Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Return Of The King Book 5 Chapter 9 Summary

The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | The Return of the King (Book 5, Chapter 9) : The Last Debate | Summary



Imrahil, Gandalf, √Čomer, and Aragorn meet to decide what to do next. Gandalf suggests that, because Sauron's eye is busy looking at Minas Tirith and occupied with wondering who will oppose him and claim the Ring, they should keep his attention to help Frodo complete the quest. They agree to pretend they have the Ring and march confidently to make war on Sauron, hoping Frodo can make it to Mount Doom before Sauron finds out the whole thing is a hoax.

While this conference is occurring, Merry, Pippin, Legolas, and Gimli catch each other up on events. Legolas tells the hobbits about the Paths of the Dead.


Gandalf's argument for marching on Mordor hinges on two main points: Aragorn and the other leaders willing to sacrifice themselves as bait in hopes Sauron will be blind to Frodo's presence; and Sauron interpreting their actions through the lens of his own perspective. He will watch for a powerful man, such as Aragorn, to claim the Ring and try to use it. He will watch for signs of a power struggle because he knows the nature of the Ring is to allow only one victor. He will not think they are making a sacrifice, because he himself would not. Sauron's imagination is limited only to the choices he would make.

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