[J. R. R. Tolkien] The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers

The Lord of the Rings

  • Title: Part Two – The Two Towers
  • Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Published: 1954
  • Publisher: HaeperCollinsPublishers
  • ISBN: 0-00-712971-8

The proposed title for Book Three was The Treason of Isengard. Book Four was titled The Journey of the Ringbearers or The Ring Goes East. The titles The Treason of Isengard and The Ring Goes East were used in the Millennium edition.


“The Two Towers” is the second part of “The Lord of the Rings.” It consists of “Book 3” and “Book 4”. It deals with the events after the breakup of the fellowship. Actually, “Book 4” is the story of ring bearers, Frodo and Sam. “Book 3” is the story of others.

The two sections are quite different. “Book 3” is an epic battle between Saruman and Rohan, with all characters. Even Gandalf is back. Meanwhile, “Book 4” is a lonely journey of Frodo and Sam guided by Gollum. If you watched the movie adaptation, the perspective is switched back and force between two groups, but Tolkien separated their adventures in his books.

Orthanc was the impregnable tower of Isengard built by the Dúnedain during the Second Age.
Barad-dûr, also known as the Dark Tower, was the chief fortress of Sauron, on the Plateau of Gorgoroth in Mordor.
Minas Tirith (S. ‘Tower of the Guard’) was a city of Gondor, originally called Minas Anor.
The Tower of Cirith Ungol (Sindarin, “Spider’s cleft”) was a fortress on the left side of the pass of Cirith Ungol in the Ephel Dúath on the western border of Mordor.


It is interesting to guess which tower Tolkien refers to in the title “The Two towers.” Almost everyone agrees that the first one is Orthanc, where Saruman resides. It is clear that Saruman in Orthanc is the main villain in “Book 3.” But the reference to the second tower is quite debatable. Many think it is Barad-dûr, the tower of Sauron. But Tolkien hinted that it could be the Tower of Cirith Ungol, where Frodo and Sam arrived at the end of “Book 4.”

The best part of “The Two Towers” is how Frodo develops the understanding of the ring bearers’ fate and shows compassion towards Gollum. Unlike the movie version, which depicts Frodo very sentimentally, Frodo acts much more like an adult with thoughts. Also, Sam acts as a guard between them and maintains the balance.

Also, Frodo and Sam start to think over the deeper meaning of lives, which is not hobbit-like – easy-going and rather care-free.

“I don’t like anything here at all.” said Frodo, “step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.”

“Yes, tha’s so”, said Sam. “We shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on — and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same — like old Mr Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?”

“I wonder,” said Frodo, “But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.”

from the book “The Two Towers”

For me, the dialog between Frodo and Sam is the main theme of the whole “The Lord of the Rings” epic. We are born in the story and live our lives without knowing the ending. We are not heroes, and nobody is. My story is not the best, and your story might not be either. But we are asking. “What kind of story are we writing now?”

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