Saturday, October 29, 2011

Two Towers Read Along Week Three

My response to this week's instalment of The Lord of the Rings Read-Along. I have to be honest though and say that I'm not currently reading any part of The Lord Of The Rings, although I've read the whole thing many times before. The whole thing is being hosted over at Little Red Reviewer and Geek Daddy.

This week the questions are from the second half of The Two Towers and should more or less, finish the book off:
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?
This is one of those questions that people love to debate. There's just so many ways it could have gone - some for the better, and some for the worse, but Boromir's attempt to claim the Ring was a catalyst for so much else to happen: The Fellowship split, Frodo and Sam off to Mordor and then the others to find Merry and Pippin. But, it was that split that led to them being able to pen in Saruman. I don't think the Ents would have joined in the fight without being prompted by the two hobbits. And then, going on from there, would the Witch-King have been killed when he was? But, I don't want to go more into this right now, simply because it's getting into unread territory now

But, then if the Company had split for some reason regardless, if Frodo and Sam had run into the Rangers of Ithilien, things might have turned out very differently there without Faramir leading that group. IIRC the laws of Gondor said that Faramir should have taken the two hobbits to Minas Tirith to have their fates decided. Instead, he lets them go and even helps them. Can you imaging the consequences if that hadn't happened?

Assuming the Company hadn't been broken up, would they all have been able to remain undetected all that time the way the two hobbits did?  And, what route would they have taken to get into that terrible country? The main gates were proven to be impossible, and I think there are those in the Fellowship who would have known what they were facing if they'd opted to try the way Frodo and Sam did.

There's more I could go into but that breaks into Return of the King territory.
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.
Using what time? At that point in time, they'd just had a fairly close escape from the Witch-King. And, they've just seen how well guarded the main gates were, and how impassible the mountains were. I think that was the only way they had. I wouldn't have gone in there willingly - I hate spiders, although, I'm saying that I wouldn't with knowledge they don't have.
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?
No, it's not.
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?
This one I'm declining to answer as all my answers are tangled up in the events of the Return of the King.
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?
I'd never actually thought of it like that. I like that interpretation though. I'm more used to reading that passage and trying to figure out what events the orcs are referring to, as some of the debates I've participated in use those passages to prove/disprove theories on orcish lifespans.
The book ends on a cliffhanger. Are you excited to finish up the trilogy and see how it all turns out?
Yes! I remember one time I was reading the books on a trip and I'd finished the Two Towers and then realized that I'd accidentally brought the Fellowship of the Ring along instead of the Return of the King. I had to wait until I got home again to finish the read. I don't remember what I did in the mean time though anymore.


Carl V. Anderson said...

I definitely think the breaking of the fellowship was a necessary thing to happen because we see that it sends out such strong ripples throughout Middle-earth. The party ends up being much more than the sum of their parts as various members go off and make huge impacts in the concurrent events that are happening in Middle-earth. I'm not sure that would have happened without Boromir's actions and so even in his weakness he provided the impetus for so many events that followed.

I think Faramir's truest act of heroism is allowing Frodo and Sam to go, knowing full well the risks that he is taking. He proves to be much more wise than even his father believes him to be. I'm glad the films allow us to see some brief glimpses of Faramir and Boromir's relationship. I think we get a bit of that in Faramir's speech about Boromir.

There is a good bit of information out there about Tolkien's reactions to the first world war, including his grief over losing many of his dearest friends and his feelings that war was becoming more mechanized and less personalized and that innocent men were out fighting and dying for the machinations of political leaders. I think those feelings show both in Sam's speech about the "enemy" he sees fall dead in front of him and in the speech of the orcs. It isn't saying that the orcs are somehow nice but misdirected creatures, they are after all created perversions of other beings, but it does show that the "enemy" are not necessarily mindless evil beings.

Man, I bet that was one agonizing trip not being able to continue on with the story! I can't wait to read Return of the King. It has been many years since I have done so.

Elena said...

That's more or less the conclusion I came to too, Carl. Pippin's stone in Moria is something of the same thing too, in my mind. Would they have faced the orcs and the Balrog without that foolishly dropped stone? and without that, would Gandalf the Grey have become Gandalf the White? He needed that to do quite a bit of what he accomplished in the Two Towers and the Return of the King.

John Garth has quite a good book on Tolkien and the First World War: Tolkien and the Great War, if you want more information on that specific time in his life. Otherwise, Carpenter's biography, and the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien are good resources for those years.

Yes it was a minor torment ;).

Thanks for commenting.

Carl V. Anderson said...

I've read Carpenter's bio and I've read part of the Letters book and part of Garth's book. I read parts of each every year around this time. I've enjoyed them but they aren't books that I find myself wanting to read to the exclusion of other things. Tom Shippey's books are great too.

Elena said...

Have you read any of Verlyn Flieger's books?

Carl V. Anderson said...

No, haven't even heard of that author.

Elena said...

She's written three or four books now, all of which are very highly regarded. There' s A Question of Time, Splinters of Light, Logos and Language, and most recently Green Suns and Faerie.

Carl V. Anderson said...

Always love getting book recommendations, so thank you. Yet another wonderful hazard of book discussion, it begets more books.

Elena said...

That's for sure. It's what makes some of the book memes out there so dangerous :)


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