The Return of the King, Book 6 #LotRreadalong
My Reading Process. I listened to much of Book 6, but then, I couldn’t take the suspense any more, and I raced through the end on my iPad. Overall, I really really enjoyed the flexibility that having both the audiobook and the ebook afforded me during this readalong.
My Thoughts on Book 6. I loved this book! The conclusion. The destruction of the ring at last. The wedding and coronation of Aragorn. The scouring of the Shire. The trip to the Grey Havens. Sigh. It is interesting that Tolkien choose to structure the last four books with overlapping timelines, focusing (almost) solely on Sam and Frodo in books 4 and 6. While I loved the books as-is, it might have had more emotional impact had the last stand of the kings alternated with Sam and Frodo’s struggle to get to Mount Doom. I don’t know. I probably shouldn’t second guess such a master.
Anyway, if you couldn’t tell, I wholehearted enjoyed this book/series. Such amazing characters and scenes. I cried during large parts of Book 5 and Book 6, which was embarrassing at times because I was often driving to work when that happened.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Book 6:
You want to know what’s sad? There are only a few from the very end, since I listened to most of it. Sorry about that.
But the Queen Arwen said: ‘A gift I will give you. For I am the daughter of Elrond. I shall not go with him now when he departs to the Havens; for mine is the choice of Lúthien, and as she so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter. But in my stead you shall go, Ring-bearer, when the time comes, and if you then desire it. If your hurts grieve you still and the memory of your burden is heavy, then you may pass into the West, until all your wounds and weariness are healed. But wear this now in memory of Elfstone and Evenstar with whom your life has been woven!’
Foreshadowing! Also, an interesting reason for why Frodo gets to go.
It was one of the saddest hours in their lives. The great chimney rose up before them; and as they drew near the old village across the Water, through rows of new mean houses along each side of the road, they saw the new mill in all its frowning and dirty ugliness: a great brick building straddling the stream, which it fouled with a steaming and stinking outflow. All along the Bywater Road every tree had been felled.
‘They’ve cut down the Party Tree!’
The trees were the worst loss and damage, for at Sharkey’s bidding they had been cut down recklessly far and wide over the Shire; and Sam grieved over this more than anything else. For one thing, this hurt would take long to heal, and only his great-grandchildren, he thought, would see the Shire as it ought to be. Then suddenly one day, for he had been too busy for weeks to give a thought to his adventures, he remembered the gift of Galadriel. He brought the box out and showed it to the other Travellers (for so they were now called by everyone), and asked their advice.
So Sam planted saplings in all the places where specially beautiful or beloved trees had been destroyed, and he put a grain of the precious dust in the soil at the root of each. He went up and down the Shire in this labour; but if he paid special attention to Hobbiton and Bywater no one blamed him. And at the end he found that he still had a little of the dust left; so he went to the Three-Farthing Stone, which is as near the centre of the Shire as no matter, and cast it in the air with his blessing. The little silver nut he planted in the Party Field where the tree had once been; and he wondered what would come of it. All through the winter he remained as patient as he could, and tried to restrain himself from going round constantly to see if anything was happening.
In the Party Field a beautiful young sapling leaped up: it had silver bark and long leaves and burst into golden flowers in April. It was indeed a mallorn, and it was the wonder of the neighbourhood.
Frodo dropped quietly out of all the doings of the Shire, and Sam was pained to notice how little honour he had in his own country. Few people knew or wanted to know about his deeds and adventures; their admiration and respect were given mostly to Mr. Meriadoc and Mr. Peregrin and (if Sam had known it) to himself.
Elrond wore a mantle of grey and had a star upon his forehead, and a silver harp was in his hand, and upon his finger was a ring of gold with a great blue stone, Vilya, mightiest of the Three.
But Galadriel sat upon a white palfrey and was robed all in glimmering white, like clouds about the Moon; for she herself seemed to shine with a soft light. On her finger was Nenya, the ring wrought of mithril, that bore a single white stone flickering like a frosty star.
As he turned and came towards them Frodo saw that Gandalf now wore openly on his hand the Third Ring, Narya the Great, and the stone upon it was red as fire. Then those who were to go were glad, for they knew that Gandalf also would take ship with them.
But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.
Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went aboard; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost.
ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Has your favorite character changed in The Return of the King? If yes, why?
Nope. Aragorn forever and ever. Amen. BUT, I did gain a greater appreciation for almost all of the other characters. Sam. Frodo. Merry. Pippin. Gandalf. Boramir. Faramir. Eowyn. Tom Bombadil. Elrond. Gollum. Theoden. Even Denethor and Saruman.
2. Which is your favorite book of the series? Why?
Can’t choose. I like them all for different reasons. I like Fellowship because of the set up and Rivendell and whatnot. I like Two Towers because of all the action and character development. I like Return of the King because of all the satisfactory resolutions!
3. Do you like how the series ended? Why?
Yes. Yes I do. I even like the denouement after the destruction of the ring. I thought the scouring of the Shire was kind of an awesome illustration of the lessons the hobbits learned along the way. And the ending at the Grey Havens and the ride home and Sam at Bag End? Perfect.
4. If you could change one thing about the ending what would it be and why?
Could we add in the part from the movie that Jenni and I love so much? “My friends, you bow to no one.”
5. Were there any changes in The Return of the King movie that you liked or disliked?
I’m bummed the movies didn’t include the healing stuff or the Shire stuff, but I understand why they did it. As aforementioned, I like the “my friends, you bow to no one” business.
6. What was your favorite moment in Book 6?
Can I pick three? Destruction of the ring. Reunion of the Fellowship. Coronation of Aragorn.
7. Which death affected you the most?
Apparently none. I can’t even think of a death in Book 6. Well, except Gollum, and I only thought that it was a fitting end.
8. Why do you think Frodo didn’t want to kill Saruman and Wormtongue, even after all the destruction and heartache they caused in the Shire?
Pacifist Frodo kind of annoys me, but it’s also understandable that after being saddled with an object of so much evil and destruction that he now eschews any kind of violence. I also think he learned his lesson with Gollum that every creature is pitiable in some way.
9. If you were in Frodo’s place, would you have done the same thing? (See previous question.)
I don’t know. I might be upset enough about the destruction of the Shire to kill them, but I think Frodo is already removed enough to not have that effect him.
10. If JRR Tolkien were still alive and wrote a sequel to The Lord of the Rings, which character would you want to see the most and why?
Aragorn!! Because Aragorn.