BY Vani IN Book Reviews

The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3) by J.R.R. Tolkien (One of my favourites!)

‘The Return of the King’ is terribly engrossing. You can’t sleep. Can’t eat. Can’t do much of anything else, until you have finished the last of these two books. I knew the story and even then it was so difficult to focus on anything else for all the days I was reading these books. And why not?

The journey that started with nine companions in the first book has now reached its final stage. Even as the dark lord, Sauron, continues to exert his power on Middle Earth, the company of nine (four hobbits, an elf, two men, a dwarf and a wizard) that started out from Rivendell to destroy Sauron’s ring of power, has disintegrated.

While Frodo, the ring bearer and his man servant, Samwise are headed towards Mount Doom to destroy the ring, others have their own battles to fight. It is not easy to gather forces against the dark lord and his many servants, including and not all, the fearsome Nazgul. They need support from brave men of Rohan and Gondor, but how is that to be had?

As the ground is being prepared for a final battle between the dark lord on one side and the people of the Middle Earth on the other, you can bite your nails down to the quick if you want, and yet, be unsure of what happens in the end. I love the way these books have been written. There is just so much detail and that’s astounding. This is not a review. I cannot review these books. I can just hold them in an awe. Some of my most favourite lines from these two books:

* I am no warrior at all and dislike any thought of battle; but waiting on the edge of one that I can’t escape is worst of all: Pippin

* ‘But Aragorn,’ said Lady Eowyn, ‘is it then your errand to seek death? For that is all that you will find on that road. They do not suffer the living to pass.’
‘They may suffer me to pass,’ said Aragorn; ‘but at the least I will adventure it. No other road will serve.’

* ‘What do you fear, lady?’ he asked.
‘A cage,’ she said. ‘To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.’

* ‘Here is a thing unheard of!’ said Gimli. ‘An Elf will go underground and a Dwarf dare not!’

* ‘The Paths of the Dead,’ Merry muttered to himself. ‘The Paths of the Dead? What does all this mean? They have all left me now. They have all gone to some doom: Gandalf and Pippin to war in the East; and Sam and Frodo to Mordor; and Strider and Legolas and Gimli to the Paths of the Dead. But my turn will come soon enough, I suppose.’

* On the Paths of the Dead: Then they halted and looked at him and saw that he lived still; but he did not look at them. ‘The way is shut,’ his voice said again. ‘It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it, until the time comes. The way is shut.’

* ‘Where will wants not, a way opens, so we say,’ the rider whispered; ‘and so I have found myself.’

* ‘But,’ said Pippin.
‘But what?’ said Gandalf. ‘Only one But I will allow tonight.’

* Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend. It can be so, sometimes: Gandalf

* ‘Then farewell!’ said Faramir. ‘but if I should return, think better of me!’
‘That depends on the manner of your return,’ said Denethor.

* Gandalf did not move. And in that very moment, away behind in some courtyard of the City, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, reeking nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.
And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns. In dark, Mindolluin’s sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.

*Need brooks no delay, yet late is better than never: Eomer

*A sword rang as it was drawn. ‘Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.’
‘Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!’
Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. ‘But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.’

* Twice blessed is help unlooked for, and never was a meeting of friends more joyful: Eomer to Aragorn

* Darkness is passing, but it still lies heavy on this City: Gandalf (referring to Gondor)

* The hands of the King are the hands of a healer. And so the rightful king could ever be known: Ioreth in the Houses of Healing, Gondor

* Oft hope is born, when all is forlorn.

* then Aragorn drew Anduril and held it up glittering in the sun. ‘You shall not be sheathed again until the last battle is fought,’ he said.

* ‘Well, well!’ Sam said. ‘If only they all take such a dislike to me and my Sting, this may turn out better than I hoped. And anyway it looks as if Shagrat, Gorbag, and company have done nearly all my job for me.’

* ‘Now what’s to be done? You can’t go walking in the Black Land in naught but your skin, Mr Frodo.’

* The whole thing is quite hopeless, so it’s no good worrying about tomorrow. It probably won’t come: Frodo to Sam

* ‘All right, Sam,’ said Frodo. ‘Lead me! As long as you have got any hope left. Mine is gone. But I can’t dash, Sam. I’ll just plod along after you.’

* ‘So that was the job I felt I had to do when I started,’ thought Sam: ‘to help Mr Frodo to the last step and then die with him? Well, if that is the job then I must do it. But I’d dearly like to see Bywater again, and Rosie Cotton and her brothers, and the Gaffer and Marigold and all. I can’t think somehow that Gandalf would have sent Mr Frodo on this errand, if there hadn’t a’ been any hope of his ever coming back at all.’

* ‘I’ll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind,’ said Sam. ‘And I’ll carry Mr Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and heart.’

* ‘Come, Mr Frodo!’ he cried. ‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go.’

* ‘I’m glad that you are here with me,’ said Frodo. ‘Here at the end of all things, Sam.’
‘Yes, I am with you, Master,’ said Sam, laying Frodo’s wounded hand gently to his breast. ‘And you’re with me. And the journey’s finished. But after coming all that way I don’t want to give up yet. It’s not like me, somehow, if you understand.’

* They stood now; and Sam still holding his master’s hand caressed it. He sighed. ‘What a tale we have been in, Mr Frodo, haven’t we?’ he said. ‘I wish I could hear it told! Do you think they’ll say: Now comes the story of Nine-fingered Frodo and the Ring of Doom? And then everyone will hush, like we did, when in Rivendell they told us the tale of Beren One-hand and the Great Jewel. I wish I could hear it! And I wonder how it will go on after our part.’

* Many folk like to know beforehand what is to be set on the table; but those who have laboured to prepare the feast like to keep their secret; for wonder makes the words of praise louder: Gandalf

* For the world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the Earth, and I smell it in the air. I do not think we shall meet again: Treebeard

* Then Aragorn took leave of Celeborn and Galadriel; and the Lady said to him: ‘Elfstone, through darkness you have come to your hope, and have now all your desire. Use well the days!’

* ‘It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them. But you are my heir: all that I had and might have had I leave to you,’ said Frodo.

* ‘Yes,’ said Gandalf; ‘for it will be better to ride back three together than one alone. Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.’

* Yet there maybe light beyond the darkness; and if so, I would have you see it and be glad: Aragorn to his mother Estel

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