The Return of the King (Lord of the Rings Trilogy #3)

The Return of the King (Lord of the Rings Trilogy #3)

4.7 683
by J. R. R. Tolkien

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As the Shadow of Mordor grows across the land, Aragorn is revealed as the hidden heir of the ancient kings. Gandalf miraculously returns and defeats the evil wizard, Saruman. Sam leaves his master for dead after a battle with the giant spider, Shelob; but Frodo is still alive -- in the hands of the Orcs. And all the while the armies of the Dark Lord are massing -- and…  See more details below


As the Shadow of Mordor grows across the land, Aragorn is revealed as the hidden heir of the ancient kings. Gandalf miraculously returns and defeats the evil wizard, Saruman. Sam leaves his master for dead after a battle with the giant spider, Shelob; but Frodo is still alive -- in the hands of the Orcs. And all the while the armies of the Dark Lord are massing -- and the One Ring comes ever closer to the Cracks of Doom.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times
An extraordinary work—pure excitement...
C.S. Lewis
Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron..
Time Magazine
One of the great fairy-tale quests in modern literature.
A remarkable book.
A work of immense narrative power that can sweep the reader up and hold him enthralled for days and weeks..
Sunday Telegraph
Among the greatest works of imaginative fiction of the twentieth century.
Boston Herald
A masterful story — an epic in its own way — with elements of high adventure, suspense, mystery, poetry and fantasy..
From the Publisher
. . . spirited productions . . . stirring music . . .
The Washington Post
. . . spirited productions . . . stirring music . . .

Product Details

Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
Lord of the Rings Trilogy, #3
Edition description:
Unabridged, 16 CDs, 15 hrs.
Product dimensions:
5.43(w) x 5.56(h) x 1.99(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


Pippin looked out from the shelter of Gandalf’s cloak. He wondered if he was awake or still sleeping, still in the swift-moving dream in which he had been wrapped so long since the great ride began. The dark world was rushing by and the wind sang loudly in his ears. He could see nothing but the wheeling stars, and away to his right vast shadows against the sky where the mountains of the South marched past. Sleepily he tried to reckon the times and stages of their journey, but his memory was drowsy and uncertain.

There had been the first ride at terrible speed without a halt, and then in the dawn he had seen a pale gleam of gold, and they had come to the silent town and the great empty house on the hill. And hardly had they reached its shelter when the winged shadow had passed over once again, and men wilted with fear. But Gandalf had spoken soft words to him, and he had slept in a corner, tired but uneasy, dimly aware of comings and goings and of men talking and Gandalf giving orders. And then again riding, riding in the night. This was the second, no, the third night since he had looked in the Stone. And with that hideous memory he woke fully, and shivered, and the noise of the wind became filled with menacing voices.

A light kindled in the sky, a blaze of yellow fire behind dark barriers. Pippin cowered back, afraid for a moment, wondering into what dreadful country Gandalf was bearing him. He rubbed his eyes, and then he saw that it was the moon rising above the eastern shadows, now almost at the full. So the night was not yet old and for hours the dark journey would go on. He stirred and spoke.

‘Where are we, Gandalf?’ heasked.

‘In the realm of Gondor,’ the wizard answered. ‘The land of Anórien is still passing by.

There was a silence again for a while. Then, ‘What is that?’ cried Pippin suddenly, clutching at Gandalf’s cloak. ‘Look! Fire, red fire! Are there dragons in this land? Look, there is another!

For answer Gandalf cried aloud to his horse. ‘On, Shadow- fax! We must hasten. Time is short. See! The beacons of Gondor are alight, calling for aid. War is kindled. See, there is the fire on Amon Dîn, and flame on Eilenach; and there they go speeding west: Nardol, Erelas, Min-Rimmon, Calenhad, and the Halifirien on the borders of Rohan.

But Shadowfax paused in his stride, slowing to a walk, and then he lifted up his head and neighed. And out of the darkness the answering neigh of other horses came; and presently the thudding of hoofs was heard, and three riders swept up and passed like flying ghosts in the moon and vanished into the West. Then Shadowfax gathered himself together and sprang away, and the night flowed over him like a roar- ing wind.

Pippin became drowsy again and paid little attention to Gandalf telling him of the customs of Gondor, and how the Lord of the City had beacons built on the tops of outlying hills along both borders of the great range, and maintained posts at these points where fresh horses were always in readiness to bear his errand-riders to Rohan in the North, or to Belfalas in the South. ‘It is long since the beacons of the North were lit,’ he said; ‘and in the ancient days of Gondor they were not needed, for they had the Seven Stones.’ Pippin stirred uneasily.

‘Sleep again, and do not be afraid!’ said Gandalf. ‘For you are not going like Frodo to Mordor, but to Minas Tirith, and there you will be as safe as you can be anywhere in these days. If Gondor falls, or the Ring is taken, then the Shire will be no refuge.

‘You do not comfort me,’ said Pippin, but nonetheless sleep crept over him. The last thing that he remembered before he fell into deep dream was a glimpse of high white peaks, glimmering like floating isles above the clouds as they caught the light of the westering moon. He wondered where Frodo was, and if he was already in Mordor, or if he was dead; and he did not know that Frodo from far away looked on that same moon as it set beyond Gondor ere the coming of the day.

Pippin woke to the sound of voices. Another day of hiding and a night of journey had fleeted by. It was twilight: the cold dawn was at hand again, and chill grey mists were about them. Shadowfax stood steaming with sweat, but he held his neck proudly and showed no sign of weariness. Many tall men heavily cloaked stood beside him, and behind them in the mist loomed a wall of stone. Partly ruinous it seemed, but already before the night was passed the sound of hurried labour could be heard: beat of hammers, clink of trowels, and the creak of wheels. Torches and flares glowed dully here and there in the fog. Gandalf was speaking to the men that barred his way, and as he listened Pippin became aware that he himself was being discussed.

‘Yea truly, we know you, Mithrandir,’ said the leader of the men, ‘and you know the pass-words of the Seven Gates and are free to go forward. But we do not know your companion. What is he? A dwarf out of the mountains in the North? We wish for no strangers in the land at this time, unless they be mighty men of arms in whose faith and help we can trust.

‘I will vouch for him before the seat of Denethor,’ said Gandalf. ‘And as for valour, that cannot be computed by stature. He has passed through more battles and perils than you have, Ingold, though you be twice his height; and he comes now from the storming of Isengard, of which we bear tidings, and great weariness is on him, or I would wake him. His name is Peregrin, a very valiant man.

‘Man?’ said Ingold dubiously, and the others laughed.

‘Man!’ cried Pippin, now thoroughly roused. ‘Man! Indeed not! I am a hobbit and no more valiant than I am a man, save perhaps now and again by necessity. Do not let Gandalf deceive you!

‘Many a doer of great deeds might say no more,’ said Ingold. ‘But what is a hobbit?

‘A Halfling,’ answered Gandalf. ‘Nay, not the one that was spoken of,’ he added seeing the wonder in the men’s faces. ‘Not he, yet one of his kindred.

‘Yes, and one who journeyed with him,’ said Pippin. ‘And Boromir of your City was with us, and he saved me in the snows of the North, and at the last he was slain defending me from many foes.

‘Peace!’ said Gandalf. ‘The news of that grief should have been told first to the father.

‘It has been guessed already,’ said Ingold; ‘for there have been strange portents here of late. But pass on now quickly! For the Lord of Minas Tirith will be eager to see any that bear the latest tidings of his son, be he man or——

‘Hobbit,’ said Pippin. ‘Little service can I offer to your lord, but what I can do, I would do, remembering Boromir the brave.

‘Fare you well!’ said Ingold; and the men made way for Shadowfax, and he passed through a narrow gate in the wall. ‘May you bring good counsel to Denethor in his need, and to us all, Mithrandir!’ Ingold cried. ‘But you come with tidings of grief and danger, as is your wont, they say.

‘Because I come seldom but when my help is needed,’ answered Gandalf. ‘And as for counsel, to you I would say that you are over-late in repairing the wall of the Pelennor. Courage will now be your best defence against the storm that is at hand—that and such hope as I bring. For not all the tidings that I bring are evil. But leave your trowels and sharpen your swords!

‘The work will be finished ere evening,’ said Ingold. ‘This is the last portion of the wall to be put in defence: the least open to attack, for it looks towards our friends of Rohan. Do you know aught of them? Will they answer the summons, think you?

‘Yes, they will come. But they have fought many battles at your back. This road and no road looks towards safety any longer. Be vigilant! But for Gandalf Stormcrow you would have seen a host of foes coming out of Anórien and no Riders of Rohan. And you may yet. Fare you well, and sleep not!

Gandalf passed now into the wide land beyond the Rammas Echor. So the men of Gondor called the out-wall that they had built with great labour, after Ithilien fell under the shadow of their Enemy. For ten leagues or more it ran from the mountains’ feet and so back again, enclosing in its fence the fields of the Pelennor: fair and fertile townlands on the long slopes and terraces falling to the deep levels of the Anduin. At its furthest point from the Great Gate of the City, north-eastward, the wall was four leagues distant, and there from a frowning bank it overlooked the long flats beside the river, and men had made it high and strong; for at that point, upon a walled causeway, the road came in from the fords and bridges of Osgiliath and passed through a guarded gate between embattled towers. At its nearest point the wall was little more than one league from the City, and that was south-eastward. There Anduin, going in a wide knee about the hills of Emyn Arnen in South Ithilien, bent sharply west, and the out-wall rose upon its very brink; and beneath it lay the quays and landings of the Harlond for craft that came upstream from the southern fiefs.

The townlands were rich, with wide tilth and many orchards, and homesteads there were with oast and garner, fold and byre, and many rills rippling through the green from the highlands down to Anduin. Yet the herdsmen and husbandmen that dwelt there were not many, and the most part of the people of Gondor lived in the seven circles of the City, or in the high vales of the mountain-borders, in Lossarnach, or further south in fair Lebennin with its five swift streams. There dwelt a hardy folk between the mountains and the sea. They were reckoned men of Gondor, yet their blood was mingled, and there were short and swarthy folk among them whose sires came more from the forgotten men who housed in the shadow of the hills in the Dark Years ere the coming of the kings. But beyond, in the great fief of Belfalas, dwelt Prince Imrahil in his castle of Dol Amroth by the sea, and he was of high blood, and his folk also, tall men and proud with sea-grey eyes.

Now after Gandalf had ridden for some time the light of day grew in the sky, and Pippin roused himself and looked up. To his left lay a sea of mist, rising to a bleak shadow in the East; but to his right great mountains reared their heads, ranging from the West to a steep and sudden end, as if in the making of the land the River had burst through a great barrier, carving out a mighty valley to be a land of battle and debate in times to come. And there where the White Mountains of Ered Nimrais came to their end he saw, as Gandalf had promised, the dark mass of Mount Mindolluin, the deep purple shadows of its high glens, and its tall face whitening in the rising day. And upon its out-thrust knee was the Guarded City, with its seven walls of stone so strong and old that it seemed to have been not builded but carven by giants out of the bones of the earth.

Even as Pippin gazed in wonder the walls passed from looming grey to white, blushing faintly in the dawn; and suddenly the sun climbed over the eastern shadow and sent forth a shaft that smote the face of the City. Then Pippin cried aloud, for the Tower of Ecthelion, standing high within the topmost wall, shone out against the sky, glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver, tall and fair and shapely, and its pinnacle glittered as if it were wrought of crystals; and white banners broke and fluttered from the battlements in the morning breeze, and high and far he heard a clear ringing as of silver trumpets.

So Gandalf and Peregrin rode to the Great Gate of the Men of Gondor at the rising of the sun, and its iron doors rolled back before them.

‘Mithrandir! Mithrandir!’ men cried. ‘Now we know that the storm is indeed nigh!

‘It is upon you,’ said Gandalf. ‘I have ridden on its wings. Let me pass! I must come to your Lord Denethor, while his stewardship lasts. Whatever betide, you have come to the end of the Gondor that you have known. Let me pass!

Then men fell back before the command of his voice and questioned him no further, though they gazed in wonder at the hobbit that sat before him and at the horse that bore him. For the people of the City used horses very little and they were seldom seen in their streets, save only those ridden by the errand-riders of their lord. And they said: ‘Surely that is one of the great steeds of the King of Rohan? Maybe the Rohirrim will come soon to strengthen us.’ But Shadowfax walked proudly up the long winding road.

For the fashion of Minas Tirith was such that it was built on seven levels, each delved into the hill, and about each was set a wall, and in each wall was a gate. But the gates were not set in a line: the Great Gate in the City Wall was at the east point of the circuit, but the next faced half south, and the third half north, and so to and fro upwards; so that the paved way that climbed towards the Citadel turned first this way and then that across the face of the hill. And each time that it passed the line of the Great Gate it went through an arched tunnel, piercing a vast pier of rock whose huge out-thrust bulk divided in two all the circles of the City save the first. For partly in the primeval shaping of the hill, partly by the mighty craft and labour of old, there stood up from the rear of the wide court behind the Gate a towering bastion of stone, its edge sharp as a ship-keel facing east. Up it rose, even to the level of the topmost circle, and there was crowned by a battlement; so that those in the Citadel might, like mariners in a mountainous ship, look from its peak sheer down upon the Gate seven hundred feet below. The entrance to the Citadel also looked eastward, but was delved in the heart of the rock; thence a long lamp-lit slope ran up to the seventh gate. Thus men reached at last the High Court, and the Place of the Fountain before the feet of the White Tower: tall and shapely, fifty fathoms from its base to the pinnacle, where the banner of the Stewards floated a thousand feet above the plain.

From the Audio Cassette edition.

Copyright 1986 by J. R. R. Tolkien

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The Return of the King (Lord of the Rings Trilogy #3 - Movie Cover Art) 4.7 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 683 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first read the trilogy while in high school in the late 60s. I remember that when I finished The Two Towers the local bookstore had to special order The Return of the King. I had to wait almost two months for it to arrive, so I could devour it in one day. A simply superlative story, but when I got to the appendices with the backstory of the peoples, history and languages of Middle Earth, I became a true believer. Truly, this could not be fiction! I don't know how many times over the last 40-odd years I've re-read these books. My wife and all my now grown children lived in awe and fear of Dad's discussion of them. In every fantasy series I've read since then, I've seen Tolkien's hand in their conception. When the movies came out, I was torn between dread and anticipation. I'm glad to see happen what we once thought was inconceiveable - that The Lord of the Rings could be captured on screen. Not perfect, but good enough that a purist like me was more than satisfied. When Sam said at the end, "Well, I'm back", I cried in the theater. As close to perfection as humans can get. If you enjoyed, were tantalized by the films -- read the books. See in the written word what you missed visually. I guarantee you won't regret it.
FantasyRider More than 1 year ago
The Lord of the Rings novel (though sometimes called a trilogy) is perhaps the most recognized trendsetter in the arena of fantasy. The level of detail and character evolution is incredible with no limits spared. Tolkien is truly a gifted writer that has established a place in history for his endeavor to bring to the reader a completely new world. Each book in the series builds on the last until the reader finds they are unable to put the books down. While not directly part of the Lord of the Rings novel, a favorite book about Bilbo's adventures in The Hobbit or There and Back Again is a not-to-be-missed read for those hoping to understand how the adventures of the Hobbits and the Ring first began.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To appreciate Return of the King, you really must read The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers beforehand. It is the third book in the series, bringing all the elements of the story together in a resounding finale. It starts out with the fellowship group that has divided not by choice, but by necessity. Frodo, the ring-bearer, knows he cannot risk his friends and he's not sure he can trust them, as the ring is effecting his thoughts. Gandalf the White and Pippin are preparing for a great battle, while Merry is helping lead a great army to the city, Minas Tirith. As the Dark Forces are preparing to annihilate all those who oppose the Dark Lord, Frodo and Sam are getting closer to Mount Doom and Mordor, the mountain of fire, where the ring can be destroyed. The Elves are preparing to rejoin the battle with all of their forces at the city of Minas Tirith. Aragorn lays waiting with the forces he has assembled, but they all know that if Frodo has failed, the battle is already lost. Will Frodo be able to separate himself from the ring or will the ring rule him? Will his once mortal wounds heal or without the ring and the magic of the elves will he die? All these answer can be found within the pages of Return of the King.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book 'The Reutrn of the King' was a really good book that I loved reading. In this book, you have a continuation of the story from book one and book two of the trilogy. Frodo and Sam, the ring bearers, have ventured into Mordor in an attempt to destroy the ring. Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf, Meriadoc (Merry), and Peregrin (Pippin)have gone to war. Merry and Pippin are now directly serving the kings. One hobbit is at the side of the King of Rohan, while the other guards the Lord of Gondor, Steward of the king. The others have ridden directkly into the battle, slaying orcs as they go. Aragorn, bringing souls of traitors, liars, and theives from the paths of the dead so that they may fight and then be fully put to rest. I enjoyed this book because it was full of suspense. It leaves you hanging at some parts of the book so you keep on reading, but it answers most of your questions in the end of the book. Overall, I rate this book a 5 out of 5.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That's right, this book gets five stars AND five hearts! I first saw the Lord of the Rings movies when I was eight and as soon as I did I knew I had to read the books, and they've been my favorite ever since (and Return of the King is the best of them all)! As much as I love many of the other fantasy books that I've read, none will ever be as near and dear to my heart as Lord of the Rings. I've suggested LOTR to practically every person I know, so now I'm suggesting it to everyone else! If you like fantasy and you're a bookworm at heart, then LOTR is for you!
ElfFan More than 1 year ago
You can't realy aprecciate Return of the King unless you have read the first two.It brings the whole story together and realy captures what Lord of the Rings is all about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most folks already know the story of Frodo's quest to destroy the one ring of power, so I won't bother summarizing it. Instead, let me focus on what I liked and disliked about the book. First, the plot is absolutely one of the most epic stories ever written, in a world so well-created that it has its own history and languages. It is rare to see an author take so much time and effort to breathe life into his creation. However, some of the detail is a downfall of the work as well. Characters are so numerous (and underdeveloped, in many places) that they can be easily confused. Side stories about the overworld's history are numerous and can also be confusing. Also, Tolkein really wasn't much of a writer, and his story is poorly paced and lopsided in many ways. Still, this book is a classic, mainly for the plot, and is well worth the effort. I thought the Fellowship of the Rings was the best of the trilogy, although I would rate Return of the Kings a close second. The Hobbit is by far Tolkien's best book, so read that if you haven't already. P. S. For those of you who have seen the movies (and who hasn't?) there is a lot of material in all three books that isn't in the movie, and that especially holds true for the end of Return of the King, when the hobbits return to the Shire only to find that everything is not exactly as they left it....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in 5th grade so that shows you can read whenever you want! And this book was amazing!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with this series. Best ever. Love the movies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read the Hobbit, the Fellowship of the Ring, and am almost done the Two Towers. I cannot wait to read this! I have read some of the reviews, and have a problem with some. Whoever said the book was way too long and made them hungry needs to listen to me. I understand that the books have alot of description, but that honestly does not bother me! That is one of the things that I love about these books! This is coming from a 13 year old. You just need to give them a chance.
GinnyWi More than 1 year ago
As with the entire trilogy, plus the Hobbit, I have read this over and over and never tire of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
These books live inside of me. I couldnt bear to finish them-even though I did- and cried when they were over. I am in seventh grade in advanced verbal linguistics an reccomend this book for everyone to read. To be honest i lived these books more than Harry Potter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have the books an the movies both gerrrrrrrat
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it! The book is AWESOME!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thats your opinion so i wont yell at you but just to share, in one of the interviews for the hobbit, Richard Armitage, who plays Thorin, said there was conflict over the beards, but for thorin at least they kept his beard short in memory of the fire at erebor, where the beards burned shorter, and he would grow the beard when he become king...well now that i blabbed i hope that helped...or made you like it better...whatever!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At fishing all results!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw every movie and each one made me just want to watch forever. They were totally awesome! I wanna read the book but it's sooo slow. It takes me five minutes to even read two pages. Great description but I'm gonna need to push myself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Defintly a good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Return of the King is an amazing book even though parts of it are hard to read. I have seen the Lord of the Rings movies and they are nearly as good. At the end of the third movie (and the book!) I nearly cried. My mom calls the movies to violent. I would recomend this book to anyone over the age of 10 just because it is very complicated.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I believe this piece of literature is enjoyable to read. It is number three in the Lord of the Rings series, so you must read the first two in order to understand it. This book is easy to read and easy to follow. J.R.R. Tolkien is a great author, he created Middle Earth out of a sentence he imagined: ' In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit. ' To create a whole series of books and a imaginary world out of that sentence is pure genius. This is a piece of literature you must read.
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Anonymous 6 months ago
In the stunning climax/ending of the lord of the rings, I have no idea what the heck hit me: preparations of war, cray-cray fathers who burn themselves and attempt to burn their barely alive sons, falls of wraiths, undead underground passages that strangely elves will traverse but dwarves will not,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whoever said they think this is the best book series ever i totally agree with u!!!! My babysitter got me introduced to the lord of the rings and the hobbit and i love her cause this is now my favorite series ever!!!!!!