The Return of the King is the third and final installment of J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy series, The Lord of the Rings. Everything has been leading up to this moment: the final confrontation with Sauron and the ultimate fate of the One Ring. The armies of Middle Earth converge on Mordor and the neighboring kingdom of Gondor in desperate battles for the future of Middle Earth.
Frodo struggles with his own weariness and the sinister power of the ring as his quest finally comes to an end. More than ever, loyalty and friendship conquer greed and deceit. Those who were once thought weak or lowly prove themselves to be of the highest character: a quiet soldier takes his rightful place as king, another king’s niece becomes a slayer of evil, and two small, sheltered hobbits from The Shire have the opportunity to become the greatest heroes of their time.
With Saruman vanquished, the remaining members of the fellowship turn their attention to Gondor, the once-great kingdom of men just east of Mordor. Though once a powerful and prosperous kingdom, Gondor has been without a king for some time, and its proximity to Mordor has made it a prime target for raids by Sauron’s forces. Its current steward, the father of fallen fellowship member Boromir, is in the throes of despair, convinced that Sauron’s armies will overrun Gondor and annihilate its people.
Though Rohan sustained serious casualties at the Battle of Helm’s Deep, its men still rally to Gondor. As the Rohirrim make their way to Minas Tirith, the capital city of Gondor, Aragorn takes Gimli and Legolas to the Paths of the Dead, a mountain that houses an army of undead oathbreakers whose spirits are trapped by their desertion from a previous war. With the oathbreakers in tow, Aragorn hurries to Minas Tirith, where the battle for Middle Earth has already begun.
Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam are still desperately trying to complete their quest, though they are now in the very depths of the enemy’s stronghold. They know nothing of their friends’ fates, know nothing of the War of the Ring; all they know is that they must, at all costs, press on. Weary beyond measure, injured, hungry, and on the verge of giving up, Frodo must rely on Sam’s friendship–unwavering despite the corrupting influence of Mordor and the ring–to propel him toward his final journey and the end of his quest.
The War and the Quest
The Return of the King audiobook focuses on two main story lines: the vast battles of the War of the Ring in Gondor and at the Gates of Mordor, and the two small hobbits still endeavoring against all odds to destroy the One Ring.
The War of the Ring
The Return of the King boasts several truly spectacular battle sequences as the tension built in the previous two books finally boils over. With Sauron’s forces now mobilizing, the men of Gondor find themselves vastly outnumbered. Even with the Rohirrim and other various groups coming to their aid, Sauron’s armies of orcs, men, and beasts are formidable opponents. Additionally, the allies of Gondor are faced with a new and terrifying menace: the nine Nazgûl, the most powerful of Sauron’s allies.
The Nazgûl were once men, but have since become powerful wraiths controlled completely by Sauron and bound to him by the One Ring. The leader of the Nazgûl, called the Witch King, is Sauron’s top commander. He has been pursuing Frodo and the ring from the very start, chasing the hobbits out of The Shire and following them all the way to the Misty Mountains.
Now he emerges to lay waste to Gondor. He flies into battle on the back of a dragon-like beast, and the evil sorcery embedded into his very nature makes him invulnerable to being slain by normal means. His very presence strikes terror into the hearts of the men allied against him who are trying desperately to protect Minas Tirith from his onslaught.
Without a king and with a steward who has given up all hope, Gondor’s chances of winning or even surviving seem slim to none. Yet, unbeknownst to the people of Minas Tirith, the heir to the throne of Gondor has returned. Though for years he was reluctant to claim his birthright, Aragorn now steps forward to lead Gondor against Sauron and restore his ancestral home to its former prosperity. He brings with him to Minas Tirith an army of undead, whose souls cannot be released to rest in peace until they fulfill the oaths they made as living men to serve the king of Gondor.
Aragorn promises to free them from their earthly prison if they aid him now against Sauron’s forces. Together with the men of Gondor and Rohan, as well as Merry, Pippin, Gimli, Legolas, and a returned and strengthened Gandalf, Aragorn strives to repel Sauron’s hosts and keep his people alive, hoping against hope that they can last long enough for Frodo to accomplish his mission.
The Hobbit’s Quest
While Sauron is distracted by the battles against Gondor and the armies practically at his doorstep, Frodo and Sam continue toward the fiery Mount Doom. It was in these fires that the One Ring was forged long ago, and it is only in this fire that the ring may be destroyed now. Frodo’s quest finally seems to be at an end–but the ring has a will of its own and exerts its power upon Frodo in an attempt to save itself from destruction. Even with Sam to help bear the burden, the quest is in danger of failing unless Frodo can muster the will to thrust the ring into the fire.
Benefits of the Audiobook
The Return of the King audiobook boasts the greatest scale and intensity of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. The fate of an age hangs in the balance, and the narration of the audiobook brings that thrilling tension to life. After listening to the audiobook, you will understand why The Lord of the Rings is one of the most popular and highly praised epic fantasies of all time.