Return of the King Major Characters
Pippin (Peregrin) Took: One of Frodo's nephews. He begins this book in Minas Tirith. He swears himself to the service of Denethor, the steward of Gondor. He fights in the battles and makes quite a name for himself. If it were not for his intervention, Faramir would have been slain by his father. He almost dies before the gates of Mordor, but weathers the battle wounded underneath an orc corpse. When he returns to the Shire, he is braver and stronger than before. With Merry, he leads the small army that frees his home.
Gandalf the White, Stormcrow, Greyhame, the Grey Wanderer: The wizard, the main force of wisdom and good in the tale. Gandalf has the burden of knowing what must be done to save the world. This knowledge comes with a price: he must trust others to carry out his plans and convince all the other 'wise men' of the world that he is right. He fights in battle and is ready to die, but eventually turns to healing. With the death of Sauron, Gandalf's own time comes to an end and he must pass over the sea with the elves.
Merry (Meriadoc): Merry is another nephew of Frodo. He begins this tale in the ranks of the Rohirrim. Theoden forbids him to go to war with them, but a sympathetic soldier who turns out to be Eowyn, the niece of the king who was also left behind, takes him in. Once in battle, he heroically attacks the Captain of the Nazgul and saves Eowyn's life. This attack, however, results in a dire wound that only Aragorn could heal. Merry misses the attack on Mordor but is very valiant when he finally return to the Shire.
Sam (Samwise) Gamgee: Frodo's gardener in the Shire. Sam follows Frodo to the end of the earth and is equally responsible for the success of his master's mission. Sam is tempted by the power of the ring more than once, but he fights it off and rescues Frodo from almost certain death. He supports his companion all the way into Mordor and then literally carries him up Mount Doom. Sam is honored equally and returns to great repute in the Shire. He must stay behind for the first time when Frodo decides it is his time to travel across the sea. Sam returns to a normal life. He has a wife and children and becomes well liked in the Shire.
Frodo Baggins : Frodo bears the immense weight of the ring for three books. It is a weight of evil and temptation that is constant. His love for Sam and sense of duty keep his body going. His immense mercy for Gollum reveals how deeply he understands his own pain and empathizes with a creature that bore the ring much longer than he did. He cannot bear to have Gollum killed even on the steps of Mt. Doom. Frodo never recovers from his final failure in the cracks of Doom. Only Gollum's intervention actually brought about the destruction of the ring. This darkness lingers in him causing him pain until the day he decides to leave and go across the sea.
Aragorn, son of Arathorn: Heir to a great and ancient line of kings, Aragorn makes the difficult decision to lead the armies of the dead out of their dark mountains. He stops the southern armies from proceeding up the Anduin to Gondor and leads his own armies. Without his help, Gondor would have fallen. He carefully reclaims his crown after the war has ended. He is solely responsible for the healing of Eowyn, Merry and Faramir. He weds his life-long love Arwen at the end of the book and ushers in a new age of prosperity.
Sauron: The Dark Lord of Mordor, he has existed for many many generations. He created the Ring of Power to rule over the 9 rings of men, 7 of dwarves and 3 of elves. Aragorn's ancestor, Isildur, took the ring from him but lost it. Sauron's life is connected to the ring. All the armies in the world can neither help nor hinder him if he has it. If it is destroyed, he dies with it.
Denethor: The steward of Mordor. He was enchanted by the evil sights within his palantir and turned to darker ways. He gave up after his son Boromir died. He sends his other son Faramir, to the perilous defense of Osgillath. In the end, he commits suicide and would have killed his son too if not for the bravery of Pippin and Beregond.
Faramir: The son of Denethor who leads the defense at Osgillath and is wounded. He falls in love with Eowyn and marries her. After he gives Gondor to Aragorn, he is made the Prince of Ithilien and marries Eowyn.
Gimli: A dwarf from the Lonely Mountain on the far side of Mirkwood. He was a member of the original nine companions of the ring. He grows to love and trust Legolas and fights with ferocity in every battle.
Elrond: An aged elf who presides over Rivendell. He is the father of Arwen and one over the original advisers to the companions of the ring. He heads with Bilbo, Frodo, Celeborn, Galadriel and Gandalf over the sea from the Grey Havens.
Eowyn (Dernhelm): Theoden's niece and Eomer's brother. She falls in love with Aragorn and recklessly throws herself into battle because she cannot have him. She sneaks off to the war dressed as a man called Dernhelm and fights the Captain of the Nazgul, killing him with Merry's help. When she heals from her wounds, she falls in love with Faramir and eventually marries him.
Gollum: The pathetic creature that originally found the ring of power many years before. He lost it to Bilbo in the Misty Mountains and has been searching for it for over eighty years. In The Two Towers, Gollum leads Sam and Frodo all the way to Minas Ithil only to leave them in the trap of Shelob, the great spider. He appears at the end of this book and finally regains the ring only to lose his life and complete the hobbits' quest as he plunged into the center of Mount Doom.
Captain of the Nazgul: The hideous lord of the nine Nazgul. He was once a sorcerer but became a permanent servant of Sauron. He falls to a combined effort of Merry and Eowyn. Only with his death do the armies of Gondor begin to overcome their enemies.
Saruman (Sharkey): Once Saruman the White, he was a member of the council of wizards. His obsession with the ring and his plans to supplant Sauron and rule in his place resulted in his downfall. In The Two Towers, Gandalf broke his staff and cast him out of the council of wizards.