Grafton (An Imprint of HarperCollins)
The Amazon.com product description:
THE GREATEST FANTASY EPIC OF OUR TIMEThe Two Towers is the second part of my all-time favourite book: The Lord of the Rings. As I noted in my review of The Fellowship of the Ring, it's also a book I'm having a terrible time reviewing. I think I might just be too familiar with the story by now.
The Fellowship was scattered. Some were bracing hopelessly for war against the ancient evil of Sauron. Some were contending with the treachery of the wizard Saruman. Only Frodo and Sam were left to take the accursed Ring of Power to be destroyed in Mordor?the dark Kingdom where Sauron was supreme. Their guide was Gollum, deceitful and lust-filled, slave to the corruption of the Ring.
Thus continues the magnificent, bestselling tale of adventure begun in The Fellowship of the Ring, which reaches its soul-stirring climax in The Return of the King.
Anyway, the story picks up where the first book ended, with the Company of the Ring scattering in several directions - with the narrator following on the footsteps of Aragorn as he followed Frodo's tracks. For this book, there are three separate groupings that are followed, for lack of a better term: The first one is that of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, the second is that of Merry and Pippin, while the third is Frodo and Sam.
In many ways, although it might be said that the second half (referred to as a book) of The Two Towers, that focused on Frodo and Sam, is the most important, my favourite is the first book. There's just something about the tone of it that I like more. On the other hand, my two favourite descriptive passages are from the second half: firstly the description of the statue of the King at the Crossroads:
The brief glow fell upon a huge sitting figure, still and solemn as the great stone kings of Argonath.The years had gnawed it, and violent hands had maimed it. Its head was gone, and in its place was set in mockery a round rough-hewn stone, rudely painted by savage hands in the likeness of a grinning face with one large red eye in the midst of its forehead. Upon its knees and mighty chair, and all about the pedestal, were idle scrawls mixed with the foul symbols that the maggot-folk of Mordor used.The second quote is their first sight of the hosts of Mordor, led by the Witch-King. Both of them have such a punch to them. The first is just one of those things where as I read the words, I feel as though I can see what the two hobbits are. The second passage just ratchets up the tension so very effectively. I really wish the movies had used this passage just as it is described in the book. I like the air of silent menace that Tolkien has created here, much more so than the swooping Winged Beasts that Jackson used for the same passage. Unfortunately, this quote is almost too long to use in my review.
Suddenly. caught by the level beams, Frodo saw the old king's head: it had rolled away by the roadside. "Look Sam!" he cried, startled into speech. "Look! The king has got a crown again!"
The eyes were hollow and the carven beard was broken, but about the high stern forehead there was a coronal of silver and gold. A trailing plant with flowers like small white stars had bound itself across the brows as if in reverence for the fallen king, and in the crevasses of his stony hair yellow stonecrop gleamed.
"They cannot conquer forever!" said Frodo. And then suddenly the brief glimpse was gone. The Sun dipped and vanished, and as if at the shuttering of a lamp, black night fell. (The Two Towers. Journey To The Crossroads)
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: J.R.R. Tolkien really is a master at both storytelling and description. The Lord of the Rings as a whole is one of those books I don't think I'll ever get tired of re-reading.