Lord of the Rings read along – end of Book Two, The Two Towers

Just finished reading book 2 of the Lord of the Rings, the Two Towers, as part of our group read along.  This final instalment of Book 2 took us from The Window on the West through to The Choices of Master Samwise.

This week Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer has come up with discussion points which are below:

Faramir strikes me as a noble, intelligent fellow, especially concerning powers beyond his control.  Had he gone to Elrond’s Council instead of Boromir, how might the story have changed?

I really liked Faramir (a lot more in the book than the film) and thought it was interesting to read this section because it is actually quite different from the film.  I think the film version makes Faramir seem a bit more weak and indecisive than the book.  In the book he comes across as intelligent, dedicated, honourable and thoughtful.  He treats the hobbits respectfully and questions them in a way which gives him the answers he needs.  He also tries to give them wise counsel before they continue on their quest and although he understands the nature of what is before him he resists the temptation and therefore proves himself more resistant to the ring than his brother Boromir (although whether or not he would be able to sustain his resistance if he stayed longer in company with the hobbits is unknown).  But, personally I think it was better that Boromir was included in the Fellowship.  I don’t think he was always the wisest but to be honest the Counsel were not short of wiseness – Aragorn and Gandalf certainly don’t have a lack of knowledge – and maybe if Faramir had been included they would have had so many wise voices that they would have just gone round and round in circles and never made any decisions.  Boromir – through his dissenting voice – quite often pushed the Counsel to make decisions almost as an adverse reaction to what he was saying, and, on top of that, he was the spur that Frodo needed to break with the Fellowship and continue to Mordor with Sam.

What did you think of Shelob and her lair? Would you willingly go in there?  Yes, I know Gollum says “this is the only way”, but Frodo could have demanded they explore and attempt to find another way.

I really don’t like spiders and the notion of a spider as large as Shelob gives me the shivers – in fact, I’d sooner climb up a mountain I think!.  I think I would probably have preferred to look for an alternative if the truth be told but, in fairness to Frodo, he didn’t really have any other option did he?  He was reliant on Gollum – he knew that he would eventually try something or betray them but whilst he seemed to be guiding them he had to trust him and the fact that Gollum was scheming meant he would never have revealed any other way to the hobbits (even if one existed).  I suppose the other thing was that Frodo, having seen the army issuing forth from Mordor, now realised the urgency of his quest and so his choices were limited and the need for haste was paramount.

When Sam saves Frodo from Shelob, he finds himself in the vision he saw in Galadriel’s mirror.  Knowing the future isn’t always as helpful as one would think, is it?

Definitely not.  One part of me thinks it would be so irresistable to be told the future and another thinks not (maybe the winning lotto numbers!).  As it happens, having seen this particular vision of the future didn’t turn out helpful to Sam at all – although, interestingly, when Sam sees the vision he assumes Frodo his asleep, in reality however he thinks Frodo has died and he therefore makes the decision to continue alone – if he had stuck with his original interpretation of the vision things may have turned out differently!

Having always been a sidekick/helper of sorts, Sam reluctantly realizes he may have to become the Ringbearer. What do you think Sam will do with the Ring of Power? If you were the sidekick of the hero, and suddenly had the opportunity to become the hero, to finish the quest, what would you do with the Ring of Power?

I think I would have reached the same conclusion as Sam, which is that the quest is too important and that it must continue to the end, even if the ringbearer has to change.  I like the idea of Sam being the sidekick – just picturing him as Robin to Frodo’s Batman!!

The conversation between the two Orcs at the end was highly amusing for me.  Yes, it serves to educate Sam on Frodo’s condition, and Tolkien could have just left it at that, but he didn’t. The Orc’s commiserating could have been any soldiers in any war.  To me, it felt like Tolkien was humanizing the enemy, instead of the traditional dehumanizing of the enemy that you usually see in war stories. What do you think?

That’s a really good point – when I was reading the conversation between Gorbag and Shagrat the part that struck me particularly was their discussion about slipping off somewhere with a few trusty lads, somewhere with good loot and nice and handy with no big bosses – like the old times.  So, you can gather from that conversation that they don’t like the war any more than anybody else – I like that Tolkien wrote it like this – I don’t think it made me like the Orcs any more but it does illustrate that in spite of the differences the enemy also wants to get things over with and have some semblance of normality.

The book ends on a cliffhanger. Are you excited to finish up the trilogy and see how it all turns out?

I’m really enjoying the read along – and particularly seeing the differences between the book and the film.  It’s so long ago that I read the story that to be honest I thought the film was exactly the same and yet there are differences and I find it really interesting as these crop up – thinking particularly about the change in story regarding Faramir and how he lets the hobbits continue on their quest and also Sam and Frodo on the stairs and how they actually go in to Shelob’s lair together.  I’m really looking forward to the final book!

Thanks Andrea, really good topics for discussion. 😀

Other group discussions
Geeky Daddy
Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf
Stainless Steel Droppings
All Booked Up

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4 Responses to “Lord of the Rings read along – end of Book Two, The Two Towers”

  1. Carl V.

    Really nice thoughts about Boromir and his comparison to others in the council. I agree!

    And I also agree, but hadn’t thought about it, that seeing the army leave Minas Morgul increased the feeling of haste that Frodo needed to forgo any delays and get to Mordor as soon as possible. I do think Frodo had it in his mind that although Gollum would make a play for the Ring at some point, he, Gollum, would not lead Frodo and Sam into any danger that would also endanger Gollum. He is all about self-preservation.

    It is interesting that you mention “Batman and Robin”, from a semantic perspective, because Tolkien based the role of Sam towards Frodo on the example of batman in WWI, the men who were assigned to officers as part bodyguard, part valet.

    I don’t think the conversation with the orcs is meant to make us feel any particular sympathy for them but it is a great interlude that allows us to see that they aren’t mindless evil beings but they have that they have some degree of societal structure and that even they long for their own version of peace.

    Can’t wait to read The Return of the King, it has been a long time since I have read it.

    • lynnsbooks

      Ha – LOL about Sam being based on the example of batman in WWI. I think unconsciously I saw in my mind’s eye Batman and Robin at certain points – probably to do with the capes!
      Lynn 😀

  2. LOTRreadalong: The Two Towers, part 3 « the Little Red Reviewer

    […] blog conversations: Geeky Daddy Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf Stainless Steel Droppings Lynn’s Book Blog All Booked […]

  3. Geeky Daddy

    I am with you Lynn it would nice for the lotto number to see into ones future. I am not sure Tolkien would want people to use the mirror in this matter 😉

    I like you assement with books to the movies. I guess jackson had to make his cuts some where. I would have like to see Tom Bombadil in the movies. it would have been interesting.

    Frodo really did not have much of a choice, but it was played perfectly for Gollum to get his hand on The One Ring once again. It did not go as well as he hoped.

    Geeky Daddy

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