In the films, The Two Towers is my favourite of the trilogy. I’m not sure the same can be said for the books. The first half of The Two Towers is excellent and I pretty much loved every bit of it. In comparison, the second half falls rather flat.
The first half of this instalment focuses on a couple of action-packed plots that weave their way together. Merry and Pippin are captured by orcs and their characters are given the chance to develop and mature. We learn more about their personalities and how determined and strong they can be. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are in pursuit as they try to rescue their friends, despite feeling certain they will not be able to succeed in this mission. It’s a touching example of how much this group have come to love and respect each other. It’s a gripping plot and we also get to meet the Ents, the tree guardians of the forest, whom I utterly adore.
The second half of this book then leaves these characters behind to focus solely on Frodo and Sam’s journey, after they have split from the main group to take the Ring to Mordor. This is the more tedious half of this book and I’d forgotten that Tolkien had made this choice. It’s mainly walking. A lot of walking. A lot of walking and not much action. It has its highlights and ramps up the plot towards the end, but in general, it’s just not that exciting to read.
The decision in the films to flick back and forth between these two main components was a great one, as it doesn’t give you the chance to get too bogged down by Frodo and Sam’s story.
Tolkien does start to explore the character of Gollum much more in The Two Towers. He is a fascinating study on how the hand that we are dealt in life can affect so many of our decisions. How people have both good and bad inside them and it is up to them to decide which part to listen to, although the choice can be difficult. Tolkien shows that by being kind to others we can bring more good into this world, but also that your kindness might not be repaid in turn. Gollum is one of Tolkien’s most complex characters and he is a joy to read about.
Also, we did get to meet another female character who speaks! I think that brings our total up to four now, so that’s exciting. Eowyn is spectacular and I am looking forward to her upcoming scenes in The Return of the King. Will there be a fifth female character who speaks? I can’t remember, but stay tuned to find out with me.