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Synopsis of Tolkien's The Return of the King

Detailed synopsis of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Return of the King

The Return of the King (Being the Third Part of The Lord of the Rings), J.R.R. Tolkien, Boston, 1955, 1973,
Ballantine Books.

The title refers to the return of the rightful heir of the title of king (Aragorn, a.k.a. Strider) to Gondor.

The continuation and culmination of the story of the company of Gandalf, the wizard, and Frodo Baggins, the hobbit, and their mission to unmake the One Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom in the depths of Orodruin, the Fire-mountain, located in Mordor, the land of the Dark Lord, Sauron. Book 5 follows the remaining five. Book 6 follows Frodo and then brings the fellowship back together and returns them to their respective lands.

The fellowship remain separated. Frodo and Sam were making their way to Mount Doom. Pippin and Gandalf rode the horse Shadowfax quickly to Minas Tirith in Gondor to warn the Lord Demethor, Steward of Gondor, of upcoming trouble from Mordor.

Meanwhile, Aragorn, had planned to accompany the king of Rohan back to his mountain hideaway and then onward to Gondor but had a change of heart. He looked into the palantir and challenged Sauron. Aragorn, being the rightful king of Gondor, was perhaps the only person who would be able to look into the orb and not be overcome by it.

Eomer and Theoden king of Rohan, and Merry the hobbit, and their troops arrive at their mountain hideaway. Eowyn tells them of Aragorn's arrival and departure. They rest the night and make ready to depart for Gondor, via a longer but more certain route. The king tells Merry he must stay behind. He would be too small for the coming battle. He begs but to no avail. As the last rider leaves he bends down and asks if Merry would want to ride, hidden, with him. Merry has never seen this rider but somehow feel he knows him and assents.

At Minas Tirith battle rages. The walls are well fortified but the door has been breached. Gandalf has taken charge in the stead of the Steward. Orcs fall and others come forward to take their place. The enemy has dug a trench round the city and lit some substance placed in it on fire. The sun is blotted out by the smoke and stench. Hope is waning. There has been no word of the Riders of Rohan. The troops within the city have lost their spirit. Then there is a horn sound.

Theoden and Eowyn are carried into Minas Tirith. Then it is discovered that Eowyn is not dead. She and Merry are taken to the Houses of Healing but their wounds do not heal. The evil that was the Nazgul have caused it.

Frodo, who lay in a state that resembled death from the sting of the spider creature, had just been found and locked away by the orcs. Sam put on the Ring and tried to follow but couldn't.

Gandalf and Aragorn challenged the black gate and expected to be overwhelmed. They walked into a trap -- a trap they expected. But the unexpected happened.

When Frodo and Sam woke up they were in beds. Gandalf was by their side. Soon all was ready for the return of the king to the city of Minas Tirith.

Finally it was time for all to return to their homes. The hobbits accompanied Elrond and Gandalf to Rivendell to see Bilbo before returning to their home in the Shire.

When they got to the Shire they found gates and guards. It had been only a year and a half since they had left but things had changed quite a lot. The inns were torn down and so were many of the trees.

Work began immediately on rebuilding the Shire.

But all was not well with Frodo. The wound he had received from the Black Rider had never healed and at times it caused him great distress. The following year Frodo called Sam to him. He showed Sam the book Bilbo had given to him. He showed him the various chapters concerning first Bilbo's adventures and then Frodo's and Sam's adventures. At the end were a few blank chapters left undone.

Frodo had willed all his belongings and property to Sam, and Sam, his wife, Rose, and girl child, Elanor, lived very happily. Sam became mayor of Hobbiton seven times and had thirteen children. And the blank chapters at the back of Bilbo's and Frodo's red book were for him to fill in. This he did and quite happily. Sixty some years later Sam's beloved Rose died. That year, on September 22 (the anniversary of Bilbo's and Frodo's birthdays) Sam gave the red book to his eldest daughter, Elanor. He was never seen again. It is said he rode on to the Grey Havens and from there boarded a ship and passed over the Sea, the last of the Ring-Bearers.

? Lester L. Noll


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