The Two Towers: 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.
The Two Towers
As Aragorn searches for Frodo, he suddenly hears Boromir‘s horn. Aragorn finds Boromir mortally wounded by arrows, sitting with his back against a great tree, surrounded by many slain orcs. Before Boromir dies, Aragorn learns that Saruman‘s Uruk-hai soldiers have kidnapped some of the hobbits, in spite of his efforts to defend them; that Frodo had vanished after Boromir had attempted to take the Ring from him; and that he truly regretted his actions. In his last moments, Boromir charges Aragorn with defending Minas Tirith from Sauron. With Legolas and Gimli, who had been fighting Orcs by themselves, Aragorn pays his last tributes to Boromir and sends him down the Great River Anduin on a funeral boat, the usual methods of burial being impractical. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli later resolve to follow the Uruk-hai captors and save Merry and Pippin.
Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas come across the Riders of Rohan led by Éomer, nephew of King Théoden. The trio learn that the horsemen had attacked a band of Orcs the previous night, and that they had left no survivors. However, Aragorn is able to track a small set of prints that lead into Fangorn, where they see an old man who disappears almost as soon as they see him—they assume him to be Saruman. Their horses bolt away, which they also assume to be the work of Saruman.
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Merry and Pippin, taken captive by the Uruk-hai, learn that one of the orcs from Mordor, Grishnákh, knows about the ring and believes it to be on one of them. The fact that the Uruk-hai and the Mordor orcs are in collusion proves to be a disquieting piece of information. When the Uruk-hai are attacked by the horsemen of Rohan, called the Rohirrim or “Riders of Rohan”, Merry and Pippin escape Grishnákh, who has taken them out of the camp but is killed by a Rider. They then go into the nearby Fangorn Forest, where they encounter the giant treelike Ents. The Ents resemble actual trees, except they are able to see, talk, and move. These guardians of the forest generally keep to themselves, but after a long contemplation on whether the Hobbits were friends or foes, their leader Treebeard takes them in as friends. The hobbits are given some of the nourishment of the Ents, Ent-draught, which causes them to grow. Treebeard then calls a council of the Ents, or an Entmoot. There, Treebeard and another Ent named Quickbeam persuade the Ent council to oppose the menace posed to the forest by the wizard Saruman, as suggested by Merry and Pippin, as Treebeard realizes that Saruman’s minions have been cutting down large numbers of their trees to fuel the furnaces needed for Saruman’s arming of his dark army. The Ents then lead the entire forest toward Isengard.
Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas then go into Fangorn and surmise that the forest feels as if it is about to explode. Shortly afterward, the three meet Gandalf (again, they at first take him to be Saruman), whom they believed had perished in the mines of Moria. He tells them of his fall into the abyss, his battle to the death with the Balrog and his resurrection and his enhanced power. Gandalf tells them that Merry and Pippin are safe, and then summarizes the situation. Their allies, Rohan and Gondor, lie in between Mordor and Isengard and that the treachery of Saruman diverts Rohan’s forces from Minas Tirith.
The four then ride to Rohan’s capital, Edoras, where Gandalf rouses King Théoden from bewitchment and inaction against the threat Saruman poses. In the process, Saruman’s spy in Rohan (and King Théoden’s trusted advisor) Gríma Wormtongue, is expelled from Rohan. Éomer, imprisoned by Wormtongue, is released and named heir to the king since Théoden’s son Théodred was slain in battle. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas then travel with Théoden’s troops towards the fords of Isen, but they meet those who had retreated from the fords as they battled the Uruk-hai. Gandalf then tells them to ride to the fortress of the Hornburg, in the valley of Helm’s Deep. Gandalf rides away before the battle begins, though he gives no reason for doing so.
At the Hornburg, the army of Rohan led by King Théoden and Aragorn resist a full-scale onslaught by the hosts of Saruman. They are able to weather several assaults until things begin to go ill with Rohan. The wall of the Hornburg is taken, driving Éomer and Gimli into the Glittering Caves and Aragorn and Théoden into the citadel. Trapped and outnumbered, Théoden and Aragorn marshal enough riders to ride out in a final blaze of glory but are saved by the arrival of Gandalf and Erkenbrand, leading what remained of the army of Westfold after being routed by Saruman. The tide now turns in Rohan’s favour, and Saruman’s orcs flee into a forest of Huorns, creatures similar to Ents, and none escape alive. Háma, captain of the king’s guard, had died during the attack. Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas, along with King Théoden, Éomer, and the men from Rohan, head to Saruman’s stronghold of Isengard.