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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Movies)

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Aragorn II is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is also known as Strider. He is first introduced in The Fellowship of the Ring, and becomes a central character in the story of The Lord of the Rings.

The Lord of the Rings

In The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn joined Frodo Baggins, Bilbo's adopted heir, and three of his friends at the Inn of the Prancing Pony in Bree. These four had set out from the Shire to bring the One Ring to Rivendell. Aragorn, going by the nickname Strider, was aged 87 at that time, nearing the prime of life for one of royal Númenórean descent. With Aragorn's help the Hobbits escaped the pursuing Nazgûl and reached Rivendell. There Aragorn was chosen as member of the Fellowship of the Ring that was to accompany Frodo, who was charged with destroying the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. This Fellowship also included Gandalf, the hobbits Pippin and Merry along with Frodo's faithful gardener Samwise Gamgee, Legolas the Elf, Gimli the Dwarf, and Boromir of Gondor. Before the company departed, Elven-smiths reforged the shards of Narsil into a sword, setting into the design of the blade seven stars (for Elendil) and a crescent moon (for Isildur), as well as many runes. This sword Aragorn took up and renamed Anduril (meaning “flame of the west” in the Sindarin language), and it was said to have shown with the light of the Sun and the Moon.

Aragorn accompanied the group through their attempted crossing of the pass of Caradhras, and subsequently through the mines of Moria. After Gandalf was lost in battle with the Balrog there, Aragorn led the company to Lothlórien and then down the river Anduin to the Falls of Rauros. Originally he had planned to go to Gondor and aid its people in the war, but after the loss of Gandalf he became increasingly concerned about his responsibilities to Frodo and the quest. Frodo, however, decided to continue his journey alone (accompanied now only by Sam). Here Boromir was slain by orcs while protecting Merry and Pippin, both of whom were eventually captured. After this breaking of the Fellowship, Legolas and Gimli accompanied Aragorn on the hunt for the Uruk-hai who had abducted the two younger Hobbits.

In The Two Towers, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli (by this time calling themselves the Three Hunters) encountered Éomer, who had recently been pursuing rumours of an Orc raid in the area. From Éomer, Aragorn learned that the Orcs who had kidnapped Merry and Pippin had been slaughtered, and that no Hobbits had been found among the remains. Dejected, he led Legolas and Gimli to the site of the battle. Clues led Aragorn to believe that the Hobbits might still be alive, prompting him to lead the party into Fangorn Forest. They did not find the Hobbits, but they did encounter the resurrected Gandalf the White (who they initially mistook for Saruman), sent back to continue his duties in Middle Earth. Gandalf told them that the Hobbits were in the care of the Ents of Fangorn. Together, the four traveled to Edoras, where Gandalf freed Théoden from Saruman's enchantment and helped him muster the Rohirrim against Saruman.

Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli then helped the people of Rohan in the Battle of the Hornburg, in which they conclusively defeated Saruman's army. In order to distract Sauron's attention from Frodo, who was approaching Mordor, Aragorn used a palantír and revealed himself as the heir of Isildur to Sauron. Sauron probably believed that the One Ring had come into Aragorn's hands; therefore he made his assault on Minas Tirith prematurely and without adequate preparation.

In order to defend the city, Aragorn entered the Paths of the Dead, and summoned the Dead Men of Dunharrow who owed allegiance to the king of Gondor. It had been prophesied by Isildur and Malbeth the Seer that the Dead would be summoned once more to pay their debt for betraying Gondor millennia before. With their aid the Corsairs of Umbar were defeated. Aragorn, a small force of Rangers, and a large contingent of men and soldiers from the southern regions then sailed up the Anduin to Minas Tirith. When they arrived at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Aragorn unfurled a standard that Arwen had made for him which showed both the White Tree of Gondor along with the jewelled crown and seven stars of the House of Elendil. With the help of the southern forces the armies of Gondor and Rohan rallied and defeated Sauron's army.

The restoration of the line of Elendil to the throne of Gondor is a subplot of The Lord of the Rings; Aragorn's adventures not only aid Frodo in his Quest, but also bring him closer to his own kingship — which, though his by right and lineage, has been left open for centuries due to historical, legal, and military circumstances. The people of Gondor have been under the rule of the Stewards of Gondor for centuries, as it was widely doubted that any of the royal line still lived. Shortly after Isildur's departure, Meneldil, son of Anárion, had severed Gondor from Arnor politically, although the formal title of High King remained with the northern line (as Isildur was Elendil's eldest son). This arrangement had been reinforced by the Steward Pelendur about 1,200 years before when he rejected Arvedui's claim to the Throne of Gondor during a Gondorian succession crisis (Eärnil, a member of the House of Anárion, was eventually chosen as King instead). It is worth noting, however, that Arvedui had also based his claim on the fact that he had married a descendant of Anárion: thus, Aragorn was technically a descendant of not only Elendil and Isildur but of Elendil's other younger son and Isildur's brother, Anárion.

In The Return of the King, the Steward Denethor declared that he would not bow to a descendant of Isildur (years before, he had seen "Thorongil" as a rival to his father's favour). Aragorn healed Faramir, Denethor's heir, who had been expected to die; this won him immediate recognition by Faramir as the rightful heir to the throne, and his humility and self sacrifice gained him the hearts of the inhabitants of Gondor's capital city (Aragorn's healing abilities, however, were a sign to the people of Gondor of the identity of their true king; as Ioreth said, "The hands of the King are the hands of a healer, and so shall the rightful king be known"). The people hailed him as King that same evening.

Despite his immediate success and popularity, however, and despite his claim to the throne through raising the royal banner, Aragorn decided to lay aside his claim for the time being. He knew that if he aggressively promoted his claim, rival claimants or debates as to his legitimacy were not out of the question, and this could be a fatal distraction for Gondor at a time when the West needed to be united against Sauron. So, to avoid conflict, after he had healed people during the night of Mar. 15/16, he left Minas Tirith and symbolically refused to enter it again until he was crowned King on May 1.

In order to ensure safe passage across Mordor for Frodo to fulfil his quest, Aragorn then led the Army of the West out from Minas Tirith to make a diversionary feint on the Black Gate of Mordor itself in the Battle of the Morannon. Gandalf had been given supreme command of the war effort after the Pelennor Fields, and acted as chief spokesman in the parley with the Mouth of Sauron; but Aragorn commanded the allied troops during the battle and its aftermath.

Upon Sauron's defeat, Aragorn was crowned as King Elessar (translated as Elfstone in Tolkien's invented language of Quenya), a name given to him by Galadriel. (In Sindarin, another of Tolkien's languages, this becomes Edhelharn.) He became the twenty-sixth King of Arnor, thirty-fifth King of Gondor and the first High King of the Reunited Kingdom, though it would be several years before his authority was firmly reestablished in Arnor. His line was referred to as the House of Telcontar (Telcontar being Quenya for "Strider" which was the name he was known by at Bree and the name which he was introduced with to the hobbits). Aragorn married Arwen shortly afterwards, and ruled the Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor until 120 of the Fourth Age. His reign was marked by great harmony and prosperity within Gondor and Arnor, and by a great renewal of cooperation and communication between Men, Elves, and Dwarves, fostered by his vigorous rebuilding campaign following the war. Aragorn led the forces of the Reunited Kingdom on military campaigns against some Easterlings and Haradrim, re-establishing rule over much territory that Gondor had lost in previous centuries. He died at the age of 210, after 120 years as king. He was succeeded on the throne by his son, Eldarion. Arwen, gravely saddened by the loss of her husband, gave up her now mortal life shortly afterwards. Her grave is in Lothlórien. Arwen and Aragorn also had at least two unnamed daughters.


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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
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