Friday, May 11, 2012

The Lord of the Rings (Part Two)

Welcome, my friends and fellow bibliophiles, to part two of our Lord of the Rings reviews. :) I am delighted to discuss it today. Parts three and four of this fantastic drama are packaged under the guise of The Two Towers. But in reality, they are in no way separate from book one.

This post is illustrated with movie posters from Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Two Towers. I will put in the disclaimer beforehand that I know they are not completely accurate to the books. (And yes, not all of us like the way he cast Aragorn. Advance apologies. ;) But enjoy them as the 'essence' of Middle Earth, though not always a faithful presentation of Tolkien's stellar works.

So, let's get to it. :)

Part Three
The company that started with Frodo is now minus two, and the remainder are split into three different groups. Frodo is travelling forward on his quest; he hoped to go alone, but one of the company would not allow himself to be left behind. Two of the company are hostages of the orcs, evil servants of Sauron, and three are roaming free to bring help to the two hostages. This group of three, racing against time, orcs, and dwindling food supplies, find help in a meeting with Eomer and the riders of Rohan. Rohan is a land famous for its horses. No one is sure of the King of Rohan's exact loyalties; he's more loyal to himself than anything else. But he resents Sauron's raids upon his horses, and his henchmen are willing to risk their monarch's displeasure to help the trio. When they arrive, they find that their captive friends have already escaped, and fled into the deep forest of Fangorn. The trio return as they promised to greet Rohan's king, and find him in the slimy clutches of his counselor, Grima Wormtongue. They have to convince him of the danger of Sauron's power before he is willing to drive Sauron's orc-hosts from his borders, and important stronghold called Helm's Deep, that, if captured, would play greatly into Sauron's hands. He leaves his people under the lady Eowyn's leadership, and sets out to make war.

Meanwhile, the two company wanderers in the forest of Fangorn come upon an adventure of their own. The head tender of the forest, an Ent, befriends them in their wanderings and tells them of his troubles. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Saurman the white, head of the Council of which Gandalf is part, succumbs to the desire to possess the one Ring of power; he is out to find the Ringbearer (i.e. Frodo) and secure the Ring for his own purposes. Reckless in his evil, he has allowed his orcs to wreak a little havoc in Fangorn, much to the horror of the Ents. The two companions encourage him to call the Ents together, and after a long council, the Ents agree to march upon Sauruman's stronghold, called Isengard, in which his tower Orthanc stands.
Three of the company are surrounded with evil orc hosts at Helm's Deep, with no help in sight. Two more are carried in the arms of Ents, forward to a battle with the third greatest power in Middle Earth. As the intensity builds, their courage rises in the face of despair.

Part Four

Frodo and his companion journey steadily onward towards their goal of destroying the ring. But an unknown creature is following them--and when they find out what it is, the myriad of perplexities escalate to a constant watch against treachery and death. Heavier and heavier the ring weighs on the chain around Frodo's neck. A meeting with Faramir, noble brother of Boromir, speeds them a little way on their journey; but food is running out for them as well as strength to meet the coming struggle. And in a sudden move of hate, their unwanted fellow traveller throws an obstacle in their way in an attempt to make an end to the Ringbearer's quest.

My Thoughts

Tolkien, in The Two Towers, starts twining two themes into the upcoming climax: the first one is mercy. Frodo and Sam have the opportunity to kill a miserable, disgusting little creature that just might try to slip a knife at midnight anyway. But Frodo realizes something that his companion does not: first of all, that it is pity and mercy to refriain from striking without need. And second, that even the tiniest sliver of uncertainty demands that we leave room for hope.
The second theme, a much darker, more suspenseful one, is the crumbling of emotional stamina when the going gets tough. Frodo is drawing closer and closer to the heart of Evil in Middle Earth; he's journeyed a long way. Bruised by orcs, wounded by Black Riders, bearer of an awful token of evil that daily wears him down, he is now starting to fray around the edges emotionally and physically. And I think that holds an important point in the fight for Christian reform. Oftentimes, its when we most need to gear up that we are starting the downward spiral. And that's when we have to find something outside of our own strength to pull us through. In the case of Christians it is the Lord Jesus who gives that to us. And sometimes he sends it through the strength of those around us. Frodo originally wanted to pursue his journey alone; but one of his companions would not let him leave. For two are better than one. When one falls down, the other can pick him up. Frodo didn't know he would need this; but so far its kept him through times of uncertainty. The question that I leave you to find out is whether or not it will carry him through times of betrayal. :)

And here, my friends, is where I leave those of you who have not read this drama. Come back in future, if you would like, after you have filled in some of the puzzle pieces. :) And blessings on your reading journeys this weekend.

Special Edition for Those Who Have Read the Books

One of the best contemplative quotes in The Two Towers is:

Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.

And so, I think Tolkein splits the proper reaction between Frodo and Sam. First of all, we should if at all possible respond with mercy to those around us. And secondly, we should be wary when we know they are not sincere.
Sam Gamgee is just awesome. :) He is one of my favorite characters, and I love the way he takes care of Frodo. Encouraging, yet sympathetic, and a nice resourceful packrat.
I have to admit, with apologies to all Tolkien fans, that the Ents were just a bit slow. With all their Hom Hooms, I got a bit bogged down. And with Treebeard's long story of the Entwives. Very poetic, very well written, but I think I may appreciate it more on a second reading, when I can rest in the knowledge of the Ringbearer's outcome.
And I was glued to the pages in the battle of Helm's Deep. I loved Legolas and Gimli counting heads. Hilarious. Tolkien is nice, because it's not a frilly fairy tale, but it includes lighter humorous passages between Frodo and Sam and Legolas and Gimli, and Merry and Pippin. Even Aragorn unbends a bit here and there.
Carrie-Grace tried in vain to while me away while the orcs stormed the walls.
And it was worth it, all in all, to wade through the Ents. Because they set the stage for the beautiful fifth and sixth books. I wouldn't have them taken out for all their Hom Hooms.

I'm at the Inch homeschool convention in MI this weekend. I would love to meet up with any of my readers who are attending. :)

Have a lovely weekend amongst your books!

Lady Bibliophile


  1. Dear Lady B,
    Wonderful post! I like it when you put pictures in your post! :) I'm looking forward to Tuesday's post.
    When can I read them?
    Love, Sister

  2. Dear Lady B,
    I havent read much of your posts yet, however i am a huge lord of the rings fan. keep posting! (:

    1. Thank-you! :) I'm a huge LOTR fan, too... I'm saving up for the collector's editions of the books, and I'm planning to watch the movies soon. :)

      I'm glad you're enjoying the blog!

      Lady B.


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