the Little Red Reviewer

LOTR read along, The Two Towers part II

Posted on: October 22, 2011

one's ring ON the one ring

Happy Saturday everyone!  If it’s an autumnal Saturday, that means it’s time for a Lord of the Rings discussion.  We’re in the middle part of The Two Towers, and this week’s questions were provided by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings.

At this point in the story, our Fellowship has been split, with Sam and Frodo heading towards Mordor and everyone else heading towards Isengard.

1.  The Glittering Caves of Aglarond; Fangorn Forest:  Which of the two would you be most excited to visit once the war was over?

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?

3.  What are your thoughts about Galdalf’s confrontation with Saruman?

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 Pippen, be tempted to look in to see what you could see?

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?

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?

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?

on twitter? use #LOTRreadalong
Link your post in the comments, or tweet it to me.  Once again, thank you for joining us on our journey to Middle Earth!

Other blog conversations can be found at:
Geeky Daddy
Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf
All Booked Up
Stainless Steel Droppings
Lynn’s Book Blog
Book Den
Passages of the Pen

1.  The Glittering Caves of Aglarond; Fangorn Forest:  Which of the two would you be most excited to visit once the war was over?

As alluring as Gimli’s description of Aglarond was, I’d want to go to the Forest first.  The Caves sound shimmering and beautiful, but I want to see the sky, feel the wind on my face, hear the leaves rustle around birdsong.  So sorry Gimli, as beautiful as your descriptions were, the quiet guy won this round.

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 thought it was hilarious!  Here comes Theoden and everyone, and they are tired and filthy and don’t know what to expect, and Merry and Pippin are just sitting there relaxing, like they’ve taken care of everything.  The “lightening up” of many of these scenes and situations has been a continual surprise to me.  I keep expecting these books to be serious and heavy and dramatic, and while they are all of those things, there is so much conversational humor!

3.  What are your thoughts about Galdalf’s confrontation with Saruman?

Forgive my ignorance, but is “The White” a title that can only be held by one wizard at a time? Saruman had been known The White, and Galdalf had been The Grey, but now Galdalf is The White. Does that mean he is more powerful than Saruman and that Saruman is no longer the White?

Their interaction struck me as a one between teacher and student, or parent and child. Saruman thinks he is such a know-it-all, thinks he can trick Sauron (which is probably OK, as there isn’t room for both of their egos in Middle Earth), and Galdalf is all like “you are so ignorant, you don’t even know how ignorant you are!”.  Poor Saruman, a little bit.

Any of you familiar with Myths Retold (NTSF, btw)? I’d love to see that guy do a Myths Retold of The Two Towers.

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 Pippen, be tempted to look in to see what you could see?

What a neat gizmo! Especially in a world with little to no technology, you do want a way to communicate with far off lands. It’s a little like a magic mirror.  But if you think you can use it to spy on someone (Like Saruman may have thought he was successfully doing), if you can see them, it means they can see you! and Sauron is way too powerful through that thing. Poor Pippin, he’s lived such a sheltered life, I don’t think he’s aware how dangerous it is. To him, perhaps using the Palantir is a little like drinking too much ale and saying something dumb or passing out on the floor. no harm no foul, right? I think that’s why Gandalf wasn’t mad.  Not only did he know Pippin didn’t mean anything by it, but he knew Pippin made a perfect guinea pig.

Would I be tempted? of course!  that’s why you keep the thing all wrapped up and covered in cloth! out of sight, out of mind, right?

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?

Dude, he’s totally freaky. Split personality, only wants to eat raw fish, totally creepy!!!  I’m not sure how Sam didn’t just kill him, or at least gag him to keep him from saying creepy stuff.But I guess that’s one of the things that makes Frodo such a strong person, that he can not only put up with Smeagol, but he can trust his life to him.

For some conversations I did hear Andy Serkis’s voice.  I was entertained by the Potato conversation, I figured that was just tossed into the films to be funny, but nope, there it was, word for word!

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?

Let’s see, craggy steep mountains that if you fall you’re going to die, or haunted marshes full of drowned dead people who call to you?  I’ll take the mountains any day. Especially since Sam’s got that wonderful elven rope.

If you’ve read Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies (I know, I can’t go a week without mentioning this guy), there is a scene where the pirate ship goes through a “haunted” area. The pirates tie themselves to the ship, or take sleeping draughts to sleep through the whole thing. The ghosts, or sirens, or whatevers that live there call your name and lure you into the water.  When the voices call to Locke, they call him by his true name, the name no one knows but him. It’s an incredibly unsettling scene.  I know the dead in the Marshes don’t verbally call to passersby, but I was reminded of that Scott Lynch scene, so maybe that made it scarier for me.

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?

I didn’t like or dislike any of the names, my concern was with the context, or lack there of.  I’m not always sure what type of place he’s referring to. Is it a city? Is it a river? a mountain? a region? I really could have used more overt context.  I’m sure better understanding of these places and where and what they are comes with rereading.

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16 Responses to "LOTR read along, The Two Towers part II"

Some better understanding does come with more reading and some doesn’t, which is another reason why I am so enamored with Tolkien’s work. There is stuff there for you to dig for if you want to know more and there is also the idea of the ‘lost knowledge’ that Tolkien always refers to. He always planned to expand upon Middle-earth’s history, which he does with The Silmarillion, and that is where you get much more information about many place names. It also is a drive for you to go and look at the map to figure out where places are. Love it!

I forgot to answer my own temptation question so I’ll do it here: Yes, I would so be tempted to look into it. I’d have to figure out what the thing was.

Sam does practice great patience, and it is interesting that he does so as it points to his great respect and love for Frodo. He does what Frodo asks him to do and is faithful even when it goes against his instincts.

I don’t know if only one wizard can hold “the White” as a title, but remember back in Fellowship that Saruman gave up the white for a robe of many colors and was called Saruman the Many Colored or something like that, a move he took as his desire for finding the ring himself grew. There are hints in other stories that Gandalf was the wiser wizard all along and I like seeing Gandalf go through this transformation and take on this new mantle of power and responsibility. He seems to become more focused while retaining some of his loveable gruff personality.

I do like the humor elements too and to me they add realism to the story. Who doesn’t crack a joke or find humor in even the worse situations? Even when things are super stressful people laugh, goof off, etc. It makes the serious parts of the story stand out more to me.

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I must have missed the Robe of Many Colors thing. . . :( Sounds like a pretty blatant way of advertising your own hubris.

Sam has a lot of respect for Frodo, and beyond that I have to remind myself, that technically, Sam is his servant, so kind of doesn’t have a choice. Which on the one hand totally sucks, but on the other hand, the more I read this, the more I’m thinking the main character is Sam. He’s the one who goes through drastic changes regarding his outlook on life and the world. So it’s a good thing that he got dragged along!

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I think Gandalf mentions it in Fellowship, but now I can’t remember. I’m pretty sure it is when he reiterates what happened to him in meeting with Saruman and Saruman makes mention of the fact that the white light can be broken and then makes some mention to the prism of colors or something.

I don’t see Sam as not having any choice. He is more of a caretaker, gardener, not a butler for Frodo and so I think he is given choice all along but doesn’t think twice about going forward because of his deep love for Frodo. And you are right in viewing Sam as perhaps “the” main character of the story, something that becomes even more apparent as the book goes along.

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I like your answers, even though I answered the opposite for a lot of the questions!

Mine are here: http://bluefairysbookshelf.blogspot.com/2011/10/lotr-read-along-two-towers-part-two.html

There are a few other Wizards in Middle-Earth, also color-coded. Radagast the Brown is the only other one to appear in LOTR, though, and he only briefly. I always thought that the colors had something to do with their tasks and/or allegiances, (White for the leader/knowledge, Grey for the wanderer/dealing with mortals, Brown for the hermit/dealing with plants and animals, Many-Colored is for hubris and seizing power) but I don’t think that’s confirmed anywhere. They are very *finger-waggle* my-steeer-ious…

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Hey, liked reading your answers – although, nope, still couldn’t be up that mountain!! Like the idea of Pippin the guinea pig.
And, btw, you can never mention Scott Lynch too many times – I loved the first book but, I was tempted to leave the second on the shelf until I read your review, so without your mentions that would have been a great waste of a brilliant story for me.
Ta
Lynn :D
P.S. Finally picked up Game of Thrones this week – which is why I’m behind – that is one big book! I don’t feel like I’ve made a dent in it yet.
My link:

http://lynnsbooks.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/lord-of-the-rings-read-along-the-two-towers-the-road-to-isengard-to-of-herbs-and-stewed-rabbit/

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I have a sick kiddo so I’m only just now getting a chance to make the rounds! Here’s my post from yesterday: http://bookden.blogspot.com/2011/10/read-along-lord-of-rings-two-towers.html

I would be too afraid of falling off the mountain. At least I could (hopefully) swim in the marsh. Now I’m off to check out Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies!

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If you start the Scott Lynch, make sure you read the first book in the series first, it’s called The Lies of Locke Lamora. otherwise the 2nd one won’t make any sense.

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I am so behind in everything, but I am hoping to catch up at some point!

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I’m catching up on everyone’s comments. . . . very. . . slowly.

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Found this link from a blog hopping and I thought I’d join. I haven’t read Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies and just reading the summary I’m going to check around here on who has a copy. :D Enjoyed reading your responses to the questions. Here was mine: Read-along TTT

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There just wasn’t much fantasy, at least this kind of it, around back when – in 1959, 1960 – I read HOBBIT and LOTR. Imagine what it was like before anything that “owes a debt to Tolkein” existed. So reading the four books was a different experience than I hear it described by people who had an awareness of fantasy beyond Howard, Leiber, et al.

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The part when the part reunited cracked me up as well. With Pippen and Merry just relaxing like it is a Sunday after noon was quite humorous(if i am not working of course).

It would be hard for me to trust Gollum this mutual-personalty thing that thinks of nothing more than to nap and kill for the one Ring.

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[...] of the epic middle book in The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. (click for parts One and Two) Focusing on the end of the book, our adventures center around Frodo and Sam, who with Gollum’s [...]

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