Nine Worst Parts of The Return of the King

As I always say, no book is perfect. Today I’m discussing some of the things I don’t like about the final installment in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. This post contains spoilers for this book.

Disclaimer: These are my opinions, and you don’t have to agree with me.

Number 9: There’s a lack of character diversity.

All the main characters are white males. Even the few female characters who make an appearance are white as well. I know this book dates to a time period when diversity wasn’t commonly included in literature, particularly in fantasy; but I still dislike the lack of variety. As a female, I want to see myself represented in this story; and I know there are other readers out there who feel the same way.

Number 8: The characters act as though women aren’t capable of fighting.

This is particularly apparent when the hobbits are reclaiming the Shire from the ruffians. The women are holed up in a safe place until the conflict is over. We’ve seen Eowyn fight. We know females are capable of fighting, yet no one questions it when the women let the men do all the dirty work. They’d have twice as many people fighting on their side if they’d let women help.

Number 7: There’s a false ending.

The book feels like it ends once the Ring is destroyed, but surprise! There are more chapters.

Number 6: The resolution is really long.

There are a lot more chapters after the false ending. Because it feels like the story already ended, everything that comes after the false ending feels really drawn out. There’s the coronation at Gondor, then the conflict with Saruman and the ruffians in the Shire, and then there’s the final ending when some of the characters leave for the Grey Havens. The ending could almost be its own book.

Number 5: Frodo and Sam’s part of the story is really short.

We have this split storyline, and Frodo and Sam only get a few chapters before everyone comes together again. The other characters get many chapters before they’re reunited. It feels really uneven, especially because Frodo and Sam are enacting the main plot.

Number 4: The first half isn’t very entertaining.

The first half of the book isn’t very interesting. There are a lot of preparations for battle, scenes in the Healing Houses, and interactions between Faramir and Eowyn, none of which are particularly exciting. I’m not invested in any of these activities. I want to see Frodo struggling to get through Mordor to destroy the Ring. That’s what I’m here for, not these weird love scenes between Faramir and Eowyn.

Number 3: The book doesn’t really explain Aragorn’s venture into the Paths of the Dead.

Aragorn goes on a side quest through the Paths of the Dead to gain allies for the war, but the book skims over this. We don’t get any details regarding his side quest. This seems far more interesting than the stuff I just mentioned in Number Four. I would rather read about the Paths of the Dead, and I’m sad Tolkien skips this.

Number 2: I still hate the split storylines.

I got bored with the beginning, and I wanted to read about Frodo and Sam. I didn’t want to wait nine or ten chapters to get to them. I wish the storylines went back and forth instead of one in front of the other. It would be far more engaging, and it would help me keep the timelines straight.

Number 1: There isn’t enough Legolas and Gimli in this book.

I love Legolas and Gimli’s dynamic, and there’s nowhere near enough of their friendship and banter in this book. I wanted to see more of them, and I’m disappointed they didn’t show up in-scene all that much. They would have made the first part much more enjoyable to read.

These are my nine least favorite parts of The Return of the King. This book was the slowest of the three for me because there are so many Aragorn and company chapters at the beginning before we get to the Frodo and Sam chapters. Does anyone else feel like there isn’t enough attention given to the Ring plot in this book? Do you agree the Ring plot is the main plot?

What are your least favorite parts of this book? Do you agree or disagree with my points? Let me know in the comments.

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