I’m still reeling at how fast I read The Two Towers and yet excited that it was so much better than I remembered. I hope I haven’t misspoken over the past 10 years and that the next book was the boring one. If I did, I have a long trek before me. Having read The Fellowship of the Ring and now this, I’m 2/3 of the way through another 30×30 list item!
Even though I still find Tolkien’s descriptions incredibly heavy and often times dampening, this time I felt as I read the descriptions increased and bogged you down the further I read. I guess Tolkien is an even greater writer than I ever gave him credit for. (Shocking I know right?) The only time I found it hard to continue reading was as Frodo and Sam began their journey as I was so daunted by my memories of reading the book that before I knew it I was over 300 pages into the book and then I’d finished.
I definitely preferred the portion of the book with Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn to the other two parts with Merry and Pippin and Frodo and Sam. It’s not surprising that I enjoyed those parts more as they had the most action and enough levity that the greatness of what was happening was on the back burner. I thought Jackson & Co had overdone the humor and lightness of Gimli and Legolas, but there was very little done in the films that Tolkien didn’t write. Sure they moved stuff around, but they actually had the competition of dead enemies, they bargained between visiting caves and forests and it just made me smile.
Tolkien did a great job of sticking with the hobbits and keeping their personalities in the lime-light (see many of the quotes below). In addition, he wrote what has to be one of the greatest characters of all time: Gandalf. As I’m re-reading this I’ve realized how much of the entire war (and its successful outcome) were orchestrated by Gandalf. I can’t wait to finish up the series!
I did keep an eye on Frodo and Sam, and I once again can definitely see where people could get the homo-vibe from their relationship, but I’m still not convinced. As Eric has said, and gone in-depth into I believe, on his blog Sweating to Mordor their relationship was based on that which occurred between officers and their batmen during Wolrd War I. However, with the complete lack of women (so far only two) in Middle-earth and lines like:
“Sam nodded silently. He took his master’s hand and bent over it. He did not kiss it, though his tears fell on it. Then he turned away, drew his sleeve over his nose, and got up, and stamped about, trying to whistle, and saying between the efforts: ‘Where’s that dratted creature?'” (273)
“Frodo’s face was peaceful, the marks of fear and care had left it; but it looked old, old and beautiful, as if the chiselling of the shaping years was now revealed in many fine lines that had before been hidden, though the identity of the face was not changed. Not that Sam Gamgee put it that way to himself. He shook his head, as if finding words useless, and murmured: ‘I love him,. He’s like that, and sometimes it shines through, somehow. But I love him, whether or no.'” (307)
“Safe, if you lay close to me. I’d be dearly glad to see you have a sleep. I’d keep watch of you; and anyway, if you lay near, with my arm round you, no one could come pawing you without your Sam knowing it.” (381)
But I have to agree with Eric and that it’s a different sort of relationship. No matter how much you want to read into it the most you could read into it is a brotherly-type-love which takes over from the servant/master type relationship, but no lovey-dovey stuff from what I can tell.
The other thing I finally realized when reading this book was that Middle-earth is just a continent on a planet. For some reason I struggled to understand this and thought Middle-earth was an entire earth-like planet. There was a passing line, that I of course didn’t note, which made it really clear to me randomly. I’m not really sure where I thought the elves were going when the left, but basically my mind was blown.
Recommendation: I take back most of the bad things I’ve said about The Two Towers it wasn’t as long and drawn out as I remembered, but it was still a trek. Maybe I’ve just matured enough to actually read it and appreciate Tolkien’s work, but who knows. Definitely check this one out and if you’ve made it this far I’m sure you should just read all three of them! We all want to know how it ends right?
Opening Line: “Aragon sped on up the hill.”
Closing Line: “Frodo was alive but taken by the enemy.” (Whited out.)
Additional Quotes from The Two Towers
“For one thing it would take a long while: my name is growing all the time, and I’ve lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say. It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.” (80)
“Wizards ought to know better: they do know better. There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men bad enough for such treachery.” (105)
“These hobbits will sit on the edge of ruin and discuss the pleasures of the table, or the small doings of their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, and remoter cousins to the ninth degree, if you encourage them with undue patience. Some other time would be more fitting for the history of smoking.” (192)
“A most unquenchable hobbit! All wizards should have a hobbit or two in their care—to teach them the meaning of the word, and to correct them.” (229)
“‘Mercy!’ cried Gandalf. ‘If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering to you. What more do you want to know?'” (240)
“An evil fate seems to have pursued your fellowship. It is hard indeed to believe that one of so great wisdom, and of power—for many wonderful things he did among us—could perish, and so much lore be taken from the world.” (329)
“And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exiting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually—their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on— and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same—like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in!” (378-9)