A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that if kids are ready to see the excellent Lord of the Rings movies they're ready to read the trilogy, including The Two Towers, the second in the series. For the most part this book feels a bit less violent than the movie, which turned the battle at Helm's Deep into a much bigger, bloodier spectacle. There's still a startling near-death of a major character, talk of beheaded Orcs, some macabre imagery of fallen dead lying well preserved in watery graves, and a competitive tally of battle kills between Legolas the elf and Gimli the dwarf. When the story follows Pippin and Merry there are lighter moments, like when they discover a stash of pipe-weed and smoke and feast with friends after a battle. But as the story switches to Frodo and Sam, the mood is much more somber with a feeling that "all hope is lost," just like any really good hero's journey that is far from complete. Readers won't find the mood lightened until the series concludes with The Return of the King.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The adventures of the hobbits and their allies in the epic struggle to save Middle Earth from domination by the Dark Lord, Sauron, continues in this monumental tale. The members of the fellowship discover new friends -- and new enemies -- in unexpected places, and the four hobbits, scattered and sent on divergent paths, find their courage and fortitude tested.
Is it any good?
Where The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume of the trilogy, starts off slowly, this far more complex novel plunges right into the action, and the straight-ahead story line diverges. The fellowship has been split apart by near treachery and an attack by Orcs, and now the survivors debate whether to aid the Ring-bearer, Frodo, or try to rescue his captive countrymen, but they find no easy answer. After more betrayals and a seemingly hopeless battle, the story shifts to Frodo and Sam as the pair undertakes a grueling journey -- and the book culminates with yet another betrayal.
This is serious business -- especially to readers expecting more of the buoyant adventure of The Hobbit. But even amid all the archaic language, the din of war, and the trauma of little people overwhelmed by the shadow of impending doom, readers can depend on the hobbits' cheerful resilience and courage.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Frodo and Sam's discussion in the chapter The Stairs of Cirith Ungol where they imagine what sort of story they're in. What do they decide?
What does Sam realize about adventure stories? Do characters usually take on adventures willingly or are they thrust upon them?
Discuss the Ents and Treebeard marching to war. Have you ever encountered a true moment when nature fought back? Why did Treebeard decide it was time to be "hasty"?
Talk about what other stories tell the Hero's Journey. How are they similar to this trilogy? How are they different?
- Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
- Publication date: November 11, 1954
- Number of pages: 447
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: July 2, 2020
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