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Archive for the ‘II. The Two Towers’ Category

Seven hundred and forty-two. That many pages down. Less than two hundred to go, and the end is in sight.

IT’S THE LAST DAY OF TWO TOWERS, Y’ALL.

We've come so far.

We’ve come so far.

In basic action, Sam runs around a corner to find that Shagrat and Gorbag are nearly inside the looming tower. Horns and yells block out Sam’s cries as he rushes the gate, but is locked outside. Sam is now fully alone in Mordor, and Frodo is inside the tower.

For the most part, this is inconsequential. The monumental notion that I’ve actually gotten this far is hitting me hard. If you’re watching the films, the beginning of Return of the King feels like the plunge that has been building for the last few hours. Sure, some plot points are moved around (Frodo and Sam haven’t gotten to Shelob yet), but the final film is an earned ride after waiting so long for a resolution to Middle-earth’s gathering darkness. That all starts tomorrow.

The text at the end of Two Towers ends firmly: with a boom and a clang as the gates close on Sam. Conflict abounds, and Frodo (and Sam) are helpless, as opposed to the end of Fellowship, where Frodo makes a conscious decision about his fate. There’s no cliff, but certainly someone’s hanging.

No one dies today.

“Frodo was alive but taken by the Enemy.”

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As Shagrat and Gorbag walk away, they muse over what to do with Frodo while waiting to hear word from Sauron. Shagrat wants to keep him safe, and promises that there will not be too much fun to be had with him. Orders, you know. They move off, and Sam has to do something. Looking up, and with the blue light of Sting illuminating the cave, he sees a small gap between the top of the door and the cave ceiling. He manages to jump up and over, and runs up to follow the two orcs.

GUYS. Tomorrow is the last page of Two Towers.

That tunnel's getting lighter.

That tunnel’s getting lighter.

Meanwhile, Sam is charging headlong into a den of orcs. Ah, it’s nice to see that nothing’s changed since the beginning of all this. Keep in mind that he’s still wearing the ring, doing so for far longer than anyone we’ve seen before. It’s hard to believe that he’s going to be able to give it up, after it’s spent this amount of time poisoning his mind in the very land where it is the strongest in its power.

And still, somehow, no evil ring-sensing demon has noticed him. What are they doing, napping? EVIL NEVER SLEEPS.

Never.

Never.

They may just be sleeping right now. That, or Sam is the luckiest sucker in Middle-earth. I’m gonna go with that.

No one dies today.

“‘He’s going where I want him, and…'”

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BIG SHOCKING NEWS. But not if you’ve been here before.

Frodo is alive, you guys.

But not in a zombie sort of way.

But not in a zombie sort of way.

Shagrat has to explain to Gorbag that Shelob never eats dead meat. She prefers warm blood, and so, hasn’t killed Frodo, only paralyzed him. In the meantime, their orders are to make a full report of his belongings, and keep him alive until word comes from Sauron himself.

Sam is shocked, and goes back to his old ways of feeling inadequate and worrying over what to do next.

First Mentions:

-Ufthak: Ah, old Ufthak. He used to be an orc in service of Cirith Ungol, until he was taken by Shelob. The other orcs found him wide awake, strung up in a web. They didn’t save him, though. That would be too cruel to Shelob.

How convenient it is for us that Gorbag is so ignorant of the procedures in Mordor involving prisoners! It’s a very clear device so that we can learn that Frodo isn’t dead. We’ve established that orcs like to eat flesh, and Gorbag would like to do so with Frodo. Shagrat has to tell him off, and that’s how we get all this information.

There really are a lot of fortunate circumstances going on right now, almost enough to make me partially skeptical. Can it really be this easy for Sam to figure all this out, and still stay safe in the process?

Oh well, it’s really not worth criticizing too much. I don’t want to be too pedantic.

Let's just all agree on that.

Let’s just all agree on that.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Garn

-Ufthak

-Nar

Two of those are seemingly orc exclamations. Garn! Nar! See, I sound uncultured already.

No one dies today.

“‘Nar – this little filth, he’ll wake up, in a…'”

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Happy 4th of July, America! Happy 4th of July, everyone else, because it’s still a normal day!

My hero.

My hero.

Shagrat and Gorbag continue talking, this time about Gollum. Yes, he’s still relevant, and Shagrat has seen him many times. Many years ago, the orcs of Cirith Ungol were ordered to let the “escaping” Gollum pass. He’s been up that way other times since, and they’ve noticed that he has some sort of agreement with Shelob. They even saw him just the day before all this craziness began. However, something very strange is going on.

Who could outsmart Shelob? Who could cut her web? Who could fight her mightily enough to actually cause her pain? No one has ever done this before. Though Shagrat missed the signs, there was clearly some person other than this small thing (Frodo) that they’ve found. He must be a great warrior, far stronger than any who has entered Mordor before.

Sam laughs.

In case you were wondering, this is what he is basically described as:

AMERICAN HOBBIT HERO.

AMERICAN HOBBIT HERO.

Hint: Sam doesn’t look like that.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 1 – “Hate. Always and forever.”

Well, they’re right about the second person, at least, even though it’s not some amazingly strong and destructive elven warrior. Sam’s probably very proud that those words are even in the same sentence to describe him. I guess it goes to show the power of Sam’s anger, when roused. He was very upset about Gollum’s betrayal and Frodo’ s supposed demise. There’s a lot of power in emotions in this world.

How do you feel about that?

No one dies today.

“‘He may have had nothing to do with the real mischief. The…'”

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I’d rather not.

HI. LET'S BE FRIENDS.

HI. LET’S BE FRIENDS.

Shagrat and Gorbag are going over their previous few days, as they both got orders to search the pass for spies. At Minas Morgul, the orcs could tell that the Ringwraiths were uneasy, and this is the reason why they were sent out. It took a few days though, after the hubbub of the army marching out, for Mordor to realize that something may be up. That’s when Gorbag’s group went up. Shagrat only got word about an hour ago, and also had seen lights on the ridges, not to mention Shelob out and about.

First Mentions:

-the Great Signal: All that red flashing? That was Sauron sending word to his troops to march. Apparently it’s a big deal.

A few things chronologically get put together here. A few days ago, when the Ringwraiths first felt nervous, was when Frodo and Sam were venturing just aside Minas Morgul. The Witch-king halted briefly, sensing the ring’s power, probably. However, Gorbag says that word wasn’t able to reach Sauron right away, probably because he was busy looking elsewhere. Shagrat hears that things are going on in the west. Oh, that whole deal with Saruman and the Palantír? Probably right now.

Synchronicity!

Many miles away...

Many miles away…

Ultimately, we’re getting a load of exposition from two orcs on the other side of a wall. Good hearing, Sam! Although, I guess I really should doubt his ability to listen this closely, but, remember though, the ring is enhancing his senses. Nice.

No one dies today.

“‘He’s been up the Stairs once or twice since then, but we’ve left him alone: seems to have some understanding…'”

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If Sam can’t catch up to throw himself at the orcs, he might as well just eavesdrop on their conversations. He continues listening to Gorbag and Shagrat. Shagrat has orders to send Frodo off to Barad-dûr, though he has no idea why. Gorbag, who normally serves inside Minas Morgul, knows that something strange is up within the higher circles of Mordor.

The orcs continue moving ahead of Sam, until they disappear behind a rock wall that he and Frodo discovered when they were feeling their way through Shelob’s lair the first time.

Well then.

Well then.

Sam can’t get through now that it’s closed, and this is frustrating for him. He can, however, still hear Shagrat and Gorbag talking on the other side. They’re fearful of being caught by spies within their own companies, but they both know that something weird is going on.

First Mentions:

-the Under-way: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is the way to get to the Undergate. I’d also like to note the inconsistent use of hyphens.

We can learn a little bit about the hierarchy of Mordor today. Shagrat is in charge of Cirith Ungol, though there are clearly orcs higher up above him who check in now and again. Gorbag is a captain at Minas Morgul, but I’m sure that he’s a long way from the top. There appears to be some sort of high council that communicates with the lower captains. The Ringwraiths are separate, as they seem to have disdain for everyone else. Sauron likes them a lot, though.

Best friends forever!

Best friends forever!

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Grr

-favourites

I’m pretty sure we had both of those words already. Right? I mean, how could we have not had them already? I’m confused.

No one dies today.

“‘I tell you, it’s no game serving down in the city.'”

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It’s back into Shelob’s tunnel, as Sam watches the orcs crowd-surf Frodo in with them. He lunges in, still invisible, and at least has a slightly easier time seeing in the blackness. The orcs’ torches give off some light ahead, and the ring’s odd misty vision helps his non-sight senses.

Shine bright like a diamond!

Shine bright like a diamond!

The orcs are headed for the tower, by way of a branch of the tunnel, one that they’ve made in years of trying to outsmart Shelob. Voices seem to indicate that they don’t fear her tonight, for they must have seen some blood or other damage from her wounds on the ground outside. However, as Sam picks up the conversation of the two captains taking up the rear, they’re arguing over whether their noisy lot will wake the beast.

First Mentions:

-the Undergate: Entrance to the tower of Cirith Ungol, somewhere in the depths of the caves below it. Pretty descriptive, that.

So, at this point, Sam is basically just following the orcs along, too tired to attack. He can’t keep up all that well – orcs travel quickly in caves – and is very tired from all the walking, vertical walking, and also from fighting off Shelob. It’s been a long day. Add in the grief he’s feeling over Frodo’s death (“death”), and he must be wiped. Actually, showing some restraint is surprising from Sam, but I guess he doesn’t have much of a choice. Unless, of course, he really wants to run into his own death. That would be easy enough if he could only catch up.

You guys! Wait up, you guys!

You guys! Wait up, you guys!

Yes, Sam is being saved by his own weariness. Thank yourself for that later, Sam, because I know you don’t have the wherewithal to realize it right now.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-hoi

-harri

-Undergate

Orcs speak in weird noises, yet they still just call this gate “the Undergate”. Seems a little too simple to me. Ah well, at least I can decipher what it is without too much problem.

No one dies today.

“‘Yours are making more than half the noise,’ said…”

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Orcs! Orcs everywhere. Sam can hear them talking, and they don’t seem to be too friendly to each other. Well, heck, when are orcs friendly to each other, anyway? They’re just miserable at all times.

1) Be an orc.

1) Be an orc.

One band of orcs is coming up the pass, while the other is going down from the tower. Neither expected to find the other. The leaders insult each other when they meet. However, before too much more can happen, a shout is heard, marking the discovery of Frodo. The orcs move off to investigate, and Sam realizes what’s at stake. Abandoning his mission, he vows to attack the orcs (all of them at once) and die in valiant defense of Frodo.

First Mentions:

-Gorbag: The captain of the orcs coming up the pass, apparently from the fighting. He is most certainly one whole bag of gor.

-Shagrat: The captain of the orcs from the tower. Sounds like more of a bureaucratic officer than most orcs. He’s a shaggy rat. Gross.

Once again, this page is showing Sam’s descent into bad decision-making. This would be a death in vain, whether he sees it that way or not. He wants a song to be made about his fall. He wants to prove to Frodo (and himself) that he’s worthy of praise in battle. But, wait! He just proved that by fighting Shelob! Cool your jets, Sam, and pick your battles wisely.

Well, not that picking a fight with Shelob was wise, but that was forced upon him. He could easily slip by these orcs, even though I still disapprove of his using the ring to hide.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Hola

-Gorbag

-Shagrat

-Hai

-yoi

A lot of orc nonsense. It’s like the opposite of ruralisms, where it’s kind of adorable. Not here. I get the feeling that, half of the time, orcs just sit around shouting nonsense syllables at each other. I don’t know how that’s ever productive, but I guess that orcs really aren’t all that productive ever.

No one dies today.

“He tried to make a spurt.”

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If you thought that things were going well (they weren’t), they’re not getting any better. Sam suddenly hears orcs approaching from both in front and behind. It seems that they have noticed something happening in the pass, and have sent out a hunt from the tower. Orcs are marching from Shelob’s tunnel with torches, and others down from the height. Sam is caught in the middle. Without thinking, he puts on the ring.

Sam, nooooooo!

Sam, nooooooo!

Of course, that turns Sam invisible, and the orcs go right on by. Also of course, IT’S STUPID.

Yes, all that good juju that Sam earned by fighting Shelob off can be erased pretty quickly here. If any Ringwraiths are anywhere nearby, they’re going to sense this power, and Sam could be dead in a matter of minutes. Sure, he’s hidden from the orcs, but orcs are never the scariest things that he’s been going up against.

Meanwhile, Sam gets to experience the weird sensory experience of being invisible under the power of the ring. Vision is blurred, but hearing is heightened. He also believes that some sort of power is translating the shouts of the orcs. Perhaps Sauron used the ring to understand his servants.

Office signs in Mordor.

Office signs in Mordor.

Let’s see how this works out. I mean, it’s probably alright. Not EVERYTHING can go wrong at once.

Plus, I’ve read it before.

No one dies today.

“Certainly the Ring had grown greatly in power as it approached the places of its forging; but one thing it did not confer, and that was…”

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It’s actually happened: Sam has taken the ring from Frodo, and put the chain on his own neck. Oh! That’s heavy, isn’t it? Sam leaves Frodo lying in the middle of the path, and starts to head up to the dark tower on the ridge. This is the entrance to Mordor. He’ll be in once he passes through the cleft in the mountains. But before he does that, he turns back for one last look at the tunnel of terror. Maybe that’s Frodo’s body, a blip on the road far behind.

Maybe that's Frodo down there!

Maybe that’s Frodo down there!

Ah, reflective moments. Sam really wouldn’t be the same without them. He’s always thinking back to happier times. Strangely enough, now he’s reminiscing on the moment that his life seemed to go down the drain, but that’s a new development for him, something that hasn’t always been happening. Sam is growing! Is that weird? It might be weird.

Today also brings the return of walking. How we missed thee! And guess what? There’s still plenty more of that to come!

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-anigh

I don’t know whether to chalk that up to a ruralism by Sam, or just a word that my computer didn’t recognize because it’s English or something.

Side note: friends are awesome.

No one dies today.

“Then at last he turned to the road in front and took a few steps: the heaviest and the most reluctant he had ever taken.”

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