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Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien is part of his famous Lord of the Rings trilogy.

With the Fellowship now broken, the characters find themselves going on in various groups. The beautiful prose sung by Aragorn and Legolas at the departure of yet another member of the fellowship is heart wrenching. As they continue on their journey and on into battle, the camaraderie between Gimli and Legolas grows stronger. An unexpected character comes to their aid during their journeys in Rohan. As the group travels on more of Aragorn's origins are revealed. Their search for the missing members lead them on to Isengard.

Merridoc (Merry) and Peregrin (Pippin) find themselves with only each other for company. In their dire situation, each shows a sense of ingenuity and courage. Their travels bring them to a strange forest where they meet an old forgotten people, who they join to continue their journey.

Frodo and Samwise (Sam) pair together, leaving behind the rest, and continue on to Mordor. They team up with a most unlikely ally, who eventually leads them into trouble and possibly death.

Many readers find the long descriptions in Tolkien's writing tedious, while others enjoy them for the vibrant picture they create. The many songs scattered throughout the book are a delight, especially when read aloud. I think many readers will find bits of themselves or people they know hiding in the many beloved characters.

While this epic fantasy is certainly enjoyed by many all on its own, learning the folklore that influenced Tolkien can add a new layer of appreciation. Like the opera composer Richard Wagner, Tolkien was inspired by Norse mythology, such as the Nibelungenlied and Volsunga Saga. The powerful ring, elves, dwarves, dragons, and many other fantastic events and creatures can be traced back to these sources.

This novel and other by Tolkien were burned in New Mexico by those who claimed they were Satanic.

Notes specific to the audio version: The narrator gives some tune to the songs throughout the book. While they are not melodic, the narrator has a good sense of cadence for each one. The way he voices each character is different enough that in most cases it is easy to tell the difference between them during a conversation.

Other books by this author:
The Hobbit: or There and Back Again
The Silmarillion
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun

Recommended viewing:
The Hobbit animated version from 1977
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy theatrical extended version.

Recommended listening:
Nightfall in Middle Earth by Blind Guardian
Music Inspired by The Lord of the Rings by Bo Hansson

1 comment:

  1. I still remember watching that animated version of The Hobbit in the third grade. It was the highlight of the subarctic winter for most of us, since it was too cold to play outside. I tried reading the book, but getting past Tolkien's style of writing was just too much for my third grade brain.

    To this day, I have yet to actually read any of his books because I usually just end up falling asleep two pages in. I did very much enjoy Peter Jackson's movie adaptations however and the soundtracks were absolutely marvelous.

    The throwbacks to the Norse mythology is what truly makes this series amazing because if you are unfamiliar with their influence, you would never know they were there, which is a true testament to Tolkien's talent. I'm looking forward to the release of his work on King Arthur in May of next year. Maybe I'll actually finish that one :D