The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers – JRR Tolkien

The second ‘volume’ of the Lord of the Rings, the Two Towers, is the shortest of the there and was published in 1954 just months after the release of the first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring. So it wasn’t really that long a wait for the next instalment, as one might have imagined, and this was because the entire story was basically written years before since Tolkien wanted to publish the entire book.

What I loved was the split between the two books within The Two Towers. Obviously Tolkien had planned all six individual ‘books’ carefully, and he had decided to split them up from the beginning, but it works so well. The pacing was fantastic, as we went back in time to see what happened from a different perspective. We do travel through time a little (more so in the next volume) but it was easy to understand where you were placed in the timeline and you didn’t get too confused, if at all. Though it was painful not knowing the fate of Sam and Frodo for an entire book! And then you had to be content not knowing what was going on in Rohan and Gondor with all the other characters for the next book!

With the return of Ganldalf, and the treachery of Saruman, who has fallen into high aspirations of taking over Sauron’s throne, wizards are dominant in The Two Towers. I understand so little about the mythology behind the wizards, you learn a little in the appendices (on which I will have another post on Saturday) about when they came and their purpose for coming, but there are too many questions left to be answered. I know that there is probably more somewhere in Tolkien’s work, but until I read it all, I won’t know. I refuse to search online, because I want to read through everything first and then supplement with the vast knowledge base of the internet and the Tolkien-pedias, which I’m sure have the answers. But I do know that there are 5 wizards, we obviously know of two of them, and Radagast the Brown is introduced in The Hobbit movie, and also in The Fellowship but his tale is untold except he is a ‘queer’ wizard who concerns himself with plants and animals. That much is clear from Saruman’s taunts and the vision from The Hobbit movie (part one). But as for the two others, all I know is that they are blue, and that much came from the recent Hobbit movie, where Gandalf seems to have forgottten their names. How can he do that? Where are these two wizards and what have they been doing? Have they died, but how is that possible when Gandalf basically died? And after Gandalf’s death he just becomes stronger, and takes the place of Saruman as Gandalf the White (clearly the White is ‘better’ than the Grey, which is better than Blue which is better still than the Brown), since Saruman has become multi-coloured, and is no longer serving the purpose he was supposed to. What exactly are wizards? They look like men but they clearly aren’t, the appendices spoke about it, but even still it was vague. And where do they draw their power? Or is that too silly a question since this is fantasy and they can do what they want.

I love all the little pairings that happen in this volume between some in the Fellowship. Their friendship between Gimli and Legolas, Merry and Pippin, and Sam and Frodo are wonderful to see develop. Obviously the Hobbits were friends of a sort from the outset, but it blossoms into something so much deeper than would have ever happened if they didn’t go on this journey. And Gimli and Legolas, a pairing unheard of in Middle Earth, a dwarf and an elf. I do like that we see a bridging between these two races. Sadly we don’t see much of the dwarves in LoTR, in fact we only see the remnants of their power in Moria, and Gimli and Gloin are their only representatives. They were in fact fighting their own battles up north-west with the men of Dale, but that we don’t learn until the appendices. I love the two of them having a competition in the middle of the battle in Helm’s Deep about how many orcs they can slay (something I can remember from the movies), and then they both promise to visit a place of the other’s choosing (Fangorn Forest from Legolas, and the caves near Helm’s Deep from Gimili). It is nice to see that even in such hardship and troubling times, two ‘people’ can become friends, that will last a lifetime (and beyond if I’m not mistaken, do they not both go across the sea?).

Some thoughts:

  • ENTS! And specifically Treebeard! How I love them. It is empowering to see them ride up against Saruman, and destroying Isengard. But so sad about the entwives and entmaidens. Have they been lost forever? I hope not, I want to see little entlings!
  • Gandalf the white! His return is most joyous. He survived the balrog, and ended up becoming more powerful, taking Saruman’s colour. Without him, nobody would triumph.
  • Wormtongue, the slimy, cunning foul man who poisoned the mind of the king of Rohan. His end shall be rewarding
  • Pippin and Merry are just great. I’m envious of the time they spent with the ents. But sadly the pair must split as one heads to Gondor and the other must stay with Rohan
  • Faramir, one last place of hospitality, food and safety on the road to Mordor, but I can’t help but wonder if Frodo’s deception of Gollum caused him to betray them, or if he already (and I think he did) had imaginings of Shelob
  • Gollum. Sam had every right to be suspicious of you, the trap you less then into. But it failed to some degree. Shelob was injured, but Frodo was then taken into the hands of the enemy. Sam well have to work hard to save him. But I’m sure well see you again!
  • Poor Sam, after all your hard work, you even decided to go it alone and take the Ring, you find out that Frodo isn’t dead, he was just knocked out by Shelob’s poison, and now he has fallen into the hands of the orcs. You try to follow them, but come up stuck as they go into their stronghold. I do love their suggestion that he is some elven warrior, and he is just a small Hobbit, but as we know, you can’t discount Hobbits.

That’s all for The Two Towers, I think you can tell that this will continue tomorrow. But I ask of you, whose your favourite wizard, and what’s your favourite friendship? Not just from LoTR, but of all time? There have been a great deal of wizards, Dumbledore perhaps (a great controversy of a topic) or Merlin, and there have been countless friendships, so it might be hard to choose from. Again, any memories from reading the book, or favourite scenes depicted in the movies are much appreciated.

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