Anyway, onto The Two Towers. I enjoyed this a lot more than I did The Fellowship of the Ring. Which isn't to say that Fellowship wasn't brilliant. It is. But where Fellowship has a lot of set up and introduction of characters and getting the adventure under way, The Two Towers was basically non-stop action.
When I started reading, I was a little surprised to discover that the book is effectively two completely different stories, rather than the two stories being woven together as they probably would be in a book published today. But it worked brilliantly, as it allowed the pace of the story to be maintained without it feeling like suspense was being artificially created by switching points of view.
There were a few surprising moments too, after seeing the movie about a dozen times. Some scenes that were minor in the movie were much more significant in the book, and vice versa. Probably the most unexpected for me was how...insignificant??...the Battle of Helm's Deep is in the book. I mean, yes, it's a major battle. But it's nowhere near the size of the battle in the movie, with the elves turning up from Lothlorien to help fight and the walls exploding and the entire population of Edoras hiding out in the caves underneath the citadel. Everything - from them leaving Edoras to them winning the battle - takes place in the course of a chapter. A mere twenty one pages, to be exact.
The second half of the book, featuring Frodo and Sam on the road to Mordor, is definitely a little slower going than the first half. But it's still action packed and much more interesting than the section of their story that we get in the film. I'd forgotten that Shelob appears in this book, that there's far more to their story here than the endless hours in the Dead Marshes that we get in the film.
I think my favourite part of the book was Legolas and his ridiculous sassiness. The character depicted by Orlando Bloom spends a lot of time stating the obvious or staring off into the distance looking regal (or making ridiculous faces in the background of scenes he's not in). But in the book? Legolas is a sassy little shit, and I love him. I mean, Aragorn spends ages lying on the ground, listening to distant orc footsteps when he works out that there are a bunch of riders coming towards them. And then this happens:
"Riders!" cried Aragorn, springing to his feet. "Many riders on swift steeds are coming towards us!"I mean, come on. Aragorn spends all this time and effort being the amazing tracker that he is. And Legolas just lets him do his thing, and then is all "Yeah, I know. And here's a bunch more detail. I've been able to see them for ages. NBD." Sassy. Little. Shit. I love him.
"Yes," said Legolas. "There are one hundred and five. Yellow is their hair and bright are their spears. Their leader is very tall." (p. 33, 1993 Harper Collins edition)
So on the whole, it was a pretty great reading experience for me. Especially seeing as Tolkien backed right off on the songs this time around!
I'm one chapter into The Return of the King, and I'm pretty damned excited about seeing how Tolkien wraps everything up, even though I know the general gist of how things work courtesy of the films!
Have you read it? What did you think?