Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What news from the Riddermark?

Current book: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Pages read: 17 - 143

Wow, so when Tolkien starts where he leaves off, he really starts where he leaves off. The first sentence of this book just keeps going exactly where the last book ended. There was a little synopsis first, in case you forgot anything, but still.

Anyway, so, while Sam and Frodo are leaving, everyone else is fighting the orcs that have just come pouring into the woods. Boromir tries to defend Merry and Pippin, but there are too many enemies, and he's eventually killed. The orcs tie Merry and Pippin up and carry them off. Aragorn finds the dying Boromir, swears to him that Minas Tirith won't fall, and then meets Legolas and Gimli. Together they decide to pursue the orcs and try to rescue the hobbits. They follow the orcs cross-country for three days, all the way to a place called the Riddermark (which, I have to say, I did not realize had that second R in it, because you can't hear that when it's spoken aloud by actors with pseudo-English accents), but fail to catch up to them. Eventually, though, the meet the Rohirrim, the horsemen of Rohan (a kingdom of men) who tell them that they've killed all the orcs and there were no hobbits with them.

Merry and Pippin, meanwhile, escape the orcs and flee into the nearby Fangorn Forest. There they meet Treebeard, an ent (which is like a big walking tree guy, pretty much) who listens to their tales of the war and decides that he and his fellow ents should have a meeting to discuss their involvement in the war. They do, and decide that Saruman, who has burned a lot of the forest, should be stopped. They set off to destroy Isengard, his fortress-tower.

Back on the Riddermark, Aragorn finds the tracks of the hobbits and the three heroes follow them into the forest. There they meet Gandalf, by whose appearance they are all astonished, of course, since he was supposed to have fallen into the black abyss of Moria. He tells them how he fought the balrog and won, but has clearly gone through something of a transformative experience. He seems sort of ethereal and disconnected at this point. Together, all four of them head to Edoras, the capital of Rohan, to see Theoden, the king.

You know, I have to say that this isn't nearly as mind-numbingly boring as I remember from the first time I tried to read it. I have a couple of theories about that: one, I'm reading it faster because I know what happens; two, I'm reading it faster because I'm on the elliptical machine at the same time; three, it reads a lot better the second time through; and four, all of the above. I honestly think a lot of it is that it reads a lot better when you're already familiar with the world. Tolkien was so wrapped up in the mythos of the place that he'd been inventing for years that I think he forgot that the rest of us wouldn't be so familiar with it. The first time I tried to read these I had an overwhelming feeling of missing a great deal of information. Coupled with the feeling that I was also getting too much information, it was pretty off-putting. It's as though I was supposed to a member of the society of Middle-Earth who was reading the story, but I wasn't, so I was left feeling like I was reading a mythology in translation and missing a bunch of culturally-dependent information.

Ents, though - gotta love 'em. There are a bunch of cool things in here, really. They just don't always string together that well.

1 comment:

  1. Your description of reading Tolkien could apply word for word to reading academic writing. The whole being so wrapped up in a topic, you forget others aren't...missing information...long time to read boring material and still not know what it's talking about... Yup. Academic writing, all the way.



A Clockwork Orange (5) A Good Man Is Hard to Find (4) A Passage to India (6) A Room with a View (3) A Separate Peace (2) Absalom Absalom (6) Achebe (5) Adams (3) All the King's Men (8) An American Tragedy (17) Atlas Shrugged (16) Babbitt (8) back from hiatus (1) baking (11) Baldwin (4) Baum (3) Bonfire of the Vanities (6) borderline (12) Brideshead Revisited (9) Burgess (5) Burroughs (1) canon (1) Capote (6) Cat's Cradle (3) Cather (19) cheesecake (4) Chopin (4) Conrad (5) cooking (25) Death Comes for the Archbishop (6) DeLillo (6) Dreiser (17) du Maurier (2) Edith Wharton (1) emergency (2) Ethan Frome (1) excuses (141) Faulkner (9) Felicia DeSmith (3) Finnegan's Wake (1) Fitzgerald (24) For Whom the Bell Tolls (3) Forster (19) Fowles (7) Franny and Zooey (2) Go Tell It on the Mountain (4) Grahame (2) Guest post (3) Hammett (2) Hemingway (5) hiatus (4) holiday (5) horrible (4) Howards End (6) In Cold Blood (6) In Our Time (1) Irving (6) James (25) Jazz (1) Joyce (1) Keneally (7) Kerouac (5) Kim (7) Kipling (7) Knowles (2) Lady Chatterly's Lover (6) Lawrence (26) Lewis (13) Light in August (3) London (3) Look Homeward Angel (9) Lord Jim (5) Mailer (7) Main Street (5) Midnight's Children (9) Miller (6) Morrison (1) Mrs. Dalloway (3) My Antonia (6) not a novel (4) O Pioneers (7) O'Connor (4) On the Road (5) Orlando (4) other books (7) page updates (1) Rabbit Run (4) Rand (24) Rebecca (2) recap (1) Rhys (6) Rushdie (18) Salinger (2) Schindler's List (7) Sinclair (6) Sons And Lovers (12) Sophie's Choice (10) Star Trek (1) Stein (5) Styron (10) Tender is the Night (10) The Age of Innocence (4) The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (5) The Awakening (4) The Beautiful and the Damned (8) The Bostonians (9) The Call of the Wild (3) The Fellowship of the Ring (5) The Fountainhead (8) The French Lieutenant's Woman (7) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2) The Jungle (6) The Lord of the Rings (16) The Maltese Falcon (2) The Naked and the Dead (7) The Naked Lunch (1) The Old Man and the Sea (1) The Portrait of a Lady (10) The Return of the King (6) The Satanic Verses (9) The Two Towers (5) The War of the Worlds (4) The Wind in the Willows (2) The Wings of the Dove (6) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (3) The World According to Garp (6) Things Fall Apart (6) This Side of Paradise (6) Thomas Wolfe (9) To the Lighthouse (3) Tolkien (16) Tom Wolfe (6) Triv (2) Tropic of Cancer (6) unworthy (33) Updike (4) vacation (2) Vonnegut (3) Warren (8) Waugh (9) Wells (4) Wharton (4) Where Angels Fear to Tread (4) White Noise (6) Wide Sargasso Sea (6) Women In Love (8) Woolf (10) worthy (25)