The Two Towers continues the story began in The Fellowship of the Ring. At the close of that book we find that the Fellowship has failed. Frodo and his servant Sam secretly departed to take the perilous journey to Mordor alone; leaving the other members of their party to travel to Gondor to aid in the impending war. Frodo and Sam are tracked, though, by the creature Gollum, who is ever searching for the One Ring himself. He becomes their guide through the Shadowed Lands around Mordor. Gollum is possessed by the Ring, and his every action cannot be trusted. He leads them to a trap which results in Frodo being poisoned by a fell spider and captured by Orcs, and Sam is left to complete the deadly errand of destroying the Ring himself AND rescuing Frodo, somehow. What will be the fate of the Ring?
The other party members are ambushed by Orcs during Frodo and Sam’s disappearance. Merry and Pippin are taken captive by the Orcs, who have been instructed to bring their prisoners back to Saruman--the White Wizard who is now in league with Sauron. Boromir dies during the attack, and Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas follow the Orcs across the plains of Rohan with the intent of rescuing Merry and Pippin. The two Hobbits escape their captors and providentially meet Treebeard the Ent, who summons an Ent army to bring down Saruman. Meanwhile, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas meet the Riders of Rohan and Gandalf (!!!)--who has returned from death to aid in the upcoming war. A great battle takes place between Saruman’s Orc army and the men of Rohan along with Gandalf and what’s left of the Fellowship. Saruman is defeated, but Sauron is about to begin HIS war; the war to end all other wars.
This is my favorite book of the trilogy. The first half of the book is exciting and fast paced. The story of the attempted rescue of Merry and Pippin, the attack on Helm’s Deep, and the destruction of Isengard are all sequences that I enjoyed reading. Frodo, Sam, and Gollum’s journey can get tedious, but it still kept me interested. This book also introduces two of my favorite characters: Éomer and Faramir. Faramir especially has an ethereal quality about him that makes him seem lordly, and with Tolkien's mastery of dialogue the characters really come alive. It should be noted that Tolkien has a slightly archaic writing style which is somewhat challenging to read. And, as with the first book, I had to look up several words in the dictionary. But if you can adjust to his style and verbiage I think you will find the story intriguing. I am looking forward to finishing the tale in The Return of the King.