Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book Details
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
Paperback, 544 pages
2005, Mariner Books
ISBN: 0618574972

As the Shadow of Mordor grows across the land, the Companions of the Ring have become involved in separate adventures. Aragorn, revealed as the hidden heir of the ancient Kings of the West, has joined with the Riders of Rohan against the forces of Isengard, and takes part in the desperate victory of the Hornburg. Merry and Pippin, captured by Orcs, escape into Fangorn Forest and there encounter the Ents. Gandalf has miraculously returned and defeated the evil wizard, Saruman. Sam has left his master for dead after a battle with the giant spider, Shelob; but Frodo is still alive -- now in the foul hands of the Orcs. And all the while the armies of the Dark Lord are massing as the One Ring draws ever nearer to the Cracks of Doom.

Is it okay that I didn't really like The Return of the King, or the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy for that matter? I feel like a fantasy fan failure admitting that, but just put the pitchforks down and hear me out.

The Fellowship of the Ring was just okay for me. The Two Towers was difficult to get through and The Return of the King was pretty much the same. I had to force myself to finish. I'm something of a completist. I had already put the time and effort into reading the first two and people kept telling me I just had to read the last one. I really did try to like it.

The story is great. The characters, fantastic. I truly loved the movies. The books were something akin to torture, though. The names, the places and the descriptions were all lost on me. I would have needed a large cheat sheet to keep track of everyone and everything I was supposed to remember to follow the story. I constantly had to backtrack to figure who was who and to what they were referring. Strangely enough, the only thing I could keep track of was the different races of people. I suppose I could have gotten really into it had I read the trilogy as if it was a textbook, but this was supposed to be leisurely reading.

The Return of the King dragged on and on with no end in sight. 85 pages of saying goodbye to one another is just overkill. The last many pages, on returning to the Shire, was the highlight of the entire trilogy for me, but couldn't help overcome my distaste for the rest of the book.

I know people love this trilogy and this book specifically. It's constantly mentioned on favorite book lists and must read lists. I even understand how and why people like it (thanks to the movies). Reading the books just did not work for me. At all. I think it may have hurt my brain.



  1. Some of the characters have such similar names that I am always getting them mixed up. I do it in the movies too! I can understand your frustration with the books - I don't think I've actually read them all the way through.

  2. I've always had this fear, which is why I haven't read the books. I think you either love 'em or hate 'em. Kudos for sticking through it! :)

  3. These books have always intimidated me, but I do want to try reading them at some point. Since I don't read much fantasy to begin with, there's a very good chance they will hurt my head as well.

    Sorry to hear these books just didn't work for you.

  4. I'm severely disappointed in you :)

  5. I was young when I read these books -- it's been about 30 years. But I do remember the last few books being difficult to get through.

  6. I disliked the movies. Like you, I've seen many people who have these among their favorites, but I still have not touched them. I might one day, but not anytime soon. Great review :)

    oodles of books.