly right, memorialising all that has gone before.

It's worth checking that the edition you get includes Tolkein's appendices in which he traces the past history which is referred to in this trilogy and explains the mythology of the Eldars, Numenor, the line of kings, the history of the First and Second Ages and so on, all of which add a richness to the story.

This is a magnificent epic which crosses ancient Norse and Saxon chronicles (e.g. the The Nibelungenlied, and The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer) with a modern eye on totalitarian war - Tolkein wrote this between about 1936-1942 having witnessed the Spanish Civil War and the rise of European Fascism.

Highly recommended.
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on 31 March 2000
This box set, released and distributed as Tolkien intended for the first time, is the best I have seen and owned. This TLOTR Milliennium Edition and the CD of JRR reciting his own writings is a real bonus for any collection. When I first read the advertisement on the Amazon Web Site, I thought the price would be astronomoical, but it is so cheap, every TLOTR fan should own this.
Rating (Out of 5 Stars): 7 at least !
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on 8 August 2017
Great read! I also found "Letterham" to be of a similar style but with more twists and messages, I recommend it as my children loved it just as much as this book.
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on 25 October 2001
The best book I'v read in my whole life.A perfect balance of suspense and exitement what with the fierce Battle of the Pelennor Fields and the heroic deeds of Sam at the tower of Cirith Ungol.The first part tells how the Riders of Rohan come to the aid of Gondor in the defence against the ever growing Shadow of Mordor.It tells of a great battle between Good and Evil,Life and Death,Light and Dark.The second part tells the tale of Frodo and Sam and how they enter the Black Land and come face to face with the deadliest of enemies in their heroic attempt to destroy the Ruling Ring.It is my favourite book by my favourite author and I think it is well worth buying.It is the last part of The Lord Of The Rings where it reaches its awesome climax.It is well written and one of the best books you will ever read.
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on 4 March 2000
The Lord Of The Rings is, I think, the greatest literary achievement of the century. You have to wonder when you have finished reading it how literature after LOTR would have been without it and what we would not be enjoying today. The world that Tolkien creates comes complete with exciting cultures and fantastic races, a complete system of religion and laws, subtle magic is abound that you more feel while reading than read about it directly. A completely overwhelming achievement. I read it only once, slowly, a little every day over the course of a whole summer - like a reward for living - and when I had read the final page I actually had to think what the heck to do now. I didn't need to read it again, I knew EXACTLY what was in it! It's more of an experience than anything else.
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on 23 March 2014
At the age of 58 and a dyslexic I have completed my first set of proper books. Why did I not force myself to overcome my reading horrors years ago, only a dyslexic will understand this statement. I could not believe the places that I visited in my mind, Mr Tolkien thank you for helping me to overcome and carry on, what will be the next book, a new world to visit. These books were fantastic, I never got bored, or skipped pages, I loved these book's, if you want to lose yourselves in a different worlds this is the read for you.
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on 26 September 2011
The book was in excellent condition condition and came very quickly but as I read the it, near the end of the book it was bound wrong and I couldn't finish it, the text returned all the way back to fellowship of the ring, I then had to source another book to finish the story.
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on 21 February 2013
I have chosen this rating because It isn't the same size that other books i have of J.R.R. Tolkien.

I am going to buy others books, because I will do the collection of Tolkien but it`s necessary, in my opinion, people kown the sizes of the books, therefore you should put near the sizes of the books.
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on 23 September 2003
After seeing my girlfriend struggle (as she is dyslexic) through the first two books of the trilogy i thought i would give her a break and buy this for her so she could enjoy the final part of this classic fantasy book. It was great, she was able to get through the book and enjoy it at the same time especially as it kept to the book and was not a dramatization like other copies, meaning she felt as though she had the same experience as the rest of us. Rob Inglis narrates clearly and at a good speed. also suitable for younger readers.
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