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Publisher's Summary

The Return of the King is the towering climax to J. R. R. Tolkien’s trilogy that tells the saga of the hobbits of Middle-earth and the great War of the Rings. In this concluding volume, Frodo and Sam make a terrible journey to the heart of the Land of the Shadow in a final reckoning with the power of Sauron.

In addition to narrating the prose passages, Rob Inglis sings the trilogy’s songs and poems a capella, using melodies composed by Inglis and Claudia Howard, the Recorded Books studio director. This recording also contains Tolkien’s preface to the trilogy, including a prior history of the ring, and shire habitat, history, and folkways.

©1983 Christopher R. Tolkien, Michael H.R.Tolkien, John F.R. Tolkien, and Priscilla M.A.R.Tolkien (P)1990 Recorded Books

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I've listened to Fellowship and Two Towers on audiobook by the same narrator, and I had been trying to find Return of the King on CD from a bunch of different libraries and no such luck- but now it's finally here!

Rob Inglis does a wonderful job as the reader, and gives the characters their own voice. I've read the books before and enjoyed them, so I knew that I would like this story- but if you have never read the books before then I definitely reccomend listening to this version. :)

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Rob Inglis and JRR Tolkien in Perfect Partnership

Where does The Return of the King rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Number One

What other book might you compare The Return of the King to and why?

Two juvenile series -- Oz and Harry Potter, all inspired by the classic Beowolf, came to mind during this book. There certainly seems to be a chain of inspiration among every hero adventure series, no matter the characters or settings.

Which character – as performed by Rob Inglis – was your favorite?


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I both laughed out loud and cried.

Any additional comments?

I listened to the audiobook on a road trip because I was in the middle of reading the books and they don't like you to read while driving. It couldn't have made the travel more delightful. If I could, after this experience, I'd walk around listening to a great audiobook all the time, and never engage in real life again.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 11-15-12

Great Story, Good Narration

The Lord of the Rings is a true classic and if you have not experienced it (or only experienced the movies) this recording should be a wonderful experience. This recording includes the prefix and appendices (both at the end of the recording), which might be dry for some, but is great for LOTR geeks. Having an unabridged Lord of the Rings on Audible has been long awaited and is terrific. If I had not been exposed to the NPR/Minds-Eye production of this series I would have been pretty happy with the narration. The Minds-Eye production was abridged but was a really excellent performance. Rob Ingles’ narration is very good, and he does particularly well presenting the difficult epic poetry sections, but I did not much like his singing and overall a simple narration can’t compete with the Minds-Eye performances. Nevertheless I was very happy to have this excellent unabridged version. I started out a little unhappy with the narration, but as time went on I just became quite immersed in the story.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Just as good as the last 2 simply great!

This book was one of the best books I've listened to and I would recommend it to anyone. The extra information at the end is really interesting and it's nice to know more history behind it all.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Ruth
  • United States
  • 05-27-13

May the Hair On Your Toes Never Fall Out!

We are at the end of our war trilogy. Some people like to call this book/movie the story with a thousand endings. I disagree. There are several things that have to be wrapped up in this story. Will the hobbits ever get home? Will Aragorn ever become king? Will Frodo and Sam fulfill their quest? Will your favorite characters still be standing when it is all over? Will good triumph over evil? Keep your eyebrows crossed and hang on to your walking sticks because this book is exciting! I have read it so many times, but it never gets old for me. I think over all that the Lord of the Rings is one of the best stories about friendship and enduring to the end that I have ever encountered. The history and poetry are delightful. Maybe I am biased because I am a Tolkien nut, but this book and the other two in the trilogy are fantasy at their best. If you can hang in there and if you are patient enough, the Appendices at the end offer some interesting back story you won't get anywhere else. I hope you like it as much as I do.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Find What You've Been Missing

As with the other books in this series, Rob Inglis brings an understanding of this material that is rare to find. Tolkien uses both the epic and down to earth styles in this trilogy, and Inglis moves easily between them.

I know that some Audible members, including me, are also a part of the disability community. Just about every disability related book supplier has made these books available to their members. Yet the results were, at best, able to give an accurate reading of the text, and, at worst, give you a reading that was missing something.

I know that some people, unaware that these recordings were even available on Audible, may have tried to use text to speech technology along with a read-aloud type app. I have not tried this, but based on my experience with this technology, the results are not all that great. It's like trying to eat food at a restaurant that was undercooked. You eat a couple of bites, but push your plate away in disgust.

The technology is not able to distinguish between the various writing styles used in these books, nor can it easily deal with Tolkien's invented languages. And as for the songs, well, Houston, we have a problem.

I have tried the various narrations offered from within the disability community. While I did get a feel for the text, I had this feeling that something was not right. Using my dinner analogy, it was like food that was OK, but nothing to write home about.

Rob Inglis hits the nail on the head with his skillful narration. Being the competent actor that he is, he moves easily among Tolkien's various writing styles. He handles the invented languages well, and does an equally credible job singing the songs. Like someone spicing upyour dinner, I find this adds variety to the reading.

One thing Inglis does, and the technology can't do, is to vary the pace of the narration. Whenever Tolkien describes a dramatic scene, such as a battle, Inglis picks up the pace. Whenever there is a moment for reflection, he picks up on that and brings it down. In short, he is sensitive to the mood Tolkien sets throughout the text.

To continue with the dinner analogy, it's as if you've left the restaurant feeling fully satisfied, and you want to come back for more.

In short, why settle for crumbs when you can get a full meal? If you're looking for a good narration of this series, I highly recommend this one.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Dubi
  • New York, NY
  • 06-28-17

Many Happy Returns

How strange it feels to give this book only four stars, and feeling generous in doing so. It's been one of the five-star books of my life. I've re-read the Ring trilogy at least a dozen times, read it to my daughter at bedtime 2-3 pages at a time over the span of months. This is my first listen, but I don't think the audio format diminished it at all -- on the contrary, Rob Inglis is rightfully lauded in Tolkien circles for his legendary narration.

I'm tempted to blame the movie, which may have been the best entry in the trilogy, the one that won the Oscar. The tale of how Gollum got the ring starts it off (Gandalf tells it to Frodo in Tolkien's Fellowship), Shelob is saved for The Return (in Tolkien it is the cliffhanger ending to Towers), and much of what happens after Aragorn is crowned is omitted, most notably the Scouring of the Shire, where the returning hobbits liberate the Shire from Saruman.

But it's not the fault of the movie. Asked about Shelob, director Peter Jackson said there was little to propel the story of Frodo and Sam in The Return, and he's right -- the three chapters leading to Mount Doom are just drudgery (for them). Having Faramir charge to his doom to the sound of Pippin singing a sad song is a welcome respite from the repetitive descriptions of so many battle scenes. Showing the Paths of the Dead instead of having Legolas recount it is fantastic. Showing is also better than telling Gollum's backstory -- without that prologue, the book's best character would hardly be seen until the climax at Mount Doom.

As for the Scouring, it is as much a shame to leave that out as it was to omit Tom Bombadil and other Shire-side episodes from the Fellowship film, but the truth is that that is the only good chapter out of all that comes after Mount Doom -- five hours of epilogue after the story reaches its climax ten hours in. Yes, there are many happy returns in The Return of the King, but that is just too much, much of it too tedious.

And then there are three hours of preface and appendices, which you can easily skip, unless you are a die-hard Tolkien completist. Even a longtime devotee like me, having skipped it in most of my re-readings, found it difficult to plow through them in audio, as I felt I must.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Awesome. Just Remember to Bring a Map.

A completely satisfying, surprising, edifying and moving end to the long saga. If you like this kind of thing (and I do) then you will enjoy Lord of the Rings beyond all measure. There is nothing I can say to convince you otherwise if your tastes don’t lie in this direction.

I admit that I tackled it, at least in part, out of a desire to repair an omission. Back in high school The Hobbit and its sequels were all the rage; you couldn’t walk into the meanest bookstore without seeing a poster-size version of Tolkien’s map of Middle Earth. And while I read The Hobbit for a class I never embarked on the three following volumes. Laziness? Yes, in part. But also my aversion had something to do with the kind of people who were reading Lord of the Rings at that time: players of Dungeons and Dragons, geeks of the first water, fellows who would argue for hours about the respective powers of about Gandalf and Sauramon. Of course, these books deal with some very sophisticated themes (temptation and sin, redemption and renewal, the wellsprings of courage and perseverance, the choice of revenge or forgiveness) and it isn’t surprising that 16-year-olds would gravitate to the details rather than see the larger sweep of the story. For myself I’m glad I waited. What some dismiss as a quaint fairy story is in reality a profound meditation on all the themes mentioned above and more.

One practical piece of advice: make sure you have a good map. None that I found online covered every location mentioned in the story. But the one that worked best for me was drawn by Christopher Tolkien and is available at, among other places, the Tolkien Gateway (again, a little too D&D for me, but that's where the map is).

Tolkien has a disconcerting habit of mentioning places and events from the distant past that his characters are well aware of, while you are left guessing. (And, incidentally, no map I found showed every place he mentions.) A passing familiarity with Beowulf and the Norse Sagas made me realize these asides were echoes of those works, touches that made the story sound even more like old lore from a land that actually existed. For those interested, there is a long essay by Tolkien at the end of this recording that covers that lore and history; I skipped it, happy to soak in the towering power of the story without all the enthusiast's details on the different strains of pipe weed or who taught the Hobbits the art of building.

Finally, a note on Rob Inglis’ superb performance. He is a boon companion to have on such a long journey. His sonorous delivery, his unerring ability to reflect the mood of the words he reads, helped bring out the inner meaning of much of the tale.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • tobaly
  • king point, NY, United States
  • 03-29-13

great performance

If you could sum up The Return of the King in three words, what would they be?


What did you like best about this story?

post destruction of ring

What does Rob Inglis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

uses voices and songs. A master of narrator. Best in the business

Any additional comments?

narration is like the first 2 books. Rob Inglis work in this trilogy is constant perfection


2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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All the Dominoes Fall... into the Kitchen Sink.

The Third and Final novel in the Trio, and it all comes to a head! The preceeding novels, and indeed much of Tolkien's own works, culminate in This Book.

It, litterally, all comes down to this! And the ensuing novel is like watching a huge arrangement of dominoes slowly fall all over middle earth. Even to be seen time and again from different angles, and through different eyes.
If I had a favorite, this would have to be it.

Not only do both, and All the storylines begin to get into the really meaty parts; travel after travel is brought toward its end and things that are 'to be done' become things that are 'now over'...

Aside from the more interesting material events, Tolkien also seems to have better woven this last book, having far more effective and clear connections made between the multiple stories, and managing to repeat events and timelines without seeming to repeat himself. Large sections of story left untold from the film interpretation are covered, and All the loose ends ultimately get tied up.

The book ends, then, and the enormous addative materials begin.
I found the first reading of this sort of in depth material to be a bit daunting and overwhelming, but found it enlightening and revealing on my second read.

Whereas the council held in the first book covers much depth quickly in the first book, the ensuing materials make that short reading seem a brief introduction.

The enormous times and various events and references seem thick on the ground and I cannot help but feel it is this sort of depth that keeps fans comming back and continuing to be interested for years to come.
I found the Dwarf History particularly interesting, as well as the completely seperate love story which also seems to cover more cohesively a running narrative that may have been lost if put substantially into the greater story.

I have heard of his other publications on the subject and may concidder looking into them as well. In the meantime, I enjoy most that the novels do what I most admire in a writer's writing, which is to say, they end in such a way that the reader knows the Rereading of the novel will then be read in a whole new light, as a New Novel all over again!

I certainly think the series is designed to get better and better over time... a tactic I find particularly applaudable in any writing. I knew going into this that it was a much loved and engaging book, and I am left agreeing with that proposition.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful