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The End of the Fellowship and The Approach of the Two Towers

March 1, 2010

March has arrived, which means that the reins are now passed to Teresa to host the read-a-long of the middle bit of LOTR: Two Towers. Both she and Claire are on the ball, and since I just finished rereading Fellowship last night, I’m combing Claire’s wrap-up questions with Teresa’s beginning ones. Get ready for some Tolkien love fest! :D

Final Thoughts on The Fellowship of the Ring
Thanks to Claire for providing these questions, since I’m not feeling particularly creative right now!

Since we’re dealing with a third of a novel, instead of the first novel in a series, do you find anything different?
I think there’s a stronger sense of continuity between Fellowship, Two Towers and Return than there’d be if it was just a series. I love 1,000+ page novels, and that’s what this feels like!

Do Books One and Two have significant differences to you?
Definitely. Book One really lets us get attached to the hobbits, which I think is key because it gives us a more invested stake in the political games and war stuff that goes on later. Book Two covers more ground, both literally speaking in the fellowship’s journey and more figuratively in how much more world-building Tolkien introduces. I love how there are not only the different beings, but also different races amongst themselves…it all just feels so real. And the language stuff! I think even not knowing a thing about Tolkien, reading Book Two reveals that he’s an academic.

Who’s your favorite character so far into the novel?
I love me some Strider! :D He’s so noble and good and handsome, while remaining humble. He’s pretty much my ideal man, and I doubt that I’m alone. Of the hobbits, Merry’s my favourite! He’s smart and is never described in oddly dog-like ways as Sam is (I’m disturbed by some class-ist tendencies I detect in Tolkien when Sam comes up). As far as minor characters go, Galadriel is my favourite; she’s one of the few strong (or even existent!) female characters in Tolkien’s world, and I love how wise she is. I could have done without hearing quite so much about her fair beauty though. But even that felt very authentic compared to some older stories I’ve read (have I mentioned before how LOTR makes me feel like I’m reading a medieval story?), so I’m not complaining too loudly.

What surprised you the most?
How wonderfully Tolkien creates pathos. I’ve known that I loved the books, and in my head I think of them as for academia-inspired. And Tolkien does the more intellectual stuff wonderfully, of course. But he really did a great job of pulling at my heart strings as well.

What was your favorite scene?
I’m just going to talk about the second half, Book Two, since I already discussed Book One. I love the atmospheric tension of Moria, and how creepy Tolkien makes it (The drums…the drums). And what a finale to that scene (“Run, you fools!”)! My breath catches seeing Gandalf dragged into the deep, and it totally made me shed a few tears. (Especially Strider’s actions, and later when they’re all mourning in Lothlorien). I also love Lothlorien…even saying the name is a delight, and I was glad that Tolkien treated us to quite a bit of time there. Everything’s so sylvan, and I’m a huge forest lover, so Lothlorien sounds like heaven to me. I think that, as much as the poor fellows need a break from their journey, the reader also needs a break from the build up of gloom and sadness, so Tolkien did a good job inserting that when he did. Still, there’s a melancholy about the elves that really touched my heart.

First Thoughts on The Two Towers

Where are you in the trilogy right now? What do you think of the books so far?
I just finished The Fellowship last night, and I’ll be beginning my reread Two Towers today. So far, the books are exceeding every expectation for my reread. This is like the 4th time I’ve read them now, and they’re impressing me as much as the first!

What’s your past experience with The Two Towers? If you’re rereading, how does it stack up against the other two books?
The first time I read Two Towers, I remember loving the bits that follow the rest of the fellowship, and having to drag myself through the bits with Frodo and Sam. This is largely because I don’t like Frodo all that much, and I couldn’t help fantasising about Gollum finishing him off and Sam becoming the ring bearer instead. Anything to stop his incessant whininess. That being said, I love the non-Frodo bits SO, SO much that I still love the book as a whole! The Ents! Rohan! Eowyn! Faramir! In all of my rereads, I treasure all of that and skim the Frodo bits. I haven’t reread the series in four years now, though, so maybe this go around I’ll care more about Frodo. Maybe.

If you’re a rereader, what are you most looking forward to?
Did you see all the exclamation points above? All of that. :D

What about the movie? If you’ve seen it, what did you think of it, and how much do you think it will color your experience with the book?
Oh dear. I promise I won’t rant as much this time. But as I explained in my last post, I walked out of the theaters in the middle of Two Towers (after a scene between Eowyn and Wormtongue that NEVER BLOODY HAPPENS in the book and is COMPLETELY antithetical to her character). Let’s just say, I have no interest in every watching it again, and my blood begins to boil just thinking about it.

31 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2010 6:10 am

    I am glad to hear with each read that you enjoy them more. The more you write about them, the more I can feel myself reaching out to read them.

    • March 2, 2010 9:08 pm

      I hope you enjoy them when you eventually get to them! :)

  2. March 1, 2010 6:51 am

    LOL! I love hearing you go on about the movies! The Two Towers has some of my favorite characters and favorite scenes. I love how we end up following several story lines. And who couldn’t love Strider and Merry and the Ents and Rohan and Eowyn and Faramir and …..

    Yes. The fact that Sam is always curled up at Frodo’s feet is kind of disturbing. Yet Sam eventually shows us his own strength.

    • March 1, 2010 6:51 am

      Did you see how many time I used the word “love”!

      • March 2, 2010 9:08 pm

        Tolkien inspires the use of the word love so much! :D I think Sam is definitely strong…it’s just the whiff of ‘dear old servant’ around him that makes me hesitant.

  3. March 1, 2010 8:57 am

    Oh, Moria was terrifying, especially with the journal that just tapers off. And while I do love and adore Sam, I am feeling the ocassionally classist view Tolkien takes towards him.

    • March 2, 2010 9:09 pm

      I know! The journal’s end is so creepy! :D I think I’d love Sam more if he wasn’t obsessed w/ Frodo. LOL

  4. March 1, 2010 10:10 am

    What a great re-cap – it’s nice to re-visit these titles from another’s perspective. I love the covers of these editions as well. I just have the movie tie-in box set (my dad made me return his other red leather-bound edition of the three together, so I had to go out and buy some new ones, which was right when the second movie was released…).

    Thanks for sharing!

    • March 2, 2010 9:10 pm

      Thanks! I got the set for Christmas around the time the movies were released, and my mom searched out non-movie tie in covers, for which I’m very grateful. :D

  5. Xana permalink
    March 1, 2010 12:07 pm

    The highpoint of The Two Towers for me was the introduction of Faramir. From the start I was impressed by the way Tolkien mixes the warrior with the scholar (Gandalf’s student!), the confident leader and the man desperately wanting to please his father and knowing he’ll never live up to his brother’s memory. I’ve read somewhere that Faramir was just a second thought, but that Tolkien developed a special connection with him.

    It’s not often that a ‘minor’ character has that much… character. It was also in the Two Towers that the Fellowship and I became friends for live (I knew then I would miss them at the last page), but I have to agree with you on the Frodo point. The plains of Rowan were a page turner!

    Looking forward to your next thoughts on it!

    Alexandra (mostly lurker)

    • March 2, 2010 9:10 pm

      I agree-Faramir is one of my favourite characters in the whole series! And thanks for delurking. ;)

  6. She permalink
    March 1, 2010 4:14 pm

    I had to write a huge research paper in my English 101 class and we got to pick our topic but it had to be a book. I picked Lord of the Rings and the over tones of religion and mythology in the paper. It’s really surprising how much both are through out all three parts. I think I’m telling you all that because I not only found it fun to read Lord of the Rings but also a very intellectual experience and I agree with you :o)

    • March 2, 2010 9:11 pm

      Yep-it’s so chock full of mythology, which is a large part of why I love it. :D I used to be *really* into mythology studies!

  7. March 1, 2010 7:16 pm

    I have heard so many people say that they find the Mordor bits with Frodo and Sam a slog, and those were my favorite parts of LOTR last time I read it. I’m curious to see if I still enjoy those parts as much this time around.

  8. March 1, 2010 7:28 pm

    I haven’t finished yet (still on chap 5 of part 2). I much preferred the first part, though. I liked the setting in the Shire and the people and the customs. I also enjoy the little bits that refer to the previous history since it reminds me of Silmarillion. In fact, so far I still prefer Silmarillion. But I’m enjoying it more than I anticipated. Maybe I’ll finish tonight or tomorrow! (Two Towers is coming from bookmooch as I type….)

    • March 2, 2010 9:11 pm

      It doesn’t surprise me that you still like The Silmarillion best. :) I’m curious to see what you’ll make of Two Towers!

  9. March 1, 2010 8:37 pm

    Oh, I totally agree with you about the need for the sojourn in Lorien at that point in the story. Moria was so intense and tragic and honestly, as a reader, I need a rest at that point.

    And Tolkien really does know how to pull those heartstrings. I get sniffly at several points in all three books.

  10. March 2, 2010 2:28 am

    Enjoyed reading your thoughts on ‘The Lord of the Rings’. I love the cover of the edition that you are reading :) I have ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ of the same edition (I think) – it has beautiful colour plates inside, doesn’t it? I couldn’t get ‘The Two Towers’ and ‘The Return of the King’ in the same edition – I am still searching for them.

    Looking forward to reading your next post on the read-a-long.

    • March 2, 2010 9:14 pm

      Aren’t the covers pretty? My editions don’t have colour plates, though. They’re trade paperback, and they have line and ink drawings.

      • March 2, 2010 10:56 pm

        Line and ink drawings sounds so beautiful! It must be a wonderful reading experience, reading such a pretty edition!

  11. March 2, 2010 5:22 pm

    I so dearly love this trilogy. The Two Towers is my least favorite of the three, and I’m rather hoping I can fit in The Return of The King when it comes around. Don’t forget Carl’s Once Upon A Time Challenge is coming up March 21, so that would be a good time to read these as well. I don’t blame you for walking out of the theater, by the way, I hate when a film doesn’t live up to a book (which, to be fair, how can it?!).

    • March 2, 2010 9:14 pm

      Yep-it’s fun that the last two books of the read-a-long will coincide w/ OUaT! I love the trilogy as well. :D

  12. justicejenniferreads permalink
    March 3, 2010 1:46 pm

    I remember reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy in high school. They were a bit much for me then – I got lost in some parts of the book, but I did enjoy them. It is a wonderful story: so intricate and well thought out that I believe its really difficult for anyone to read them and say that there’s nothing in there for them.

    I’m definitely with you on the Frodo hating. Compared to the other characters, he just doesn’t really have a whole lot to offer the audience. But I think it’s meant to be that way.

    • March 5, 2010 12:19 am

      I wish Bilbo had come out of retirement to carry the ring! He was an EveryHobbit I could relate to. ;)

  13. March 12, 2010 6:54 pm

    With Frodo it’s all about the burden. I wish he was more “unquenchable” but his wound bothers him and I guess we are supposed to see that he’s fading. I feel sorry for him . . . and guilty that I don’t enjoy that part of the story more. I’m all “Gee, I wonder what’s happening in Rohan right about now?” during a lot of that section.

    I agree with you on the classism, too. It’s awkward.

  14. March 24, 2010 2:15 pm

    I love Galadriel and Lothlorien as well, one of my most favorite parts of both the books and the movies. Although I think Jackson’s version of her as the weilder of the one ring was a little creepy. I envisioned her beyond lovely–not frightening. I also thought it was interesting that Jackson used Arwen’s character to make a strong female character in the movie. He totally removed her brothers from the story and put Arwen in their place. All she did in the book was inspire the men, sew the banner and show up to marry the king :) I disliked how her invented character took from the strength of Frodo’s character.

    I do like Frodo’s character and Sam is my absolute favorite character. I feel like Tolkien has drawn a little bit on his war experiences as he develops the relationship between Frodo and Sam. Men joined in battle develop a comraderie unlike those relationships experienced in a civilian world.

    There are things that bother me about the movie–but there are also many parts I love. But of course none of it replaces the original work. I’m really enjoying this re-read. I have not read the books for about 30 years so it is nice to see Tolkien’s world as he meant it to be seen.

  15. March 24, 2010 2:25 pm

    This is my first time re-reading the books in 30 years and also since I saw the movies. I must say I enjoy seeing Tolkien’s world as Tolkien meant it to be seen. I can say it is refreshing to sort it out and put it back in its proper order.

    I would have to say that Frodo is one of my favorite characters and Sam is my favorite character. I think Tolkien is drawing on his experience as a soldier and the comraderie these men develop as they become dependent on each other for their very lives. I think Frodo is indeed the Champion of the book, bearing an impossible burden and enduring to the end. And Sam with his wit, wisdom and loyalty is the chiefest of reasons that he succeeds.


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