LOTR Read-Along! The Two Towers Part One

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Hobbit and LOTR Read-Along is hosted by Little Red Reviewer and Geeky Daddy

Welcome to the first third of The Two Towers!
FOTR: Part One Part Two Part Three

I always forget, when I haven't read the books in a while, whether the two towers of the title are Orthanc (the tower of Isengard) and Bara-dur, Orthanc and Cirith Ungol, or Orthanc and Minas Morgul. It is technically the last one, but I think the only place I've seen that verified is in the very end of FOTR, and it's only there if you have a version that is split into three books. It could be any of them, or none, as far as the plot is concerned. The Two Towers contains all the middle bits of the story; I understand why it was hard to come up with a name for this volume.

(In case you missed it, I did a bonus post on one of the off weeks: LOTR Bonus: Photos of Books!)

I'm a little stretched for time this week, so I'm not going to respond to all the suggested questions.

Selected discussion topics:

What is your favorite part of The Two Towers, thus far into the book?
I've always had a soft place in my heart for Rohan, and the culture of the horse lords. The Golden Hall, the Rohirrim... fantastic stuff. I wish we were able to spend more time establishing it, but at this point the plot is moving rather quickly, and all the new characters better join up or shove off. One specific moment I liked was Eowyn left alone to defend her people, her armor shining in the sun. That was really a lovely image.


What were your thoughts and reactions of the battle at the Hornburg?
Saruman's army was pretty darn stupid to attack such a solid fortress. I know they couldn't really have marched onward, leaving the forces of Rohan in their rear, but their plan seemed to consist of "kill the humans!" It didn't go too well for them. Also, the survivors of the battle were eaten by trees, which is both disturbing and awesome.


Do you like it that Tolkien has split the Company into three mini-quests? Do you wonder if the company will be together throughout the quest again?
Not a terribly applicable question for me, since I know the plot, and anyone who's seen the movies also knows when the characters will meet again. I do like the structure, for the most part: first spending time following up on everyone on the west side of the river, and then we'll catch up with Sam and Frodo in "Book Four" (LOTR is six books in three volumes, after all.) Each set of characters cannot affect the others at this point, so I'm fine waiting to get back to the other plot.
Oh, unless the question was about the decision to split the party in the first place. Of course I like that: it makes narrative sense given the danger of the Ring, it lets the reader follow established characters all over the different events and lands affected by the war, and smaller groups give each character more individual moments to shine.

6 comments:

Carl V. said...

You point out one of the things I really enjoy about the title of this book which is that there are so many ways you could interpret which two towers it is, even regardless of what Tolkien points out.

I love Rohan. Of course that love was established because of the films, which were my first exposure to Tolkien. I love the area of New Zealand that stood in for Rohan. Love the Golden Hall and their culture and everything about them. I am thankful for the films which flesh out these kind of things in ways the book doesn't.

I'm really sorry I got behind and hadn't read the battle section yet, but I'll catch up before next week's reading (don't have a choice, I have to do the questions, LOL!!!).

I'm with you in thinking that the story works better with the fellowship split up. I don't think it would have had nearly the same impact if all the members traveled on together from beginning to end. It would have been a nice story, but it would not have been the sweeping epic with all the emotional punch the story has now.

Lynn said...

Hi
Like you I enjoyed meeting the Riders of Rohan most so far into the book. My favourite chapter is Helms Deep but it was a tough choice between that and the King of the Golden Hall.
I think we'll probably all agree about the splitting of the book - I just think if it wasn't split you would never get to know all the characters and like you say we'll soon get back to Frodo and Sam.
Thanks
Lynn :D

ibeeeg said...

I loved the part about Rohan - the culture and the horses strongly grabbed my attention.
Eowyn was intriguing to me, and I - like you - found the image of her in armor to striking.

Geeky Daddy said...

The fact that the King of Rohan considered and grants that Eowyn left alone to defend her people. Is something to be said about Tolkien. With not many females being allowed to do such a thing. I did like this part of the book as well. it is not my favorite Treebeard wins out in my opinion.

ibeeeg said...

Geeky Daddy - you bring up an excellent point. Tolkien gave a female incredible importance with Eowyn's role and that was not typically done in Tolkien's time. That makes that move to name her heir if the King or Eomer did not return all that much more interesting to me.

Lindsay said...

Not to rain on your parade, gang, but let's keep things in context. Is it great that Eowyn gets such an important task? Is it awesome how awesome she gets to be later? Yes, absolutely!

But LOTR was written in the 40's and published in the 50's. After women's suffrage. After/during the World Wars that pushed industry to accept women workers on many more levels. Elizabeth II was heir presumptive in England from the mid-30's on, and crowned before the book came out.

In fiction there are politically powerful women in Eddison's The Worm Ouroborous (1922), badass women warriors in RE Howard's stories in the 30's, a scary-powerful barbarian queen in Haggard's She, written in the 1880's, and more. Not to mention that Tolkien's drawing on much older ideas of Norse shield-maidens and Valkyries.

Again, I appreciate the choice to give her political will and power, I love the women in LOTR and am not looking to criticize, but he wasn't writing in the Middle Ages.

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