The Return of the King is the third and final volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, following The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers.
Aragorn by his courage and leadership proves himself a worthy ruler of men. The brave and loyal Sam Gamgee enables the long-suffering Frodo Baggins to reach the Crack of Doom, where the One Ring is destroyed along with Gollum, freeing Middle-earth from Sauron's power forever. The Hobbits return home, only to find the Shire under the control of Saruman, diminished in power but not in malevolence. Merry and Pippin, now experienced warriors of Rohan and Gondor respectively, take the lead in setting things right again. Time passes. The Shire heals, but Frodo does not. Eventually Frodo departs for the Undying Lands to find healing, along with Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and the elves. Sam, Merry and Pippin watch them depart and return home in silence. Sam is greeted by his wife Rose and his daughter Elanor. "Well, I'm back", he says.
Tolkien conceived of The Lord of the Rings as a single volume comprising six sections he called "books" and extensive appendices. The original publisher made the decision to split the work into three parts, publishing the fifth and sixth books and the appendices under the title The Return of the King, in reference to Aragorn's assumption of the throne. Tolkien indicated he would have preferred The War of the Ring as a title, as it gave away less of the story.
The structure of The Return of the King mirrors somewhat that of The Two Towers in that the first section recounts the various adventures of several characters including a massive battle, and the second section resumes the quest of the Ringbearers.
- Book V: The War of the Ring
- Book VI: The Return of the King
- A Annals of the Kings and Rulers
- I The Númenorean Kings
- II The House of Eorl
- III Durin's Folk
- B The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands)
- C Family Trees (Hobbits)
- D Calendars
- E Writing and Spelling
- I Pronunciation of Words and Names
- II Writing
- I The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age
- II On Translation
- I Songs and Verses
- II Persons, Beasts and Monsters
- III Places
- IV Things
- The Return of the King, 1980 animated feature made for television, featuring the voices of Orson Bean and John Huston.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003 theatrical film directed by Peter Jackson.
- The World of J.R.R. Tolkien (http://www.indepthinfo.com/tolkien/index.shtml)