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The Two Towers

by J.R.R. Tolkien
Series: The Lord of the Rings #2
446 pages, Fantasy
Reviewed by Jeanne

A gripping story with tastefully done violence and the use of magic.

Plot

Picking up after the capture of Merry and Pippin in The Fellowship of the Ring, this continuation of "The Lord of the Rings" begins with the splitting of the Fellowship. Frodo and Sam set out on their own for Mordor bearing the One Ring, while the Uruk-hai carry the two other hobbits in the direction of Isengard with Aragorn and the rest of the Fellowship in hot pursuit.

Morality

Such things as friendship, loyalty, and courage are emphasized in the narrative. The tale boils down to the good guys being good and the bad guys being thoroughly bad. Some characters portray twisted manifestations of what was once good, such as the creature Gollum, but their wickedness is not at all smiled upon.

Spiritual Content

The wizards use magical objects such as staffs and "palantirs," which show them things happening in faraway places of Middle-Earth, but the White Wizard (on the good side) uses very little of his magical abilities, and Saruman uses his in a way that is shown to be for evil. Magic also does not take a large role of the story and is not a primary point at all.

The elves, as in "The Fellowship of the Ring," are immortal and sail to the West when they grow weary of life in Middle-Earth.

Violence

A lot of it, and throughout the story. "The Two Towers" begins with a skirmish between the Fellowship and a band of Uruk-hai; while being carried away by this band, Merry and Pippin come close to being killed; Frodo and Sam encounter a giant spider by the name of Shelob; Aragorn and the Fellowship, coming to the aid of the horse-country of Rohan, are caught up in a battle between the Rohan warriors and the forces of Mordor. This shows most of the violence in the tale, but there are other, lesser sections with violence. Tolkien succeeds in gripping the reader and bringing them into the tale without making his violence overly graphic, however.

Drug and Alcohol Content

There is drinking both of mead and wine, and there is also the use of a paralyzing drug carried by a giant spider.

Sexual Content

None.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

Gollum has a tendency to eat raw creatures — while not crude in the indecent sense, it certainly is nauseating and uncivilized.

Conclusion

"The Two Towers" is as good a book as its predecessor with all the vivid descriptions and a steady plotline. The characters grow and are solidified throughout the writing as Tolkien follows each band with equal skill. His use of long descriptive passages is less in this book than in "The Fellowship of the Ring" but still surface on occasions, spotting the tale with small, drearier sections.

The use of magic and violence in this story diminish very little, if at all, from its good values. Tolkien never overdoes himself to the point of making this book gory, and the "good" and "bad" magic are kept apart. The use of magic by the Fellowship is minimal, as well.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: 13+

Review Rating:

Average rating: 4 stars
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