The Lord of the Rings #3: The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

Read: 8 February, 2013

In this final instalment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Pippin enters the service of the Steward of Minas Tirith, Merry joins the service of the king of the Rohirrim, and Frodo and Sam continue on their way into Mordor.

Tolkien is often accused of pretty much leaving women out of his stories. We get characters like Galadriel and Arwen, but they aren’t much more than objects for veneration (though at least Galadriel does play a somewhat active part… sort of…), but that’s about it and it makes enjoying these oh-so-overtly masculine stories a little problematic. InReturn of the King, we at least get Eowyn, who is a major badass.

I really loved Eowyn. I seem to remember her being pretty cool in the movie as well, but people telling me that she was “just a minor character” and “not at all like that” in the book, so I was expecting much less. I was expecting the same kind of disappointment I felt when reading Book-Arwen after watching Movie-Arwen.

But, of course, Eowyn is still problematic. She does get to be a heroine, and her acts aren’t poo-pooed or diminished, but Tolkien seems to feel the need to explain away her “unfemininity.” The male characters get to crave battle and glory and be heroes and this is simply related and accepted. But when Eowyn does the exact same stuff, it’s because she was tainted by the corruption of Sauron. As soon as she is freed from The Enemy’s Influence, she immediately puts her weapons aside and embraces her role as wife.

I was like :D and then I was like :/

The one thing I really remember vividly from the movie was the multiplicity of endings. There’d be this big emotional scene with the big emotional music, and the screen would fade to black, and the whole theatre would be awash with the sounds of people packing up their stuff and getting ready to leave, and just as people started standing up, the screen would light up again and we’d get another ending. Then another. Then another. Worse yet, many of the endings had shots of water on a 12 hour movie (or, at least, it was starting to feel that long after so many endings) and I’d consumed about a gallon of soda (or, at least, it was starting to feel that way after so many endings).

I was not surprised to find that the movie had actually cut several endings out, and drastically shortened the ones it kept.

I mean, fine, I loved the story of the Travellers putting the Shire to right, and of course we had to get the story of Aragorn becoming king, but it was very disheartening to finish the story and still have so much weight in my right hand.

That being said, I would have liked to have seen a lot more of Legolas and Gimly travelling together. Not in the same book, but that could have easily made a “there and back again” type of story. I’m sure Tolkien could have come up with some way of injecting Hobbits.

I’ll write another post about the series as a whole, but I will say that I enjoyed this book, but I’m glad to finally be done.

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Read the rest of the series:

  1. The Hobbit
  2. The Fellowship of the Ring
  3. The Two Towers
  4. The Return of the King

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