The Two Towers – the LOTR Readalong month 3

Lord of the Rings

LOTR: The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien

It’s the end of month 3 of the LOTR readlong, and I’ve finished LOTR vol 2: The Two Towers . You can see what others thought via the Mr Linky on Teresa’s post at Shelflove, and you can see my comments on the first half of this book here, but before I leave it totally I just want to share a quote from book three that really tickled me …

‘But Gandalf,’ I (Pippin) cried, ‘where have you been? And have you seen the others?’
‘Wherever I have been, I am back,’ he answered in the genuine Gandalf manner.

Wizards – why can’t they ever talk like normal folk!

Now to the second half of the Two Towers (Book 4 of the sequence) – for you can honestly say that like football, this is a book of two halves!  In the previous book we followed Aragorn and co, met Theoden and the Riders of Rohan, plus the Ents. In book four we follow Sam and Frodo as they continue on the quest and we meet major characters in Gollum/Sméagol and the noble Steward of Gondor, Faramir, brother of Boromir.

I must admit that I found book 4 slow to get into after the classic Western feel of book 3, but as soon as we meet Gollum properly it begins to get interesting again.  The scene were Gollum argues with his other self Sméagol is wonderful and is perhaps the most important event in this book:

‘Sméagol promised,’ said the first thought.
‘Yes, yes, my precious,’ came the answer, ‘we promised: to save our Precious, not to let Him have it – never. But it’s going to Him, yes, nearer every step. What’s the hobbit going to do with it, we wonders, yes we wonders.’
‘I don’t know. I can’t help it. Master’s got it. Sméagol promised to help the master.’
‘Yes, yes, to help the master: the master of the Precious. But if we was master, then we could help ourselfs, yes, and still keep promises.’

Then the hobbits encounter Faramir. At first they circle around each other, testing out where loyalties lie. They talk of the Elves, and Faramir wishes he could have spoken with the White Lady, which sparks an effusive outpouring from Sam …

‘… Beautiful she is, sir! Lovely! Sometimes like a great tree in flower, sometimes like a white daffadowndilly, small and slender like. Hard as di’monds, soft as moonlight. Warm as sunlight, cold as frost in the stars. Proud and far-off as a snow-mountain, and as merry as any lass I every saw with daisies in her hair in springtime. But that’s a lot o’ nonsense, and all wide of my mark.’

Sam’s mouth continues to lead him into trouble blurting out Boromir’s fate, but Faramir is able to piece things together and understand that the hobbits are not a threat to them and deserve help despite what happened to his brother. He is noble indeed. The hobbits’ short stay with Faramir and his men gives them the respite that enables them to carry on, but we soon see that the task is getting harder. Frodo is beginning to feel the weight of the ring, and Sam is sharing his burden and unwittingly upsets Gollum even more accusing him of ‘sneaking’…

…’Sneaking, sneaking!’ he hissed. ‘Hobbits always so polites. O nice hobbits! Sméagol brings them up secret ways that nobody else could find. Tired he is, thirsty he is, yes thirsty; and he guides them and he searches for paths, and they say sneak, sneak. Very nice friends, O yes my precious, very nice.
Sam felt a bit remorseful, though not more trustful. ‘Sorry,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry, but you startled me out of my sleep. And I shouldn’t have been sleeping, and that made me a bit sharp. But Mr. Frodo, he’s that tired, I asked him to have a wink; and well, that’s how it is. Sorry. But where have you been to?’
‘Sneaking,’ said Gollum, and the green glint did not leave his eyes.

Teresa asks about what themes are becoming apparent in the book. For me there is a real sense of history – all the different races have their own, and they all love any opportunity to share their stories with others anytime they get together.

And finally – the obligatory movie comparison. Personally, I’ve no big quibbles with the film, I don’t know it well enough. However, there are some bits that are brilliant. I commented on Theoden’s awakening last time. Now I’d like to applaud the casting of David Wenham as Faramir – he and Viggo Mortensen make a great pair of heroes to long for. But the biggest acting feat of all must be Andy Sirkis as Gollum, and the animator’s brilliant job at bringing him to the screen.

This post was republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive

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