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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Just Finished Reading The Two Towers

The Shire

Oct 23, 3:51am

Post #1 of 24 (3222 views)
Just Finished Reading The Two Towers Can't Post

Hey guys! I just finished reading the two towers. And i have two initial thoughts A: I really admire how the books show faramir and gondor in a better light. the movie almost makes faramir look like a villian. I really do like faramir as a character a lot more now and i am sad this didnt carry over to the movie. B: Something that i noticed as i was reading is that in the book jrr tolkien more so tells the story from Sam's standpoint. it explains what sam is thinking and what sam says to himself and truly shows how he really is the main character. Especially the final chapter with sam taking up the difficult task after frodo's temporary death at the hands of shelob. I really do admire what tolkien did and the entire book really led up to that final chapter very well. the book has made samwise one of my favorite characters.

Do you guys agree with this statement and what are some of your thoughts on these 2 initial thoughts?

(This post was edited by manofmordor on Oct 23, 3:52am)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Oct 23, 2:06pm

Post #2 of 24 (3107 views)
Is this your first time reading the books? [In reply to] Can't Post

If so, that's wonderful! Of course it's wonderful if it's not your first time. Smile
I have many disappointments with the movies, even though I liked them a lot. But the treatment of Faramir is one of my top five disappointments. He's a great character, and you will see more of him in Return of the King.
If you're starting ROTK for the first time, you are in for a treat. Please let us know as you read different parts - we love hearing from first-timers.Smile

The Shire

Oct 23, 2:47pm

Post #3 of 24 (3105 views)
Yes this is my first time! [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes! i just discovered lotr in july so this is my first time and those are my original thoughts. So excited to start return of the king!


Oct 23, 8:23pm

Post #4 of 24 (3066 views)
Congratulations! [In reply to] Can't Post

Congrats on achieving your first Two Towers read through! Like you, I saw the movie before I read the book, but I first read it right after seeing the movie. I, too, was disappointed in the films portrayal of Faramir, but equally so with their portrayal of King Theoden who was far more weak in the movie than in the book. Some of the evidences used against him in the movies were actually things he himself suggested wanting to do in the books! At least both of them were given their redemption ultimately in the movies and both turned out okay in the films.

I hope you enjoy Return of the King, as I trust you are reading that one next! You'll have to let us know your thoughts once you finish!


Oct 23, 8:24pm

Post #5 of 24 (3063 views)
Lucky you. You're in for a treat. [In reply to] Can't Post

Sam is a wonderful character and often overlooked by the first time reader, so good catch. Be sure to read the appendices at the end as well. They really add to your satisfaction at the end of the book.


Oct 23, 8:46pm

Post #6 of 24 (3064 views)
Faramir and Theoden [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with both of you on these characters. I read the books first and was disappointed how these two heroes were portrayed in the movies. I know there are reasons for it, etc, but I was still disappointed, even though I do like the movies overall.

If you like Faramir, you’ll see more of him in Return of the King.

And good catch on Sam’s point of view being used—I think I didn’t notice that until the 2nd or 3rd time I read the trilogy. It helps transform him from the rather goofy, tag-along servant to a brave and trusted friend. So much, in fact, that I often forget he was officially Frodo’s servant. I think of them more as friends and equals sharing the same fight together.


Oct 24, 1:17pm

Post #7 of 24 (3016 views)
I Admire Your Enthusiasm [In reply to] Can't Post

Like you, I had never read the books or watched the movies in the theater. Not until I saw part of The Two Towers on television did I get interested. I went out and got the entire film series. I enjoyed the movies.

I then bought and read The Lord of The Rings. Loved it! I followed up with The Hobbit, Silmarillian and Unfinished Tales. I have added CoH, B&L and Gondolin to the collection.

My bookshelf is now full with several copies of each in paperback and hardback, Kindle, the movies, soundtracks and audio books.

I read them all on a rotating basis. I have to admit the movies have lost some of their luster after reading the books.


(This post was edited by priell3 on Oct 24, 1:19pm)


Oct 24, 4:10pm

Post #8 of 24 (2992 views)
Definitely [In reply to] Can't Post

Sam is indespensable to Frodo.

Had you read the books before?
If not, I hope you find the writing to be so beautiful and engaging. Something a movie can never really capture.

(This post was edited by Eruonen on Oct 24, 4:11pm)


Oct 25, 10:07am

Post #9 of 24 (2937 views)
Samanfrodo [In reply to] Can't Post

I think I read Ursula LeGuin (I think) suggesting that Sam and Frodo are almost parts of one composite character (Samanfrodo?), which achieves something neither of them could alone. At one level that makes intuitive sense to me; at another, I'm not sure what difference that makes, seeing them as parts of a composite duo than separate characters? ANy thoughts?

I think that Tolkien makes good use of them being in separate bodies though: in TT and ROTK Frodo is more and more withdrawn into his mental or spiritual struggle, and I think we need Sam not only to worry about the food and whether Smeagol can be trusted, but increasingly he's used as a viewpoint from which we see Frodo. A Frodo's-point-of-view account might be far too surreal to be all that readable.

I used to think that Tolkien keeps Sam's emergence subtle. But maybe its that some of us take longer to see him properly than others (manofmordor notices something on his first read that took me ages! ).

I think Sam has known since his meeting with Gildor that he's a crucial part of the quest. He's got a fairly accurate idea of Frodo's weaknesses and how to make good for them. Not that this gets appreciated: is there really nobody else among the experienced travellers thinking about the usefulness of rope out as they leave Rivendell? Frodo's agony at Amon Hen is 'plain as a pikestaff' to Sam, but he realises there's no point in telling all these aristos how things are. Instead, he'd better go rescue Frodo (who is usually going to get into a whole pile of trouble if he and Sam become separated).

The thing that Sam is totally wrong about (of course: I think Tolkien uses this skillfully) is Smeagol. We spend half of TT waiting for Sam to be right about Gollum turning against them. But then it seems to me to make sense that Frodo has an understanding of Smeagol that nobody else could have.

Is there a sense (does the Room think) in which Sam has wisdom, in contrast to Frodo's intelligence?

"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Oct 25, 1:20pm

Post #10 of 24 (2929 views)
Wisdom of different sorts [In reply to] Can't Post

I think my initial reaction to your question is that Sam has a folksy wisdom that Frodo lacks (as seen in quotes from the Gaffer), and also a pragmatic kind of wisdom that's stronger than Frodo's as you point out in your examples, and which I think is repeatedly put on display in Mordor, with Sam worrying about their food and water and struggling to ration it as long as possible while Frodo seems rather tuned out and fatalistic on that subject. Actually, even when the Ring is destroyed, it's Sam who urges them to get away from the Crack of Doom as much as possible, even if they couldn't really escape on their own. There too, Frodo was fatalistic but willing to follow Sam's lead.

But Sam's folksy wisdom also limits his outlook on things, such as his prejudice that any hobbit outside the Hobbiton area must be foreign and strange (vs. Farmer Maggot's view of hobbits in the Hobbiton area). I think that prejudice was also on display in the iconic scene on the stairs to Cirith Ungol, when Gollum comes upon them sleeping and feels remorse and hobbit-like again, and Sam's suspicion shatters any chance of Gollum repenting of his treachery.

Frodo starts out with a wider worldview than Sam does, which gives him a wisdom of a different sort. Frodo saw something redeemable and pitiable in Gollum that Sam did not, so that's insight or wisdom of a different kind, but Frodo had to grow into that perspective from his own original revulsion to Gollum in Bag End, when he famously said it was a pity Bilbo didn't kill him when he could, resulting in Gandalf's lecture on the subject.

Circling back to LeGuin: think of a writer's task where you want to show Gollum as both treacherous and yet 1% redeemable. How could you credibly do that with only one companion for him? I think that character would come off as wishy-washy, so having Frodo and Sam view Gollum from different perspectives was probably Tolkien's best option, and he executed that plot line very well.

Anyway, what a great question! It's a dangerous business discussing Tolkien, Mr. Frodo, because there's always more to think about.


Oct 25, 3:16pm

Post #11 of 24 (2914 views)
Do the movies do the “shift to Sam”? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don’t remember Sam becoming more of a protagonist as they plod into Mordor, but of course there may be much I’ve missed.

If I remember though, PJ rather removes Sam’s Choices Of Master Samwise: Book Sam has to decide between the logical (take the Ring on to Mt Doom alone ) and his instincts. Movie Sam has been dismissed by Frodo (which didn’t seem believable to me). He sets off, realises Gollum’s trick, and comes back to see Frodo being stung. So he rolls along with what others are doing and doesn’t have to make cold, calculating choices: a pity, I thought.

"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Oct 25, 6:18pm

Post #12 of 24 (2903 views)
Le Guin's observation [In reply to] Can't Post

I think I might have mis-represented it:

In Reply To
Circling back to Le Guin: think of a writer's task where you want to show Gollum as both treacherous and yet 1% redeemable. How could you credibly do that with only one companion for him? I think that character would come off as wishy-washy, so having Frodo and Sam view Gollum from different perspectives was probably Tolkien's best option, and he executed that plot line very well.

I don't think Le Guin was arguing that Tolkien should have merged Sam and Frodo into the one physical hobbit character. But I've found the passage now. It isn't quite as I remembered. Le Guin is discussing Jungian archetypes and how she thinks they describe various fairy tales in terms of needing to come to terms with your dark side. Coming to LOTR she points out that 'bright' figures are often paired with a shadow (Aragon/Witch King; Gandalf/Saruman - elsewhere she suggests Aragorn/Boromir and Theoden/Wormtongue*) :


Sam is, in part, Frodo's shadow, his 'inferior' part. Gollum is two people too, in a more direct schizophrenic sense...Sam understands Gollum very well, though he won't admit it and won't accept Gollum as Frodo does, letting Gollum be their guide, trusting him. Frodo and Gollum are not only both hobbits; they are the same person - and Frodo knows it. Frodo and Sam are the bright side, Smeagol-Gollum the shadow side. In the end Sam and Smeagol, the lesser figures, drop away, and all that is left is Frodo and Gollum , at the end of the long quest. And it is Frodo the good who fails, who at the last moment claims the Ring of Power for himself; and it is Gollum the evil who achieves the quest, destroying the Ring and himself with it."

The Child and the Shadow (1974) - collected in The Language of the Night, The Women's Press 1979

So I think this might be a sort of specialisation - as Frodo tends more and more to the saintly martyr, Sam is left more and more to make the practical decisions.

*'Elsewhere' is an essay I've quoted...elsewhere http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=913903#913903

"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Oct 25, 7:25pm

Post #13 of 24 (2893 views)
Thanks for that link to an earlier discussion on LeGuin, shadows, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

It makes some kind of point about our recent discussion of the Reading Room's 1) tendency to re-discuss the same things, being limited as we are to a handful of books (I see I made the exact same point, back then and last week, about the Ring rather than Frodo speaking the curse on Gollum) and 2) smaller numbers of active discussants as the years roll by and the films slip backward like a bright ship masted with enchanted trees.

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Oct 26, 12:42am

Post #14 of 24 (2861 views)
New eyes / readers are always welcome as they can make our stale [In reply to] Can't Post

conversations interesting. New perspectives and the sheer joy some have at finally having read the books makes us all feel refreshed.


Oct 26, 9:26am

Post #15 of 24 (2843 views)
I agree! [In reply to] Can't Post

As I see it the point is not for these boards to reach some definitive conclusion about everything and stop. There is a tendency for that to happen to individual contributors of course - or at least it's clear that the key posters and thinkers of 2016 aren't all still about now, and were a different set to those when I rolled in in 2013. And at that time people remembered back to still earlier figures.

I begin sometimes to feel a bit like an elderly ent turning a little tree-ish myself (and I'm far from the longest-serving active contributor). Certainly I become aware that I repeat opinions I've expressed earlier - but hope that's OK if there's someone who hasn't heard them already and might be interested. For my part, 'new eyes and new readers' have very interesting things to say because people come to these books from a background and set of life events that is inevitably different to mine. A book is a recipe for a story (I think) and a skilful author like Tolkien gets each of us to build our own Middle-earth in our heads as a response to his prompts. So other people not only have perspectives and ideas that I haven't thought of; they have ideas that I probably could not think of.

"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Oct 26, 2:30pm

Post #16 of 24 (2840 views)
Can you imagine what it would be like if we could see what everyone is [In reply to] Can't Post

imagining while reading? (Actually, that is possible to a fuzzy degree though primitive). But, despite the myriad differences there must be some very common ones the we all identify with.

p.s. the TTT sentence I remember is the opening line: "Aragorn sped up the hill...."

(This post was edited by Eruonen on Oct 26, 2:31pm)


Oct 26, 9:46pm

Post #17 of 24 (2803 views)
I suppose a lot of old stories end up like that [In reply to] Can't Post

If they are passed down orally, they end up carrying forward what each 'host' of the story remembered, what they thought was important (and of course what they added or edited out for their own purposes where that wasn't quickly changed again or changed back and so lost from the tradition). I suppose Tolkien was professionally acquainted with several stories like that, and perhaps it's appropriate that bits of Middle-earth ended up as varied tellings, for all of Tolkien's effort to straighten everything out and make it consistent.

"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Oct 26, 10:22pm

Post #18 of 24 (2806 views)
There's a charming LOTR anecdote by Neil Gaiman [In reply to] Can't Post

As a boy he realised he wanted to be a fantasy writer, but alas Tolkien had already written the ultimate fantasy story in LOTR. So Gaiman imagined somehow ending up in a parallel universe in which LOTR didn't exist; and that he would re-write it from memory, and publish it as his own work, and thereby become a famous fantasy author....

Hmmm I wonder whether there's a parallel universe in which Tolkien arrived from a further parallel universe that as yet lacked Neil Gaiman's ultimate fantasy masterpiece Lord of the ....

...yes I know, there's a place called NaNoWriMo for people like me Wink

"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Oct 27, 10:32pm

Post #19 of 24 (2699 views)
I used to have links [In reply to] Can't Post

to other sites where people posted their thoughts on reading LOTR for the first time. I loved reading them. Sadly, I probably lost those links a few computers ago.

Thor 'n' Oakenshield

Oct 27, 11:28pm

Post #20 of 24 (2693 views)
Wow! A first read! [In reply to] Can't Post

Incredible; I wish I remembered more of the first time I read the book myself. My dad read it to me when I was young, and then eventually I picked it up and read it for myself, and I just loved it, but that was years ago, and I just remember that sense of wonderment and magic…I hope that this starts you on your own journey into the deep and powerful world of Tolkien's works, beyond the Lord of the Rings to the Hobbit, the Silmarillion; there's so much to be discovered!

"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back. But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy. Now I have taken my worst wound in this parting, even if I were to go this night straight to the Dark Lord."

Superuser / Moderator

Oct 28, 4:18am

Post #21 of 24 (2685 views)
I remember following Mark Reads as he made his way through LOTR. [In reply to] Can't Post

His musings over 'this odd Dernhelm fellow' were entertaining. Tongue


Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Ataahua's stories

Forum Admin / Moderator

Oct 29, 3:19pm

Post #22 of 24 (2585 views)
That was one. [In reply to] Can't Post

I had several at one time - wish I had kept them all
I love following along while people read for the first time.


Oct 30, 10:26am

Post #23 of 24 (2478 views)
my thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

It´s great to hear your thoughts on these things - I agree that the story is told mostly from Sam´s point of view in book IV of the Two Towers. It´s a natural consequence of Frodo´s growing mental struggle and how he becomes more withdrawn and introverted. But must the story have only one main character? I think Frodo and Sam are equally important as characters and they are both indispensable to each other. They complement each other in terms of strengths and differences in temperament. It´s very interesting to get to know more about Sam´s thoughts and doubts and feelings, but the portrayal of Frodo as seen and observed by Sam seems to me equally important to the story.


Oct 30, 10:45am

Post #24 of 24 (2472 views)
I’m not used to seeing the f-word used so copiously in a Tolkien review. // [In reply to] Can't Post



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