The Two Towers is the second volume in J. R. R. Tolkien’s wildly popular The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Fast-paced and thrilling, The Two Towers tells of the first battles of the War of the Ring—the vast struggle to save Middle Earth from the terrible power of Sauron and his One Ring. The protagonists strive to keep the forces of evil at bay as the stakes of their quest to destroy the ring grow ever more dire.
The Two Towers audiobookis not simply a book of battles, however; we witness heartbreaking loyalty, sudden betrayals, and the insidious and corrupting nature of unchecked power. We see the meek become brave; we see the weak become strong; we see the powerful rot from the inside out. Old enmities are bridged and new alliances are forged in the heat of battle. No longer is the quest to destroy the ring the sole responsibility of the fellowship; now all of Middle Earth is involved, and everyone has an interest in the fate of the ring.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, we meet the nine companions whose solemn quest is to destroy the One Ring and save Middle Earth from becoming enslaved by the evil Sauron. In The Two Towers, a second threat in the form of the wizard Saruman forces the fellowship to split up, and the struggle for Middle Earth’s fate begins in earnest.
The title of the volume, The Two Towers, hints at the two focal points of the book: Minas Morgul, the tower guarding the entrance to Mordor (toward which Frodo and Sam are hurriedly traveling with the One Ring), and Orthanc, the home of the powerful wizard Saruman. Sauron remains the greatest threat to all of Middle Earth as he bends every ounce of his energy toward recovering his lost ring, while Saruman’s excessive ambition corrupts him into desiring Sauron’s growing power for himself.
As the members of the fellowship leave the elven forest of Lothlorien and journey south, they are attacked by a marauding group of Uruk-hai who kill Boromir and capture Merry and Pippin. In the chaos, Frodo uses the ring’s power of invisibility to escape, attempting to continue the quest toward Mordor alone. The loyal Sam finds him, however, and continues to accompany Frodo on his increasingly difficult journey.
With two members captured, two venturing out on their own, one dead, and one lost, the fellowship is effectively broken. The Two Towers traces each of the former companions’ paths as they attempt not only to survive but also to complete the quest upon which the fate of the world depends.
The Broken Fellowship
With the fellowship broken, The Two Towers shifts focus between the remaining members of the fellowship and their different journeys. Three main subgroups emerge, each with their own storyline: Merry and Pippin in Fangorn Forest, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas in the plains of Rohan, and Frodo and Sam in the dark shadows of Mordor.
Merry and Pippin
Captured by hybrid orcs called Uruk-hai, Merry and Pippin find themselves facing almost certain death–until a chance raid and the ensuing chaos allows them the opportunity to escape. They seek shelter in the nearby Fangorn Forest, which abuts Saruman’s home of Isengard. In the forest, they meet and befriend an ancient Ent named Treebeard. Ents are a primal race of forest guardians who resemble the trees they are sworn to protect.
Treebeard is restless because his forest is being decimated by the Uruk-hai and their master, the wizard Saruman, who are using the trees as fuel for their weapons forges. Merry and Pippin determine to help Treebeard and the other Ents reclaim their forest from Saruman’s grasp, but the task threatens to turn into a battle of greater magnitude than two small hobbits from The Shire could ever imagine.
Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas
Faced with the choice between trying to find the lost Frodo or pursuing the captors of Merry and Pippin, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas make the difficult decision to trust Frodo with the ring and instead set off after the Uruk-hai.
During the course of tracking the hobbits, they encounter the Rohirrim, skilled horsemen of the nearby land of Rohan. They discover that Saruman is behind the hosts of Uruk-hai overrunning Rohan, and that Rohan’s king, Théoden, refuses to defend his people against Saruman’s attacks.
Upon visiting Théoden’s palace, they discover that one of the king’s advisers is actually an agent of Saruman, who is controlling the king from afar. After wresting him free from Saruman’s influence, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas join the newly revitalized Théoden and his armies to stand against the onslaught of Saruman’s hordes in the infamous battle of Helm’s Deep.
Frodo and Sam
Now traveling alone, Frodo and Sam pick their way slowly toward Mordor, the stronghold of Sauron. Without their more travel-savvy companions, their journey seems hopeless–until they seize Gollum, the wretch in whose lair Bilbo found the One Ring many years ago.
Gollum has been following them, hoping to reclaim the ring for himself, but upon his capture, he quickly ingratiates himself with Frodo and offers to be their guide. Sam greatly distrusts Gollum, but Frodo sympathizes with him: Gollum bore the ring for decades, and its influence corrupted him physically and mentally into the repulsive creature before them. As a ringbearer himself, Frodo feels the sickening power of the ring more acutely the longer their journey lasts and the nearer they come to Mordor.
With no real alternative, Frodo and Sam allow Gollum to lead them to the Gates of Mordor–but Gollum does not plan to forfeit his precious ring so easily. He convinces them at the last moment not to enter Mordor through the heavily-guarded gates, but to follow him to Minas Morgul, where a secret passage leads into Mordor. Frodo and Sam follow Gollum into the passage, unaware of the dark trap Gollum has laid for them.
Benefits of the Audiobook
The audio format enhances the emotional intensity of The Two Towers by providing excellent narration of the book’s riveting battles, sweeping landscapes, and poignant dialogue. Both newcomers to Tolkien and seasoned experts alike will be entranced by The Two Towers audiobook as the trilogy surges toward its breathtaking concluding volume, The Return of the King.