Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Two Towers

The Two Towers cover.gif 

The second entry of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring trilogy opens where its precursor left off, with a certain character gravely injured and sent off in a funeral boat, after which the survivors of the fellowship agree to pursue the lost hobbits from whom they separated. They ultimately encounter the Riders of Rohan, who bear concern over the wizard Saruman’s alliance with Mordor (the sequel’s title referring to the alliance of his and Sauron’s respective towers). Meanwhile, hobbits Pippin and Merry find themselves captive of Orcs, hellbent on keeping the halflings prisoner.

They soon find themselves free and wander into the woods, where they meet the Ent Treebeard, who relays Middle-earth backstory and transports them to the Valley of Saruman, where he and fellow tree-shepherds agree to go to war given the wizard’s decimation of their woodlands. The fate of Gandalf is resolved, with the seekers of the hobbits meeting King Théoden of Rohan, who finds himself captive of the advice Saruman’s servant Gríma Wormtongue. A battle with Mordor’s forces at Helm’s Deep arises, after which comes a trip to Isengard and a reunion with hobbits Merry and Pippin.

Meanwhile, the other halflings Frodo and Sam are en route to Mordor to destroy the One Ring, with Gollum in pursuit, consequentially being “tamed” so that he can serve as a guide into the Land of Shadow. A trip to the Black Gate of Mordor yields negative results, so Gollum agrees to lead the hobbits to a secret path into the Land of Shadow, although along the way, they find themselves captive of Men led by Faramir. An encounter with the giant spider Shelob rounds out the second book, along with a cliffhanger in between western Middle-earth and Mordor.

All in all, the second Lord of the Rings entry is, like its precursor, an enjoyable and straightforward fantasy novel that has plenty of action and twists, although like its predecessor and The Hobbit, Tolkien continues to depict specific races as black and white, with there being a dearth of “good” Orcs, though the humans are more “gray,” given the presence of some who ally with Mordor whom Frodo, Sam, and Gollum encounter. Like Tolkien’s other work, it’s definitely essential reading for fantasy enthusiasts, and was well ahead of its time in the previous century.

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