The Two Towers was an amazing read, particularly during its segment in my Tolkien class back in university. I remember in my tutorial session we wrote journal entries for each class (I think it was each one anyways). I do not have my entries still, or at least they are filed away somewhere and I do not know where. However, I vaguely remember one on The Two Towers about duality in the book. I remember writing about good and evil, Frodo and Sam, and of course, which two towers the title is referring to.
I have actually read conflicting evidence regarding which towers Tolkien was alluding to, though the most recent piece indicated they are Orthanc (in Isenguard) and Barad-dûr (Mordor). I think that makes sense given they are perhaps the two most popular towers, though I also heard talk of Minas Morgul and Minas Tirith being involved as well.
I think one of the greatest things in this novel is something that Sam says to Frodo. It is iconic in the movie, of course, but I think it may hold even more power in the book. I will explain why in a moment, but for now I want to share the speech so you do not have to go looking for it in your copy.
“I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something.”
I think Sam could quite possibly be one of the most insightful people (hobbits) in the whole book—including the other two volumes. The funny thing is he seems to be the one others misjudge or do not even really pay attention. Him and Pippin too I think. Actually, if you ask me (and many others), Sam is the hero because there is absolutely no way Frodo would have gotten to where he did without him. No way at all.
While this is obviously in the movie version, I think that it holds a little more weight in the book. My reasoning for this is because, at least in my opinion, literature tends to have more power for imagination and reminds me more of fantasy stories. It is kind of like you reading a history book when you engage in a fantasy story. It does for me at least. With that in mind, Sam talks about the great stories and reading this, I imagine their story as one of the great ones.
My favourite character receives their introduction in this book. I am, of course, talking about Éowyn, who I know I will discuss a lot more when I cover the final volume, The Return of the King.
Of course, I do think that The Two Towers is perhaps the weakest of the three volumes, though I want it noted that I do not think it is a weak book by any means. The weak point of this book is that it does not have as clean a beginning and ending as the “middle child” in this situation. You could argue that the other two volumes are lacking either a clean beginning or clean ending, but I do not know that it really works in the same way. Regardless, I think this is down to the fact that most of the time, people read these as three different books and consider them a series. If you read all of them in one volume, I do not think you would come to the same conclusions.
I think there is one thing missing from this volume and The Lord of the Rings in general. Correct me if I am wrong, but we do not really know what happened to the Entwives, do we? I have not yet read all of Tolkien’s books and I have not read the appendices in The Return of the King in a while, but I am pretty sure we only know what the Ents do.
I say this information is missing, but I would not place it in The Two Towers or any of the other volumes in The Lord of the Rings. Frankly, I would love to read a story about exactly what happened to them after leaving the Ents, even if they have been gone for quite some time as I think many fans believe.
Keep a sharp eye on my blog next Friday, as I will race to the finale with The Return of the King.
Title: The Two Towers
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Publisher: George Allen & Unwin (first)