Title: The Return of the King
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Page Count/Review Word Count: 560
The Return of the King is a weird one, because I found that at one point it was the slowest of any of the books in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and yet at another point, it was the most action packed. I also felt more accomplished when I finished this than I did at any other point in the trilogy, but that’s probably because it took me so damn long to complete it – I had to read a couple of hundred pages of each book at a time, then switch over to something lighter to make sure that I didn’t lose the bug for reading, and then come back to it. Because of that, it took me over a year to read the trilogy, and The Return of the King took me the most time of all.
That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing, though – in fact, one of the interesting things about the book is that, in many ways, it has a second ending, which occurs back in The Shire after our heroes’ quest is over. It wasn’t featured in the films, which is a shame, but I’m not going to say any more about it here because I don’t want to spoil it. For some readers, who’ve managed to avoid spoilers so far, it’ll be a surprising twist; for others, it’ll be the ultimate culmination of everything that happened throughout the series.
Tolkien’s writing style isn’t always easy to swallow, but you get used to it, and once you’re submerged in the story line, you can find yourself whizzing through 50-100 pages at a time, if you’re lucky. Still, despite how difficult it can be, it’s definitely worth sticking with, and if you’ve read the first two books in the trilogy then you’d be a fool not to go on and complete them. And if you get to the end and you loved it, then there’s always The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, as well as plenty of other Tolkien books of short stories and legends and lore.
And Tolkien being Tolkien, this isn’t just a book that you read from cover to cover – there’s also plenty of extra information, including maps of Middle Earth, which will help to bring the story to life, and to explain what’s happening to you when you find yourself in the middle of a long retelling of an ancient story, as tends to happen. I always felt as though Tolkien wrote more like a historian than like a novelist, and that The Lord of the Rings trilogy is effectively the great history book for his fictional world.
It probably won’t surprise you to know that the author is an incredible linguist, too – many of the languages that he created have syntax and grammar laws, and it’s even possible to speak some of them, if you want to. It’s fun to watch Tolkien playing with his languages, in a way that no author has ever really been able to match. So read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and work your way up to The Return of The King, but be sure to read them in order. They don’t really work out of order.