|Hardcover, 252 pages|
Published 2000 (originally 1954)
Acquired February 2011
Read April 2013
The Treason of Isengard: Being the Third Book of The Lord of the Rings
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Merry and Pippin on their own was fantastic, and I wish we'd gotten to see more of it directly (much of their adventures are reported by the two hobbits to the other characters late in the novel). They turn out to be surprisingly resourceful when captured by the orcs; the bit where they pretend to the have the Ring on them was one of my favorite parts. Their encounters with the Ents, too, are good fun.
Most of the book is spent on the Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli trio (who are later joined by Gandalf), and it is time well spent. Gimli is my favorite character-- always ready to threaten someone with his axe and competing with Legolas over his number of kills, but also grumpy when he thinks Galadriel hasn't sent him a message, and wistful about the beauty of the caverns behind Helm's Deep. (Also, he refuses to sing over Boromir's grave. Unlike Aragorn, who sings every ten pages-- something I have a hard time picturing his film counterpart doing!)
While the Battle of Helm's Deep isn't the spectacle it is in the films, it's still one of the highlights of the books so far. Tolkien shifts his usual style; rather than long passages of description, the events come at us in short sections, sometimes only a couple paragraphs at a time, imbuing both the buildup to the battle and the battle itself with tension and a slight sense of disconnection and choppiness that really works.
Each book of The Lords of the Rings so far has been different to the once preceding it; this one is a high fantasy war story. I don't know if I prefer it to The Ring Sets Out's more rustic tone, but it's well-executed, enjoyable, and fast-paced.