A review by estherdb
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien


Points go to the concept, not to the execution.
Tolkien had a brilliant mind, I marvel at the world he created. The languages, lore, history, cultures... AMAZING. 5 stars for effort.

But the execution, oh gods. If I have to read one more description of a rock, mountain, river or valley... Sigh.
And it's such a pity, because the story isn't bad at all and there are plenty of exciting moments. But they're dragged down by the plethora of dull pages and pages of landscape descriptions and diplomatic hobble gobble.

Then there's the narration/focalisation. I admire Tolkien's perseverance with always giving us the entire story from both the Ringbearer and the rest of the Fellowship's perspectives, but sometimes either would've sufficed. There's a lot of telling going on here, where it could've been showing. Switching points of view faster also would've allowed for a bit more momentum in the story. The way it was, Tolkien would leave a point of view right after or at an pivotal point and then the reader would be hurled back to a point in the past (where the previous narration started). So we were forced to go through the ENTIRE timeline again, but from that point of view. We could've skipped on quite a bit.

Also, the women (Bechdel who?), the tones of racism and servitude (if I hear Sam - who is, let's face it, the real hero of this story - call Frodo his "master" one more time...) do nothing but irk me.

Finally, the entire part about Saruman's work in the Shire felt unnecessary. After all the hardship these hobbits had to endure (two of them went trekking in Mordor, for heaven's sake), this felt like an unnecessary, minor bump in the road. A bump I didn't quite care about.

I thank Tolkien for being the father of fantasy and the way he created this world (in all its richness and all its facets) is absolutely wonderful, but the story itself could do with a whole lot of editing. I would consider myself a fervent reader, but this is one of the few books I've ever read that required a bit of self-imposed "forced" reading.