Ok, I just picked up the Return of the King, and I noticed the huge appendix/index in the back. What's the deal with this? What all does it contain, and should I read it first, or last, or just use it for reference? Thanks for any answers. NO!! DON'T READ THE APPENDICES UNTIL AFTER YOU READ ROTK!! Phew. Some of the appendices are background descriptions of races, languages, and pronounciations guides. Tolklien was a linguist, of course, and each race of Middle-Earth has its own culture. I usually skip the ones about the language and calendars and such -- I'm not interested in them, but they are worth a skim. Other appendices tell you something of the history of particular characters -- just why does it seem important that Aragorn is "Isildur's Heir" and what his relationship is to Minas Tirith and the leaders there -- where much of the action of ROTK goes next. Why are the Mines of Moria so important to Gimli? And so on. There is, of all things, a lovely short romantic tale that explains a lot about certain characters in LOTR. Of most special importance is the Tale of the Years, in Appendix B. It gives massive spoilers for what you are now reading. While not in LOTR, Sauron is unleashing war all over Middle Earth, not just in places you are reading about. App. B tells you those stories. For those who survive (and I won't tell you who), App. B tells you what happens to them all at the close of ROTK, sort of like an abbreviated NJO after ROTJ. It is not to be missed. There are certain things the characters do in ROTK that are merely cool in the book. The Appendices set up the backstory that gives those events additional texture and meaning. Enjoy!