Audiobook Review: The Return of the King (Lord of the Rings #3)

 Published  October 20th 1955

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Narrator: Andy Serkis

Audiobook Length: 21 hours 52 minutes

THE RETURN OF THE KING, which brings to a close the great epic of war and adventure begun in The Fellowship of the Ring and continued in The Two Towers, is the third and final part of J. R. R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, “The Lord of the Rings.”

In these three books, which form one continuous narrative, Tolkien created the saga of the Hobbits of Middle-earth and the great War of the Rings. Praised by such writers and poets as W. H. Auden, Richard Hughes and C. S. Lewis, “The Lord of the Rings” – that special world of beauty and terror and meaning – holds a secure place among the books that will live.

The Return of the King is the final novel in the Lord of the Rings series. As I have loved Andy Serkis as the narrator, so far, I had high expectations that were definitely met with this installment. There is a lot happening at this point in the trilogy, yet Tolkien continues to keep the pace fairly steady throughout the chapters. There are ups and downs as each battle and obstacle takes place while slowing a little to focus on how far each of the characters has come since they first introduced.

In this novel, Sauron’s massive hoard has been unleashed from Mordor and has set its sights on Minas Tirith in Gondor. While this is where one of the major battles takes place, the evil forces have spread across Middle Earth, including the Shire. This is where events expand beyond the movies where some readers enjoy the battle in the Shire and others prefer Jackson’s version that omitted it.  For me, there are a few moments where this part of the story is drawn out, but it matches Tolkien’s style in the rest of the series, so the wording/page length was expected.

As for the characters, King Théoden of Rohan assembles allies to aid Gondor. While I love multiple parts about this series, I love Théoden’s journey and how he swallows his pride for the greater good and steps up to defeat Sauron’s forces. In Gondor, Faramir has opportunities to prove his worth as he shows that men are not as weak as they seem. Aragon is continuing his path to becoming king with Legolas and Gimli at his side. Merry and Pippin also further demonstrate how far they’ve come on their journey as Sam and Frodo navigate Mordor to reach Mt. Doom.

All the characters go through their own emotional journeys in this trilogy and it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come from the characters introduced in the first novel. Friendships were formed and the Fellowship truly bonded them together. Symbolism can be found everywhere in the novels, which can be found in multiple interpretations all around the world. This is one of the amazing elements that I love about the series as each reader can take away something different from the story. They could take it all at face value or they can analyze it to find more within the pages. Overall, I continue to love this series and Serkis did a great job, for me, narrating it. I really hope that Serkis continues to narrate this universe and does The Silmarillion soon!

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