LOTR Readalong: The Two Tower Intro

Believe it or not, it’s March already, which means the Lord of the Rings Readalong is focusing on The Two Towers. If you’ve fallen behind, or are just joining us, don’t worry—just read at your own pace and, most of all, have fun!

To get the discussion going, I have a few questions that you can answer as desired, either on your own blog, or in the comments here.

  1. Where are you in the trilogy right now? What do you think of the books so far?
  2. What’s your past experience with The Two Towers? If you’re rereading, how does it stack up against the other two books?
  3. If you’re a first-time reader, what big questions do you have at this point? What are you hoping to see Tolkien deal with in The Two Towers? If you’re a rereader, what are you most looking forward to?
  4. What about the movie? If you’ve seen it, what did you think of it, and how much do you think it will color your experience with the book?

If you’re writing a post with your answer, please share your link in the Mr. Linky below:

Here are my answers:

1. Where are you in the trilogy right now? What do you think of the books so far?

I’m just starting The Two Towers today, reading at lunchtime as I did with the last two books. I’m enjoying the series, as I always do, and I’m really enjoying seeing other people’s thoughts on it!

2. What’s your past experience with The Two Towers? If you’re rereading, how does it stack up against the other two books?

The first time I read The Two Towers, I was incredibly exasperated with the first half because I understood that the most important thing that needed to happen was for Frodo to get the ring to Mount Doom. The single most important thing. But the whole first half of the book is about everyone else. I did like the Ents, but the rest of the first half felt like a waste of time. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the other characters, but I couldn’t understand why Tolkien wasn’t taking us to Mordor with Frodo.

On subsequent readings, I’ve come to love the other characters more. I still think, though, that both halves of the book might have been better served if Tolkien had gone back and forth between the various groups, as Peter Jackson did in the movie. We’d get to see what’s happening to Frodo earlier, and the last half wouldn’t be quite the dark march that it is. (I know a couple of people who gave up on the series at the end of The Two Towers because it was so very grim for so long.)

3. What are you most looking forward to?

Faramir! I love Faramir. In fact, on rereadings of Fellowship I always end up grumbling about the fact that Boromir went to Rivendell instead of Faramir. What a bone-headed decision that was. And not just because I want more Faramir, but because he would have shown more sense.

4. What about the movie? If you’ve seen it, what did you think of it, and how much do you think it will color your experience with the book?

Well, given that Faramir is my favorite character, I can get all kinds of ranty about the character assassination that was the film version of The Two Towers. The Faramir of the book would never in a million years have taken Frodo all the way to Osgiliath. Peter Jackson gave what I consider a lame defense of his decision to have Faramir to do in the commentary on the DVD, but it was a lame defense. Something about needing to show how much power the ring had over Men and to create more dramatic tension, blah, blah, blah. In the book, the ring had power over Men who lacked understanding. Aragorn was not the only Man capable of resisting that temptation. But apparently in Jackson’s mind Aragorn is the only Man with any serious inner strength and true understanding.

Okay. Rant over. In general, I thought that The Two Towers the movie was a little too Hollywood. I liked parts of it and thought the casting and performances were generally very good, and the set design was amazing, particularly in Rohan. However, both the second and third movies relied too heavily on comic one-liners, the hotness of Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortenson, and big showy action scenes. Maybe you need that for a movie to be the success these movies needed to be to justify the cost of making them, but I could have done with less Jackson and more Tolkien.

And don’t forget to check back around March 15, for mid-month discussion starters and a Mr. Linky. Because The Two Towers is handily divided into two parts (Book III and Book IV), those questions will focus on the first part (or Book III of the trilogy).

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21 Responses to LOTR Readalong: The Two Tower Intro

  1. Eva says:

    LOL at your movie rant! I might skip that question rather than subject my readers to another whine fest.

    Also, you and I had exactly OPPOSITE reactions to the split storylines of Two Towers. I loved all the stuff with the other characters, and found the bits w/ Frodo painful. I don’t like Frodo much though, so that might have something to do with it.

    • Teresa says:

      Eva, I figured you’d enjoy my rant :-) Hardly anyone I ranted to about it in real life was bothered by that change. I got a lot of rolling eyes. I *did* think David Wenham played the role well.

      My problem with the first part on my first read wasn’t that the first part wasn’t good, it was that I couldn’t believe there was no Frodo for so long, and I was so anxious about him. And I really do think that people who found the Frodo parts painful wouldn’t have that reaction if it were spread out more.

      • Eva says:

        That makes sense! I suppose, even reading the first time, I assumed that Frodo *had* to succeed, because otherwise it’d have to end with the world being enslaved, which didn’t seem likely. lol So I didn’t worry about him! I agree, though, about interspliced narratives working better.

    • Meri says:

      I’m late replying, but I agree with you- I LOVE the first half of TTT, but I have to force myself to read the second half. It’s just so boring after the excitement of Book 3; then again, I don’t like Frodo much, either.

  2. Pingback: The End of the Fellowship and The Approach of the Two Towers « A Striped Armchair

  3. Pingback: Challenge: The Lord of the Rings Readalong, Part #4 « The Literary Omnivore

  4. Hmm! I think I’ll have to pay particular attention to how the film and the book differ during the rewatch- both you and Eva aren’t thrilled with it! Thanks for your fabulous questions, and the heads up about how the books are divided, character-wise.

    • Teresa says:

      Clare: This was my least favorite of the movies, I think. TTT and ROTK are a bit of a blur, though.

      And if I had known ahead of time that the book was divided in the way that it is, I don’t think it would have bugged me on first read. It’s never been a problem since :-)

  5. Jenny says:

    I thought David Wenham was so great in the role, and he looked viably like Sean Bean’s younger brother. I like the films but I too was crushed at the changes they made to Faramir’s character. When they had such a good one! It could have been perfect. TTT is my favorite of the books but possibly my least favorite of the films, whereas Fellowship, my least favorite book, was the best of the movies, I think.

    • Teresa says:

      Jenny: Yes, Wenham was so good, and he and Sean Bean do look like brothers. I was so ready to forgive a lot of the changes (such as showing action that is never described on the page), but altering his character seemed so unnecessary. What a disappointment. Oh well, in a couple of hundred pages, I’ll get to *my* Faramir.

  6. Teresa says:

    Eva: Good point–Frodo did have to survive, didn’t he. Except that after Moria I ceased to trust Tolkien. If he’d kill of Gandalf, well, there’s no telling what he’ll do. :-)

  7. Maree says:

    I’m still reading the hobbit. At this rate I’m going to have some epic catching up to do this month! Oops!

  8. Christy says:

    I agree on the disappointment of Faramir’s major character alteration in the movies. Still, I found Return of the King to be the most disappointing of the movies. (But it had some of the most beautiful moments in Howard Shore’s score, especially the end credit song, “Into the West.”)

  9. trinza says:

    A day late, but I’ve finally made it in on the Mr. Linky!

    Thank you for hosting this section of the read-a-long!

    I totally agree with you on the points of view in the book, too. I love that we get two different views on the subject, but I wish we were able to alternate between them as the story goes.

    • Teresa says:

      trinza: Yeah, I do think that’s a structural problem, especially for first-time readers. One part or the other will possibly end up being a slog for someone.

  10. justbookreading says:

    It seems the movies are a love it or hate it topic. :-) I like the movies but love the books.

  11. Pingback: Fellowship, Finished « Jenny's Books

  12. Beth F says:

    The movie version of TTT was my least favorite of the three and I hate most of the changes — I hope the Ents and the Hobbits can’t see how poorly they were translated to the big screen…..

  13. Meri says:

    I hear ya on the Faramir thing- I absolutely hated how Peter Jackson butchered his character. :( At least David Wenham looked the part, but it would have been nice had Faramir’s personality not been completely changed in the movie.

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