The Two Towers
The Two Towers is the second volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is preceded by The Fellowship of the Ring and followed by The Return of the King. more...
Tolkien came up with the title under deadline pressure and later expressed dissatisfaction with it. In letters and one sketch he considered several possible sets of towers, including Minas Tirith and the Barad-dûr, and even the possibility of leaving the matter ambiguous. However, he eventually settled on Orthanc and Minas Morgul and wrote a note to this effect which appears at the end of most editions of The Fellowship of the Ring. He also produced a final cover illustration showing these towers, but the publisher decided not to use it in order to save money on the production costs.
Loosely, any pair from a set of five towers in the story could plausibly fit the title: Cirith Ungol, Orthanc, Minas Tirith, Barad-dur, and Minas Morgul.
Because The Two Towers is the central portion of a longer work, its structure differs from that of a conventional novel. It begins and ends abruptly, without introduction to the characters, explanations of major plot elements or a satisfying conclusion. The first section follows the divergent paths of several important figures from The Fellowship of the Ring, but tells nothing of its central character, on whose fate so much depends, enabling the reader to share in the suspense and uncertainty of the characters themselves. The narrative of the second part returns to the hero's quest to destroy the evil that threatens the world. While the first section tells of an epic battle, the struggles in much of the second section are internal.
Book III: The Treason of Isengard
Hobbits Merry and Pippin escape from the Orcs who captured them when the orcs themselves are attacked by the Riders of Rohan. Merry and Pippin head into nearby Fangorn Forest where they encounter treelike giants called Ents. These guardians of the forest generally keep to themselves, but are moved to oppose the menace posed to the trees by the wizard Saruman, who has been chopping down trees in the forest to fuel fires for his furnaces.
Aragorn, Gimli the Dwarf and Legolas the Elf, tracking Merry and Pippin, come across the Riders of Rohan who tell them that they attacked the orcs the previous night and left no survivors. However, Strider is able to find small prints and they follow these into Fangorn, where they meet a white wizard who they at first believe to be Saruman, but who turns out to be their wizard friend Gandalf, whom they believed had perished in the mines of Moria. He tells them of his fall into the abyss, his battle to the death with the Balrog and his reawakening. The four ride to Edoras and persuade King Théoden that his people are in danger. In the process, Saruman's agent in Edoras, Grima Wormtongue, is expelled from the city. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas then travel to the defensive fortification Helm's Deep while Gandalf goes north in search of Eomer's men in Rohan to bring as reinforcements. At Helm's Deep, they resist an onslaught of Orcs and Men sent by Saruman, and Gandalf arrives the next morning with the Riders of Rohan just in time. The fleeing orcs run into a forest of Huorn half-tree, half-ent creatures and none escape. Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Gandalf and the Rohirric army then head to Saruman's stronghold in Isengard.
There, they reunite with Merry and Pippin and find the city overrun by Ents, who have flooded it with the nearby river, and the central tower of Orthanc besieged, with Saruman in it. After giving Saruman a chance to repent, Gandalf casts him out of the order of wizards. Wormtongue throws something from a window at Gandalf and those with him. This turns out to be one of the palantíri. Pippin, unable to resist the urge, looks into it and has an encounter with Sauron. Gandalf and Pippin then head for Minas Tirith in preparation for the upcoming war.
- I - The Departure of Boromir - Aragorn finds Boromir hit with many arrows, who tells him that orcs took Merry and Pippin, and they were still alive. Boromir dies, and his body is set down the stream on a 'funeral boat.'; Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli decide to follow the orcs who had captured Merry and Pippin, rather than following Frodo and Sam. The three of them set off to chase the orcs.
- II - The Riders of Rohan - They follow the trail of the orcs and find several clues as to what happened with the hobbits, then meet a company of Rohirrim led by Eomer, who tell them that the orcs were destroyed and none were left alive. They camp near the site of the orc massacre.
- III - The Uruk-hai - This chapter begins further back in time, telling the story of Merry and Pippin being captured by the orcs, who are lead by Ugluk from Saruman's army, and Grishnakh from Mordor. The two sides of orcs are constantly arguing. The orcs camp near Fangorn, and Grishnakh attempts to take the hobbits away with him. The hobbits escape as Grishnakh is killed from an arrow. They flee into Fangorn Forest as the orcs are attacked by the men of Rohan.
- IV - Treebeard - Merry and Pippin meet Treebeard the Ent, who calls an Entmoot, a gathering of Ents in Derndingle. The hobbits meet another ent, Quickbeam. The ents decide at the entmoot after three days, to attack Isengard.
- V - The White Rider - The chapter goes back to the story of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, who discover signs that the hobbits escaped the orcs into the forest. They meet an old man, who they at first presume to be Saruman, but who turns out to be Gandalf. They set off for Edoras.
- VI - The King of the Golden Hall - The four of them reach Edoras and talk with King Theoden. Wormtongue is kicked out of the city. Theoden gives Gandalf the horse Shadowfax.
- VII - Helm's Deep - Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are at Helm's Deep with the Rohan army, defending the people of Rohan from attack by the army of Saruman.
- VIII - The Road to Isengard - They travel to Isengard, and see that it has been destroyed. At Isengard they find Merry and Pippin.
- IX - Flotsam and Jetsam - Merry and Pippin tell the story of how the ents attacked Isengard, in amongst the ruins or 'flotsam and jetsam' of the city.
- X - The Voice of Saruman - Saruman has a very persuasive voice, which he almost uses to persuade Theoden and the others until Gandalf casts him from the order of wizards. Wormtongue throws the palantir of Orthanc from the tower, which misses Gandalf, and is picked up by Pippin.
- XI - The Palantir - Pippin picks up the Palantir and is seen by Sauron. Gandalf explains the origin of the Palantir; Gandalf sets off with Pippin for Minas Tirith, riding on Shadowfax.
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