“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
So, war it must be for Frodo and company. But since the fellowship is broken, each must wage war in their own way against the dark lord, Sauron. Frodo must travel to Mordor with Sam to cast the ring to mount doom, and the rest must prepare for the battle against the Enemy’s foul servants.
This is the middle book if you take the trilogy as a series. But story-wise, it is the continuation of the adventures of Frodo and the company. The key features here are the sad demise of Boromir, the return of Gandalf (who was lost in Moria) the “white”, and the fall of Saruman (which filled me with glee!). We meet some interesting characters here whose roles will be seen in full capacity in the next stage. King of Rohan (Theoden) who was released from the clutches of Saruman by Gandalf, Eomer, the Marshal of Rohan, Faramir of Gondor (Boromir’s brother), and Lady Eowyn of Rohan are but only introduced. Their parts are set for the final stage.
The Two Towers is a story in the middle. It’s only a continuation of what began in The Fellowship of the Ring. When a story is neither the beginning nor an ending, but only the middle, it may lessen the interest of the readers. But Tolkien, with his brilliant storytelling, makes the continuing adventures of the fellowship so engaging and interesting that one forgets that this is only a part of the story. I’ve mentioned this in my review of The Fellowship, and I repeat it here. Tolkien is one brilliant storyteller. And he writes absolutely beautifully. His words are a treat to read. I was particularly struck here by Tolkien’s ability to bring the setting to life. It’s overwhelming. So beautifully he describes them that one is completely transported into the scene. I especially enjoyed how Tolkien painted the picture of the dark and menacing Mordor, the land of the Enemy, the land that must not be named! And here too, like in The Fellowship, the cinematic quality he brings to the story with his words is alluring.
Reading this was like going on a fantastic journey, every step being interesting and enjoyable, and no moment feeling tired or bored. It is a rare feat to achieve especially in a middle book like this. And Tolkien has attained the feat with ease I would say. He is a literary genius, no doubt there.