The Two Towers

Posted by : atcampbell | On : January 7, 2003

The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien

Seventeen people, including one first-time attendee, came to this meeting at Willie and Charles’s home. Our topic was The Two Towers, the second volume in Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings trilogy. The story involves friendship, honor, battles, poetry, loyalty, attempts to save the world, and talking trees. Everyone at the meeting had finished the book, and only one person had read the book for the first time in the past year. Most of us had first read it in high school or college.

About half of our group thought the book was wonderful. Tolkien’s writing style was described as “beautiful language,” “lyrical passages,” and “masterful storytelling.” Also, several people were impressed with the size of the story, with one calling it “unsurpassed in sheer scope, ambition, and ambition.” It was noted how well Tolkien evoked a heroic and mythic tone to the story, with one person saying “Tolkien’s mentors were Tennyson and Walter Scott, and you can feel the unbroken line back to Homer and Beowulf.” Many people in this group said they reread the Lord of the Rings on a regular basis.

The rest of us liked the book quite a bit less. While agreeing that the basic story and some of the characters are interesting, this group tended to find much of the text did not add to their enjoyment. These people often said that they liked the book better on rereading, because they “knew which poetry and boring descriptions to skip this time.” Comments included “needed editing,” “fabulously overrated,” and “stupid poems.” A couple of people simply said, “this book is not for me.” One person noticed a disturbing “backward-looking” element in the story, where the “evil people” have factories and the “heroes” have little technology.

We briefly discussed the recent film adaptation of The Two Towers. Most of us felt the movie was well made and enjoyable, but the plot and characterization strayed a lot from the book and seemed to miss the point of the story.

We came to no consensus about this book, but we had a pleasant discussion. Afterward, we had a nice dinner at Threadgill’s.

–A. T. Campbell, III