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"The Return of the King" Book Discussion and White Cupcakes of Gondor Recipe

I wish to inspire readers, teachers, and book clubs to bake along with their reading and promote discussion about the books we've enjoyed.

Dig into this tasty treat as you watch the satisfying ending unfold.

Dig into this tasty treat as you watch the satisfying ending unfold.

The Return of the King Summary

Pippin and Gandalf have made their way to Gondor to share the heart-breaking news of his son’s death with Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, whose heart has already found this grief and mind is being devoured by despair. Merry has joined with the renewed King of Rohan, who has joined Legolas and Gimli in their battle to save Gondor and fight for men against the amassed armies of Sauron.

Aragorn will go to the Paths of the Dead and have a secret force join with him to destroy their enemy before he claims his rightful throne as King of Gondor. And Frodo and Sam are alone in the tower of Cirith Ungol, narrowly escaping the vicious spider Shelob, wearily darting around orcs and another following shadow, as they make their final journey to the fires of Mordor where the ring was crafted.

To many, all seems lost and hopeless. But there are those who would go to the end, no matter where the path leads. Though none of the former company could have guessed most of the sorrowful ends their friends and homes have come to. But with the destruction of evil comes hope and a chance for rebuilding and regrowth.

The Return of the King, the last leg of the journey of the One Ring, is hopeful, rewarding, and highly informative, with even added appendixes to tell of what happens with Aragorn, Samwise, and the rest of the company who remain in Middle-earth. This book is necessary for all who’ve begun the trilogy, following along with the journey of the weary travelers, as it is the satisfying ending for all who hoped to see good triumph over evil and the hopes of Middle-earth restored.

Perfect for fans of

  • The Two Towers and The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Hobbit
  • fantasy fiction
  • high fantasy
  • epic battles
  • tales involving wizards, elves, dwarves, and orcs
  • (finishing) long journeys
  • the triumph of good over evil
  • J.R.R. Tolkien
  • C. S. Lewis

Discussion Questions

  1. How did Pippin decide to repay to Denethor the debt of Boromir saving his life?
  2. What were the “Paths of the Dead”? How was Aragorn able to command them when no other could?
  3. Who is the rightful master of the seeing Stone? How was it to the company’s benefit that Pippin, not Gandalf, looked into it?
  4. Who was the rider Dernhelm truly, who took Merry into battle secretly? Why the disguise? How did the pair help deal a critical blow to the enemy, in answer to a riddle about the Nazgul?
  5. What would Boromir have done with the ring? What would Denethor have done? Was Frodo wise in keeping it from Gondor and could it have been wielded by those men for their desires?
  6. What made Denethor’s proud will snap? What foolish thing did he try to do?
  7. How did Denethor’s “vision of the great might of Mordor that was shown to him” feed “the despair of his heart until it overthrew his mind”? How can despair destroy a person, if they allow themselves to sink into it?
  8. Who is Ghan-buri-Ghan and how did he help Eomer and his followers?
  9. What items of Sam’s and Frodo’s did a Messenger bring to Aragorn and the former fellowship on the battlefield that led them to believe the hobbits were dead? How did he come by these items?
  10. How did the phial of Galadrial help Sam get past the Watchers, when even the Ring could not have done?
  11. How did a dead end for Sam in the Tower of Cirith Ungol lead him to singing, and how did that help him to find Frodo? Could you say that singing a hopeful song might be a good way to combat despair or sorrow sometimes?
  12. What do orcs eat and drink? If the Shadow that bred them can only mock, cannot make, and they were ruined and twisted by it, what types of creatures did they used to be? Why did they and Gollum hate lembas bread?
  13. How did a white star in the sky one night on their journey remind Sam to hope again, and that “in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing”? (see the quotes below if you need a reminder)
  14. Why did Sam believe it would be just to slay Gollum at the end for being a murderous, treacherous creature, and yet what restrained him from doing it? How was Gollum “enslaved to the Ring, unable to find peace or relief in life ever again”? Have you ever known anyone like that, bent so hard on one thing that it removes their peace in life? How could one avoid becoming that way?
  15. How was Gandalf right in predicting Gollum’s part in the story? How did he actually help destroy the Ring when Frodo couldn’t?
  16. Why did Eowyn wish to ride to war like her brother Eomer, and with whom else? How was she prevented? What new direction for her life did she find instead?
  17. To whom did Arwen give her place to go into the West, if he desired it? What else did she give him to wear around his neck and give him aid?
  18. Though Wormtongue said he wished he could leave his new master, Saruman, why wouldn’t he? What makes us repeat something harmful, or keep a bad relationship? If we really have the power to just leave, why is it so difficult for many?
  19. There was a lot of “gathering and sharing” of goods in the Shire. What happened to them? To what real-life occurrence is this similar?
  20. What had been happening to the best pipe leaf in the Shire, and under whose direction?
  21. Who was Sharkey? How did he meet his end, despite what Frodo wanted?
  22. Who did Aragorn marry and what was their history? What about Sam, and how did his children acquire their names?

The Recipe

In Gondor, where he was telling Denethor what became of Boromir, Pippin was served “white cakes.” Also, the white represents the white tree of Gondor and the battle that took place there.

White Cupcakes with Almond or Vanilla Frosting

White cupcakes of Gondor with vanilla or almond frosting.

White cupcakes of Gondor with vanilla or almond frosting.


For the cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp almond or vanilla extract
  • 3 egg whites (from 3 large eggs), at room temp

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2-3 tbsp whole milk or heavy cream, at room temp
  • 2 tsp almond or vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
What did you think of this tasty treat?

What did you think of this tasty treat?


  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat one softened stick of butter with the granulated sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Drop the speed to low, add the sour cream and milk, then slowly add one third of the dry ingredients to the bowl, then add the two teaspoons of either almond or vanilla extract. Add another third of the dry ingredients, and if you see them sticking to the side of the bowl, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add in the last of the dry ingredients, and increase the speed to medium and whip for two minutes. Then add the egg whites, one at a time, just until fully incorporated, then turn off the mixer.
  2. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Fill each cupcake liner about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out with crumbs, not raw batter. Allow the individual cupcakes to cool completely (minimum of ten minutes, preferably fifteen) on a wire rack or cutting board before frosting them. Makes 14-16 cupcakes.
  3. For the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip one stick of softened butter on medium-high speed for one minute. Then drop the speed to low and add one cup of powdered sugar, followed by half of the milk or cream, and the vanilla or almond extract. Slowly add the remaining two cups of powdered sugar, still on low, then adding only as much of the rest of the milk as needed to have a firm but creamy consistency. When there is no loose powder left, increase the speed to medium-high for one minute, until frosting looks thick and whipped. Frost onto cooled cupcakes. I used an XL star tip.
Hopefully this cupcake is as satisfying as the book's ending.

Hopefully this cupcake is as satisfying as the book's ending.

Rate the Recipe

Similar Reads

If you haven’t yet read the prequel to this series about Bilbo’s adventures, try The Hobbit next. More can also be found about the history of Middle Earth in the factual representation The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien and his son, Christopher. More works by Tolkien include Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle Earth, The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien, The Fall of Gondolin, Tales from the Perilous Realm, The Road Goes Ever On, and many others.

One of Tolkien’s best friends, C.S. Lewis, also wrote several fantasy series, and he and the two often met with a group of fellow writers for inspiration called The Inklings. Lewis’ fantasy (science fiction) series were the adult Out of the Silent Planet trilogy, which begins with the same title, and the famous high fantasy Chronicles of Narnia children’s series.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows also has a Dark Lord who put much of his power into a weapon that held "the best part of his strength" that became his undoing when it was destroyed. It also contains a mighty final battle, the Battle of Hogwarts.

There was much gathering and “sharing” of goods, then redistributed by soldiers in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book that tells a fictional account of a British island during WWII occupation of Nazis.

Dune by Frank Herbert is a sci-fi bestseller about a boy named Paul Atreides who lives on a desert planet and is destined to upend the betrayal his family suffered and save their planet by becoming one long prophesied about.

The Riddle-Master of Hed, Alphabet of Thorn, The Bell at Sealey Head, and In the Forests of Serre by Patricia McKillip all involve saving fantasy worlds, magical creatures within them who can help or harm the heroes, as well as long adventures and prophecies.

The Dragonbone Chair: Book One of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams is another fantasy epic series about kings, quests, dark sorcery, and a young man with the power to change the ruling powers of their world.

Notable Quotes

“The mightiest man may be slain by one arrow.”

“The hasty stroke oft goes astray.”

“The deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.”

“The way is shut. It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it, until the time comes. The way is shut.”

“In the morning counsels are best, and night changes many thoughts.”

“Where will wants not, a way opens.”

“Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.”

“Do not throw your life away rashly or in bitterness. You will be needed here.”

“You cannot enter here. Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back! Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your Master.”

“Need brooks no delay, yet late is better than never.”

“Forth now, and fear no darkness!”

“Even in the heart of our stronghold the Enemy has power to strike us.”

“Authority is not given to order the hour of your death. And only the heathen kings, under the domination of the Dark Power did thus…”

“They need more gardens. The houses are dead, and there is too little here that grows and is glad.”

“It is ever so with the things that Men begin: there is a frost in spring, or a blight in summer, and they fail of their promise.”

“Oft hope is born, when all is forlorn.”

“ is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”

“The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its only ruined and twisted them.”

“Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.”

“He knew all the arguments of despair and would not listen to them. His will was set.”

“The Mountain standing ominous and alone had looked taller than it was.”

“It needs but one foe to breed a war.”

“Alas! There are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured.”

“It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal nothing.”

“You cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole, for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do.”

© 2019 Amanda Lorenzo


Stofa MitLoginMon Panier on June 19, 2019:

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Ashley on June 12, 2019:

Cupcakes were phenomenal!

Naude Lorenzo on June 11, 2019:

That is an awesome books, very interesting but very long, congrats, I'm sure the recipe will be delicious, Thanks Amanda, you are unique.