The Two Towers (Lord of the Rings #2) ★★★★★

twotowers (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Two Towers
Series: Lord of the Rings #2
Author: John Tolkien
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 436
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Fellowship is broken. Gandalf and Boromir are dead, Frodo and Sam have slipped off on their own to find their way into Mordor to destroy the Ring, Merry and Pippin have been captured by Orcs and Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli must decide which set of hobbits to follow and support.

The first quarter of the book follows Merry and Pippin as they have their various adventures. Merry and Pippin are captured by the orcs and are on their way to Orthanc, Saruman’s stronghold. Saruman knows that a hobbit holds the One Ring, but he doesn’t know which one. The Orc band, however, is ambushed by the riders of Rohan and destroyed. One of the orcs from Sauron had taken the hobbits outside the orc camp to find for himself what Saruman wanted and this kept the hobbits alive during the attack. They proceed into the forest of Fangorn. There they meet the Ent Treebeard and help convince him and the other Ents that Saruman is a real threat and must be dealt with. Their part of the book ends with the Ents and their herds of trees marching off to Orthanc.

The second quarter of the book follows Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli as they try to rescue Merry and Pippin. After the breaking of the Fellowship, Aragorn is torn between following Frodo and Sam or rescuing Merry and Pippin. He chooses to rescue Merry and Pippin as he realizes that Frodo and Sam CHOSE to go off on their own. The three friends begin a tracking expedition and start running after the orcs. They find signs that the Hobbits are alive. They then run into the Riders of Rohan who destroyed the orc band. The Riders didn’t see any signs of the Hobbits but the three friends are convinced that the Hobbits are still alive. The three friends find signs that the Hobbits survived the ambush and begin tracking them into the forest of Fangorn. There they meet an old man who they take for Saruman but is revealed as Gandalf returned from the dead. Gandalf lets them know that the Hobbits are safe with the Ents and they (Gandalf and the 3 friends) must begin rousing allies against both Saruman AND Sauron. They all head over to Rohan to get Theoden ready. They find him under the influence of Wormtongue, an ally of Saruman. Gandalf drives Wormtongue out and Theoden rallies his riders. Scouts bring news that Saruman’s entire orc army has marched on Rohan and is destroying everything they find. Everyone heads to Helm’s Deep, a fortress where the Rohirrim make their last stand. Things are looking very bad for them until a whole forest of living trees and a band of riders led by Gandalf and Theoden’s nephew show up. The riders break the siege and the Forest deals with the orcs. Everyone goes to Orthanc. The Ents have destroyed Isengard (the city built around the tower of Orthanc) but Saruman has taken refuge in Orthanc. Gandalf confronts Saruman and casts him out of the Council of the Wise. Wormtongue throws a stone at them that turns out to be a Palantir, a device that allows the user to see around the world and to communicate with other Palantirs.

The final half of the book deals with Frodo and Sam and Gollum as they make their way towards Mordor. Frodo extracts a promise from Gollum to help them. Gollum leads them Mordor but they can’t get in. Gollum reveals that he knows a secret way in through a tunnel in one of the mountains. On the way there the Hobbits meet Faramir, Boromir’s younger brother. Faramir finds out the secret of the Ring but shows he’s a better man than Boromir by not even trying to take the Ring. The Hobbits continue their journey and Gollum leads them to the secret passage. There he disappears and the Hobbits must make their way through the tunnel on their own. They are ambushed by a giant spider named Shelob, who is an evil power on her own. Gollum is her vassal and plans on taking the Ring from the corpses of Frodo and Sam once she has eaten them. With the Phial of Galadriel and Sting, Sam destroys Shelob but not before she stings Frodo. Frodo enters a deathlike state and Sam is convinced he is dead. Sam takes the Ring and realizes the burden to destroy it is now his. Some orcs come along and Sam finds out that Frodo isn’t actually dead. The orcs take Frodo to their base and the book ends with Sam using the Ring to follow them so he can rescue Frodo.

 

My Thoughts:

For a 400+ page book, this felt incredibly short. Things just happen bam, bam, bam! It was great to be honest. Lean, sparse and yet fully fleshed out, the writing here wasn’t like some of the stuff we get today, ie, “world building”. Man, save me from “world building” for world building’s sake. Tolkien reveals a LOT about his world but it never becomes the point of the story and it always is secondary to the plot. It was masterfully done in my opinion.

Another thing I appreciated, that annoys me with more modern stuff, is that we stuck with one group POV for ¼, ¼ and then ½ of the book. We don’t follow a character for one chapter and then skip to another. My literary feet were firmly grounded in each POV instead of jumping and whirling and generally giving me motion sickness (I’m looking at you, John Gwynne and your horrible, terrible, no-good Valor). It was also written in such a way that I wasn’t thinking about the other characters not on page. I was fully invested in each group as I read about them.

I mentioned how short this felt. Not only that but the story itself sped by. If I hadn’t been reading carefully, so many things are mentioned by a character that aren’t fully written out, I would have missed a lot. Tolkien doesn’t pad out anything and he expects his readers to be paying attention and not need everything spoon fed to them. As a grumpy “get your YA off my lawn!” man, I appreciate that. It also lends itself towards re-reads, as you will miss some things on each read or not fully grasp the import of a sentence until you’ve read it again years later.

All of that being said, this does feel very much like the Grandfather of Fantasy. What I expect today and what I am used to (even if I am not fully behind it, like 1000 page tomes) is very different and that colors my perception of this.

Overall, this was a great read and a fantastic way to end the month.

 

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

54 thoughts on “The Two Towers (Lord of the Rings #2) ★★★★★

  1. My dad read LOTR to me as bedtime stories and I loved it! I still have those books which have worn well despite all the re-reads from both of us!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bormgans says:

    I’m right in the middle of my very first reading of LOTR. It’s amazing how much of the movies guides my inner eye, it has been a decade since I’ve seen them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bormgans says:

    First book is great, but slow though. Looking forward to this. I think I’ll do 1 review of the full thing. First I think I’m finishing 2 other books though.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. piotrek says:

    Tolkien is the Founding Father and I have a very special reverence here… I’ve never felt any need to measure him against modern stuff, even the most readable modern stuff. I have some prerequisites of a true believer 😛
    But what it means to me – we’re not talking marketable, precisely targeted novels here. This is an artificial mythology so vast in scope, product of such a great imagination – but anchored in Tolkien’s deep learning and mastering of the English language…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. These books are classics for a reason. I need to re-read them soon, though. It’s been way too long.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I totally agree with the POV comment. I felt the same thing in the Hobbit, you follow the entire group and in LOTR everything is logical you don’t have to go back a few pages asking yourself “wait who is that guy again?”. Great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      Thanks 😀
      I think Tolkien really nailed the narrative flow. More writers today should take a page from his book. If your story has so many plot lines going on that you can’t give 100 pages or more to one of them, all at once, maybe your story needs some “fixing” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Matt Ries says:

    This my personal favorite of the trilogy.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s been so long since I’ve read these! Your review makes me want to reread them again soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. salonimore1702 says:

    I definitely agree about the POVs! I liked that Tolkien stuck with one group continuously before moving onto another. With ASOIAF for instance, I can barely keep track of what is going on because of every chapter being a different character’s POV.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The LOTR possesses such a timeless quality, indeed, and I don’t believe it will ever feel dated as it happens to more recent fiction. And it can speak to readers of all ages, because of its many levels of storytelling: a younger audience might enjoy the pure adventure of the quest, a more mature one would appreciate the characterization and their moral choices. The beauty of this book (or rather one of them…) is that it can accompany readers through their whole life, always offering something new to appreciate. But that’s what a classic is, in the end… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. James Laubacker says:

    Great review! Good point on the length vs. the feel of the length. This one always felt short to me, but as you point out, 400 pages is not short! No wasted time, wasted words or wasted characters. Great, great stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bookstooge says:

      Thanks.

      I think the elegance of the writing simply bypasses most people of today, who are used to either Sanderson length, or *insert your YA author of poison* padding or Martin level of description of death and carnage.

      Do you read all the songs?

      Like

      • James Laubacker says:

        I actually forced myself to read all of the poems and songs this time, though I don’t think in the past I did. I don’t like poetry, though I love music. This time I guess I made myself focus on the
        language and story of it and tried to ignore that it was poetry. At least they all tell a story, though the one about the origins of the name of the stream in Lothlorien was really a struggle.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Got me pumped up into reading this one as soon as possible. Honestly can’t wait to crack open each book of the trilogy and then rewatching those extended cuts of the LotR movies. Great review, I look forward to the epic adventure in this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      I take you’ve watched the movies before, but it doesn’t sound like you’ve read the books. Is that the case?

      Once you do read the books I hope you can appreciate the movies even more 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly. I saw the trilogy a couple of years ago, so I know all the pop culture references that come from it but I know that I probably missed out on a lot of subtle elements from it back then, so I look forward to revisiting them, especially the extended cuts, to better appreciate the movies once I finally get through the books. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Ola G says:

    Oh yeah, Two Towers! 😀 I absolutely love the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and find it difficult to rate the books apart – I feel it’s just one immensely long book 🙂 Your re-read is definitely speeding up my own upcoming one 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sharon Barrow Wilfong says:

    If I lead an exclusive sort of club that only I could admit members and assuming my club was in high demand and further assuming you had a horrible hankering to belong to my club….

    for the sole reason you read Tolkien, I would award you membership.

    The Ring Trilogy and its companion, The Simarillion are my all time favorite books and I do not believe I’ve read any set of books as many times as I have read these profound stories about Hobbits, Dwarfs, Elves and heroic men. No realistic novel has ever nailed human nature as precisely as these fantasy novels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      Ahhh, an Exclusive Club. I actually already belong to one. It’s called The Bookstooge Club and it is VERY exclusive 😉

      The Hobbit is probably my favorite Tolkien novel. I’ll never read the Silmarillio again though, as I’m not a history buff. I’ll leave it for those who enjoy it.

      Tolkien showed his mastery of the written word with these books, that is for sure 🙂

      Like

  15. savageddt says:

    Every time I read LOTR I keep coming to the same conclusion that Frodo was such an idiot at times, were it not for Sam, he’d be dead in the first book. I do love this trology though.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I love how Tolkien only reveals parts of his world for the sake of plot. And I remember this one being really fast paced as well 😀 I love your point about this lending itself to rereads- cos I really want to get round to rereading LOTR! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to littlepandareader Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s