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"I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend."
At the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, the Fellowship suffered a great loss. After the death of Gandalf, the eight remaining members had to continue without him. The Fellowship take another blow at the start of this book, with the death of Boromir. Now the remaining seven are split up, after an attack by a band of Uruk-hai. This book is split into two Volumes, the first following the quest of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, and the ordeals of Merry and Pippin, after they were taken captive by the Uruk-hai. The second Volume follows the quest of Frodo and Sam, who are the only ones left to take the ring to Mordor.
After learning that Merry and Pippin have been taken captive, Aragorn and his companions say their farewells to Boromir, and track the Uruk-hai. On their travels, they meet The Riders of Rohan, who inform them that they slaughtered a band of Uruk-hai in the night, and left no survivors. Convinced that the Hobbits survived, Aragorn tracks them into the forest of Fanghorn, where they meet an expected ally. The ally assures Aragorn that the Hobbits are safe, and the four companions travel to Rohan, where the King is under an evil spell. They must free him, in order to save his Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Merry and Pippin have befriended an Ent named Treebeard, a large treelike creature. Opposed to going to war, the Hobbits must convince Treebeard, and the other Ents, that their help is needed in this war. They need the help of the Ents to destroy the evil of Saruman, while Frodo and Sam take on the evil of Sauron.
In the second Volume, we catch up with Frodo and Sam on their quest to Mordor. For some days now, they have been followed by the creature Gollum, and eventually they capture him. From now on, Gollum is their guide, but can he be trusted? The Hobbits are captured by a band of men, led by Faramir of Gondor, Boromir's brother. Can they convince Faramir to let them go, and continue their quest, or will he take the ring for himself, and gain glory from his Father, the Steward of Gondor?
Frodo and Sam face a multitude of dangers in this book. Will Gollum lead them to their deaths, and take the ring for himself? Can Frodo and Sam's friendship survive the control the ring has over Frodo? In order to complete their quest, they must overcome these dangers, and save the whole world from the evil of Sauron.
I've seen quite a few reviews, where people thought that this book didn't amount to much, since it was an 'in between' book. But I enjoyed this book even more so, because of that. After reading all three books of the trilogy, I think that this one does a fantastic role of connecting the other two. The individual stories of each set of companions are full of danger, adventure, and suspense. It's also packed full of surprises, with the appearance of the unexpected ally. I genuinely feared for the lives of every character in this book, connecting to each and every one, after I grew to love them all in the first book.
The characters that Tolkien has created are incredible. They're so diverse, each of them having their own very unique character. You even start to notice differences between the characters of Merry and Pippin in this book, although they appear very similar in the first book. The characters grow in the face of danger, their bravery shows more and more through each chapter, and each obstacle they face. I love Frodo, he keeps pushing through, despite the pain inflicted on him by the power of the ring. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, being pressured from all sides, especially with Gollum as his guide. There is always a threat to Frodo's life, be it from lack of food and water, the strength the ring is taking from him, or the ever present dangers of Sauron. Frodo is very lucky that Sam followed him, he would never have got so far without him. Sam is a fiercely loyal friend, despite the fact that he's not very brave at the start of the trilogy, he stays by Frodo's side, and is not afraid to die to keep him safe. Their friendship is one of the most beautiful in all the books I've read.
J.R.R Tolkien was born in 1892, and died in 1973. After writing The Hobbit for his children, which was hugely successful, Tolkien started to write The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, to meet the demands of the public. The Trilogy is one of the most loved in the world, and people will continue to enjoy them for many years to come.