Current book: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Pages read: 243 - 360
After they leave Saruman stewing in his tower, Wormtongue throws a palantir at Gandalf. A palantir is basically a crystal ball, when it comes down to it, that has a mental and visual connection to Sauron. Pippin, like an idiot, sneaks off with it in the night because he thinks it's cool, and ends up face-to-face with Sauron himself, via the palantir. Nothing terrible comes of it, other than the fact that Sauron seems to mistake Pippin for the ring-bearer, and so marks him for pursuit. Gandalf takes Pippin off to Minas Tirith to try to convince Denethor, steward of Gondor, to help the war effort, while the rest of the heroes hang around Edoras.
Sam and Frodo, during all this time, have been making their way toward Mordor. Gollum follows them for a while, and they eventually catch him and force him to promise to lead them to the Black Gate of Mordor. He agrees, but is clearly untrustworthy and completely insane. They trudge around for a while and finally come to the Black Gate, where it's instantly clear that they'll never be able to enter Mordor that way. Gollum promises to show them another route, and they backtrack through Ithilien, a nearby part of Gondor. There they meet Faramir, Boromir's brother, who tells them of Boromir's death and, eventually, reveals that he knows about the Ring. Faramir decides he has to take the hobbits back to Minas Tirith, because the power of the Ring can't be left to fate in the wilderness.
Wow, so, new levels of boring in this part. (I say that, but honestly, is it more boring than F. Scott Fitzgerald's rich people whining about the meaninglessness of their lives and falling into decadence and debauchery? Not really.) I don't know why, for the life of me, Tolkien didn't alternate chapters between Sam and Frodo and the other group of adventurers. Maybe it was because he was already skipping back and forth between Merry and Pippin and Aragorn et al.? Trust me, though, Tolkien, I could have handled it. The way it is, however, there's just eons of Sam and Frodo struggling through the Dead Marshes and arguing with Gollum. It's pretty annoying. Gollum's writing is decent, though. The films are a lot closer to the books that I would have given them credit for with Gollum. The way Tolkien presents him as having developed multiple personalities is pretty clever; I'd actually go so far as to call it well done.
I'm going to go ahead and take this moment to apologize for all the inadvertent mistakes I'm making with terminology and names, also. I'm sure I'm screwing up a bunch of stuff, and that those of you who have read these a million times are like, "Christ. Get it right." Some of it's rather confusing, though, and I never want to refer to the map in the front because I'm lazy. (Lazy and on the elliptical. Which is a bit of a contradiction, really.) For example, I'm unclear on the difference between Orthanc and Isengard. Orthanc is the tower at the center of Isengard, yes? And Isengard is what, exactly? The fortress around it? The lands around it? Any land touching the river Isen? I'm just saying; this stuff is pretty unclear, and Tolkien doesn't try very hard to help you out with it.
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