Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Two Towers 1970s The Two Towers (1954, 1965)
Part Two of The Lord of the Rings

1970s Ballantine books, 447 pages
cover art by J.R.R. Tolkien (left)

2001 Del Rey paperback
cover art by Ted Nasmith (right)
Two Towers 2001 cover

From the back cover of the 1990s edition:
The Fellowship was scattered.  Some were bracing hopelessly for war against the ancient evil of Sauron.  Some were contending with the treachery of the wizard Saruman.  Only Frodo and Sam were left to take the accursed Ring of Power to be destroyed in Mordor -- the dark Kingdom where Sauron was supreme.  Their guide was Gollum, deceitful and lust-filled, slave to the corruption of the Ring.

Thus continues the magnificent, bestselling tale of adventure begun in The Fellowship of the Ring, which reaches its soul-stirring climax in The Return of the King.

Read for group discussion on December 11, 2002

More book covers: The Two Towers (LOTR2)
Two Towers Ace unauthorized Two Towers 1966 paperback Two Towers 1990s Ballantine
1965 Ace books
(unauthorized edition!)
cover art by Jack Gaughan
1966 Ballantine books
447 pages
authorized edition
1990s Ballantine books
415 pages
cover art by Michael Herring

The Two Towers
The Extended version movie DVD of  The Two Towers says that in one place Tolkien referred to the two towers as Orthanc and Cirith Ungol; it mentions that at other times the two towers are Minas Tirith and Barad-dur; and in one letter the two towers were Orthanic and Barad-dur -- which opened the door for the movie interpretation.  But the DVD says that Tolkien never really committed, and which two towers the title refers to is really up for grabs.

(Thanks to Cheri for this explanation)

How we each rated this book
Dan - Amy 9 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri 10 Barb -
Aaron 9 Cynthia -
Jackie 10 Ron 9
Sara 6 Christine 8

Aaron's Commentary  J.R.R. Tolkien - The Two Towers

The middle volume of a trilogy is generally suspect, and I know some find The Two Towers the weakest part of The Lord of the Rings, but it's my personal favorite of the three books.  This is the only volume entirely devoted to the main story lines, without the dry introductory passages of The Fellowship of the Ring or the anticlimax of The Return of the King.  (Purists were upset, but I was delighted that Peter Jackson omitted the scouring of the Shire from the film version of The Return of the King.)  This is the book that most swept me up in the story when I first read The Lord of the Rings, thrilling me with the rousing victory at Helm's Deep and chilling me with the menace of Shelob's Lair.  I also have a special fondness for The Two Towers because it is here that Sam emerges as (to me) the true hero of the story.

What do you think? Your comments are welcome. Please send them to

Our book group has also read the following books by J.R.R. Tolkien:
-- The Hobbit   in June 1999
-- The Fellowship of the Ring   in December 2001
-- The Return of the King   in December 2003

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) was a UK writer.  He was a professor at Oxford University.  (Full name John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.)  He was born in South Africa but lived in the UK from 1895.

He became Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University in 1925, and was appointed Merton Professor of English at Oxford in 1945, a post he held until his retirement in 1959.

He was part of the Inklings, a literary group, with C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield.

Tolkien virtually invented the fantasy genre.  His masterwork is The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
It's the most influential fantasy series ever written.

The Lord of the Rings (LoTR)
--The Fellowship of the Ring (1954, rev 1965 US) (FoTR)
--The Two Towers (1954, rev 1965 US) (TT)
--The Return of the King (1955, rev 1965 US) (ROTK)

The Hobbit: or There and Back Again (1937) is a young adult prequel to Lord of the Rings.

Many stories and story-fragment of his Middle-Earth mythology were published posthumously.
--The Silmarillion (1977)
--Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth (collection 1980)
--The Children of Húrin (2007)

The History of Middle-Earth series
most collections of stories, edited by Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R.'s son
-- I. The Book of Lost Tales 1 (1983)
-- II. The Book of Lost Tales 2 (1984)
-- III. The Lays of Beleriand (1985)
-- IV. The Shaping of Middle-Earth (1986)
-- V. The Lost Road and Other Writings (1987)
-- VI. The Return of the Shadow: The History of the Lord of the Rings 1 (1988)
-- VII. The Treason of Isengard: The History of the Lord of the Rings 2 (1989)
--VIII. The War of the Ring: The History of the Lord of the Rings 3 (1990)
-- IX. Sauron Defeated: The History of the Lord of the Rings 4 (1992)
-- X. Morgoth's Ring: The Later Silmarillion 1 (1993)
-- XI. The War of the Jewels: The Later Silmarillion 2 (1994)
-- XII. The Peoples of Middle-Earth (1996)

Other works
--Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1925)
--Farmer Giles of Ham (1949, chapbook)
--Smith of Wootton Major (1967, chapbook) young-adult fantasy novella
--Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham (1976 US)
--The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book (1962)
--A Tolkien Reader (1966, collection)
--Tales from the Perilous Realm (1992, reprint of Poems and Stories (1980) omnibus collection of "Farmer Giles of Ham", "Leaf by Niggle", and "Smith of Wootton Major" and "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil"
--Leaf by Niggle
--"On Fairy-Stories" 1939 lecture
--The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth
--Tree and Leaf (1964, collection) material on writing fantasy
--Sir Gawain/Pearl/Sir Orfeo (1975) collection of 3 epic poems, translated by Tolkien from mediaeval English
--The Father Christmas Letters (1976) collection of letters from Tolkien (Father Christmas) to his children, with illustrations by Tolkien
--Mr. Bliss (1982) children's story with illustrations by the author
--Finn and Hengest (1982) Tolkien's lectures and notes on the story which was the basis of Beowulf
--The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays (1983) Non-fiction, a collection of 7 essays/lectures, edited by Christopher Tolkien
--Roverandom (1998, written in 1925) juvenile fantasy about a dog's adventures
--The Road Goes Ever On : A Song Cycle (with music by Donald Swann, 1967)
--Bilbo's Last Song  (1990) 32 page picture book illustrated by Pauline Baynes, a 24-line poem originally published in 1974 as a poster
--Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien (1979) collection of Tolkien's artwork

Our book club's page for The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Our book club's page for The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Our book club's page for The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
J. R. R. Tolkien - Wikipedia
Official Lord of the Rings LOTR Movie Site

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This page was last updated October 20, 2008