Friday, August 19, 2016

The Two Towers

Severe Spoilers Ahead

The Two Towers is the second part of The Lord of the Rings written by J.R.R. Tolkien and was published in 1944. It documents the “hunting trip” of Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, as well as Merry and Pippin’s venture after being taken by the Uruk-hai in the first part, and follows Sam and Frodo as they journey closer and closer to Mordor.

Because I am assuming you have already read The Fellowship of the Ring and read that review before coming here, and because if you’ve read that you are probably planning on reading the whole of The Lord of the Rings, there are going to be a lot of spoilers in this part, so beware.

The story opens up with the death of Boromir. We already have seen him betray Frodo in the last chapter of The Fellowship and try and forcibly take the Ring. In this chapter, he dies defending Merry and Pippin and lets Frodo go. He apologizes for his failure to Aragorn and dies a hero. This part is always very sad, particularly because Frodo never hears Boromir’s apology, and doesn’t find out about it until after the Ring is destroyed. I specifically enjoy the lament sung for Boromir by Aragorn and Legolas.

Merry and Pippin were carted off by Uruk-hai who thought they were the important Halflings Saurman was searching for. This is the first major struggle the two Hobbits run into on their own, but they do anything but despair. Their bright Hobbit courage shows through as they crack jokes to each other and keep their zeal alive throughout the ordeal. I think this part reveals a lot of character regarding our two young friends.

Gandalf returns and surprises Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. He brings them to Edoras where we are introduced to a whole new culture with new characters and new lands. Theoden is awakened by Gandalf and his faith in humanity is restored. Theoden is a perfect picture of a heroic Germanic king such as Beowulf, who shows strength in battle as well as leadership skills. Eomer, Theoden nephew, is also a fierce warrior who is banished by the evil Grima Wormtongue. Eomer is a noble character. His sister is Eowyn, also a noble lady, but who is quite an unexpected and unconventional character. She develops an affection for the heroic Aragorn, but throughout the story she comes to realize that she only loves Aragorn because she longs to be like him. Eowyn is one of the most well-rounded and realistic characters in the story. I greatly enjoy her story line and can relate to her in several ways.

Saruman launches an attack upon the people of Rohan who flee to their stronghold, Helm’s Deep. There the courage of the people are tested as well as Aragorn’s leadership skills and the strength of Theoden and all involved. Eventually they emerge victorious.

Meanwhile, Merry and Pippin have escaped from the Uruk-hai who have been distracted by an argument amongst themselves. What a perfect way to illustrate how self destructing evil is! They are taken by a friendly Ent, named Treebeard, who brings them to an “Entmoot”. There we learn more about the fading race of Tree Shepherds and later they help in destroying Isengard. There is a biting irony in Saruman, the industrial wizard who relies on technology’s infallibility being taken down by pure nature.

Frodo and Sam approach Mordor at a desperately slow rate. I will admit that I find the first part of this book better, but I still like learning more about the struggle of these two Hobbits. They run into Gollum who Frodo has pity on, and they adopt him as their guide. This last time reading it, it struck me how Bilbo first asked Gollum to lead him out of the tunnel in The Hobbit, but Gollum refused. Now Frodo and Sam ask Gollum to lead them into Mordor, and he obliges.

The relationship with Gollum is tricky, and Frodo and Sam are on opposite sides of the question which causes further tension. They meet Faramir, Boromir’s brother, and are temporarily reunited with the outside world. The book ends with a horribly tantalizing cliffhanger: Frodo is captured by Orcs and held in a tower of Mordor...with the Ring.

The Two Towers is packed full of wonderful quotes:

“There is some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for.”

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but 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.”

“It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”

"I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to."

“Don't go where I can't follow!”

“Fair speech may hide a foul heart.”

“Where now are the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the harp on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the deadwood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?”

“Eomer said, 'How is a man to judge what to do in such times?'
As he has ever judged,' said Aragorn. 'Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”

“The treacherous are ever distrustful.”

“He stands not alone. You would die before your stroke fell.”

“Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?'
A man may do both,' said Aragorn. 'For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!”

Have you read The Two Towers? Which part of the book do you prefer--the Aragorn storyline, or the Frodo storyline?

Have you never read The Two Towers? Did I just spoil the entire book for you?

Comment below :)

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