the Little Red Reviewer

LOTR: The Return of the King read along, part 2

Posted on: November 19, 2011

Hi Everyone,  welcome back to our Lord of the Rings read along! This week we’re getting through The Return of the King.  Sauron’s forces have been properly distracted by the siege on Gondor, the troublesome Rohirrim and Aragorn’s forces of old.  The eye of Sauron would never even notice too people meandering through his backyard, would he?

This week’s questions were provided by Carl of Stainless Droppings.  It just goes to show, Tolkien and Skyrim aren’t mutually exclusive. ;)

here we go!

1.  After witnessing the events of Denethor’s demise, what are your thoughts on him as a father and as a ruler, especially when compared to what happened with Boromir and the Ring.

2.  Instead of riding into the city with pomp and circumstance, Tolkien pens the king’s return as a clandestine act in which he demonstrates his rightful place through the act of healing the wounded.  Your thoughts?

3.  For one chapter Sam got to be rescuer and ring-bearer.  What are your thoughts about Sam’s brief time as a ring-bearer in comparison to the others who have born the ring, or wished to?

4.  In a twist unexpected in many hero tales, Tolkien ends the journey into Mount Doom with Frodo ultimately failing at his task.  How did you feel about this and ultimately how does it make you feel about both Frodo and Gollum?

5.  Given that The Lord of the Rings is largely about an all male cast, what are your thoughts about Tolkien’s portrayal of Eowyn now that we’ve seen the course of her journey through these culminating chapters of her story?

6.  Much of this section of our reading has been filled with desperate acts with little hope of success.  How do you feel about the mood Tolkien created in the build up both to the battle and the final push into Mount Doom and what are your thoughts on how these sections ended?

7.  The “assigned” sections for part 3 only take us to the end of the actual story. Will you be reading the appendices?

my answers after the jump!

Other blog discussions:
Lynn’s Book Blog
Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf
Geeky Daddy

1.  After witnessing the events of Denethor’s demise, what are your thoughts on him as a father and as a ruler, especially when compared to what happened with Boromir and the Ring.

It’s too bad I didn’t get to meet Denethor when he was younger.  I’ve got to wonder if he was one of those young, idealistic rulers who thought he could change the world.  And then, little by little, he gave a little here, and a little there, and his morals became a little more flexible and fluid. Of course, this is a man who will do anything for his people, and I do mean anything. So in a way, that’s a good thing, but once you take it too far (hello, ring?), it becomes a very, very, bad thing.  So I would have liked to have met him before he became a jerk. From the last group of questions, ya’ll know Denethor is the dude I love to hate.

2.  Instead of riding into the city with pomp and circumstance, Tolkien pens the king’s return as a clandestine act in which he demonstrates his rightful place through the act of healing the wounded.  Your thoughts?

Aragorn is very humble.  I also think he knows he’s got to play this one just right. Gondor hasn’t had a king in generations, they’ve always had stewards.  Aragorn knows if he marches in and says “I’m in control now!”, people probably won’t accept him as ruler.  But if he is humble about it, and matches the description in the prophecy, the populace is more likely to invite him with open arms instead of being suspicious of a new ruler who shows up and nearly the same moment of their previous Steward’s demise.  On top of that, I don’t think Aragorn is interested in stripping Faramir of his political power.  Is Aragorn awesome or what?

3.  For one chapter Sam got to be rescuer and ring-bearer.  What are your thoughts about Sam’s brief time as a ring-bearer in comparison to the others who have born the ring, or wished to?

He’s so adorable, he’s practically immune to the ring’s power! All he wants is to help Frodo and get back to his garden.  It’s too bad more people in Middle Earth aren’t exactly like him.  Now we know for next time: When rings of power show up in Middle Earth, make sure they are entrusted to Hobbit gardeners!

4.  In a twist unexpected in many hero tales, Tolkien ends the journey into Mount Doom with Frodo ultimately failing at his task.  How did you feel about this and ultimately how does it make you feel about both Frodo and Gollum?

I was surprised Tolkien did that – Got Frodo right there, and then Frodo says he’s not going to do what he’s come to do.  But it makes a bit of sense: the closer you get to Mount Doom, the stronger the rings power, and the ring will do anything not to die.  So if it was going to overpower Frodo, that’s where it was going to happen.  If Gollum didn’t do what he did, I wouldn’t have put it past Sam to tackle Frodo, take the ring, and jump of the precipice.

5.  Given that The Lord of the Rings is largely about an all male cast, what are your thoughts about Tolkien’s portrayal of Eowyn now that we’ve seen the course of her journey through these culminating chapters of her story?

Eowyn is totally awesome!  Years ago, my excuse for not reading Lord of the Rings was that it was a “boy book”, and didn’t have enough girl characters.  In the years since, I’ve realized that most of the books that I read are “boy books” – male protagonists who wander around with other male characters, usually doing unsavory things that most female characters probably wouldn’t want to do anyways.  So I can’t use that excuse anymore.

Tolkien seems to have a thing for having characters that would usually be ineffectual doing the most extraordinary things. He could have had Aragorn and Boromir and other traditionally manly heroic characters be all manly and heroic and traditional, but no, those guys are just the background.  He’s got a tiny little hobbit tasked with destroying the ring, and two other hobbits that pretty much arrange for the destruction of Isengard, and don’t even get me started on Sam and Gollum. So it almost makes sense that a traditionally ineffectual character such as a nobleman’s daughter should be responsible for killing the Lord of the Nazgul.

Tolkien: the original trope basher?

6.  Much of this section of our reading has been filled with desperate acts with little hope of success.  How do you feel about the mood Tolkien created in the build up both to the battle and the final push into Mount Doom and what are your thoughts on how these sections ended?

The chapters where Sam and Frodo are clawing their way to Mount Doom frustrated me. In fact, most of the Frodo and Sam chapter in general dragged for me.  They go up a hill, they go down a hill. They go through a swamp, they look for drinkable water, they realize Gollum is following them, the reminisce about home. Wash, rinse, repeat.  Their interactions with each other get repetitive after a while. I much prefer the sections with the other characters,  there is more interesting conversations and observations.   I know that didn’t really answer the question asked, but it was something I felt like talking about.

7.  The “assigned” sections for part 3 only take us to the end of the actual story. Will you be reading the appendices?

I’ve already looked at some of the maps, cuz I like maps. I’m sure I’ll eventually wander through the rest of the appendices, probably just flip through the pages and see what catches my eye.

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7 Responses to "LOTR: The Return of the King read along, part 2"

One of these days I am going to get back to this book so I can catch-up! I was doing so well having reread the first two books, but I am just not reading very well this month…

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Hello, really behind with my reading! Only just finished and answered the questions. Link below:

http://lynnsbooks.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/lord-of-the-rings-return-of-the-king-read-along-part-2/

Will read everyone’s comments now.
Ta :D
Lynn

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I said this in my responses (http://bluefairysbookshelf.blogspot.com/2011/11/lotr-read-along-return-of-king-part-two.html) but I highly recommend everyone read in Appendix A, the section called “Here Follows a Part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen”. It’s short, but it’s the only place you’ll get the beginning and end of their love story. The first Appendix is mostly back story and history not already covered and bits of what happens afterward. (A lot of the other Appendices are lists of dates and lineages, pronunciation guides and stuff.) There’s also a couple paragraphs at the end of the section called “Durin’s Folk” (it’s a history of Dwarves) that tells what happens after the story to Gimli and Legolas.

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Ha, ha, I love your comments this week and am in total agreement. Aragorn is awesome, Tolkien is, like, all about women’s lib. Sam would build a massive garden if he had the ring of power, and, yes, I also found the Sam/Frodo chapters dragged a bit (apart from the odd remark from Sam which made me laugh – on Mount Mordor for example, spotting a pathway – ‘Why, it might have been put there a-purpose!!) i think you are nicer to Denethor than I’ve been – I still can’t forgive him and yet you made a good point about him maybe being different when he was young.
I know I’m being defeatist but I don’t think I will even open the Appendices!
Lynn ;D

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[...] Little Red Reviewer has been conducting a Read-A-Long for the LOTR. They’re finished up now, I think, but it will be fun to read the posts as I spin and listen along. [...]

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I totally agree with Tolkien getting Frodo right at the Crack of Doom. It shows how strong the rings burden can have upon a person or hobbit.
I agree with you how awesome Aragon REALLY is! i wish we had a King….err President as great as he is..maybe someday that will come to pass.

That is an interesting point of view to think what Denethor would have been like as a young ruler..:)

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Alrighty then, here is my post for part two:

http://www.stainlesssteeldroppings.com/the-return-of-the-king-group-read-part-2

Denethor is hard not to hate. I think Tolkien gives us glimpses to allow us to see that he was probably not always this way, but as he has sat for years in the shadow of a throne not occupied by a king in his lifetime, I think bitterness and selfish ambition coupled with his own despair at the growing evil on his very doorstep and he eventually was overrun and became the kind of person that we cannot help but despise when we see how he acts in his final days.

Aragorn is humble, while at the same time being a proud, strong ruler. In him I see Tolkien wrapping up all the virtues of what he believed would be a truly good and gifted leader and I cannot help but agree with him. If one wanted to take one’s role models from fiction, Aragorn would be a great place to start.

I don’t know that I totally agree with you on Sam being immune to the ring. Even after a brief time he feels a reluctance to give it up and starts to feel the lure of it. I see Tolkien as showing us that it could have easily been Sam corrupted if he had more exposure to it, and I think that brief exposure gives him a bit more sympathy for Gollum and empathy for what Frodo has been experiencing. I think it is that small amount of time with his own exposure to the ring’s power that helps steel Sam’s determination for the mission to succeed.

You said it perfectly, I think Tolkien really is a “trope basher” and I think he’s often wrongly accused of creating and perpetuating tropes.

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