LOTR Read-Along! The Two Towers Part Two

Saturday, October 22, 2011

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

This is the second part of The Two Towers.
FOTR: Part One Part Two Part Three

TT: Part One

This was the middle bits, wrapping up the Isengard plot and the beginning of Frodo and Sam's attempt to get into Mordor. Let's get straight to the discussion questions:

1. The Glittering Caves of Aglarond; Fangorn Forest: Which of the two would you be most excited to visit once the war was over?
No fair! I love both forests and caves. Especially forests that lead to caves. Of course, depending on who you are and how careful you are, Fangorn might be more likely to kill you, so that would have to be taken into account...

2. How did you like the reunion of at least part of the fellowship at Isengard? Did any part of it stand out to you?
I really like that Gandalf and Theoden went off to talk strategy and news with Treebeard while Merry and Pippin treat Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli to a casual lunch. It gave their reunion a nice feeling of friendship and brotherhood, because the "grownups" are away, so to speak.

3. What are your thoughts about Gandalf's confrontation with Saruman?
It's pretty sweet: Gandalf gets to exercise his shiny new power-level. I also enjoy it because it's a bit of nice foreshadowing for *REDACTED FOR SPOILERS FOR YOU SILLY FOLKS WHO HAVEN'T READ THE BOOKS*.

4. We learn a great deal about the Palantir in this section. How do you feel about Saruman given Gandalf's speech about the use of the Palantir? Would you, like Pippin, be tempted to look in to see what you could see?
I basically agree with Gandalf about Saruman: that the palantir probably aided in his turn to the dark side, but he was foolish not to seek help in dealing with something that powerful. Let's not be too hard on Pippin, some of his problem was obviously a compulsion brought on by touching the thing. Assuming that it wasn't pointed straight at Sauron, a palantir could be awesome, but you'd want to check that with a licensed wizard before you went mucking around with one.

5. What are your thoughts about Smeagol/Gollum in this first part of his journey leading Frodo and Sam? For those of you who've seen the film, are you hearing Andy Serkis in your head when you read Gollum's lines?
I do feel bad for Gollum, and not only because I know the rest of the story. I really like the complications here: it's clear that feeling pity for Gollum is like feeling pity for an injured snake. You can try to help it, you want to help it, it might seem to like you, but you can never trust it. Regarding Andy Serkis, I hear him off and on. Definitely for the poem/song.

6. Sam and Frodo are not traveling in the most picturesque part of Middle-earth. Which would you find worse, the seemingly impossible to leave mountains or the Dead Marshes?
More landscape either/or? Well, I'd probably rather take my chances in the marshes, as I used to be passable at navigating swamps. (I spent lots of time catching frogs as a kid.)

7. Tolkien introduces us to a lot of places in this section of The Two Towers, many just getting a mention in passing. What do you think of Tolkien's place names (Minas Morgul, Isengard, the Emyn Muil, and on and on)? Do any stand out to you? Are there any that you don't care for?
Overall I love Tolkien's place names. His knowledge of language really shines here, as all of the ones I can think of roll pleasantly off the tongue and resonate well in the mind. There are some, like Ithilien, that I have trouble remembering when the book isn't in front of me, though. I do sometimes get tired of "this place is called X, except the elves call it Y, and it used to be called Z, and..." While it does help expand the sense of the history, I don't need all the alternate names for every single place they go.


Lynn said...

Okay, I'm joining you in the swamps (nothing to do with the fact that I'm a total wimp around heights!), simply because you can navitage! I think during these chapters Gollum was my favourite part of the reading which I suppose is a little strange but I can't help feelings sorry for him and his dialogue is so amusing - I loved his little song! and, like Andrea says, I thought all the chit chat about potatoes was for the film only so it was really nice to read it in the pages.
Lynn :D

Anonymous said...

Comparing Gollum to an injured snake, perfect comparison! Cuz no matter how nice you are, he's gonna bite you eventually, because that's his nature.

"I do sometimes get tired of "this place is called X, except the elves call it Y, and it used to be called Z, and..." While it does help expand the sense of the
history, I don't need all the alternate names for every single place they go."

I hear ya on that one. It's great that everyone has their own names for places, but as a newbie reader I'm lost enough. I don't need to worry about a map that's in three languages.

Raine said...

I like Tolkien's place names too and I agree this was the part where his linguistics shone the most. A friend of mine let me borrow her copy of the Tolkien language tree diagram (was it) and you could follow the research he based in creating the various languages and what deemed right for one folk and apt for another. That was just amazing.

Carl V. Anderson said...

It isn't a fair question, which is why I cheated and answered my own question with "both". I would so want to do Fangorn and the Glittering Caves.

Yes, there is some really nice foreshadowing all throughout these books and part of the pleasure of re-reading them is being able to see these things more clearly and appreciate just how terrific these books are.

The more time I spend with these stories the more I become convinced that any accusations of Tolkien writing one-dimensional characters is just wrong. Other than perhaps Sauron, you find yourself being shown that there are more sides to every person. Saruman becomes much more sympathetic when you realize how years of exposure to Sauron have affected him. Pippen is just curious like the rest of us are, and a bit clumsy too, but his heart is in the right place and he does what so many of us would do in his place. Same thing with Boromir. And the way that Theoden is kind to the men who 'chose wrongly' and fought with Saruman. I love the depth of these characters.

I actually love all the alternate place names though it does admittedly slow the flow of the story at times. I'm just a geek for that kind of stuff.

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