The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ah, at long last, I finished my fifth or sixth reread of The Return of the King, marveling at just how unstated Peter Jackson's tongue-in-cheek faux endings were in comparison with the real thing.
Ah yes! The action is definitely glorious in both! The emotions brilliant! Wave after wave of battle, failure, regrouping, and last minute saves are fantastic in both the novel and the movie, but what staggers my imagination is not the end of Sauron, the unmaking of the One Ring, or how it came to pass...
... it is the fact that the main action stops so EARLY in the novel.
It makes me appreciate the actual focus of the trilogy. It has to. It really isn't the return of Aragorn to Gondor that is the main focus. Not really. It's not the fading away of magic and the skedaddle of the elves now that they don't have enough juice to keep their houses trimmed. It's the Hobbits, yo! We started with them. We spent AGES with them in Fellowship. And as the perfect bookend, we spend EVEN MORE TIME with them in the Return of the King.
Nostalgic Sigh. I don't mind that. It's the heroism of the little folk, the normal folk, the average, ho hum folk. It's the returning heroes of Merry and Pippin brandishing swords in the Shire, or Samwise the Elven Hero who melts his sword into a plow. It's about the Scouring of the Shire and the little heroisms that recall to us Candide's Voltaire. TEND YOUR OWN GARDEN. Don't let the evil run amuck in your back-yard. (Rather than keep your nose out of other's business.) :)
Oh, and let's not forget that half of this book is all appendixes. Long, wonderful appendixes featuring the Witch King of Angmar, Beren and Luthien, the fall of Numenor, Sauron's repeated rise and fall, the ends of the First and Second Ages, and even some great backstories for Aragorn and Elrond and what REALLY happened in Moria before these poor kids decided to take their fateful detour.
It's the Reader's Digest of the Silmarillion, yo! And really? Worth it. Even if it's a dry history, it's a great dry history. Goes down real smooth.
And so goes the passing of the Ring. Better known as that footnote of thirty pages in the Silmarillion.
Still some of the very best books I've ever read. The surface is one thing, but the depth goes WAY, WAY down.
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