Saturday, November 20, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 97

This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as a fantasy author.

The Two Towers
by J.R.R. Tolkien

Lord of the Rings, The: The Two TowersHasn't there really been enough talk, criticism and discussion about the Lord of the Rings?

But one thing I rarely see in all that discussion is the various benefits of each individual book in the series.

In my opinion, The Fellowship of the Ring is the best book of the trilogy. It contains great characterization, strong plotting and that strong feel Tolkien brings of doom overhanging a relatively benign world, specifically the artist-agricultural community of the hobbit characters.

The Return of the King also has many fine points. But for me, as a writer, I was always drawn to all that extra information included after the end of the actual story, all the history and linguistic stuff.

Then there's The Two Towers. This, the second novel in the trilogy, often seems to get short-shrifted. But that's kind of difficult to understand. For large sections of this book, not a whole lot seems to happen. SPOILER: Basically, pages upon pages are spent of Frodo and Sam, and later on Gollum, wandering through the woods or a swamp or parts of Mordor. It's just one, big long trek. For many readers, this is just downright boring. But for writers, there is much to be learned here.

Like what?

Much of that walking time in The Two Towers includes the inner thoughts, the inner struggle, with which Frodo is dealing as the carrier of the ring. To some, yes, all of this is boring. But to some readers, this is pertinent information, and it allows for building a bond with Frodo and the other characters.

Writers can learn from this. No, one does not want to be a boring writer, but still, there are lessons here on how and how not to proceed with the inner mental workings of a character or characters. The tension is building in Frodo as he nears Mount Doom with the ring. Will he have the strength to drop the ring to its own doom? Or will the ring consume Frodo, making him an element of evil?

Most readers know the tale and how it ends, as do many movie goers, so I won't give anything away. But I will warn fantasy writers not to dismiss The Two Towers.

Up next: Without Remorse


Charles Gramlich said...

It's been a long time since I've read The Two Towers but I don't remember being bored. The fabulous detail and richness of the story just compelled me.

Mr. D said...

I read the three each year- for the last 40, along with the Hobbit . Just finished your trilogy and found it with quite a surprising ending. Thanks for a good read.
I am a teacher, fourth grade, and have Thanksgiving week off. Thanks for making it start on a high note!