Saturday, October 22, 2011

Two Towers Read Along Week Two

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:
1.  The Glittering Caves of Aglarond; Fangorn Forest:  Which of the two would you be most excited to visit once the war was over? 
I'd have to say the Glittering Caves. Gimli's descriptions are so vivid, and what he's describing just sounds so beautiful and varied.
2.  How did you like the reunion of at least part of the fellowship at Isengard?  Did any part of it stand out to you?
Loved it. Always have. The contrast between the destroyed landscape and the hobbits' joking around just works so well. And then, there's the immediate connection between Merry and King Theoden. That's one of my favourite bits of this section. Really, there's so much going on here, including links back to the earlier bits of The Fellowship and to the end of the whole book. It's surprising what a role Pipeweed plays.
3.  What are your thoughts about Gandalf's confrontation with Saruman?
That it really shows the different styles the two wizards used. I can see where Saruman got his reputation from, and how he could have been the leader of the Council for so long. To have someone with that kind of a verbal gift working with you instead of against would be a powerful thing. But, I can also see how it would have enabled Saruman to hide his true feelings for so long too.

Gandalf's starting to show his true abilities since his return too. Every time I read this section though, I find myself wondering about the staff that both Gandalf and Saruman carry. Is the staff more than just a symbol of membership in that order? The way Gandalf speaks, it could be.

I really get the feeling in this section that Gandalf's a bit freer than he was before. Freer to show his true abilities that is, and I like it.
4.  We learn a great deal about the Palantir in this section.  How do you feel about Saruman given Gandalf's speech about the use of the Palantir?  Would you, like Pippin, be tempted to look in to see what you could see?
Perhaps I'd be tempted at first, but not after Gandalf's speech. At least, I'd hope not. I can see where the use of the palantir could be one of the factors that twisted Saruman into what he became, but I think it was mostly his pride that did that.
5.  What are your thoughts about Smeagol/Gollum in this first part of his journey leading Frodo and Sam?  For those of you who've seen the film, are you hearing Andy Serkis in your head when you read Gollum's lines?
I kind of feel sorry for Smeagol at times. He's certainly not pure evil, and there's so many times when he does something truly helpful too. There are a few points where I'm honestly going "if only", such as when Sam calls him a sneak. That, I think is the point at which any hope for him is lost. And yet, that moment is so completely Sam too, that I can't see it going any other way.

Actually, for me, I do hear a voice doing the lines, but it's not Andy Serkis. I hear Peter Woodthorpe, who did the voice of Smeagol in the BBC Radio Play version of The Lord of the Rings. Now that's a spectacular production!
6.  Sam and Frodo are not traveling in the most picturesque part of Middle-earth.  Which would you find worse, the seemingly impossible to leave mountains or the Dead Marshes?
Definitely the Dead Marshes. That place is just creepy!
7.  Tolkien introduces us to a lot of places in this section of The Two Towers, many just getting a mention in passing.  What do you think of Tolkien's place names (Minas Morgul, Isengard, the Emyn Muil, and on and on)?  Do any stand out to you?  Are there any that you don't care for?
 I'm so used to them now that I don't have any preferences either way. The names are just a part of Middle-Earth to me, and no more out of line than some of the place names here on Earth.


Lynn said...

I agree with you about Gollum - I don't think he was all bad and I find myself having a lot of sympathy for him. It's such a shame that he couldn't have had help earlier. Plus, like you mention he comes in very useful and frankly Sam and Frodo wouldn't really have stood a chance of getting to Mordor without his help.
Lynn :D

Unknown said...

You're right there - the Dead Marshes for example comes to mind. Gollum is definitely one of those "What if" characters. Thanks for commenting, Lynn.

Carl V. Anderson said...

I've never wanted to smoke a pipe so badly as when I was first exposed to Tolkien. Ha!

Great point about Merry and Theoden. That really is a nice, and quietly powerful moment.

Gimli is so ecstatic about the caves that even if I didn't like caves, which I do, I couldn't help but want to go with him.

I too wonder about the staff. Is it simply there to channel power ( I say "simply", but that would be anything but simple) or do they have some magic in and of themselves. I think it is great that Tolkien doesn't always answer everything. Sometimes we learn the answers, sometimes we have enough info to infer, and other times it is simply lost knowledge.

I can't help but wish that Sam could have seen in Smeagol what Gandalf and Frodo see. I sometimes with Sam had been present at the conversation Gandalf had with Frodo regarding Bilbo and his pity on Gollum.

Unknown said...

That little bit between Merry and Theoden sets up so many different bits too, including some of the Prologue. I tend to think it was that interaction that led to Merry eventually writing his Herblore book.

I also love those unanswered questions, they leave so much room for debate for the readers.

Thanks for commenting, Carl.

Carl V. Anderson said...

Yes they do. I've read many wonderful essays about Tolkien and his work and great speculation and imagination arises from the things that are hinted at or left unsaid.

Unknown said...

The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Forum is one of my favourite places for that kind of discussion.

Clint said...

I think with the Marshes that the hobbits and gollum have it right. No shoes and no socks are no problem as Carl V pointed out in his blog.

I think with Merry his curiousity did get the best of him with Palantir part of the story. Who would want to think if I could get my hands on that Seeing Stone again and wonder What could I see.

Geeky Daddy


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