This is my third review of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy. You can find my review of Fellowship of the Ring here and The Two Towers here. The Hobbit is here. This review is semi-spoilery in terms of tone of the conclusion of the series, but vague.
As previously mentioned in the Two Towers review, one of my favorite things about Tolkien’s series is that stakes are high for everyone involved. The bad guys are bad and a lot of them die, but the good guys also have a heavy burden to carry; not all the good guys’ personal life story will last long enough to see the end of the larger story in which they were players. Not everyone takes a stand and fights and knows that their lives and deaths will not be in vain. However, as Tolkein writes, “the deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.”Some heroes deeds, though, are so metal and awesome that we do get to praise them. Return of the King is a satisfying yet bittersweet conclusion (of sorts) to The Lord of the Rings that provides closure for all of the main characters. The Hobbits earn their place among the other movers and shakers. Prophecies are fulfilled. Feasts are held and enjoyed.
While I enjoyed the big battles and the conclusion, I also appreciated that the characters and their land did not emerge unscathed. Their lives and worlds were forever changed because action and inaction both have consequences. Sometimes we get wrapped up in events that we want no part in. “In what is left, let all who fight the Enemy in their fashion be at one, and keep hope while they may, and after hope still the hardihood to die free,” the book urges.
I didn’t love the series’ conclusion, but I did appreciate it. This book gets three stars and a lot of respect from me. I give the overall series 4 stars.