Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the third and final novel in the high fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings, written by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. The novel was originally published on 20 October 1955 in the United Kingdom by George Allen & Unwin, just as World War II was coming to an end.
The novel concludes the story begun in The Fellowship of the Ring and continued in The Two Towers. It chronicles the further adventures of the hobbits Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Merry Brandybuck, and PippinTook, as well as Gandalf the Grey, Aragorn II Elessar, Legolas Greenleaf, Gimli the Dwarf, Treebeard the Ent, and the hobbits’ chief allies in the Fellowship: Boromir’s brother Faramir, Éowyn of Rohan, and her uncle Éomer. The novel also draws upon Tolkien’s detailed appendices to The Return of the King, which he wrote in response to questions from his publishers. These appendices were originally published as separate volumes in 1967.
The plot of the novel is concerned with the final destruction of Sauron’s Ring, which had been taken by the hobbit Frodo Baggins and brought to Mount Doom in the land of Mordor. The story begins with a flashback to events which took place during the War of the Ring. Gandalf has defeated the evil wizard Sauron’s forces in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and led the armies of Gondor and Rohan in a successful siege of Sauron’s stronghold, Minas Tirith. After this victory, however, Sauron himself appears through a magical apparition and smashes Gandalf’s staff, wounding him so severely that he dies and is carried away by the eagles.
Aragorn then leads the united armies of Gondor and Rohan against Sauron’s forces in the massive Battle of the Morannon, during which the Ring is finally destroyed. With Sauron defeated, Aragorn is crowned King of Gondor and takes Arwen, the daughter of Elrond, as his queen. The Hobbits return to the Shire to find that it has been overrun by Saruman’s men. They drive out the invaders and settle back into their homes.
The novel ends with Frodo Baggins sailing away from Middle-earth with the elves, leaving Samwise Gamgee to rule the Shire.
The book includes several appendices providing background information on various aspects of the story.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was well-received by critics when it was first published, and continues to be popular today. It won several awards, including the coveted Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1956. In 2002, The Lord of the Rings was voted the “Book of the Century” in a public poll conducted by Waterstone’s, a British bookstore chain. In 2004, The Return of the King was ranked number 4 on the BBC’s Big Read poll of the UK’s “best-loved novel.”