The Return of the King but backwards

A plot summary of JRR Tolkien’s book but backwards.

Frodo Baggins, a hobbit, arrives from the Undying Lands to Middle Earth on a ship with many powerful elves and the wizard Gandalf. At the Grey Havens he is met by three hobbits who greet him warmly and invite him to come and live in their homeland, The Shire.

Frodo travels to the Shire with Sam Gamgee, a prosperous and important hobbit who is highly regarded in The Shire. Frodo settles down for a quiet but comfortable life in his new home at Bag End but is troubled by prophetic dreams. Despite this sense of growing doom, it is a very prosperous time for the Shire even if it’s population starts getting slightly smaller.

Suddenly a dark change comes upon the Shire. Some evil force is at work! Buildings fall rapidly into disrepair while many new uglier buildings begin to appear. The hobbits start forming their own armed factions. One day a large mob of armed hobbits, led by Frodo’s friends assemble near Bag End, when to their horror the dead body of strange wizard and his henchmen appear. By some horrific necromantic power, the bodies of the wizard and the henchmen spring to life!

Frodo and his friends are forced to retreat as the wizard (known as both ‘Saruman’ and ‘Sharky’) musters forces against them. Frodo and his companions finally flee The Shire altogether. They meet up with the friendly wizard Gandalf the White at the town of Bree.

The Hobbits set off to get aid for the Shire from the King of Gondor. They reach Gondor with Gandalf but not long after their arrival a strange malaise falls on Aragon the King. Troubled, he decides to abdicate his thrown and divorce his wife Arwen so that he can deal with the coming crisis.

To everybody’s horror, Frodo and Sam fall into a sudden coma. Both of them begin to suffer from the symptoms of exposure and dehydration. Wounds appear on Frodo’s half-formed fingers. Their health crisis worsens but before a remedy can be found, the two hobbits are kidnapped by giant eagles. The eagles fly the hobbits to a mysterious volcano, Mount Doom in the desolate land of Mordor.

Regaining consciousness on the slopes of the Mount Doom they discover the volcano is in the process of erupting. They make their way into a cave as the eruption lessens. Overwhelmed by some sort of psychic force within the volcano, Frodo performs an incredible feat of magic. He brings forth from the lava a creature called Gollum and a magical ring. The Gollum creature then attaches the ring to Frodo’s hand by magically inserting new fingers on to Frodo’s hand using his teeth. As weird as this sounds, it does stop the volcano from erupting.

The weird volcanic ritual’s true purpose is revealed when Frodo feels the presence of a new being: Sauron the Dark Lord! Somehow, the ritual has brought this horrific being into existences as well as his many minions! Elsewhere in Mordor, the huge tower known as Barad-Dur springs into being and Sauron’s attention is focused on Frodo.

Coming to his senses, Frodo removes the ring from his new-formed finger and he and Sam flee the volcano. They make their way down the mountain, occasionally harassed by Gollum. They land of Mordor has become populated by a military force of orcs and the two hobbits realise they have to find an escape route. They head towards a pass over the mountains that should take them back to Gondor.

After a long trek, they reach the mountain pass of Cirith Ungol. Sam decides to betray Frodo (not unreasonably given that Frodo appears to be part of a plot to resurrect Sauron the Lord of Darkness) and leads him into the guard tower and ties him up so he is a prison for the orcs. Apparently Sam has been planning this all so that he can fight a giant spider who lives locally and to whom Sam has an unresolved grudge…

…Meanwhile, Aragorn the former king of Gondor has assembled a small army and has made his way to the gates of Mordor. They arrive just in time for Frodo’s weird volcanic ritual to bring not only Sauron into existence but also Sauron’s terrible army that assembles itself at the gates of Mordor to challenge Aragorn’s forces! After a skirmish, Aragorn is forced to retreat but the forces of Mordor allow Aragorn to take his troops back to Minas Tirith.

The safety of Minas Tirith does not last long. An army from Mordor forms around the city with many of Sauron’s forces rising from the dead and battle is joined! Realising the necromantic powers in play, Eowyn of Rohan uses the battle to resurrect one of Sauron’s chief minions the Lord of the Nazgul. However, her efforts are actually an attempt to bring her father King Theoden back to life!

Aragon’s is forced to retreat from the battle and using mysterious ghosts, commandeers ships to evacuate his forces. Meanwhile, the Riders of Rohan also flee from the battle field led by their resurrected king. With these forces gone, Sauron’s army lay siege to Minas Tirith.

All looks hopeless! But then the necromantic tides turn when Lord Denethor walks out alive from a mysterious pyre that was burning! Initially confused, Denethor regains control of the city from Gandalf and under his increasingly confident leadership the siege from Sauron’s forces lessens. As Minas Tirith’s defences and morale improve, the intensity of the attacks lessen. Eventually, the army laying siege to the city realise that the place is impregnable. Disheartened, Sauron’s forces make an orderly retreat.

Seeing that Minas Tirith and Gondor are now at least temporarily safe, the wizard Gandalf decides to leave the city and travel to Rohan, which has expressed some concern about the wizard Saruman who is currently locked up in a tower in the ruined city of Isengard. Meanwhile, Aragorn has made his own way to Rohan and has used his own necromantic powers to install some ghosts in a cave.

The heroes have avoided destruction but the forces of evil only appear to have gotten stronger in the process! The book ends with the fate of Middle Earth in doubt!

9 thoughts on “The Return of the King but backwards

    1. The sequel is sort of like the set up for a heist movie. You’ve got all these different characters in different places but by the end they’ve formed this kick-ass gang. [Don’t get too attached to the Gandalf the White character though…]

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Surely this book is titled “The King of Return” – referring both to Theoden and The Witch-King, who have magically returned in some sort of process that conserves the number of kings (counting The WK as an anti-king).

      Liked by 2 people

  1. This worked surprisingly well, though as you comment above it does require a remarkable amount of necromancy. And this way the trilogy ends on a happy note with an enormous party (this observance I must credit to Mr angharad).

    Liked by 3 people

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