Chapter Summaries of "The Two Towers"
Book Three

Chapter 1: The Departure of Boromir

Aragorn follows Frodo's trail to the summit of Amon Hen; there he hears the sound of Boromir's horn amid the cries of many Orcs, and he runs down to help Boromir. He comes too late, however: Boromir is already dying, and in his last words he tells Aragorn about his attack on Frodo and about the attack of the Orcs, which have taken the Hobbits as prisoners. Gimli and Legolas return soon afterwards, and together they carry Boromir's body into a boat and let it float down the River. They also notice that a boat and Sam's baggage are missing, and conclude that Frodo and Sam must have crossed the River and headed towards Mordor while everybody else was looking for Frodo. Thus it seems unlikely that the remaining three companions could still find them, and Aragorn decides that they will pursuit the Orcs and attempt to rescue Merry and Pippin. They start the chase at once and with greatest speed, for the Orcs have already gained an advantage of several hours.

Chapter 2: The Riders of Rohan

Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas continue their chase for three days, running with remarkable speed through the land of Rohan, but to their dismay it seems that Orcs are hardly resting at all, and their advantage is ever increasing. On the fourth day they meet a company of the Rohirrim, the Men of Rohan, led by Éomer, the Third Marshal of Rohan and the nephew of Théoden the King of Rohan. Aragorn explains them the purpose of their hunt after the Orcs, and Éomer tells that the Rohirrim have attacked and destroyed that band of Orcs two days ago, yet found no hobbits among them. They exchange some news, and Éomer is impressed with Aragorn and the quick journey that he and his two companions have made in the past few days. He gives them leave to travel through Rohan, and gives them spare horses. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas continue along the trail and reach the site of the battle near the eaves of the great forest of Fangorn that evening. They find no traces of the hobbits. That night an old man appears (and disappears quickly) near their camp, and all their horses flee; they suspect the man to be the evil wizard Saruman.

Chapter 3: The Uruk-hai

Meanwhile Pippin and Merry suffer greatly as captives of the Orcs. The Orcs are under orders not to kill neither search the captives; for a while, the Orcs carry them, but then they are forced to run on their own, and the Orcs give them a strange liquor that strengthens them for a while. The orc-band consists of different kinds of Orcs: small ones from the Misty Mountains, some Orcs from Mordor (led by one Grishnákh) and the large Uruk-hai from Isengard, led by a captain called Uglúk. Quarrels arise about where the prisoners should be taken, and Uglúk's will prevails and they turn towards Isengard. Near the Fangorn forest they are surrounded by a group of the Riders of Rohan in the evening. The Riders light fires and await the dawn before the final attack. In the night Grishnákh comes to the hobbits and hopes to find the Ring himself; he takes them and tries to escape, but is detected and killed by the Riders. The hobbits crawl into the forest, unnoticed in the darkness. At dawn the Riders attack the orc-camp and all the Orcs are slain in the battle.

Chapter 4: Treebeard

Merry and Pippin continue their way into the forest, and soon meet Treebeard the Ent. Ents are strange, tall, very old creatures whose appearance resembles that of the trees. They talk about a great many things: the hobbits tell Treebeard about their journey, and he tells them about the Ents, their history, and the Forest of Fangorn. The Ents are threatened by Saruman, whose orcs are destroying the forest and felling trees. Treebeard feels it is high time that something be done about it, and he assembles an Entmoot, a gathering of the Ents, where they debate this issue. Since Ents are never hasty, the assembly lasts for two days and two nights, but in the end they decide to attack Isengard (the ring of rocks in the middle of which the Tower of Orthanc, the dwelling of Saruman, is set). Treebeard takes the hobbits along on his march, and a great many Ents join it on the way.

Chapter 5: The White Rider

Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli search the site of the battle the following morning, and find a leaf of mallorn and some crumbs of lembas. With this evidence of the hobbits' presence they continue their search into the forest of Fangorn and reach the hill where the hobbits had met Treebeard. Then they meet an old beggar-man whom they believe to be Saruman at first, but then he turns out to be Gandalf, who has defeated the Balrog and has now returned stronger than ever, and is now wearing a white robe. Gandalf tells them some news, particularly that the hobbits met Treebeard and that the Ents are heading towards Isengard; he advises them to go to Rohan and help in the war that is preparing there. He calls his horse, Shadowfax, and with him come also Aragorn's and Legolas' horses, who have met him the previous night after having fled in panic. Gandalf and the three companions ride to Edoras, the court of Théoden the King of Rohan.

Chapter 6: The King of the Golden Hall

They go to Meduseld, the hall of king Théoden. They are not very welcome there at first, and are even required to leave their weapons outside before seeing the king. Théoden is under influence of his counsellor Gríma (also called Wormtongue) who has convinced him that Gandalf is always a sign of nearing trouble, and should not be welcome. Gandalf silences Wormtongue with a bolt of lightning, and takes the king outside, into the fresh air and the light of the day. Here Théoden realises that listening to Gríma's whispers he felt much older and weaker than he really was, and now he opens his heart to Gandalf's advice and issues orders that the Rohirrim should prepare to move westwards towards Isengard at once, while those not able to join the army should retreat into the refuges in the mountains. Wormtongue objects this, but Gandalf reveals him as Saruman's spy; Théoden gives him the choice of joining the war or leaving for ever, and Gríma rides away. Then the king gives gifts to the companions: he lets Gandalf have Shadowfax, and gives excellent armour to Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. Finally the host rides off, and Éowyn, Éomer's sister, is left to govern the remainder of the people of Rohan in the king's absence.

Chapter 7: Helm's Deep

Gandalf turns towards Isengard with greatest speed, while the rest of the host ride towards Helm's Deep, a stronghold in the mountains; there, in the tower of Hornburg, the dwelling of Erkenbrand, the master of Westfold, a number of the Rohirrim of that region had already sought refuge. The host enters Helm's Deep and prepares for defence; they are attacked by a large army of orcs and the wild men of Dunland, and despite all their valour the defenders must retreat into Hornburg and into the caves in the Deep. On the dawn of the following day, however, the host of the Rohirrim breaks out of the fastness and the dismayed orcs flee before it. At the same time Gandalf appears, as well as Erkenbrand and his army; the orcs are surrounded and driven into a newly-grown forest, which is actually a host of Huorns (Ents that had become tree-ish), and none come alive out of it.

Chapter 8: The Road to Isengard

Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Théoden, Éomer, and a part of the host of the Rohirrim ride towards Isengard. Gimli tells Legolas about the beauty of the Caverns of Helm's Deep, and they decide that some day they will go together and see both the Forest of Fangorn and the Caverns. The company travels through the forest of the Ents, then pass a great mound where the Rohirrim who fell in the nearby battles were buried. In the night they see a great shadow flying towards Isengard. Finally they reach the Ring of Isengard, where Saruman had long dwelt and turned it into a great fortress; but now it was defeated and ruined by the Ents. At the gates they find Merry and Pippin, enjoying all the comforts of food, wine and pipe-weed, and they direct Gandalf and Théoden towards the north wall, where they might find Treebeard.

Chapter 9: Flotsam and Jetsam

Meanwhile Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli stay with the two hobbits, who tell them about their adventures since the breaking of the Fellowship of the Ring: the journey with the Orcs; the meeting with Treebeard; the attack of the Ents upon Isengard. The Ents are not much afflicted by arrows or axes, and they have broken down the gates and walls of Isengard; they could not harm the tower of Orthanc, though, and Saruman was trapped therein. The Huorns have formed a 'forest' all around Isengard, where all Orcs fleeing from Isengard have perished. The Ents have built dams and dug trenches, and directed the water from the Isen river towards Isengard, where is has flooded the underground caves and suffocated Saruman's fires. Gandalf has come and asked for help (hence the newly-grown forest after the battle of Helm's Deep); and later Wormtongue came, pretending to be a messenger from Théoden. Treebeard, however, whom Gandalf had warned against Gríma, gave him a choice of entering Orthanc or waiting for the coming of Théoden, and Wormtongue waded through the flood and entered the tower.

Chapter 10: The Voice of Saruman

Gandalf, Théoden, Éomer, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas go to the stairs of Orthanc to talk with Saruman, while the others wait a little farther away. Saruman has a sweet, hypnotic voice that can easily bring many under his influence. He addresses Théoden first, proposing peace and alliance between Isengard and Rohan and promising great benefits that could come of that. His voice charms the Riders, and it seems that it convinced Théoden too, but then he refuses and clearly states that there will never be such peace. Then Saruman talks to Gandalf and tries to convince him into uniting and using their power and wisdom to govern others. Gandalf laughs at this and then gives Saruman one last chance to come down and help them in their cause, or remain locked up in Orthanc. Saruman rejects this offer, and Gandalf causes his staff to break and casts him from the order of the wizards. A strange crystal globe, apparently thrown by Wormtongue, falls from a window; Gandalf takes it, hinting that it might be an object of great importance. The company says farewell to Treebeard (who promises that the Ents would guard Orthanc and prevent Saruman from escaping) and prepares to leave.

Chapter 11: The Palantír

The company intends to ride to Edoras and starts in the direction of Helm's Deep. Pippin is very curious about the glass ball which he had picked up, and in the night when everybody is asleep he takes it from under Gandalf's arm. He cannot resist looking into it, and then drawing his eyes away from it, and a little later he falls back with a cry. Gandalf asks him what he has seen and done: in the stone he has seen the Dark Tower, and was questioned by Sauron. Sauron believed that the stone was still in Orthanc, and that the hobbit was Saruman's prisoner, and he only ordered Pippin to tell Saruman to hand out the prisoner to him, without setting further questions. The stone thus turns out to be a palantír, one of the seven stones used by the kings of old to communicate between distant places, and it was with this stone that Saruman could talk with the Dark Lord. A shadow passes over the camp: it is one of the Ringwraiths who are now riding upon horrible winged creatures, and it seems to be headed towards Isengard. Gandalf bids the others to ride on immediately with greatest haste, and he takes Pippin with him and rides with Shadowfax towards Minas Tirith as fast as possible.

Book Four

Chapter 1: The Taming of Sméagol

Meanwhile Frodo and Sam are making their way across the bare hills of Emyn Muil, and the sheer walls of the ridge prevent them from descending into the plains. At last they find a place where a descent might be possible, and Frodo attempts to climb down; a terrible cry pierces the sky at that time (probably made by the winged steed of one of the Nazgul), and Frodo falls but fortunately lands on a shelf not deep below. Sam remembers the rope that the Elves of Lórien gave him and rescues Frodo with it; then they both climb down the rope and, to their surprise, manage to pull it down easily afterwards, as if it had not been fastened to anything at all. They plan to spend the night under the cliff not far from there. Then they notice Gollum, who had been following them all the time; he climbs easily, almost like a spider, but falls down in the final part of the climb. Sam attacks him, and with Frodo's help they force Gollum to promise that he would lead them to Mordor. Soon afterwards Gollum tries to escape, but they catch him and find that the elven-rope with which they wanted to tie him hurts him greatly. He swears by the Ring that he would obey them, and they untie him. A little later, when the moon has also set, they head downwards again.

Chapter 2: The Passage of the Marshes

The two hobbits, led by Gollum, are slowly making their way towards the Black Gates of Mordor. Since going through the open land full of orc-highways would be far too dangerous, Gollum leads them along less-known paths through the marshy lands. They cross the Dead Marshes, where many fallen warriors were buried during the war between the Last Alliance and the Dark Lord at the end of the Second age; now strange lights flicker there, and horrible dead faces can be seen under the mud. Ringwraiths often fly above them, apparently searching for the Ring and somehow sensing its presence; and the burden of the Ring seems ever greater to Frodo as they near Mordor. Within Gollum two 'personalities' are struggling for domination: the good Sméagol, and the wicked Gollum; and pressed by the mad desire for the Ring the Gollum in him seems to be winning again. Finally they reach the desolate and barren lands before Mordor, and only at Frodo's strict command is Gollum willing to guide them further.

Chapter 3: The Black Gate is Closed

The companions reach the Black Gate of Mordor. The Gate is guarded by the Teeth of Mordor, two tall towers erected long ago by the Men of Gondor but were later abandoned and then occupied by Sauron's forces. There are also many other battlements and huge numbers of orcs; several roads are leading to the gate, and numerous armies from the East and the South are coming into Mordor. Entering Mordor there seems absolutely impossible. At this point Gollum suggests another way: to go southwards to the ghost-city of Minas Ithil, and then up to the pass of Cirith Ungol. There the chances of not being noticed are somewhat greater, for in that direction Sauron has conquered land as far as the Anduin, and feels safer, so the place is not likely to be watched so thoroughly. Gollum claims he had escaped from Mordor along that very path, though it seems likely that this 'escape' was known and approved by the Dark Lord. Nonetheless Frodo, after some hesitation, decides to accept this plan.

Chapter 4: Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit

Journeying south, the company reaches Ithilien, a fair country of mild climate and lush vegetation that has only been conquered by the Dark Lord recently and has not yet been desolated and defiled. Sam is becoming more and more concerned about food: their only food is lembas, which will hardly last until they reach Orodruin, and certainly not any longer. So one day as they rest in a forest, he asks Gollum to catch something edible. Gollum catches a pair of young rabbits and Sam prepares a stew. However, soon after they finish their meal, the fire starts to smoke and the two hobbits are surrounded by four soldiers of Gondor, one of them being Faramir, the Captain. Frodo explains something about his errand, and Faramir seems greatly interested in that; but at present he leaves two men to guard them, and goes away to prepare for battle: the men of Minas Tirith have come to Ithilien to attack a host of the Southrons travelling towards Mordor to join Sauron's forces. Sam sees a most amazing thing during this battle: an 'Oliphaunt', one of the great grey animals that are in Shire only known through old rhymes.

Chapter 5: The Window on the West

After the battle Faramir (who turns out to be Boromir's brother) returns and questions Frodo for a while; he is somewhat suspicious at first, and tells that he had seen the boat with Boromir's body float down the Anduin. At last he decides that Frodo and Sam should come with him and the host to a hidden refuge, a cave hidden behind a waterfall. Unlike Boromir, who always sought to win glory with his valour in the wars, Faramir is not so warlike and has a greater reverence for old lore and traditions (and the Elves). He talks with the two hobbits for a long time, and tells a lot about Minas Tirith and her wars, the history of Gondor, its alliance with the Rohirrim; Frodo describes the journey of the Nine Walkers, carefully avoiding the matter of the Ring. Eventually the conversation turns to the Elves and Lórien, and Sam accidentally mentions the Ring. Here Faramir proves that he is indeed true to his words, and does not attempt to take or even see the Ring.

Chapter 6: The Forbidden Pool

Later that night, Gollum appears at the pool near the cave, catching fish without knowing about the hidden place. The laws of Gondor would require anyone who comes near the cave to be killed; but Faramir wakes Frodo and asks him about his opinion. Frodo explains that the creature they have seen was Gollum, and that he has guided them, and that he should not be killed. Faramir will not let Gollum wander about the area freely, and Frodo goes down and convinces Gollum to follow him. Two of the guards then catch him and take him, blindfolded and tied, to the cave. Faramir questions Gollum, and Gollum swears that he will never return to the hidden cave. Then Faramir gives Frodo permission to move through Gondor freely, and warns him, saying that Minas Morgul is an evil and dangerous place.

Chapter 7: Journey to the Cross-roads

Faramir gives each of the hobbits a staff, as well as some provisions, and then the hobbits and Gollum depart. They travel southwards for two days and come near the road from the ruins of Osgiliath to Minas Ithil. Gollum keeps urging them to make haste, stressing the danger they are in. They turn eastwards towards the Cross-roads, the crossing of the road from Osgiliath and the north-south road. The next day the darkness starts issuing from Mordor; a great cloud covers the entire sky, and the day is as dark as a night. They reach the Cross-roads; a great stone statue of a king is standing there. Its head was apparently cut down by the servants of Sauron, and is lying on the ground near the statue; yet just before setting the sun reaches the end of the dark cloud and one of its last rays shines on the head like a crown, giving Frodo new hope.

Chapter 8: The Stairs of Cirith Ungol

The travellers pass the city of Minas Morgul, and Frodo feels that the Ring is drawing him towards it. They see a great army issue from the city, apparently heading towards Gondor, led by the Captain of the Ringwraiths himself. Then the hobbits and Gollum ascend a long and steep stairway, followed by another, longer but not as steep. Far above they see the pass they are heading for, and it seems to be guarded by a watchtower. They decide to rest for a while, and while Frodo and Sam are talking Gollum goes away; then they both fall asleep, and Sam wakes to see Gollum bending over Frodo. Although it seems he had no evil intentions at that moment, Sam is full of distrust. He then wakes Frodo, who offers Gollum to go freely where he will, as the hobbits could continue the way by themselves. But Gollum says they can't reach the top of the pass on their own, and all three prepare to go on.

Chapter 9: Shelob's Lair

A short time later, they reach a great mountain-wall, where the path continues through a tunnel. A terribly foul stench is coming from the it. The tunnel is very long, going ever upwards, with side passages here and there. The hobbits, walking a few steps behind Gollum, notice that the stench is becoming worse and worse, until they reach a side passage where the reek seems to be coming from. They pass it by, and the air starts to improve; but soon they come to a fork of the main tunnel. Gollum seems to have abandoned them, and they try one of the passages and find that it is blocked. At that moment they notice the eyes of some terrible creature behind them. Frodo approaches it with the Phial of Galadriel in one hand and Sting in the other, and the eyes retreat from the light. The hobbits continue quickly up the tunnel, but find the exit blocked by a barrier which turns out to be a giant spider's web. Frodo cuts the threads with his sword, and starts running towards the pass which is only a few steps away. Sam comes after him, yet so does the creature they've seen in the tunnel: Shelob, a huge spider. Shelob appears out of a side entrance into the tunnel and starts running towards Frodo. Before Sam can help him he is himself attacked by Gollum; after a desperate fight Gollum runs away.

Chapter 10: The Choices of Master Samwise

Sam runs back to the path and finds Shelob bending over Frodo's body. This drives Sam mad with rage, and he attacks the giant spider; he could hardly have harmed her, but just when he is standing below her the monster throws herself to the ground so as to crush him. Sam holds his sword up, and it gives Shelob a deep wound; she retreats into a hole, defeated. Sam turns back to Frodo, who shows no signs of life. Sam despairs and can't decide what to do; at last, knowing that everything will perish otherwise, he decides to continue the Quest, and takes Frodo's sword, the Phial of Galadriel, and the Ring. After making the first few steps, however, he hears voices of Orcs coming near, and puts on the Ring. He finds that he can understand Orcs when he is wearing the Ring: it seems that there are two companies, one from the watch-tower on the pass and one from Minas Morgul. They take Frodo's body and carry it into a tunnel; Sam follows them, and listening to the Orc-captains he finds that Frodo is probably still alive, and will be imprisoned, not slain. The company of Orcs then passes through large double doors, which close before Sam could go through as well.