Home » Book Review » The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

The eponymous Fellowship from left to right: (...

The eponymous Fellowship from left to right: (Top row) Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, Boromir, (bottom row) Sam, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Gimli. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Intro: I know it has been published into three books, but I thought since it is one huge story, why not write a book review of the entire story?

Summary:

What happened after Bilbo Baggins found the One Ring in “The Hobbit“? 60 years passed since that event and on the night of his 111th birthday, Bilbo vanishes at his birthday party, leaving the ring and his entire fortune to his nephew, Frodo Baggins. Gandalf the wizard thinks that that ring is indeed the One Ring that Sauron had made and tried to control Middle Earth with, and he tells Frodo that the ring needed to leave the Shire and go to Rivendell, where Elrond would decide its fate.

Frodo sets off with his gardener Samwise Gamgee and cousins Meriadoc (Merry) Brandybuck and Peregrin (Pippin) Took, and all four Hobbits go through immense danger before they reach the small town of Bree, where they have a chance meeting with Aragorn, who is also on his way to Rivendell. From there, they stop at Weathertop, where the Nazgul attack the group and Frodo is wounded. He makes it to safety with all 9 Nazgul chasing after him.

Elrond heals him of his injury, and then calls forth a meeting to decide the ring’s fate. It turned out that the ring is indeed the One Ring and it should be destroyed in Mount Doom in Mordor, where it was made. Frodo volunteers to take the ring to Mount Doom.

A Fellowship of the Ring is formed, with the Hobbits Frodo, Sam, Merry, & Pippin, Gandalf, Aragorn (who is revealed to be the last heir of Isildur, who fought Sauron and killed him at the last battle where the Ring was lost), Legolas (an Elf), Gimli (a Dwarf whose father, Gloin, had gone on the quest with Bilbo many years earlier), and Boromir (son of Denethor, Steward of Minas Tirith)

Frodo meets with Bilbo a second time, and the old Hobbit presents him with two gifts; Sting (his old sword), and a mithril coat he wore in the Battle of 5 Armies. The Fellowship then sets out on the quest, but one false move in the Mines of Moria and a Balrog attacks them. Gandalf sacrifices himself to save the group and dies.

The group, now bereft of Gandalf, makes its way to Lothlorien, where Galadriel, the Elf Queen shows Frodo what would happen if he fails to destroy the ring. The group then sets off in the river Anduin and while camping on the shores, Boromir admits that he wants to use the ring and stop Sauron from attacking his country. Frodo defies him and he and Sam leave that same day.

Saruman, who was also a wizard like Gandalf, is evil and he wants the One Ring for himself. He dispatches his Uruk-Hai army to capture the Hobbits. Boromir is slain by the army and Merry and Pippin are captured. Before his death, Boromir confesses to Aragorn that he tried to steal the ring from Frodo. Aragorn gives Boromir a river-burial and with Legolas and Gimli, sets off for Isengard to rescue Merry and Pippin.

That book was called “The Fellowship of the Ring“. But in “The Two Towers“, Frodo and Sam are now on their own, having abandoned the Fellowship hours earlier. They encounter Gollum, a creature who was not unlike a Hobbit himself once and who had the One Ring for over 500 years. Frodo forces him to lead them to the Black Gates of Mordor.

Meanwhile, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli find themselves in Rohan, a great country which is being besieged by Orcs and Uruk-Hai running through their lands. They meet Prince Eomer and his men, who claimed that they saw a group of Uruk-Hai in their lands and killed them. At the same time, Merry and Pippin were held captive by the Orcs and Uruk-Hai, until Eomer’s men show up and kill all the Orcs and they flee into Fangorn Forest. They encounter an Ent named Treebeard, who tells them that the White Wizard is looking for them.

Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli also reach Fangorn Forest and instead of seeing Saruman, they see Gandalf, who had fought the Balrog and killed it. He was then reborn as Gandalf the White. They go to Edoras, the capital of Rohan, where Theoden, the King of Rohan, is under a terrible spell set by Saruman himself. Gandalf heals Theoden, who then suggests that they go to Helm’s Deep, a fortress where they will draw out the Orcs and fight them. Gandalf leaves on a short mission and the entire city is evacuated.

The next 15 pages describe the Battle of Helm’s Deep, in which Theoden and Aragorn lead the Rohirrim to victory and Eomer and his men return to finish off the Orcs. The group then travels to Isengard after a battle between Saruman and the Ents have taken place and the place is flooded out. Merry and Pippin are sitting at the gates and they reunite with their lost friends.

At the same time, Frodo and Sam survive a trip through the Dead Marshes (where a battle had once taken place) and then (after realizing that the gates are much too dangerous for them) order Gollum to find another path for them to take. During an afternoon feast in Ithilien, Frodo and Sam have an encounter with Faramir, younger son of Denethor and brother of Boromir. Faramir informs the Hobbits that Boromir is dead and he wants to know where they are headed. Sam tells him that Boromir died because he wanted the One Ring for himself. Faramir eventually lets them go, and as the story gets more intense, Frodo and Sam, led by Gollum, make their way to Mount Doom…

In “The Return of the King“, the other group is on Isengard and they are asking Saruman why he allied himself with Sauron. Wormtongue, Saruman’s former helper, kills the wizard and is killed by Legolas. Saruman falls off the tower and dies and a palantir falls out his pocket, only to be picked up by a rather curious Pippin. After one look, Sauron thinks that Pippin is the Ringbearer and Gandalf takes him from Edoras to Minas Tirith.

Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam have taken a secret staircase which was next to the once great city of Minas Ithil, which is filled with Orcs. They walk into Shelob the spider’s cave, where Gollum betrays them and Frodo is stung and eventually captured. Sam has the One Ring in his hand and realizes that only Frodo can destroy the ring. He goes into a tower in Mordor and frees Frodo.

In Minas Tirith, Pippin and Gandalf meet with Denethor, who had recieved word that Aragorn is the long-lost heir to the throne and his son Boromir was killed by Orcs. Pippin agrees to become a knight of Gondor. They also meet up with Faramir, who reveals that he met Frodo and Sam and they were going to Cirith Ungol.

Faramir agrees to a mission to take back Osgiliath, which is a city located next to Minas Tirith. However, the mission is a failure and he comes home gravely wounded. Denethor is crushed at the sight of his second son’s apparent death that he orders a funeral pyre to be built for both of them. Minas Tirith gets attacked by Sauron’s forces.

Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Merry remain in Edoras. That is, until Theoden decides that Rohan is to go to war in Gondor. He makes Merry a squire and places him in charge with his niece, Eowyn, when he and Eomer go off to war. But Eowyn refuses to let her uncle go off alone, so she disguises herself as a man and follows her uncle and brother.

Aragorn has a very dangerous task to do: he must take the Paths of the Dead and persuade a ghost army to assist him in the war of Middle Earth. Earlier, Elrond had given him the sword Anduril, which had been made from the remains of the sword Narsil, which Isildur used to cut Sauron’s hand off and take the One Ring. He takes Legolas and Gimli and they persuade the army to fulfil their oath to Isildur’s last heir. They take ships that reach the city.

Gandalf takes over the fight in Minas Tirith. Pippin notices that Faramir is sick and needs help, not untimely death. He and Gandalf go to stop Denethor from committing murder-suicide but the older man warns them that they cannot win the upcoming battle. He then burns himself and dies just as Faramir is rescued.

As the leader of the Nazgul taunts Gandalf, trumpets blow in the wind. The Rohirrim have arrived and the Battle of the Pelennor Fields begins. Theoden is slain by the Witch-King himself, but Eowyn reveals herself and slays him; thus fulfilling a prophecy that no living man could kill the Witch-King. Merry also helps kill the Witch-King by stabbing him with his sword.

With the Witch-King’s death and the arrival of Aragorn, the battle has ended. Aragorn heals Faramir, Eowyn, and Merry of their injuries. A meeting is then held, with Aragorn deciding that to buy Frodo time to destroy the Ring, they would fight Sauron’s forces and distract him.

Frodo and Sam force themselves to press forward with the task, which is taking its toll on the Ringbearer. At one point, Sam has to carry Frodo up the mountain, as Frodo claims he is getting weaker and the Ring is getting stronger. Gollum sees them at Mount Doom and attacks them, with Frodo running straight into Mount Doom.

At the same time, Aragorn, Eomer, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf, Merry, and Pippin have assembled a group of brave men and they march to the Black Gates and fight the battle for Middle Earth’s future. Frodo loses a finger when he decides to claim the Ring as his own and Gollum takes the Ring, falls over the edge and dies. With the death of the One Ring, Sauron also dies and his army is destroyed. Frodo has succeeded.

At the end of the story, Aragorn is crowned King of Gondor, Eomer is made King of Rohan, Eowyn and Faramir marry, and Aragorn marries Arwen, Elrond’s daughter. Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin return to the Shire, which has been safely untouched by the war and they rebuild their lives. Sam marries Rose Cotton, his childhood sweetheart, and they live next door to Frodo.

Frodo realizes that he hasn’t fully healed of his injuries and seeks a cure that cannot be found in Middle Earth. He places Sam in charge of the Red Book, which had once been Bilbo’s diary of his adventures, but it had since been filled with the stories about Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin; Frodo tells Sam that it was now his turn to finish the book.

One day, Gandalf comes to the Shire to pick up Frodo and the others. Bilbo is there too; the old Hobbit feels content to go on one more adventure. Waiting for them are several Elves, among them Elrond and Galadriel, who claim that the time of Man has come and the time of the Elves is over. With tearful goodbyes to Merry, Sam, and Pippin, Frodo and Bilbo, along with Gandalf, board the ship and the ship leaves for the Undying Lands.

Sam returns home and raises 14 children with his wife Rose and becomes Mayor of Hobbiton; Merry remains a Knight of Rohan and Pippin is a Knight of Gondor; Aragorn rebuilds Gondor and Eomer rebuilds Rohan; Legolas rebuilds Ithilien and Gimli becomes Lord of the Glittering Caves near Helm’s Deep.

After many years, Sam is old when his wife dies and he places the Red Book in the charge of his eldest daughter, Elanor Gamgee-Fairbairn, whose descendants keep the book. He then goes to the Undying Lands. After the deaths of Merry, Pippin, and Aragorn, Legolas decides to go to the Undying Lands and he takes Gimli with him.

My review: (OK, now that was a rather long summary, but let’s get to the good part) I say that together, this is the best book that I have ever read and it will certainly be among my favorite books for a long time. And the live-action movies based on the books were phenomenal at that as well!

My recommendation: So if you love fantasy before it was tainted with the crap we have today or you have loved Lord of the Rings since forever, then read this book; its a classic among classics.

My rating: *****

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