The Return of the King

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The Tree in the Court of the Fountain is still withered and barren. When shall I see a sign that it will ever be otherwise?
Though the fruit of the Tree comes seldom to ripeness, yet the life within may then lie sleeping through many long years, and none can foretell the time in which it will awake.

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. It contains Book V: The War of the Ring and Book VI: The End of the Third Age.

For quotations from the movie adaptation see: The Lord of the Rings movies page.

Book V[edit]

Minas Tirith[edit]

  • Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor, and to the Lord and Steward of the realm, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth, until my lord release me, or death take me, or the world end.
  • I will not forget it, nor fail to reward that which is given: fealty with love, valour with honour, oath-breaking with vengeance.
  • The rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?
  • Generous deed should not be checked by cold counsel.

The Passing of the Grey Company[edit]

  • 'What do you fear, lady?' he [Aragorn] asked.
    'A cage,' she [Eowyn] said. 'To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.'

The Muster of Rohan[edit]

  • Where will wants not, a way opens.

The Siege of Gondor[edit]

  • You deceive yourself. He would have stretched out his hand to this thing, and taking it he would have fallen. He would have kept it for his own, and when he returned you would not have known your son.
  • 'You think, as is your wont, my lord, of Gondor only,' said Gandalf. 'Yet there are other men and other lives, and time still to be. And for me, I pity even his slaves.'
  • Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend. It can be so, sometimes.
  • In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl. A great black shape against the fires beyond he loomed up, grown to a vast menace of despair. In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl, under the archway that no enemy ever yet had passed, and all fled before his face.
    All save one. There waiting, silent and still in the space before the Gate, sat Gandalf upon Shadowfax: Shadowfax who alone among the free horses of the earth endured the terror, unmoving, steadfast as a graven image in Rath Dínen.
    "You cannot enter here," said Gandalf, and the huge shadow halted. "Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back! Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your Master. Go!"
    The Black Rider flung back his hood, and behold! he had a kingly crown; and yet upon no head visible was it set. The red fires shone between it and the mantled shoulders vast and dark. From a mouth unseen there came a deadly laughter.
    "Old fool!" he said. "Old fool! This is my hour. Do you not know Death when you see it? Die now and curse in vain!" And with that he lifted high his sword and flames ran down the blade.

The Ride of the Rohirrim[edit]

  • Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!
    Fell deeds awake, fire and slaughter!
    spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
    a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
    Forth Eorlingas!

The Battle of the Pelennor Fields[edit]

  • 'Begone foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!'
    A cold voice answered: 'Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.'
    A sword rang as it was drawn. 'Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.'
    'Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!'
    Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. 'But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you if you touch him.'
  • Great heart will not be denied.
  • Over the field rang his clear voice calling: 'Death! Ride, ride to ruin and the world's ending!'
  • Out of doubt, out of dark, to the day's rising,
    He rode singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
    Hope he rekindled, and in hope ended;
    Over death, over dread, over doom lifted
    Out of loss, out of life, unto long glory.
  • "My body is broken. I go to my fathers. And even in their mighty company I shall not now be ashamed."

The Pyre of Denethor[edit]

  • 'Authority is not given to you, Steward of Gondor, to order the hour of your death,' answered Gandalf. 'And only the heathen kings, under the domination of the Dark Power, did thus, slaying themselves in pride and despair, murdering their kin to ease their own death.'
  • To me it would not seem that a Steward who faithfully surrenders his charge is diminished in love or in honour.

The Houses of Healing[edit]

  • Few other griefs amid the ill chances of this world have more bitterness and shame for a man's heart than to behold the love of a lady so fair and brave that cannot be returned.
  • It is the way of my people to use light words at such times and say less than they mean. We fear to say too much. It robs us of the right words when a jest is out of place.
  • It is best to love first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere and have some roots, and the soil of the Shire is deep. Still there are things deeper and higher; and not a gaffer could tend his garden in what he calls peace but for them, whether he knows about them or not.
  • The hands of the king are the hands of a healer, and so the rightful king shall be known.

The Last Debate[edit]

  • It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.

The Black Gate Opens[edit]

  • There rode a tall and evil shape, mounted upon a black horse, if horse it was; for it was huge and hideous, and its face was a frightful mask, more like a skull than a living head, and in the sockets of its eyes and in its nostrils there burned a flame. The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it, and he said: 'I am the Mouth of Sauron.'
  • 'I have tokens that I was bidden to show to thee – to thee in especial, if thou shouldst dare to come.'
    • The Mouth of Sauron
  • 'He was dear to you, I see. Or else his errand was one that you did not wish to fail? It has. And now he shall endure the slow torment of years, as long and slow as our arts in the Great Tower can contrive, and never be released, unless maybe when he is changed and broken, so that he may come to you, and you shall see what you have done.'
    • The Mouth of Sauron
  • 'The Eagles are coming! The Eagles are coming!'

Book VI[edit]

The Tower of Cirith Ungol[edit]

  • Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr. And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be.
  • The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.
  • In western lands beneath the Sun
    the flowers may rise in Spring,
    the trees may bud, the waters run,
    the merry finches sing.
    Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night
    and swaying beeches bear
    the Elven-stars as jewels white
    amid their branching hair.
    Though here at journey's end I lie
    in darkness buried deep,
    beyond all towers strong and high,
    beyond all mountains steep,
    above all shadows rides the Sun
    and Stars for ever dwell:
    I will not say the Day is done,
    nor bid the Stars farewell.

The Land of Shadow[edit]

  • There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
  • Where there's a whip there's a will, my slugs.

Mount Doom[edit]

  • 'Come, Mr. Frodo!' he cried. 'I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he'll go.'
  • 'I have come,' he said. 'But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!' And suddenly, as he set it on his finger, he vanished from Sam's sight.
  • But do you remember Gandalf's words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.

The Field of Cormallen[edit]

  • 'The realm of Sauron is ended!' said Gandalf. 'The Ring-bearer has fulfilled his Quest.'

The Steward and the King[edit]

  • The world is full enough of hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them.
  • Many folk like to know beforehand what is to be set on the table; but those who have laboured to prepare the feast like to keep their secret; for wonder makes the words of praise louder.
  • This is your realm, and the heart of the greater realm that shall be. The Third Age of the world is ended, and the new age is begun; and it is your task to order its beginning and to preserve what may be preserved. For though much has been saved, much must now pass away
  • Who shall say how it comes here in the appointed hour? But this is an ancient hallow, and ere the kings failed or the Tree withered in the court, a fruit must have been set here. For it is said that, though the fruit of the Tree comes seldom to ripeness, yet the life within may then lie sleeping through many long years, and none can foretell the time in which it will awake.

Many Partings[edit]

  • I am the daughter of Elrond. I shall not go with him now when he departs to the Havens; for mine is the choice of Lúthien, and as she so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter.
  • You have chosen the Evening, but my love is given to the Morning. And my heart forebodes that soon it will pass away for ever.
    • Gimli to Éomer, on Arwen and Galadriel
  • Out of doubt, out of dark, to the day's rising
    he rode singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
    Hope he rekindled, and in hope ended;
    over death, over dread, over doom lifted
    out of loss, out of life, unto long glory.
  • [Treebeard said:] "It is sad that we should meet only thus at the ending. For the world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air. I do not think we shall meet again." And Celeborn said: "I do not know, Eldest." But Galadriel said: "Not in Middle-earth, nor until the lands that lie under the wave are lifted up again. Then in the willow-meads of Tasarinan we may meet in the Spring. Farewell!"

Homeward Bound[edit]

  • There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden. Where shall I find rest?
  • 'I am with you at present,' said Gandalf, 'but soon I shall not be. I am not coming to the Shire. You must settle its affairs yourselves; that is what you have been trained for. Do you not yet understand? My time is over: it is no longer my task to set things to rights, nor to help folk to do so. And as for you, my dear friends, you will need no help. You are grown up now. Grown indeed very high; among the great you are, and I have no longer any fear at all for any of you.'

The Scouring of the Shire[edit]

  • 'If I hear not allowed much oftener,' said Sam, 'I'm going to get angry.'
  • If we all got angry together something might be done.
  • You won't rescue Lotho, or the Shire, just by being shocked and sad, my dear Frodo.
  • 'I have already done much that you will find it hard to mend or undo in your lives. And it will be pleasant to think of that and set it against my injuries.'
    'Well, if that is what you find pleasure in,' said Frodo, 'I pity you.'
  • Do not believe him! He has lost all power, save his voice that can still daunt you and deceive you, if you let it. But I will not have him slain. It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal nothing.
  • You have robbed my revenge of sweetness, and now I must go hence in bitterness, in debt to your mercy. I hate it and you! Well, I go and I will trouble you no more. But do not expect me to wish you health and long life. You will have neither. But that is not my doing. I merely foretell.

The Grey Havens[edit]

  • Still round the corner there may wait
    A new road or a secret gate

    And though I oft have passed them by
    The day will come at last when I
    Shall take the hidden paths that run
    West of the Moon and East of the Sun.
  • I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them. But you are my heir: all that I had and might have had I leave to you.
  • You will be the Mayor, of course, as long as you want to be, and the most famous gardener in history; and you will read things out of the Red Book, and keep alive the memory of the age that is gone. so that people will remember the Great Danger and so love their beloved land all the more.
  • 'Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.'
  • And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.
  • But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap.
    He drew a deep breath. "Well, I'm back," he said.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]