Review: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The Two Towers Book Cover
The Two Towers Lord of the Rings (Book 2) Fantasy HarperCollins Publishers Limited Audiobook 16 hrs and 36 mins Audible

Building on the story begun in The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, this is the second part of Tolkien’s epic masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. Frodo and the Companions of the Ring have been beset by danger during their quest to prevent the Ruling Ring from falling into the hands of the Dark Lord by destroying it in the Cracks of Doom. They have lost the wizard, Gandalf, in the battle with an evil spirit in the Mines of Moria; and at the Falls of Rauros, Boromir, seduced by the power of the Ring, tried to seize it by force. While Frodo and Sam made their escape the rest of the company were attacked by Orcs. Now they continue their journey alone down the great River Anduin – alone, that is, save for the mysterious creeping figure that follows wherever they go.

The Two Towers

Continuing the saga began in The Fellowship of the Ring, this book sets into the serious business of the story.

There are very few songs in this book which made it much easier to listen to the audio. The songs do set the tone and laid out the histories (as tales were remembered of old) but I did find them annoying in the first book. None of that here.

Instead, we get an incredible journey which takes in sweeping battles with huge armies, dark encounters with Shelob (the spider), the resolution of the Saruman arc, Gollum’s secret, the ongoing friendship of the hobbits, and more. One of the outstanding parts for me – though it was hard to pick one as this book was so evenly and excellently written – was the Ents. The depth of backstory, alongside the history of the lands they inhabited, was outstanding. Tolkien also lulls us into a false sense of security which is shattered at the end of this book, leaving a cliffhanger into the final book in the trilogy which I immediately wanted to pick up to see what happens next. Genius.

The first book may seem a little odd, but if you persevere you will be richly rewarded in this book. If I had one criticism with the audio, Rob Inglis seemed to change the voice of Gollum at one point – not massively so you’d think it was somebody else, but sufficiently to wonder what had happened. It didn’t detract at all, and maybe I missed a beat while I was driving and listening? The language can seem flowery and archaic in places. However, I felt this added to the theme of the novel (it was written in ages past where professors wrote with erudite charm, after all).

And the choice of the inset picture? I felt this alternative artwork perfectly encapsulated the main themes of this novel – the Ents, the Two Towers, and the journey of Sam and Frodo, lead ever onwards towards Mordor by the treacherous Gollum.

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By Edward

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    About me

    About 40 years ago, I discovered role-playing and Dungeons and Dragons in one of the after school clubs. It revealed a universe that allowed me to flex my storytelling muscles and enjoy a mixture of fantasy and sci-fi and feed the escapist dreamer inside.

    Over time, I played (and story-led - marked with *) many systems including Call of Cthulhu*, Shadowrun, Dungeons & Dragons*, Middle Earth, In Nomine*, Bushido, Chivalry & Sorcery, Chill, Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, Gammaworld, Hawkmoon, Stormbringer, Immortals*, Marvel Super Heroes, Paranoia, RuneQuest, Vampire: The Masquerade*, and a couple of systems my own devising (Medieval* and Parody*).

    I explored live-action role-playing – eventually running my own club and creating my own LARP systems (Fools Gold and Dream Conquest) – and usually found myself in script-writing or game-master duty, writing over 500 individual live adventures over the period (usually weekly), many linked into the world events of the fantasy land we created. I also volunteered for Curious Pastimes and Lorien Trust at their main LARP events (special effects at the Ritual Circle), and did a little script work, cameos and improv for Curious Pastimes. I was also the South East's Editor (UK) for the LARP magazine The Adventurer. The biggest event I ran was a 10-month modern-day "murder mystery" LARP set around parts of Kent where characters were "always-on" and could get updates and interactions at any time outside of scheduled events. That was in the 1990s.

    I was also the artistic director for English Heritage for their live Halloween Horrors events at Fort Amherst in Kent from 1998-1999.

    Now, I write as the mood takes me with occasional competitions and challenges, and this year (2020) I will be taking on #NaNoWriMo.

    Here's to the future!