It's actually quite hard to step back enough from this book to review it: I've read and loved it so many times. This third book sees Sam and Frodo in deadly peril in Mordor; Merry a knight of the Riders of Rohan; Pippin a squire of Gondor; and the other three (Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli) riding the Paths of the Dead (oooh, scary).
It always surprising to me how quickly this book goes: the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, for instance (you know, that big battle at the end of the film) is Chapter 5, and after that you're only a few chapters away from the end of the film. But, of course, this is not the film. A lot happens after the climax, some of them bad, some of them merely desperately sad, which I quite like: it reminds us that even after the defeat of evil not all is good in the world.
Also, I think more should be made of Frodo's first view of the Sea, since it seems a pretty big deal for the other characters, especially Legolas. But, you know, it can't be perfect.
Pretty damn near, though. Whose heart doesn't rise at the blowing of Rohan's horns, or the bit where Sam sees the star in Mordor? And who doesn't love Sam (a seriously underrated character, it seems to me. Gollum, also.)? And Tolkien's language - especially his verse, which appears surprisingly often. For example:
"Above all Shadows rides the Sun
And Stars for ever dwell.
I will not say the Day is done,
Nor bid the Stars farewell."
It is, above all, that message of hope in the face of despair, that image of the hopelessly small defying the mighty darkness, that makes The Lord of the Rings such an enduring tale. Even if resistance is hopeless, we must resist.