Why is it that people just can’t seem to remember this one? Whenever someone brings up Lord of the Rings, they always talk about Fellowship of the Ring or Return of the King. People seem to forget that Two Towers was just as good! In many ways, I’d say that it’s better than its peers!
And yes, that applies to the books and the movies alike. But before I talk about the movies (I’ll get to them eventually, I promise), I need to finish the books. Again. For the seventeenth time.
I don’t have a problem, I swear.
Out of all the original Lord of the Rings books, The Two Towers is probably my favorite. I have a soft spot for all of them, yes, I feel that I’ve made that clear. This is the one that I’d say is the most consistent in terms of its quality.
That quality being very high. Which should go without saying.
The plot picks up right where Fellowship of the Ring ended. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli all rush in pursuit of the kidnapped Merry and Pippin. Just as they’re starting to close in, they meet a reborn Gandalf, now known as Gandalf the White. Together, they ride to Rohan in order to help them stand against the evil wizard Saruman and his coming army. This leads to a seemingly hopeless battle at Helm’s Deep, where they must survive against an overwhelming force! Meanwhile, Merry and Pippin have been placed in the care of the Ents, peaceful tree-folk. Eager to do their part, they struggle to convince their ancient guardians to rise up and battle Saruman, who has been slaughtering the trees to fuel his armies.
You got all that? Good. Because that’s only the first half!
In the latter half, we rejoin Frodo and Sam. They carry on their journey towards Mordor, completely alone and unprepared. Luckily, they may have a guide in Gollum, the monster that Bilbo took the Ring from in the first place. While Sam doesn’t trust the creature for the life of him, and for good reason, Frodo allows him to guide them, even going so far as to avoid the Black Gate and into a secret tunnel near Minas Morgul, where a trap lies in wait.
Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, this one still suffers from the Tolkien hallmark of overly long and unnecessary descriptions and details. It was annoying in his previous works and it was annoying in this one. That much will never change. That’s just how he does things.
What did change, however, was the pacing. In my Fellowship of the Ring review, I criticized the story for wasting time with scenes that ultimately don’t matter at all (say it with me: Tom Bombadil). Thankfully, The Two Towers doesn’t have any such scenes! Every scene in this book is important! From the battle of Helm’s Deep to the climb up towards Shelob’s lair, every scene in this story matters! The story always has a sense of progression, even if the pacing is still very slow!
This book is the most consistently good in my mind. The characters are still rock-solid, the pacing is great, it builds on the setting in an interesting way that’s important to the story at large, and it’s super enjoyable to read! Yes, it does have the same problem as the rest of the series. But this is the one that it hurts the least!
In case it wasn’t obvious, I’d highly recommend reading The Two Towers! It is a perfect sequel! It builds on the story that came before it and paves the way for the finale with style and grace! It’s not a flawless book. But it’s one of the strongest pieces of fantasy literature ever written!
Alright. That’s two out of three down! Now it’s time for the dramatic finale! Or at least it will be. In a few weeks. After I’ve finished it. Again.