Saturday, October 15, 2011

'The Two Towers' Read-Along - Part 1

The Fellowship was scattered. Some were bracing hopelessly for war against the ancient evil of Sauron. Some were contending with the treachery of the wizard Saruman. Only Frodo and Sam were left to take the accursed Ring of Power to be destroyed in Mordor–the dark Kingdom where Sauron was supreme. Their guide was Gollum, deceitful and lust-filled, slave to the corruption of the Ring. Thus continues the magnificent, bestselling tale of adventure begun in The Fellowship of the Ring, which reaches its soul-stirring climax in The Return of the King.
After a brief period in-between, I am back with a new post for the read-along of The Lord of the Rings books. This month we are looking at The Two Towers and being asked questions weekly. This week was Andrea's turn for questions and you can read them and my responses below.

What is your favorite part of The Two Towers, thus far into the book?
I have really enjoyed revisiting this book so far. When I read it last, the movies were not even out yet, so it has been a while! It has been particularly fun filling in the details that I long ago forgot and refreshing my memory of what the story really is and not just how it was portrayed in the films.

When I read the book for the first time, my fondest memory was Treebeard. I see there is a question relating to him below, so I won't go into any particular details, but I love Treebeard! I knew the scene was coming up where we were going to meet him for the first time and I was flying through the pages for a bit there just to get to it. I love trees and Treebeard sort of symbolizes that love for me.

I also enjoy that Merry and Pippin get a bit of a chance to have their own space in this book. They are entertaining characters, but in the first book they were often in the background and never really had their chance to shine. Now that they are away from the rest of the group, we will get to see their character develop a bit more.

I also enjoy the Riders of Rohan. It's unfortunate that I can no longer see Eomer without picturing the actor that portrays him in the films, but I was a huge fan of horses growing up and even though that has sort of faded over time, I still enjoy horses in books. An entire race of people that revolve around horses was a huge plus for me when I was younger. I have to admit I am so happy that in the movies they left out the comment about them not being very bright and all the singing... I have mostly blocked the singing overall in these books out of my head.

The start of this book has always intrigued me because you read along for quite a while without checking in with Frodo and Sam. You would think this would be a problem because they

What were your thoughts of Boromir trying to defend Merry and Pippin from Orc archers?
Boromir has always intrigued me as a character in the books. He was on this quest, but while the others were concentrating on something that would effect the entire world, he was more concerned with the smaller world that he had to protect. There was no question that he was a brave man, but he just had different priorities than the rest. He saw a chance for their salvation right in front of him and it was hard to resist the temptation. Once he almost gave into that temptation, though, Tolkien felt the need to redeem him in the eyes of the reader and the rest of the company. I appreciated that he got his moment to shine and it actually had to happen in order for the company to split up and other aspects to get explored further.

What thoughts would have been going through your mind if you were approached by Treebeard?
As I mentioned above, I love trees. I believe that they each have their own individual personality and I have had lots of favourite trees over the years. There have been lots of fantasy novels where the author takes this idea and runs with it. It has always been one of the main reasons why I wind up loving many of these books. The idea of Treebeard, and the other Ents, has always been one of my favourite literary moments ever. I am sure that if I ever actually met Treebeard in the woods I would be a bit horrified at first, but to be actually able to talk to a tree... Can you imagine what they have witnessed?

Do you like it that Tolkien has split the Company into three mini-quests? Do you wonder if the company will be together throughout the quest again?
I love that the company has been split up, actually. It allows the readers a chance to experience way more than would be possible if they stayed at one large group. It also gives the chance for the individual characters to develop more, like I mentioned about Merry and Pippin above. When they were all grouped together there was too much focus on Frodo and I enjoy seeing more from the other characters. As to the second part of the question, I really don't feel it is fair to answer because I know what happens... I wish I could remember what I thought when I read this book for the first time, though. Actually, I really wish I could be reading this book for the first time all over again. Unfortunately, even though I haven't read the books in years, I have seen the movies many, many times.

There was actually one more question for this week:

What were your thoughts and reactions of the battle at the Hornburg?

I haven't read that chapter yet... I was going to try and squeeze it in later today, but then I glanced at Carl's blog and saw he also hadn't got to that chapter. I thought his idea of holding the question over until next week was a good one. That way I am not late tonight getting my post up and won't have to worry if I don't get to the chapter. I considered just answering it because I obviously know what happens, but I might have an entirely different reaction with this read-through. It is better to wait.

On an entirely different note, that is a fun cover for this book. I was going to post the cover I actually have, but then I saw this one and have never seen it before. I really love Treebeard...


  1. I like to get thoughts from readers that read the book before the movie came out. I like the fact that Tolkien did split the party up into separate quest as well. I cannot really remember the movies. It have been SO LONG since I have seen them.

    I think that everyone would be horrified or pee their pants if a tree like being would approach them in a strange woods that they know nothing about.

    The cover act is great for this post. I am also with you that being I have never seen that either.

  2. Your response to the split-the-party question is basically the same as mine! :) I'll be interested to see your response to the battle after you've read it. I remember the movies more clearly than the books too, and I was surprised how short the battle felt in the text compared to the film.

  3. The Two Towers has always been my favorite book of the series--I completely agree that splitting the company up allows the individuals to become more individual! and I love Merry and Pippin...

  4. I agree with you, Tolkien really did capture the love of trees so well with Treebeard and with the whole concept of the ents and the Old Forest, etc. I feel an extra special connection with fantasy stories that have tree elements, which is one of the many reasons I enjoy de Lint's work so much.

    I do believe that the splitting of the fellowship is so critical to these books having the impact they do, as that split allows the characters to have their own moments, to find out just what they are made of and to allow their own bravery to come out. I enjoy journeying with Merry and Pippen and am so glad that Sam and Frodo aren't the only hobbits who get their time to shine.

    Love what you say about Boromir and his focus on a smaller world than the rest of the characters. It is so very true. I see Boromir in that same light. I've never seen him as a bad guy, I've always seen him as an unfortunately too human characters. It is great that he was able to be redeemed and for the reader to have a chance to see that he really was a noble, heroic character despite his flaws.

    So...why is it unfortunate that you see the actor when you read about Eomer? I think Karl Urban was PERFECT as Eomer. Did you not like him?

    I do like the way the film makers portrayed Rohan. I don't mind the singing at all in the books, I think it is more representative of what these cultures would have been like. They would have sung and told each other stories and such to while away the time on their journeys and through the long nights. I'm glad they didn't do this much in the films as it would have felt more like Lord of the Rings: The Musical, but I am very grateful for their presence in the books.

  5. Great comments - I didn't read before I posted because I didn't want to be influenced but I agree with virtually everything about what you say - except, wasn't sure why you thought it unfortunate to 'see' in your mind the actor who played Eomer - I thought he was brilliant in that role and couldn't picture anyone else as Eomer now I've seen the film.
    Also, like Lindsay says, I was surprised at the short chapter about the battle - it does seem to have a lot more prominence in the film but I like being able to compare the two.
    Lynn :D

  6. I really love the idea of the ents, too. You are right, it's horrifying but fascinating.

    It seems several of us were a bit behind. I didn't think to skip the last question so I was a day late with mine.

  7. **Geeky Daddy: It is really different reading the books this time. When I read them before it was all new. There were no movies, so I just knew it was a worthwhile fantasy trilogy. Now even though I haven't read the books in years I remember way too much...

    I still love the Ents. I would like to think any horror would pass quickly. :)

    I know. It's a fun cover! I am glad I stumbled on it. I should see what this cover idea is like for the other two books.

    **Lindsay: I read about the battle and you are right, it was so short. In the movie it is all drawn out! I suppose it was to make the movie more exciting.

    **Charlotte: It was always a huge improvement over Fellowship and The Hobbit, but I am not actually sure what I would consider my favourite... I love Merry and Pippin, but I worry if part of that isn't the movie influence...

    **Carl: I love trees. I am so happy Tolkien did, too. It leads to some of my favourite parts of the books. Much more interesting than caves and such.

    I am so happy they split the Fellowship up. I am one of those weird people that find Sam annoying, so it is nice to not have him around all the time. It gives the other characters a chance to grow and introduces other interesting characters that wouldn't have been needed before.

    Boromir really isn't a bad guy, but I am sure people saw him as one. I like that Tolkien remedied that. He is the 'human' representative after all. :)

    I think it is unfortunate I see all of the actors in my head when I read these books. I singled Eomer out because I was always really intrigued with him when I read the books in the past. This is the first time I have read these books since the movies came out and I am sad I don't have that chance to picture them the way I see them.. I would have originally...

    I just don't like reading verse in books. I skip it. It ties to my dislike of poetry. It is nothing against Rohan. Just me. :)

    **Lynn: See my response to Carl re: Eomer. :) The battle was relatively short in the book. It was drawn out way more in the movie. I guess it is just a matter of what sells. Tolkien didn't care so much about that when he was writing persay, but Jackson has to with a movie.

    **Jennifer: I love the Ents! I wish they were real... I turned out to be 3 chapters behind in the end. I guess it is good I didn't wait!

  8. I'm not sure how I would have felt about Sam had I just read the books first, but I loved Sean Astin's portrayal of Sam and by the time the end of the films came Sam was (and remains) one of my favorite characters in Tolkien's work. I actually enjoyed being reminded more about him in our re-read of Fellowship, how he is actually so much like Bilbo and would often go and have Bilbo relate stories and songs to him. He ends up being a much more complex character with the set up Tolkien gives him at the beginning of Fellowship.


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