It seems a good way to continue reading Lord of the Rings with your sanity intact is to every now and again, put it down and try to forget about it. This I recently did and yesterday recommenced the story at what I must describe as ‘quite a cool part’.
It was the flooding of Isengard where I returned, a saga which spawned 2 chapters and recall the vents where Gandalf and his company return to Isengard to converse with the evil wizard Saruman, only to find him imprisoned in his tower with the area surrounding flooded by Ents.
I particularly enjoyed these two chapters. The events of the battle are told from the perspective of Merry and Pippin in the first of the two chapters; ‘Flotsam and Jetsam’. This certainly worked well for me as I felt that other battle sequences written from the 3rd person perspective seemed to focus too much on the very minor details rather than the whole picture of the battle (especially the Helms Deep scene). The second chapter; ‘The voice of Saruman’ is where we finally meet the so-much discussed White Wizard. Throughout the book, and indeed the Fellowship of the Ring, we have heard much about the character and exploits of this guy, made all the more mysterious by the fact that we have never seen him until this point. When you do meet you really feel how powerful he is and how is presence resonates and affects those around, even the reader. It is here that you realise that Gandalf, who seems mighty and has returned from the dead, is nothing compared to this guy.
Of course my view was shaped slightly by the film. In Peter Jackson’s film trilogy the actual flooding bit was in the Two Towers movie however the encounter with Saruman was only available to those with the extended cut of the Return of the king.
The flooding bit was certainly excellent, a chance for Jackson to show off some of his CGI creations hurling rocks at a dam (much more epic than I make it sound). However the encounter with Saruman was a let-down after reading the book. Here Jackson thought it appropriate not to have Saruman to be standing on a first floor balcony but instead on top of a sixty floor building. And he’s not shouting and his voice inst magnified, how the hell can they even hear each other? I remember when I first watched that thinking ‘I bet somebody is gonna’ fall off that tower’.
Oh I love being right. Jackson had moved Saruman’s death which takes place in the Shire in the book to this point and had Saruman falling of the building. Yep, I’m definitely with Tolkein on this one.