Begins with the three paths to Gondor in one book, and Sam’s rescue of Frodo in the other, ending three or four different times as the threads are tied back together.
This volume has one book split among the viewpoints of the hobbits and the hunters, and the other is wholly Frodo and Sam’s storyline. Runs from Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn’s orc-hunt to the (start of the) race to Gondor after Helm’s Deep, and from the mazelike Emyn Muil through the encounter with Shelob.
If you need a summary here, you make me sad. Go. Read. (This volume runs from the long-expected party to the breaking of the fellowship at Parth Galen under Amon Hen.)
Wizards and dwarves and elves (and goblins and trolls and spiders and a dragon), oh my! (Not to mention hobbits, who really would rather be back at home in front of a hot kettle with a full belly and some snacks and pipe-weed at hand.)
‘I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire, too, for years and years, after all you have done.’
‘So I thought too, once. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. 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.’
The travellers were glad to leave the place. It was about eighteen miles to Bywater, and they set off at ten o’clock in the morning. They would have started earlier, only the delay so plainly annoyed the Shirriff-leader.
‘Well here we are, just the four of us that started out together,’ said Merry. ‘We have left all the rest behind, one after another. It seems almost like a dream that has slowly faded.’
‘Not to me,’ said Frodo. ‘To me it feels more like falling asleep again.’
‘Alas! there are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured,’ said Gandalf.
‘I fear it may be so with mine,’ said Frodo. ‘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.’
‘…for long years we healers have only sought to patch the rents made by the men of swords. Though we should still have enough to do without them: the world is full enough of hurts and mischances without war to multiply them.’
‘It needs but one foe to breed a war, not two, Master Warden,’ answered Éowyn. ‘And those who have not swords can still die upon them.’
And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.