Arts Books

The Two Towers

the two towers

The Two Towers was written by J.R.R. Tolkien.   It is the second novel in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and was published on November 11, 1954.  The Two Towers continues Frodo and the boy’s adventure to destroy the One Ring and picks up where The Fellowship of the Ring left off.  Emotions are high as the march towards Mordor resumes.

Sam and Frodo are long gone before Aragorn can track them down.  He hears the demonic sounds of orcs and the toottoottoot of Boromir’s horn.  The Ranger follows the melody and finds a wounded Boromir.  The injured warrior confesses that he tried to take the ring from the hobbit and dies.  Aragorn cries.  Gimli and Legolas arrive and are sadden by the news.  Boromir is gone and Pippin and Merry were taken by the orcs.

The trio carry their friend’s body down to the river and have a brief funeral surface.  The corpse is released into the water on a funeral boat.  Aragorn realizes that Frodo left to prevent his friends from being exposed to further danger.  The elf, the dwarf and the man strengthen their resolve and follow the orc’s tracks.  They come upon a pile of enemy carcasses and deduce that there was a quarrel between the orc tribes.  Legolas spots an eagle and determines that they should move to its location.  Everyone continues through the land of Rohan.

orc
Orc – Photo Credit: Raoul van Wijk

The splintered fellowship finds a brooch from an elven cloak pressed into the ground.  This gives them hope that their mini friends are alive.  They continue and run into the Riders of Rohan and their captain The Third Marshal of Riddermark, Éomer.  The riders explain that they have slaughtered the orcs, but there were no Hobbits.  Éomer tells them that the wizard Saruman has turned sour and is preparing for war.  Aragorn fills the riders in on their plight and lets big É know that Gandalf has died. 

[…] Sometime earlier in The Two Towers, the orc factions break into an argument.  It was started when one of them insulted the Uruk-hai clan’s leader Saruman after being told that he cannot eat the hobbits.  The Isengard orcs prevail and snatch up Merry and Pippin.  The bad boys march on.  They run into the Riders of Rohan and are slaughtered.  The hobbits escape in the chaos and hide under their elven cloaks.  The cloaks provide comprehensive camouflage (c.c.) and they leave a broach as a sign of their survival.  Pippin and Merry abscond into the nearby woods.

The little hobbit feet pitter patter across the forest floor.  A walking tree creature named Treebeard (Fangorn) runs into them.  He tells Merry and Pippin that he is an Ent and the shepherd of the trees in the forest.  Treebeard takes them to his home and explains the history of the Ents and the looming threat of Saruman.  They rest and recover and go to an Ent party the following day.  The gathering is in Entmoot and all of the trees debate the current affairs and a possible alliance with Rohan.  An Ent called Quickbeam (Bregalad) invites the hobbits to his home and tells a sad story about the orc’s deforestation tendencies.  The hobbits hear a tree roar and everyone marches towards Isengard. […]

the two towers
The Two Towers book jacket – Photo Credit: J.R.R. Tolkien

Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn continue following the hobbit’s trail.  An old chap wearing a large hat and a cloak appears in the forest.  The boys assume that it is Saruman and prepare to attack.  The Rider tells them to chill and find out his true identity first.  Aragorn’s premonition is correct when it is revealed that the newcomer is Gandalf Version Two.  Gandalf v2 states that he killed the Balrog, but died in the process.  He was reborn as Gandalf the White in order to accomplish his task and was granted more power.  He can do anything Gandalf Version One could do and more.  Version Two brings the fellowship up to speed on the machinations of Saruman.  Everyone heads toward Isengard.

The company make progress and Legolas spots a building in the distance.  Gandalf says that it is Edoras, the King of Rohan’s home.  The boys head over and arrive at the entrance.  The guards declare that no one is allowed to enter on Wormtongue’s orders. Gandalf demands to speak to King Théoden.  They allow it, but seize the good guy’s weapons.  The white wizard is allowed to keep his staff.

Everyone enters the royal hall and Gandalf frees Théoden from Wormtongue’s spell.  He asks the king to recover his strength and gather for a fight against the two towers.  Théoden turns to Wormtongue and gives him an ultimatum to fight or flee.  Wormtongue flees.  The fellowship gathers provisions and heads out to battle.

gandalf the white
Gandalf the White – Photo Credit: Souvenir Soul

Time passes and they close in on Helm’s Deep.  Legolas sees figures in the distance, but can’t confirm what they are.  Gandalf becomes disturbed and moves ahead on his horse named Shadowfax.  Shadowfax is shadowfast and Gandalf disappears.  Everyone else arrives at Helm’s Deep.  They fortify the castle and prepare for an inevitable confrontation.  Orcs soon spill into the scene and the battle starts.  Several bad guys are slain, but their numbers are too great and they take over the outer walls.  Aragorn is distraught as their plight unveils itself.  Trumpet noises blast into the air and Gandalf returns with the Riders of Rohan.  The orcs are destroyed.  The Two Towers continues.

The victory is short lived and Gandalf speaks with Théoden.  The king lends the wizard twenty of his best men and Éomer for the push against Isengard.  The party heads out and the days roll on.  They move through the forest and arrive at Orthanc in Isengard, one of the two towers.  Everyone is surprised to find Pippin and Merry kicking back and smoking their pipes.  The hobbits mention that Treebeard is waiting to speak to Gandalf.  The wizard leaves to speak to the tree and the hobbits tell the rest of the fellowship about their adventures.  The Ent’s eradicated Isengard by breaking nearby dams and sending a dangerous doom deluge (d.d.d.) into Isengard.

Gandalf moves to Orthanc to talk to Saruman.  Wormtongue is there and revealed to be a spy.  Saruman confronts Gandalf and Big G breaks his staff.  Wormtongue throws a crystal sphere at Big G from up in the tower.  It misses.  Pippin picks it up.  The good guys leave and Gandalf tells Treebeard to encapsulate Orthanc with water so Saruman cannot escape.  The Ent agrees.

orthanc
Orthanc, Isengard – Photo Credit: marvelousRoland

The fellowship takes off.  Night falls and they setup camp.  Everyone goes to sleep, but Pippin is restless.  He takes a peek at the crystal globe.  He sees terrifying images and drops it.  Gandalf wakes up and scolds the hobbit.  He tells him that it is one of the seven ancient seeing-stones called a palantír.  The sphere is evil and used by Sauron to communicate with his minions.  The white wizard goes on and explains that the Dark Lord is probably confused with the sight of Pippin.  Gandalf capitalizes on the predicament and rides off with the hobbit. […]

Somewhere between the two towers, Frodo and Sam are disoriented in the Emyn Muir mountains.  They struggle with the terrain and get lost often.  The hobbits are famished and able to make slow progress with the assistance of an elven rope.  Gollum appears and attacks them.  Frodo subdues him with Sting (his sword).  Gollum vows to assist them, but tries to escape.  They capture him again and tie him up with the rope.  It sends convulsions of pain through Gollum and he acquiesces and pledges to be their guide.  The three continue their journey.

Gollum leads the hobbits through the surrounding marshes of Mordor.  Sam does not trust the strange creature and they have a few scuffles.  The group trots through the Dead Marshes.  They are dangerous and haunted with the ghosts of dead warriors. A Nazgûl appears and they hide.  Close to a week goes by and they can see the gates of Mordor.  Gollum becomes timid and does not want to continue.  Frodo convinces him with Sting.

gollum
Gollum – Photo Credit: miss_rogue

The gate is heavily guarded and Gollum claims he has fulfilled his contract.  Sam gets angry and Gollum admits there is a hidden pass that leads inside.  He says it is still dangerous, but the Dark Lord is focusing his attention elsewhere.  They move to a new road and are greeted by a desolate landscape.

The group travels at night and rests during the day.  Progress is made and Gollum catches some rabbits.  Frodo is asleep and Sam builds a fire to cook them.  Frodo wakes up and warns his buddy about the dangers of making an exposed fire in enemy territory.  Four armed men interrupt them.  Their leader is Faramir and he is the Captain of Gondor.  The hobbits plead their case and how they were separated from Boromir and Aragorn.  Faramir is startled by hearing Boromir’s name.  A nearby battle begins.

Faramir interrogates Frodo and reveals that Boromir is his brother.  The hobbit is unaware of Boromir’s death and the two learn about each other.  Faramir declares that he needs to take them back to Minas Tirith (city of Gondor).  Frodo reveals their hidden task and how they must destroy the ring.  Faramir is impressed.  The men discover Gollum and question him.  Frodo sticks up for the creature and he is released.  Faramir senses an evil intent and warns his new hobbit buddy that he does not trust Gollum.  Frodo agrees, but knows they need his expertise.  Faramir says his goodbyes and whishes the hobbits well.  The men and the hobbits depart.

shelobs lair
Shelob’s Lair – Photo Credit: williamnyk

Sam and Frodo continue to Mordor.  Gollum directs them to the Southward Road.  A headless statue of one of the kings of Gondor is desecrated in the background.  They discover the head covered with a crown of flowers growing on it.  The party reaches the valley of Minas Morgul.  The Tower of the Moon appears in the distance.  The air is putrid and thick.  Thunder booms and troops rush out.  They manage to avoid their gaze and reach the treacherous Stairs of Cirith Ungol.

The gang progresses up the stairs.  Everyone is on edge, except Sam.  Years of maintaining his fit physique on the Shire’s patented StairMaster is paying dividends.  His calves are sublime as they propel him to the top.  Perspiration is at a minimum.  The other two are drenched.  Gollum is being a pest and sometime later they reach a dark cave near a cold stone wall.  The cave is ominous and it reeks.  They enter the pitch-black tunnel and Gollum disappears.  The hobbits press on. 

A malicious presence rebounds throughout the cavern.  Frodo raises his phial that Galadriel gave him.  It illuminates their surroundings.  A plethora of small eyes stare back at them.  They belong to a giant spider named Shelob and the hobbits have disturbed her lair.  The light causes the monster to retreat and the boys struggle to find an escape route and get separated.  Frodo gets tangled in a network of spiderwebs and uses his sword to free himself.  He can see the exit.  Shelob strikes and the poison enters Frodo’s bloodstream.

Sam discovers his fallen comrade and gets upset.  He charges towards the spider and stabs one of the eyes.  Shelob gets upset.  The spider moves to crush the hobbit and Sam impales her with his sword.  He takes the Ring from Frodo and assumes his best friend is dead.  Orcs approach and the hobbit puts on the ring to escape.  The orcs take Frodo and invisible Sam trails them.  To his surprise he leans that Frodo is alive.  The Two Towers ends.

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