Being the Second Part of The Lord of the Rings
By J.R.R. Tolkien
While The Fellowship of the Ring is a largely tranquil walk through beautiful scenery, at the very end Orcs attack the group, and all hell breaks loose. The Two Towers picks up in the middle of this battle, and the reader is immediately thrown headlong into chaos. The Fellowship is split: Merry and Pippin are captured by Orcs, Sam and Frodo continue the journey to Mordor, and Aragorn and the remainder of the Fellowship must choose whom to pursue. Meanwhile, Sauroman’s armies are growing and the lands of Rohan and Gondor are on the brink of war.
In the second part of the book, no one is safe, and things get dark quickly. While Frodo and Sam struggle through the harsh and unlivable terrain surrounding the land of Mordor, it becomes clear that Frodo’s mission is not only dangerous and exhausting physically but also mentally. The wicked power of the ring eats away at his morale and slowly begins to consume his mind. The need to destroy it becomes clear to both Sam and Frodo, but with no guide and no plan, destroying the ring is both hopeless and the only hope.
It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end . . . because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing . . . this shadow. Even darkness must pass.
In the second part of his epic, Tolkien really picks up the pace. While there is still quite a bit of walking and landscape description, there is a sense of urgency in The Two Towers that The Fellowship of the Ring lacked. The magic of Tolkien’s writing is hard to pin down. It’s not a page-turner in the sense that every page is packed with action, but yet something there holds the reader tightly in its grip. Perhaps it is the way Tolkien writes about this long journey: not by jumping from exciting scene to exciting scene, but with painfully slow and steady detail. The closer the Fellowship gets to destroying the ring and defeating Sauron, the more dangerous their mission becomes. Each step closer to Mordor clarifies how impossible victory is. Every turn of the page is leading to a doom that is impossible to escape, and then Tolkien ends with a suspense that will have you grasping for the next and final installment.