Saturday, 16 December 2017

Book Review: The Return of the King by J R R Tolkien

You know the drill - Sam and Frodo are on their way to Mordor to try and destroy the ring, but not without a companion lurking in the shadows... The armies of the Dark Lord are massing in an epic battle for Middle Earth... it's all come down to this!

"I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil."

And so my journey through Middle Earth has ended *cue hysterical crying*. Revisiting both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings this year was a great decision - I'll be revisiting Hogwarts in a similar way in 2018. There is always time to reread your favourite books because you will honestly pick up or learn something different each time. This time around my overriding experience has just been an appreciation of the friendship found within these pages. It has also solidified Samwise Gamgee's position as one of my fave characters of all time. Aragorn may get all the heart eyes, but Samwise is truly special.

I thought at the end of my reread I would have a definitive conclusion on which of the three parts is my favourite. And to be blunt, I don't! I love them all for different reasons. The Fellowship is exciting because it's the beginning of the journey, the fellowship are all together... The Two Towers has some awesome parts and huge battles.... and The Return of the King just pulls at my heartstrings and breaks my heart because it's all ending!!

The Return of the King has some crucial scenes with regards to Frodo and Sam's friendship; in particular, the lengths Sam will go to in order to ensure Frodo achieves what he set out to do - to destroy the ring. Gollum's appearances and interactions with the two of them are on point, as well! I also just love the entire sequence of Aragorn becoming King *heart eyes* This book also has one of the most epic parts of the series...

"But no living man am I! You look upon a woman."

YASSSS! This moment! During the book and when I rewatch the movies I always feel like I'm waiting for this moment. Some shade is thrown Tolkien's way for the lack of real female power in this story, but this scene SLAYS for me. There's much to learn within this story and a lot is still relevant today. The friendship that forms between elf and dwarf, regardless of prejudice. The hobbits who were at first deemed to be weak and useless, who then turn out to be some of the bravest characters in literature. The need to fight for the greater good, to combat the evil in the world - and to have a friend by your side as you do it. Because things aren't always easy, but if you have a good friend to support you, you can overcome anything.

I do have a couple of issues with ROTK though - I just felt like the entire scouring of the Shire was completely unnecessary. It felt a bit tacked on at the end. As others have said before me, you do feel like Tolkien found it hard to say goodbye to this epic story he had written, and so you keep getting ending after ending after ending. On the same note though, I never want this story to end sooooo it doesn't entirely bother me!!!

I am in awe of this world that Tolkien created - it truly is the benchmark by which all other fantasy is measured. These movies and the books are enshrouded in nostalgia for me and revisiting Middle Earth is always like coming home. As I was reading through the last 5 or so pages I could just feel tears running down my face! I don't think any other piece of literature has this effect on me every time I revisit. It's a journey I will take many times in my life and it holds a very special place in my bookish heart. I can't give it any less than 5 stars.


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