The Return of the King
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The fellowship gathers their armies to defend against Sauron’s forces and distract him while Frodo and Sam complete their journey to destroy the one ring.
While this book has a climax of its own, it’s also the climax of the trilogy as a whole. The great final battle takes place during the first half, with all the characters we’ve already met contributing. Although basically everything has been introduced and explained at this point, there are still new, interesting elements introduced and I liked that there were still new things coming up at this point in the story without overwhelming everything that was already in place.
I honestly expected Frodo to hike up a spooky volcano with Sam at his side and casually toss the ring into the lava, feel a wave of relief, and turn around to walk back to the Shire and celebrate a job well done. How silly I was to expect such a boring ending to such an epic adventure. I’m glad they finished their task, but I’m also glad it wasn’t as simple in reality as it could potentially have been.
The Lord of the Rings has all the classic elements of the hero’s journey, but the world is so rich and well developed that it was never as predictable as it might have been. The ending was not quite what I expected, and everything in the aftermath is explained so nothing is left up in the air. It’s good to have a conclusive ending to a story this big. While everything is wrapped up, some characters get their happy ending, while some didn’t make it to the end, and the adventure is not over for everyone.