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The Two Towers - J. R. R. Tolkien

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Author: J. R. R. Tolkien / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 03 November 1997 / Genre: Fantasy / Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers / Title: The Two Towers / ISBN 13: 9780261103580 / ISBN 10: 0261103580 / Alternative title: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien / Alternative ISBN 10: 0007269714

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      30.11.2012 16:30
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      The greatest fantasy novel

      The Two towers is the second novel in the Lord of the Rings fantasy by JRR Tolkien and is in my opinion the greatest fantasy novel of all, it tells of the plight of Middle Earth under the growing powers of the evil warlord Sauron. The book continues from the Fellowship of the Ring but the nature of the ending of that novel means that the book is effectively split between the story of Frodo, Sam, and Gollum with the ring and Pippin, Merry, Gandalf et al in the fight for the lands of men against the Orc armies of Sauron.

      The Fellowship of the Ring

      The Fellowship of the Ring tells the simple on the surface tale of Frodo a hobbit from the shires journey to destroy the one ring forged by Sauron the dark lord to bring sway over the lands of the dwarves, elves and men. The ring was believed lost but was found by Frodo's uncle Bilbo as told in the Hobbit, since then the ring has been a Baggins heirloom and its true nature not understood. Bilbo disappears at the start of the book before Gandalf a wizard sends Frodo and his friends Sam, Merry and Pippin on an adventure to destroy the ring. Along the way they are joined by 2 men, an elf, a dwarf and Gandalf, however, Gandalf appears to be killed in the mines of Moria and one of the men (Boromir) tried to take the ring from Frodo. The book ends with Sam and Merry taken by orcs, with Sam and Frodo seemingly going on a suicide mission to Mount Doom in the heart of Sauron's domain to destroy the ring.

      The Two Towers

      The Two towers continues the narrative of the story but is by necessity split into two half, one is the travails of Sam and Merry with the orcs and the other Sam and Frodo on their journey into the heart of the darkness. Along the way we meet some of the most iconic characters in the fantasy genre, Sam and Frodo are joined by Gollum an ancient hobbit type creature who was the owner of the ring for generations before losing it to Bilbo. He agrees to help them to reach Mount Doom but has machinations of his own. For Sam and Merry we meet Treebeard who is a living tree and they attack the wizard fortress Isengard which is one of the towers of the title. Gandalf, Gloin (dwarf) and legolas (elf) meet the horsemen of Rohan (King Thoeden and the slimy Grima Wormtongue) and lead the resistance to Sauron and the fallen wizard Sarumen.

      Review of the book

      The hobbit and to a degree the Fellowship of the Ring are books aimed at children they tend to feature adventure, daring and a bit of comedy. However, with the two towers we enter a far darker world; we enter the world of the machine and industry. Up to this point, we had been living in a pre-industrial world but with the advent of the orc army we are now catapulted into a world of dirt, grime, violence and greed.

      There are no redeeming features in the enemy and the only alternative appears to be destruction and the domination of men by the orcs. The book is not short on adventure and battles, there is a huge battle at Helm's deep between the Rohirrm and the orcs of Saruman and the assault on Isengard by the Ents is a particular favourite. There are moments of levity such as Quickbeam an Ent being described by Treebeard as the closest we have to a hasty Ent but even here there is sadness because the Ents have lost the Entwives and no-one knows where they are. This book has some wonderfully sad and poignant moments, the breaking of the hold over King Theoden, Shelob the huge malignant spider and contains one of my favourite chapters in the whole of literature simply titled the choices of Samwise Gamgees in which Sam has to leave his master to the spider for the quest or does he?

      There is also the ride of Shadowfax with Gandalf to warn the men of the west about the Orc army and the appearance of Gandalf the White. This is my favourite book in the whole of literature, in times of trouble I read a part of this book and I'm transported back to daring little people fighting orcs, goblins, wizards, a forest of trees taking on a wizard castle or the truth behind the ranger in the north (Aragorn) and who he really is. We also meet some true villains, Saruman, Gollum, Grima, and Shelob.

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      04.08.2010 23:54
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      This isn't my favourite book in the trilogy but it is an enjoyable read, I would recommend it

      'The Two Towers' is the second volume in the trilogy of 'The Lord of the Ring', with book three; 'The Treason of Isenguard', and book four; 'The Journey to Mordor'.

      Plot-
      Book Three-
      Aragorn begins searching for the missing ring bearer who decided at the end of the previous volume to go alone as the ring was starting to corrupt those meant to protect it. In his search Aragorn comes across Boromir who is dying. He explains that he received mortal wounds from the arrows of orcs who have captured Pippin and Merry, and that Frodo has left with Sam after Boromir tried to get the ring, for which he is sorry.

      Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas set off after to orcs to try to rescue the hobbits, but the hobbits themselves manage to escape and come across the Ents, who are tree-like giants. These giants are very slow moving and talking, they are very much like trees except that they can walk, talk and see. They tend to keep themselves to themselves but when the hobbits highlight the destruction of their wood by Saruman they feel anger and surge up against the orcs.

      Gandalf returns to Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas as Gandalf the white. There is much to be done to save the countries of men from Saruman's evil and from turning on each other. They must also try to find their small friends Pippin and Merry, there is little hope of finding the other two hobbits now.


      Book Four-
      Frodo and Sam have been followed by Gollum, the previous owner of the ring before Bilbo. They capture him and recruit him as a guide to Mordor so that they have a chance of making it to the 'Crack of Doom'. Frodo pities Gollum, and the tortured creatures seems to truly respect his new master, but can he really be trusted?


      Opinion-
      It was a shame to see the fellowship broken but this also made for a more exciting plot as you can catch up with what is going on in three different places; the countries of men with Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas, Fangorn Forest of the Ents with Pippin and Merry and the outskirts of Mordor with Frodo and Sam, and have the suspense of wondering if they will ever be reunited. Despite the breakdown it is nice to see the friendships in their smaller groups grow, particularly between Gimli and Legolas. Frodo and Sam's relationship also strengthens, while Sam still sees Frodo as his master, the Baggins hobbit becomes more and more fond of his friend and faithful servant.

      Gollum provokes some interesting feelings in the reader as you see how much Frodo pities and trusts him, you want to do the same, but it is hard to put aside your suspicions.

      I liked the Ents, although irritatingly slow, they seem to be kind and wise creatures, but capable of great rage when they discover their trees are being cut down by the wizard. J.R.R. Tolkien is clearly capable of great imagination, shown by his personification of trees.

      This book was very enjoyable; there was still some action and interesting storylines, such as the goings on in Rohan, however it certainly is the common case of 'the middle book'. This volume seems to spend too much time wrapping up the end of the introductory book and leading us into the climax of the final volume, making 'The Two Towers' somewhat of a nothing book when compared to the other two.

      'The Two Towers' is definitely darker than 'The Fellowship of the Ring' which still had some of the warm style of 'The Hobbit'. You begin to realise in this book that not everything is going to go as was originally planned in the Council of Elrond, with the nine split into four, two and two. The main darkness of this book comes from the ring trying to get a firmer hold of its bearer. Usually the ring is easily able to manipulate its owner into wearing it and desiring it, but Frodo is different, it takes a lot more power to crush his resistance as hobbits are not selfish by nature. The ring is desperate for Frodo to wear it so that it can be found by Sauron. It is a tough psychological battle.

      Tolkien certainly has a way with words, he makes it very easy for a reader to visualise the landscapes of the world, Middle Earth, that he has created. You can also imagine the creatures he describes that inhabit this world, such as the orcs and hobbits.

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      07.06.2009 01:35
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      A brilliant book that gets you hooked!

      So earlier on today I review 'The fellowship of the ring' so naturally I have to do the next book in the trilogy. So the Two Towers is just that. The second book in J.R.R Tolkiens epic Lord of the Rings. It took Tolkien almost twelve years to write these three books, and when you read them you can really understand why!

      The first book really starts off as a nice fairy tale, simliar to 'The Hobbit' however as it moves along it becomes a lot darker and more involved. This is how the Two Towers follows on.

      At the end of the previous book, Sam and Frodo have been split from the fellowship and our making their own way to Mordor. Pippen and Merry have been carried off by the Orks, and Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn are in hot persuit of the hobbits, trying to rescue them. These are the basic storylines that the book follows, but it does go off in a few extra directions along the way.

      Part of the story follows Frodo and Sam as they aproach Mordor, Frodo is really starting to struggle with the influence of the Ring. Sam is loyal as ever trying to help Fordo. Then there is the introduction to the story of the creature Gollum. This book traverses much of Middle Earth in it's story and we are introduced to several news characters.

      As in the first book, the language is beautifully constructed. The character development is excellent and the new relationship the characters form is told in wonderful detail. It's so easy to visualise the landscapes and live the story. Tolkien has a way of drawing you into the story and making you beg for more. This is the kind of book you just cannot put down. The chapters finish with cliff hangers making you want to press on late into the night.

      Out of the three books I would say this is my least favorite, but that in no way means I did not enjoy it. It's a fantastic read with so much to enjoy. There is no point where the story drags or you loose interest, it is brilliant from start to finish.

      Again if you have never read these books, you must. They are a wonderful story and one that everyone should at least give a try. Obviously the Two Towers will not really make any sense if you have not read 'The fellowship of the Ring'. So make sure you get a copy of that first. Excellent book!

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      22.07.2008 19:32
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      A must read

      I originally read The Lord Of The Rings trilogy when I was 11. I received an amazing copy of it from my father for my birthday. I loved the tale but always considered the Two Towers to be the weakest of the three books. I think after the rollercoaster of the Fellowship (so much does happen) and the fact that we don't hear from Frodo and Sam again until about halfway through the book, I was a little disappointed. But every single year without fail I picked up the Lord of The Rings and read it again. And the Two Towers has really grown on me. Almost to the point where I can safely say it has gone from my least favourite volume to my favourite. From the emotional departure of Boromir in the opening chapter to Sam's dilemma at the end, I am constantly hooked. And it serves as the introduction to the most important character in the story, in my opinion. Namely Gollum. It's almost time for me to pick the trilogy up again as per my obsessive compulsive promise to myself and The Two Towers is the part I am looking forward to the most.

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      18.02.2003 14:24
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      I’m not sure I’ve met anyone that doesn’t know who Tolkien is or what he wrote. Thanks to the good Peter Jackson many more not only know who he is, but have had a chance to experience the incredible world that Tolkien began creating during his time in the trenches of the first world war. As you may or may not know the Lord Of The Rings was written and published in three parts, these books Peter Jackson has taken and used to produce three films that run based on the stories. Fellowship of the Ring being that released in 2001, The Two Towers released 2002 and the final part, The Return of The King to be released later this year. For me Tolkien was the writer of one of the greatest selling books of all time; The Lord Of The Rings. I, however, had never managed to read any of Tolkien’s great work as, ultimately, I found them tedious, heavy going and extremely slow (does this sound familiar Paul?). I do on the other hand have a great affinity with the world of folk lore and had made many efforts to read his work, but had never got further than the first few pages of either The Hobbit or Fellowship of the Rings. There was never going to be any question of my not watching the films, my interest in the novel was never in doubt, but Tolkien does have a habit of writing extremely descriptive and winding prose that makes for some heavy work. Coupled with rich “medieval” style dialogue you don’t get a break. I watched the first film with glee, and was blown away by the special effects and the force of imagination that had gone in to delivering Middle Earth to the cinema-going public. I found the story compelling and much of the ground work behind the characters that drive the book is covered in a fine way (or fine enough for me!). Thusly allaying my need to actually read the parts where I had always, previously, come unstuck. At the end of Fellowship of the Ring, I found myself hankering to know what
      had happened, particularly to Frodo and Sam as they set off alone, and given that I had no need to become perturbed by reading through further character growth I figured I could pick up the second book; The Two Towers. For those of you who haven’t read the books or seen the films I add this small synopsis of the bigger picture; “Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne, In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.” The poem is the prelude to the story of an all powerful ring created by the Dark Lord Sauron. The one ring holds great powers; amongst them a prevention of the ageing process, and increased abilities in the ways of magic. During a fierce battle, where many men and elves, die the Dark Lord is slain. The one ring is taken, and its power corrupts the one who means to destroy it so he takes it for his own power. Eventually the one ring becomes lost. It is discovered some time later by Gollum, who looks after the one ring for some five hundred years before it is discovered by Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit) who takes the ring, looks after it and finally bequeaths it to Frodo who as his cousin is his only real heir. By this time Sauron has risen from dead and is utilising all his power on finding the ring so he can use all his powers to rule middle earth in the name of evil. Fearing that the ring my once again fall into the wrong hands the council (of the poem above) decide the ring should be destroyed. Only a hobbit has the strength to carry the ring without being quickly bent to its evil will. So Frodo sets off on a journey to destroy the ring in the fires in which it was forged. Whic
      h means the Frodo must face a perilous journey to the home of Sauron himself. It is somewhat outside of the realms of an opinion on The Two Towers to go into the sort of depth required to fully explain the Fellowship but the first film and book tell us of its meeting of the Hobbits; Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Peregrine (also know as Pippin) Took, Meriadoc (also known as Merry) Brandybuck. The Humans including Gandalf The Grey (Wizard), Boromir, Aragorn (Ranger) and Gimli the Dwarf and Legolas the Elf. They stand united as the Fellowship of the Ring, the defenders and protectors of Frodo and the one ring. Ultimately this opinion is intended to draw comparisons between the book and the film in a hope that you will read the book. There are spoilers for those of you who haven’t read the book or seen the film, if you intend to but really don’t want to know what happens then scroll way down until you see >SPOILER ENDS<!!! In the closing moments of the first film Frodo takes fright at the power the ring possess over others, following a skirmish where Boromir attempts to take the ring for himself and decides that he alone should make the journey. Sam his faithful friend finally persuades Frodo that he should also make the journey, and though unwillingly, Frodo agrees. The Two Towers is itself written in two books, the first book begins by covering a little of the ending of the first film. We see Boromir battling against the Orcs of Saruman, his shame at attempting to steal the ring strengthens his will and he battles well against a horde of foe, yet before he is overcome by numbers he blows the horn and Aragorn runs to help, but he is moments too late. It is here the book really takes off. We follow the path of Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas as they begin their quest to free their friends from the Orcs. Upon their long journey Legolas is convinced that Pippin and Merry are still alive as clues are left in the tri
      al. Upon their journey they encounter the Riders Of Rohan, who in a battle the night before have slain all within the party things look grim for our adventures but as they search the area they find clues that indicate that their comrades have escaped. The story then switches to how Pippin and Merry have escaped the Orcs or Urak-Hai, their journey through the Forest of Fangorn, an ancient forest that has a presence of its own. Soon the two hobbits find out what that presence is as they meet Treebeard. Very much a tree himself his presence in middle earth is as the oldest sentient being. He is one of a group of Ents that are the Shepard’s of the trees. Treebeard is shocked to hear that the Orcs that have destroyed many of his trees are being told to do so by Saruman, who he once counted as a friend. An important part of the film lets us watch Treebeard telling the hobbits they will not be fighting until Pippin convinces him otherwise. I felt this was an unnecessary change, the book never hints that the Ents wouldn’t fight, just that they took a long time to decide that they would. A great deal was left out regarding the Ents and their (hi)story. I guess it just wasn’t cinematic enough. The story switches back to Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli as they hunt the forest in search of their friends. It is now they learn that Gandalf has not died but indeed battled Balrog in the fires of the earth and has been reborn, though missing some memories, as Gandalf the White. The party guided once more by Gandalf realise a new task. The party travel to the Golden Hall, throne of Théoden. Having gained entry Gandalf frees the mind of the king from the spell that has been placed upon him by the evil Grima, a puppet of Saruman. Here the army of Théoden rides forth to Helms Deep, a favourite stronghold that has been the last bastion for its people in many battles. Gandalf rides off leaving Théoden with the services of Gimli,
      Legolas and Aragorn as they fight a vast army of Orcs and wild men that have been sent out by Saruman. It is here that the film excels, whilst it doesn’t stick particularly closely to the book the battle is nothing short of fantastic. A great deal of the movie was aimed at ensuring it would work cinematically, the battle scene is beefed up for fantastic dramatic effect. We see Gandalf reunited with his friends as the tide of the battle is turning against the humans. Gandalf arrives in the nick of time with an army of Ents who make quick work of terrified and disorganised Orc army. This is something that film chooses to alter quite dramatically, instead of the Ents ending the battle in the film we see the Riders Of Rohan, and magic of Gandalf is used to turn the tide of battle. This was all very good, and this is decidedly nit picking but no good general would run his cavalry upon a wall of lances. Soon Gandalf is also re-united with Pippin and Merry. They have been waiting and watching for his return, and survey the destruction that has been done by the Ents. In the closing stages of book three there is a show down with Saruman in the tower of Isengard. Gandalf pleads with Saruman to return to the good side, but Saruman’s belief in evil is too strong, Gandalf’s increased power means that he can now defeat Saruman and dispels him from the Wizard Council. Watching Ents take over Isengard was certainly most impressive, and this is one of the things that doesn’t occur in the book that actually adds a great deal to the film. I’m guessing the idea was to change the role of the Ents but ensure that their role was both pivotal and displayed in its most remarkable setting. Certainly the sight of the Ents ripping down the damn and annihilating Isengard was a sight to behold! Something we don’t see in the film is the trouble that Pippin gets himself in to during an encounter at the end
      of book three. With Saruman defeated Grima throws his Palantir from a high castle window and Pippin picks it up and hands it to Gandalf. This is long enough for the power of the stone lure Pippin in to a foolish situation where by he looks deep into the stone and it becomes clear that it is a communication device that has been used by Saruman and Sauron. Sauron looks in to Pippins soul, but learns little of value as Gandalf manages to break the trance in the nick of time. Something the film watchers will have noticed is that you’ve not even heard from Frodo and Sam. Well the film veers away from the structure of the book to unfold the events of the film in a more chronological manner. Book Four begins with Frodo and Sam crossing in to Mordor. Their plight is difficult, but soon they come across Gollum. Gollum is a complicated creature that is easily curtailed in to aiding the hobbits despite a strange conflict of personality. Here we see how, given adequate time, the one ring can change a character. It is clear that Gollum, or Sméagol, still has his own motives for helping Sam and Frodo, but none the less ensures they travel safely through the dead marshes. Something the film did for me that the book never came close to was the portrayal of Gollum/Sméagol. The seeming schizophrenic nature of the creature was dealt with beautifully in the film; it becomes clear that all Gollum’s evil intent is as a result of spending so long with the ring. The desire of the ring has bent his mind. As the film draws on we see Sméagol fighting with his alter ego for control over his actions. Whilst it was an important factor in the book I never really got the feeling of turmoil that was evident on screen. In print you can empathise with Frodo’s unwillingness to injure Gollum, but when you see Sméagol fighting with his evil personality it his hard not to feel very sorry for him. The three soon find that it is not possible to enter
      Mordor by the route they had intended, and whilst resting are captured by Faramir, brother of Boromir. It transpires that Faramir is much wiser than his brother and his motives are not as ill clouded by bad judgement. He aides Frodo and Sam on their way. This is where I got really vexed by the translation to screen. I find it hard to understand why they decided that Faramir should have the same ill judgment as his brother Boromir and drag Sam and Frodo to see his father in the city Osgiliath. Soon Frodo, Sam and Gollum have entered Cirith Ungoll, something of a back door in to Mordor. Here they encounter possibly the hardest part of their journey, the two sets of stairs that must be traversed to get them to the inside the fortress. It is here that Gollum’s treachery becomes apparent, as his plan has been to lead them to Shelob, a creature that lives by feeding on passers by. Gollum has managed to become her ally and his intention is to take the ring upon the death of Frodo. Gollum attacks Sam, and during the struggle Shelob attacks and ensnares Frodo. Sam manages to seriously wound Shelob, and much to his dismay believes Frodo dead. He takes the ring but as ventures on he learns that Frodo is not dead, but in a trance like state as a result of Shelobs poison. It is here the book ends. For those of you who have only seen the film the last part will come as something of a surprise as it was not there. This was disappointing, but I have it on good authority that the encounter with Shelob is where we pick up in the final film. You may remember toward the end the Sméagol was talking about how she could kill them, there by keeping his own promise. Well that’s it guys. You might want to know (and I add this as Fishbulb is arachnaphobic) that Shelob is basically a giant spider! >SPOILER ENDS< Much is said about Tolkien’s use of other ancient legends to add to his own. A most notable
      comparison can be drawn to Beowulfs use of the Wyrm, though I’m sure that much of Tolkien's world is built upon established fairy tale and folk lore. Certainly the roles and worlds of the Dwarves, Elves and Wizards follow established lore and without this the stories would be nothing. Tolkien’s weaves a world steeped in the history and culture of races that he developed into a world that goes beyond mere fairy tales and this slice of the Lord Of The Rings delivers a great deal of the action. Not only can we marvel at how Tolkien writes about a world far removed from his own, but also how his characters show great understanding. Whilst their emotions are chiefly humanesque we are driven to understand the complexities of the characters and even then marvel at how they mature given the predicaments they find them selves in. My only grumble when reading the Harper Collins edition (the 3 black editions with the coloured rings on the cover), was that the appendices where not available. As I bought this book stand alone I was without the appendices at all, and while they aren’t imperative for the enjoyment of the book, Tolkien expands his world further by providing back ground information that develops the story. My philosophy is in for a penny in for a pound, so I wasn’t reticent about reading outside of the main account. As such I was rather disappointed that I couldn’t read these until I’d got the final part. Tolkien not only describes his world in breathtaking detail but delivers a magnificent tale telling of the power of good versus evil. If you enjoyed the film then I urge you to read the book so you can fully appreciate the effort, imagination and craft that has been made to produce this saga. I would never have considered myself a purist, and feel somewhat hypocritical making criticism on the differences between the film and the book given that I only read the book because I’d
      seen the first film, but that given I can understand why so much criticism is raised by the fans of the book. The movies are exemplary and will surely stand the test of time, but the differences are there and one should not alienate oneself from Tolkien’s vision. §lyClone2k ©02/03

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