In the first chapter of The Two Towers, THIS IS HOW YOU START A BOOK? If you’re intrigued by that, then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.
CHAPTER ONE: THE DEPARTURE OF BOROMIR
You tricked me, chapter title. YOU TRICKED ME.
I know that this is only split into a trilogy for publishing reasons, and I know that Tolkien intended this to be one full novel. Still, I’m impressed so far how well this works as a separate book just from the first chapter. THIS IS HOW THIS STARTS!!! WHAT IS GOING ON EVERYONE????
There’s no narrative break from the scene that ends The Fellowship of the Ring, and we pick up at the moment that Aragorn realizes that something is wrong. Unfortunately, he can’t really ascertain what it is that’s going awry. I don’t like a panicked Aragorn, y’all. I don’t. He is supposed to be my constant, my dependable hero, and he is freaking the fuck out. Should I panic, too? I suppose I’d feel validated for panicking if Aragorn was losing his cool.
When the horn of Boromir rang out, I expected that we’d open The Two Towers with a glorious battle between the six remaining members of the Company and a host of orcs. I should just stop expecting anything anymore, shouldn’t I?
A mile, maybe, from Parth Galen in a little glade not far from the lake he found Boromir. He was sitting with his back to a great tree, as if he was resting. But Aragorn saw that he was pierced with many black-feathered arrows; his sword was still in his hand, but it was broken near the hilt; his horn cloven in two was at his side. Many Orcs lay slain, piled all about him and at his feet.
WHAT!??!?!?! WHAT. WHAT WHATHKJHA A’ASDLKJH
ASDFLK;JADS;FJA ASD ASDFDK A ASLKFDJ A
NO STOP IT. STOP IT!!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
‘I tried to take the Ring from Frodo,’ he said. ‘I am sorry. I have paid.’ His glance strayed to his fallen enemies; twenty at least lay there. ‘They have gone: the Halflings: the Orcs have taken them. I think they are not dead. Orcs bound them.’
Ah, FUCK YOU. JUST FUCK YOU TOLKIEN. How can you do this to Boromir??!??! I THOUGH SAM AND FRODO ESCAPED ON A BOAT??? WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ALL OF MY EMOTIONS, YOU HEARTLESS TELLER OF LIES? YOU’RE LYING TO ME, RIGHT? THIS IS THE ONLY CANON THAT I CAN ACCEPT.
‘You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!’
‘Which way did they go? Was Frodo there?’ said Aragorn.
But Boromir did not speak again.
I just can’t. I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS HAPPENS ON LIKE THE SECOND GODDAMN PAGE. Oh, was breaking up the Fellowship not enough for all of us? Nope. Tolkien had to tease us with a chapter title that I thought referred to Boromir breaking off from the group to go be awesome in Minas Tirith. BUT NO. TOLKIEN KILLS HIM OFF.
fuck. FUCK!!!!!! I AM SERIOUSLY SO UPSET! I know y’all know this by now, but I love morally ambiguous or questionable characters like white people love The Help and THIS IS HURTING ME! I WANT MORE BOROMIR. Also, I am realizing that I am essentially yelling into an empty room because not a word of this is going to change or affect a single thing anywhere. Well, that just made me a whole lot sadder.
He knelt for a while, bent with weeping, still clasping Boromir’s hand.
Done. I’m done. Just bury me right here on the Internet with my laptop and my LEGO sets and just be done with it. Don’t even have a funeral. Just stack some rocks and make my headstone say, “Dear J.R.R. Tolkien, You killed me and I will haunt you in the afterlife even if it’s not possible, you deserve everything awful (only you don’t because oh my god i love you so much but it’s that “hateful” kind of love), and may you be seated on a bed of thumbtacks or something moderately irritating.” Yes, that.
Then Gimli and Legolas arrive and Sad Boromir Party just continues on and on. I can’t get over this. I refuse to get over this. This is the first chapter. If you can open your book this way, what on earth are you going to do after this?
Even if Boromir wasn’t as “important” to the narrative as Gandalf, and even though all of these characters didn’t know him for very long, their grief is scattered all over the pages of this chapter. Again, it’s such an amazing thing to read because you can pick up so many small things that point to the unraveling of the Company even further. They’re all very methodical about determining what to do with Boromir’s body. As they pick the corpses of the Orcs for weapons, finding definite signs that Sam and Frodo were taken (and I assume Merry and Pippin too?), they are both confused and energized by the events that have split them up. While Aragorn and Legolas are eager to set out, they have a sober realization of what they’re up against. On top of that, it seems pretty apparent that Saruman has sent his own team of Orcs upon them, confirming Gandalf’s story about the famed wizard.
But the most depressing (and well-written) scene in all of chapter one is when it comes time to send Boromir down the River in one of the boats. They all take such care to arrange his belongings and weapons about his body. I seriously started to tear up when I read about them combing his hair onto his shoulders. It doesn’t matter that they didn’t know him well; he was their friend, and he was a part of the Company. It is interesting to me that Aragorn is choosing to keep Boromir’s final words a secret, and I kind of respect him for that. In this moment, they don’t really matter, at least not yet. The man is dead, and they’re going to pay him the proper respects. I imagine they’ll have to discuss it eventually, since his actions are what got the hobbits captured. For now, though, Aragorn and Legolas trade off singing songs about Boromir the Tall, the Fair, and the Bold.
my creys, y’all. MY CREYS.
But the real breaking of the Fellowship is at the end of this chapter. Even though Aragorn guesses what’s happened, he makes an important decision here: the Company has done what it can. He will not pursue Frodo into Mordor. It’s a sensible choice, especially since going after them would only make things worse, but it’s still such an upsetting thing to read. But since they have chosen to follow the Orcs to learn what exactly they are, I’m interested to see how Tolkien deals with a narrative split between multiple places. I’m still not sure if Merry and Pippin are also split from the group, or if they managed to find a way to catch up with Sam and Frodo. Is it selfish to be excited about this because it means that I’ll get to see more of Middle-earth? WHATEVER, I’M EXCITED.