Last summer I delved into the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) book trilogy for the first time since high school. Previously I told the tale of how my 12th grade self read the first of three installments (The Fellowship of the Ring) but wasn’t focused or mature enough to really appreciate it. But now that I’m an adult who has come to appreciate the beauty and value of fiction—in this case mythological fantasy—my dive into the trilogy is a completely different experience.
Just like my second go-around with part one of LOTR, part two (“The Two Towers,” hereafter LOTR2) took me two months to finish. But with the foundational plot established and main characters developed in part one, LOTR2 didn’t take much time to get me going. Actually the action begins immediately, picking up right where the story left off—with the fellowship separating into two parties. Frodo and Sam continue on their predestined journey to the heart of Mordor in order to fulfill Frodo’s quest to destroy the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. The others, including the dwarf Gimli, the elf Legolas, hobbits Merry and Pippin, and the human Aragorn, head off to battle.
As the second episode in a trilogy, LOTR2 obviously and primarily serves as a bridge to the epic conclusion when the king will return to Middle Earth to rule and restore peace. But there are compelling plot developments that make this part of the story interesting in their own right. Like LOTR1, LOTR2 is divided into 2 “books” (Book 3 and Book 4), each following one of the two plot threads. Book 3 details how the others decide to take up a new goal in the adventure to defeat the forces of the evil wizard Sauron and his wizard henchman Saruman. Early on in the narrative hobbits Merry and Pippen are captured by Orcs while the rest make their way to Gondor to warn their king of the coming armies of Sauron. Eventually both parties and reunited as the hobbits escape and make their way to the first tower with the help of the Ents (ancient mobile tree-like creatures). When the hobbits finally catch up with their friends they find that Gandalf has returned from the dead more powerful than before. Now it appears this party that makes up a subset of the severed fellowship just might have a fighting chance against the evil one. Continue reading