Ok, I'm back!
My brittle old paperback copy of Two Towers actually finally disintegrated and I finally got to the bookstore this weekend and bought myself a new set (Mothers Day treat
I'm feeling a lot more energized about reading this book than I did before. Funny what a difference new paper and a different font can make.
Thanks for the references on Orc books, Wombatclay. I will look them up some day. (Now can anyone suggest a novel written from the point of view of zombies? I am sensing a book club theme coming on here....)
The banter between Aragorn and Gandalf about how "long explanations needed by the young are wearying" made me smile. Poor Gandalf. As someone who frequently feels herself wearied by the long explanations required by the young, I feel sympathetic. I never thought of him as trying to save the world while wrangling a gaggle of talented but immature youngsters of different species...a wonder he's not even crabbier than he is.
The shadowy figure of Saruman is creepy. And oddly ineffectual.
I love the moment when Aragorn and Gandalf stand facing each other, Aragorn alliteratively "stern as stone" with "hand on hilt" and Gandalf "white, shining," "stooped" and "laden with years". Did anyone else think `Arthur and Merlin!" ? I am flashing on Tennyson's Idylls of the King, I think, though it has been probably 20 years since I read it. One thing I remember about Tennyson was his loathing for Guinivere and the betrayal that destroyed the kingdom, and his sense of the tragedy of the failure of Camelot. A very morally conservative, Christianized take on the legend, without much sympathy for human weakness....I am rambling a bit but I just had a moment reading this scene with Aragorn and Gandalf of thinking here is a relationship out of Arthurian legend but without the weaknesses. Aragorn doesn't have a Mordred, or a best friend in love with Arwen. Gandalf doesn't have a weakness like Nimue to trap him in the oak. I know I'm simplifying the beauties of the Arthurian story. I can't imagine Tolkein writing a story of romantic infidelity.
"And this I also say: You are our captain and our banner....We have one, mightier than they: The White Rider. He has passed through fire and the abyss and they shall fear him. We will go where he leads."
Aragorn is dangerous, for sure, in himself, but he is very happy to put his support under Gandalf's leadership again. And this is a turning point in the story, too, I think. If I were trying to argue for LOTR as Christian allegory (which I'm not actually really interested in doing) I think I'd start with this chapter and this scene....
Yeah, the question of whether Galadriel could have managed the reunion better bothers me too. Her messages aren't as useful as they could have been, either, as Legolas rather bluntly points out "Dark are her words and little do they mean to those who receive them."
There isn't really a Guinivere in LOTR, but Galadriel could definitely stand as a figure of Morgan le Fay/the Lady of the Lake, I think!
Gotta go now. DD just picked up my shiny new copy of the Fellowship and wants me to read some with her