LOTR Readalong: The Two Towers May Post

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hello read-along participants! How has your reading of The Two Towers been progressing? I must admit I am a bit behind, but still hopefully on schedule to finish at the end of June. While I do enjoy this book, it is becoming clearer to me why I have read The Fellowship of the Ring multiple times and not The Two Towers. This book is more a connector for the commencement of Frodo's journey and the crazy events that tie up the war. I feel as if the scene is being set - an important part of any story, certainly, but not necessarily the most interesting part. With that said, I have mainly been with the fragmented Fellowship - Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, the two hobbits, and Gandalf. I am only just getting into Frodo and Sam's half of the book, and I can already tell things will be much darker but also much more exciting. Battle descriptions have never done much for me, even if they are in such a fantastic story as this.

In my reading this month I found one of my favorite Tolkien descriptions yet. While I have heard many complain about Tolkien's long-winded scenes, I think they are part of the charm of the book. Tolkien has invented an entire world full of danger and beauty, and he is very effective at showing us this world if we are willing to slow down and read. This is part of the reason I decided to host this read-along in the first place - I knew if I stretched my reading of Tolkien's work over several months I would be able to slowly digest and enjoy his descriptions instead of wanting to skip over them to get to the good stuff. After that lengthy aside, here is my favorite passage (or at any rate, a passage that I found fantastically written) -
Shafts were driven deep into the ground; their upper ends were covered by low mounds and domes of stone, so that in the moonlight the Ring of Isengard looked like a graveyard of unquiet dead. For the ground trembled. The shafts ran down by many slopes and spiral stairs to caverns far under; there Saruman had treasuries, store-houses, armouries, smithies, and great furnaces. Iron wheels revolved there endlessly, and hammers thudded. At night plumes of vapour steamed from the vents, lit from beneath with red light, or blue, or venomous green.
See what I mean? It isn't necessarily a happy image, but Isengard truly comes alive for me in those words. Did you have any passages that were especially vivid for you?

One last passage before I close was just completely charming to me, and a great illustration of why Pippin and Merry are two of my favorite characters in this trilogy. Pippin is trying to learn from Gandalf about the Orthanc-Stone, when Gandalf cries out in exasperation, "Mercy! [...] If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of days in answering you. What more do you want to know?"

Pippin answers guilelessly,
The names of all the stars, and of all living things, and the whole history of Middle-earth and Over-heaven and of the Sundering Seas. [...] Of course! What less?
Definitely a kindred spirit for me! Are there any characters you find yourself relating to more than others?

Please link your May post to the Linky below!


  1. I agree Book Three is more of a connecting nature before in between the good stuff. I am not into battle descriptions either. Otherwise, Tolkien's ability to describe really renders places and people alive.

    Character in the LOTR are so diverse, I can relate to several of them. I can be a stay-at-home average hobbit and curious like Pippin, sometimes I'd go to great lengths to help other people and sometimes I'd just stay in my own Fangorn minding my own affairs wishing everyone just left me alone. But then, these are just a few examples.

  2. I think "The Two Towers" is the fastest moving of the three volume's. I always enjoy reading it. And I do agree with you on Tolkien's ability to transport you into his world via his descriptions. He is a master.


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