Here you will find a The Two Towers summary (J. R. R. Tolkien's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.
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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024
The story begins with the dissolution of a fellowship following a battle. Merry and Pippin, two hobbits, are taken prisoner by Orcs who believe that they carry a powerful ring due to an old prophecy. Consequently, their allies Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn decide to trail the captured hobbits, carefully avoiding the Orcs. They cross paths with the Riders of Rohan, led by Éomer. Simultaneously, Merry and Pippin are taken by a different Orc tribe, the Uruk-hai, who also seek the rumoured Ring. Escaping their captors, they encounter and befriend Fangorn, an Ent - a colossal tree-like creature. The Ents, upon hearing about the cruelty inflicted upon them by the Orcs under the control of the corrupted wizard Saruman, decide to wage war against them. Elsewhere, Saruman haunts Aragorn and his group, but Gandalf, reborn as the White Rider after his previous demise, guides them to the Golden Hall of King Théoden. Gandalf exposes Théoden’s counselor Wormtongue as a spy for the wicked Saruman and helps reconcile Théoden and Éomer. The team confronts Saruman and surprisingly find Merry and Pippin at the gates of Saruman’s stronghold. The latter two inform Gandalf that the Ents are ready to lend their support in the battle against Saruman. During this confrontation, Wormtongue tries to murder Gandalf using a palantír, a stone transmitting images. Pippin looks into the palantír, alerting the Dark Lord Sauron to his location and setting in motion a hunt for him. Simultaneously, Frodo and Sam, separated from the rest of the fellowship, are journeying to Mordor to destroy the Ring. They tame and recruit Gollum, the Ring's former owner, as a guide despite their suspicions. Their journey is fraught with challenges, from haunted marshlands to dark, menacing shapes in the sky known as Nazgûl. They encounter Faramir and his men who initially suspect the hobbits of causing Boromir’s death. Faramir supports the hobbits after learning the truth about his brother's betrayal. The journey takes a dangerous turn when they are led into tunnels inhabited by Shelob, a giant lethal spider. Frodo is paralyzed by Shelob and captured by Orc guards, who plan to search him for the Ring. Sam, believing Frodo dead, takes it upon himself to bear the Ring. Using it, he discovers he can comprehend the Orc language and follows the guards carrying Frodo, eventually realizing that his friend is still alive. The story ends with Sam, filled with agony, separated from Frodo as the gates of Mordor close on him.
After Frodo and Sam's departure towards Mordor, Aragorn struggles to follow their tracks. An Orc battle cry and Boromir's horn signal danger. Aragorn discovers Boromir, mortally wounded by Orcs, who admits his failed attempt to steal the Ring from Frodo before succumbing to his injuries. Aragorn mourns his fallen comrade. Legolas the Elf and Gimli the Dwarf find Aragorn and learn of Boromir's heroic end. They assist Aragorn in moving Boromir's body to a funeral boat, which they launch in the river. As they do, they recite parts of prophetic songs about Boromir's death and its significance in the grand scale of fate. Confused about the whereabouts of the hobbits, Legolas questions Aragorn who confesses his lack of knowledge. Aragorn admits his blunder of not checking if Frodo was with Merry and Pippin when he had sent Boromir after them. He guesses that Frodo might have left his friends to protect them from the perils of the mission. He stresses the importance of unity among Dwarves, Elves, and Men in their quest to locate Frodo.
Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn initially find only their own and Orc tracks. When Aragorn spots some Hobbit prints near the river, he's uncertain of when they were made. They discover five dead Orcs from a different tribe at the base of a slope. Aragorn theorizes that infighting among the Orcs occurred. Gimli expresses concern for the hobbits' wellbeing amidst the Orc quarrel. Seeing an eagle flying far away, Legolas suggests the Orcs may be there, indicating they are moving unusually fast, even by day. As they traverse the fields of Rohan, the terrain turns greener. Aragorn finds Hobbit footprints, likely Pippin’s, and an Elf brooch. Concluding that the brooch was intentionally dropped as a signal, they take it as evidence that at least one hobbit is alive. They trail the surprisingly swift Orcs through Rohan's chilly highlands. Legolas notices horsemen in the distance, who turn out to be humans, not Orcs. Aragorn believes they are the just and powerful Riders of Rohan who would hear them out before attacking. Their leader, Éomer, Third Marshal of Riddermark, initially mistakes Aragorn's group for Orcs. Aragorn clarifies their quest to rescue their Hobbit friends from the Orcs. Éomer reveals a recent victory over the Orcs but reports no sighting of Hobbits among the corpses. Éomer is unfamiliar with Hobbits, which Gimli clarifies are Halflings, not children or Dwarves. Éomer is astonished to learn Halflings are real, not mythic. He warns them that the wizard Saruman is now an adversary, preparing for war in Isengard. Aragorn informs Éomer of Gandalf the Grey's death. Despite usual customs, Éomer allows the group to travel through Rohan and lends them horses. Yet, they find no sign of Pippin or Merry. Camping in the Fangorn forest, they use wood provided by the Riders. Legolas mentions the Ents, tree-like beings said to inhabit Fangorn. Gimli hallucinates an old man resembling Saruman. Upon waking, they discover their horses have disappeared.
Aragorn's party is in pursuit of the kidnapped hobbits, Merry and Pippin, ensnared in an Orc camp. Pippin is haunted by a nightmare where he is surrounded by Orcs, and he remembers the daunting battle involving Boromir. He regrets joining Gandalf's quest, feeling like a mere nuisance. Listening to the Orcs' chatter, Pippin learns that they have orders to spare the hobbits. The Orcs communicate in the Common Tongue, as their individual tribal languages are incomprehensible to one another. Pippin struggles to understand their native languages, which sound harsh and angry. Tension brews among the Orc tribes. Uglúk, an Uruk-hai Orc, takes pride in serving Saruman the Wise. An argument over Saruman sparks a fight that results in a death. Pippin uses the opportunity to free his hands using the dead Orc's knife. Despite the commotion, the Orc leader Uglúk is unaware of Pippin's escape and commands the march to continue. The Isengard Orcs seize the hobbits and race ahead, leaving the other Orcs behind. Once they manage to lose the pursuing Orcs, the Isengard Orcs force the hobbits to consume an Orc beverage, which gives them strength to march further. The Orcs search the hobbits, hoping to find the Ring. Grishnákh, the Isengard Orc performing the search, is met with resistance from the hobbits, who demand to be untied first. Suddenly, an unknown rider arrives, slaying the Orc captors. The terrified hobbits, hidden by their Elf cloaks, munch on lembas cakes to restore their strength. They leave an Elf-brooch behind, intending it to be a clue for their rescuers, and escape into the woods. Unbeknownst to them, the rider kills Uglúk in their wake.
Rushing through the woods, Merry and Pippin pause for a drink from the Entwash River and nibble on the last of their lembas cakes. They worry about their dwindling resources when unexpectedly, a 14-foot-tall walking tree starts talking to them. This creature is an Ent named Fangorn or Treebeard, one of the oldest beings in Middle-earth. Treebeard is gentle and shares his history with the hobbits, revealing that he looks after the forest and its Ents. He decides to take Merry and Pippin to his home and feed them. Along the journey, Treebeard shares more about Ents, including that many are just asleep and need motivation to awaken. He also mentions that the Ents' wives disappeared long ago, leading to a lack of young Ents in the forest. As the hobbits are being taken to the Ent-house, they question Treebeard about the warnings they've heard about the Ent forest. Treebeard is surprised that they managed to enter the forest and agrees it's an unusual place. At Treebeard's home, the hobbits enjoy an Ent meal, and they learn about the Ents' growing anger towards the Orcs and Saruman. Treebeard labels Saruman as wicked, stating the need to halt his Isengard forces by forming an alliance with Rohan and Aragorn's group. After sleeping, the hobbits are brought to an Entmoot, where Ents are discussing the potential alliance with Rohan. They see a variety of Ents of different forms and sizes. Merry and Pippin are puzzled about how the Ents can attack Isengard, a place difficult for trees to reach. They then visit Bregalad or Quickbeam, an Ent who tells them about the Orcs' cruelty against Ents. Suddenly, the Ents roar in determination, ready to act. Pippin is astonished to see moving trees – the forest is mobilizing. All Ents march towards Isengard to confront Saruman and his Orcs. Bregalad and Fangorn lead the group, with Fangorn admitting that they might be marching towards their end. Regardless, he directs them to Isengard.
Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas brave the cold as they track Merry and Pippin. They worry about the hobbits' survival after the battle between Rohan's Riders and the Orcs. Discovering Pippin's knife and cut ropes uplifts their hope of the hobbits' survival. They follow hobbit footprints to a river, the hobbits' last known location. While contemplating their next move, an elderly man accosts them in the forest. Believing him to be the malevolent Saruman, they prepare to attack, but Aragorn suggests they identify him first. The man converses in a familiar manner, leading Gimli to ask him about their friends. In response, the man reveals himself as Gandalf the White, their old ally Gandalf the Grey, who had undergone a transformation after battling the Balrog in Moria's Mines, having "passed through fire and deep water". Gandalf discloses Saruman's plan to capture the Ring. Saruman was to aid Sauron, the main adversary, but he undermined Sauron by turning the Isengarders against Rohan, thus assisting Gandalf's troops. Gandalf points out Sauron's folly in deploying his forces to pursue Ring-bearer Frodo, rather than securing Mordor's entrance to prevent Frodo's entry. Sauron overlooked the possibility of Frodo returning the Ring to Mordor for destruction. Gandalf also anticipates the Ents, now awakened, will wield unexpected power. Aragorn hails Gandalf, now the White Rider, as their leader. Gandalf, mounted on his horse Shadowfax, leads them towards Isengard.
Gandalf takes charge of the group, guiding them towards Isengard. They stop for the night and continue in the morning. They spot a golden building in the distance, Edoras, the residence of King Théoden of Rohan. Gandalf warns the group to tread carefully, as Rohan is preparing for war. On reaching Edoras, Gandalf's group is halted by guards. The guards question them in Rohan's language and inform them that no visitors are allowed during war. They mention that this directive comes from Wormtongue, a name that angers Gandalf. He insists on meeting Théoden personally. Eventually, they gain access but have to leave their weapons behind, except for Gandalf's staff, which he refuses to part with. Inside the royal hall, they meet King Théoden, his cunning advisor Gríma Wormtongue, and Théoden's niece, Éowyn. Wormtongue verbally lashes out at Gandalf. In response, Gandalf uses his staff to cast a powerful thunder spell, knocking Wormtongue to the ground. He accuses Wormtongue of aiding their enemies and urges Théoden to regain his power as king and stand against Saruman. He also asks the king about Éomer's imprisonment and persuades him to free Éomer and gather forces against Isengard. Théoden accuses Wormtongue of betrayal. Wormtongue tries to defend himself, but Théoden gives him a choice — either fight against Isengard or leave Rohan. Wormtongue chooses to flee. Gandalf requests for the horse Shadowfax, which was previously borrowed from Théoden. Théoden gifts the group weapons and armour but Gandalf rides away without any protection, under the gaze of Éowyn.
Gandalf’s crew heads south of Isen river. Legolas spots indistinct figures moving far away. The following day, Gandalf, sensing something wrong, takes off swiftly on his loyal horse, Shadowfax. He instructs the rest to continue on to Helm's Deep, avoiding the Isen plains. Gandalf's command is obeyed and the crew reaches the Deep, a slim canyon on the mountainside opposite Westfold Vale. Théoden discloses that Saruman is familiar with this region and predicts a significant conflict between the Orcs and Rohan's forces. Théoden and his Riders arrive at the Deeping Wall, a large fortress near Helm's Deep, but they lack supplies for a long stay, having anticipated a brief battle instead of an extended siege. Without warning, a thunderous sound signals the start of the battle. Countless Orcs swarm the area around the Deeping Wall. Both sides launch a frenzy of arrows and Legolas and Gimli stand their ground bravely. After several hours, Rohan's forces start to tire. Aragorn is concerned to find that Orcs have crawled beneath the Wall and ignited a trail of Orc-liquor below the Riders. With Éomer yet to arrive, Aragorn retreats to the Hornburg citadel to learn the Wall has been taken by the Orcs using their fiery liquid. Despite reassurances that the Hornburg has never been captured, Aragorn is disheartened. The Orcs mockingly call out to the Riders in the citadel, entreating them to face their destiny at the hands of the Uruk-hai. Suddenly, trumpets sound and King Théoden emerges in full battle attire. Fear strikes the Orcs, causing them to scatter across the land near Helm's Deep. The Hornburg remains untouched. Out of nowhere, a figure clad in white on horseback appears. The Riders of Rohan cheer for Gandalf, the White Rider, atop Shadowfax.
After their triumph over the Orcs, Éomer, Théoden, Gandalf, Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn meet up on the landscape close to Helm’s Deep. Éomer is astonished at Gandalf's timely arrival. Even though they are fatigued from the fight, Gandalf convinces Théoden to form a team to ride with him to Isengard to confront Saruman. The King selects Éomer and twenty Riders for this journey. Gandalf travels with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. They rest up before setting off, and the dead Orcs are collected from the battlefield. The following day, the group departs for Isengard, traversing through an unusual forest. Gimli appreciates the magnificence of caves, but Legolas is partial to the woods. Legolas spots eyes within the trees and Gandalf reveals that Ents inhabit the forest but pose no threat. Rohan's Riders mourn their fallen comrades on the fields. They eventually arrive at the Misty Mountains and notice Nan Curunír, or the Wizard’s Vale, ablaze. They observe a dark liquid spreading across the ground nearby. Gandalf instructs his party to disregard it and let it pass. After several days of travel, they finally reach Saruman’s fortress at Isengard. They sight the towering stone structure, Orthanc, where Saruman is holed up, encircled by a vast chasm. Isengard, once adorned with lush gardens and orchards, had become barren under Saruman’s reign. At Isengard's entrance, they find Merry and Pippin leisurely smoking. This is Théoden's first encounter with Hobbits. Following a brief conversation, Merry and Pippin convey that Fangorn, an Ent, is waiting to meet Gandalf at Isengard's northern wall. Gandalf and Théoden set off to meet Fangorn.
Gandalf and Théoden depart from Isengard to reach Fangorn, leaving Aragorn and his team behind. They happily feast on human food provided by the Ents, a much-needed break from the repulsive Orc food. Gimli, upon being offered tobacco found in Isengard by the hobbits, wishes for a pipe. Pippin promptly hands over his own, which Gimli gratefully accepts. Pippin narrates his journey since parting ways with his comrades. Aragorn hands back the hobbits their knives and an Elf-brooch discovered en route. Merry takes over the storytelling, recounting the Ents' gathering and their resolve to fight Saruman. He vividly details their swift and powerful annihilation of Saruman's stronghold. He also mentions Gandalf's encounter with Treebeard, seeking assistance. The Ents reacted by smashing the nearby dams, causing a flood that devastated the land beneath Isengard and eradicated the Orcs occupying the lower regions.
Gandalf and crew approach Orthanc's gates to interact with Saruman. They hear no reply despite Gandalf's repeated calls. Eventually, a window opens and Gríma Wormtongue, Saruman's mole in Théoden's court, answers. He questions their motive for visiting, but Gandalf firmly insists on speaking with Saruman. When Saruman finally appears, he attempts to manipulate the group with a pitiful tone. Saruman addresses the Riders of Rohan, expressing a desire for harmony. Initially, Théoden and his men are taken in by Saruman's persuasion, until Gimli accuses him of dishonesty. Saruman loses his composure after Gandalf's rebuke and his staff is broken by Gandalf in response, causing him to topple over. An unseen, furious Wormtongue retaliates by hurling a radiant crystal ball from the tower. The sphere rolls on the ground after missing Gandalf, and Pippin retrieves it. As they get ready to depart from Orthanc, a shrieking sound is heard from Saruman's chamber. Gandalf understands that Saruman has discovered the loss of the valuable orb that Wormtongue carelessly threw. Upon exiting, Gandalf introduces Fangorn to Legolas and Gimli and requests the Ent to flood the surrounding chasm of Orthanc, trapping Saruman. Fangorn reassures them that the Ents will carry out the task.
Gandalf and Théoden depart from Isengard, with Merry accompanying Gandalf on Shadowfax and Pippin riding with Aragorn. A conversation unfolds between Merry and Gandalf during their journey until they halt for a night's rest. In the darkness, Pippin questions Merry about the noticeable changes in Gandalf, who seemed more joyful yet serious after his return from death. Exhausted, Merry quickly dozes off, leaving Pippin restless and intrigued by the crystal globe discarded by Wormtongue. Unable to resist, Pippin stealthily retrieves the globe from a sleeping Gandalf, only to be terrified by the frightening visions of a dark winged creature and an evil figure. He drops the globe in terror, disturbing Gandalf from his sleep. Enraged, Gandalf explains that the globe is a palantír, a dangerous seeing-stone used by Sauron to converse with his underlings from his Mordor tower. Pippin’s peek into the palantír did more than reveal horrifying images; it also exposed him and his thoughts to Sauron. Aragorn realizes that this explains Saruman's communication with Sauron, while Gandalf observes that the palantír was instrumental in Saruman's downfall. However, Gandalf sees a silver lining: Pippin's unexpected appearance would befuddle the Dark Lord, buying them some time. He clarifies that the frightening creature was a Nazgûl, one of the Ringwraiths who had previously chased the hobbits. Gandalf then plans to whisk Pippin off to Edoras on Shadowfax.
Three days after Frodo and Sam's departure from their friends, their journey leads them through the desolate Emyn Muir mountains towards Mordor. Despite numerous wrong turns, they manage to reach a precipice overlooking Mordor but find no way to descend. Sam, burdened with cooking equipment but no food to cook, shares his longing for beer and bread with Frodo. They both hope they have escaped Gollum, their relentless pursuer, yet Frodo feels more distressed by the treacherous terrain. He notes that retreating isn't an option as Orcs are now patrolling the river they crossed. Over the next few days, the hobbits progress along the cliff until they find a potential descent point. Against Frodo's advice, Sam ventures first, only to be interrupted by a ominous shadow overhead, accompanied by a strong gust of wind and thunder. Losing his grip, Sam falls but lands on a nearby ledge. Frodo, in his fear, loses his balance and tumbles onto a ledge as well. In the midst of the rain, Sam recalls an Elven rope he carries, which, luckily, is long enough to help them reach the ground. Having safely descended, they gear up to proceed to Mordor. Sam laments leaving the rope attached to the rock above, but, surprisingly, it falls into his hands. They attribute this either to a poorly tied knot or some magical intervention. While resting in the cold, Frodo spots a creature scaling a distant wall, which Sam identifies as Gollum. Their encounter with Gollum results in a tussle, ending with Frodo's blade against Gollum's neck, demanding loyalty. Despite Gollum promising subservience, Frodo remains sceptical. When Gollum tries to flee, the hobbits restrain him with the Elven rope, causing him great discomfort. Once more, Gollum swears allegiance, appearing more genuine this time. Guided by their captive, the hobbits continue towards Mordor.
Gollum, once fleeing Orcs in this region, leads Frodo and Sam via the marshes surrounding Mordor. Terrified of the "Yellow Face" or the sun, Gollum chooses to journey at night. The hobbits feed Gollum Elf-made lembas cakes, but he rejects them, craving fish instead. While setting up camp, Sam remains conscious until Gollum sleeps, fearing a possible deception. Sam whispers "fish" in Gollum's ear. Upon getting no response, he's convinced they're safe, at least for the night. Both hobbits fall asleep, despite Sam's determination to watch Gollum. The next day, Gollum disappears. The hobbits bring up concerns about their dwindling food supplies. Sam estimates that they only have enough left for three more weeks. Suddenly, Gollum returns, expressing hunger, then leaves again. He reappears with a muddy face, convincing the hobbits to trust him. Gollum takes Frodo and Sam through the ghastly Dead Marshes, filled with the deceased warriors from an old battle and surrounded by ghostly lights. The hobbits are advised to disregard the lights that could lead them to the land of the dead. The stench of the marshes makes them almost faint. One night, they are frightened by the sight of a Nazgûl flying above. Gollum alerts them that the Nazgûl are omnipresent and report to their master, the Dark Lord. This concept deeply unsettles Frodo. On the fifth day, they wake up near Mordor, a desolate land filled with poison pits. Here, the marshes dry up into barren land. Frodo overhears Gollum's self-debate between his desire for his "Precious" and his pledge to obey the hobbits. Gollum acknowledges that Frodo, the master of the Ring, must be obeyed. Frodo comprehends that Gollum, like the Nazgûl, is also in pursuit of the Ring. Gollum murmurs something about not letting the Dark Lord's servants have the Ring. On the following day, the trio is just about at Mordor's gates. The hobbits express their gratitude to Gollum for guiding them. A Nazgûl is spotted for the third time, which Gollum interprets as a dreadful sign. Gollum hesitates to move forward, and Frodo must intimidate him with a knife to continue.
Frodo, Sam, and Gollum reach Mordor's gates and view the Teeth of Mordor, ancient towers constructed by Gondor's men after Sauron's downfall, now reclaimed by the Dark Lord himself. The sight of the heavily fortified entrance worries Sam, who questions their means of entry. Gollum insists that they cannot enter, causing Sam to question their journey's purpose if they cannot penetrate Mordor. Gollum asserts he has fulfilled his promise by guiding them here, angering Sam. Frodo declares his intent to enter Mordor regardless. Gollum, under the hobbits' pressure, reveals a hidden entrance he found earlier. Despite his mistrust, Sam agrees to follow Gollum with Frodo reminding Gollum about his pledge to keep them safe by his "Precious." Gollum guides them towards a southern path around Mordor, cautioning them against following it despite its extensive length. Frodo inquires about a third route, and Gollum confirms its existence. It leads to the back of Mordor, past an old fortress, once owned by Isildur, the man who defeated Sauron and claimed the Ring. The fortress includes a tower known as the Tower of the Moon. When Sam questions about the tower's occupation, Gollum shares it's guarded by Orcs and dreadful creatures called Silent Watchers. Sam suggests this path is just as dangerous, but Gollum suggests the Dark Lord's focus is elsewhere. He admits the path is risky but worth a shot. The hobbits, though suspicious, accept Gollum's counsel. Suddenly, four Nazgûl appear overhead, indicating Sauron's surveillance. Realizing escape is futile, Frodo and Sam brace themselves with their knives. Gollum feels other men are approaching Mordor, distinctive with their long dark hair, golden rings, and red flags. He describes them as unusually fierce. Men are now frequent visitors to Mordor. Sam inquires if these men have "oliphaunts," mythical creatures from old poems. Gollum denies any such sighting and advises the hobbits to rest during the day and continue their journey at night.
Sam, Frodo, and Gollum advance across Mordor's barren terrain, appreciating the gradual transition to a greener, more lush environment. They stick to night travels, avoiding public roads, and worrying about their decreasing food reserves. After a few days, they reach Ithilien, a region rich in forests and streams. Though Gollum flounders in this vibrant setting, the hobbits revel in the return of flora and water. Hunger still bothers them, so Sam sends Gollum to forage, emphasizing that his diet will differ from theirs. Gollum returns with rabbits, which he prefers raw, but Sam cooks a meal for him and Frodo. Frodo, on waking up, worries about the dangers of their open fire. Suddenly, they hear voices and spot four tall warriors. One introduces himself as Faramir, Captain of Gondor, who questions if the hobbits are Elves or Orcs. They identify as halflings, and upon hearing their story and the mention of Boromir, Faramir reacts with stern surprise. Faramir's men, Mablung and Damrod, guard Frodo and Sam, sharing about the Southrons, their foes. Amid a sudden battle, the hobbits get their first glimpse of human conflict. Damrod summons an elephant-like creature, known as the Mûmak, to fight off the enemies. Sam, thrilled to see his first oliphaunt, is told to rest as they will soon have to flee. Sam insists that he won't be disturbed by the departure of Gondor's troops. Damrod however, predicts that Faramir will make Sam leave with them.
Sam wakes up and finds Faramir questioning Frodo. Faramir is interested in why the hobbits left Rivendell and why they separated from Boromir. He's heard a prophecy about a Halfling carrying a precious item and queries Frodo about it. Frodo only discloses that he's meant to deliver the item somewhere else. Despite Boromir's attempt to take the Ring, Frodo avoids speaking negatively about him. Faramir, aware of Boromir's death, tries to deceive Frodo by saying Boromir will clarify things when he arrives. Unknowingly, Frodo has no idea Boromir is dead, and Faramir suggests Frodo might have betrayed Boromir. Faramir then tells Frodo that Boromir was his brother. He asks if Frodo remembers any significant item Boromir had, prompting Frodo to recall Boromir’s horn. Faramir shares a vision or reality where he saw Boromir floating by on a boat with a broken horn. He knew Boromir was en route to the land of the dead and had been killed. Frodo insists it was a vision as Boromir planned to return home across Rohan, away from water. Mourning his brother, Faramir seeks answers about Boromir's last moments, suspecting some ill deed but no longer blaming Frodo. Faramir informs the hobbits they have to return to Minas Tirith, Gondor's great city. During their journey, Faramir praises Frodo's honesty, knowing he hasn't shared everything about the hobbits' feelings towards Boromir. Faramir again probes for more information about the precious object he identifies as Isildur’s Bane, suspecting it to be the cause of Boromir's death. Frodo insists there was no dispute among their group, leading Faramir to believe Boromir was the sole problem. As the forests thin out, Faramir orders his men to blindfold the hobbits to keep their destination hidden. Upon removing the blindfolds, they see the magnificent Window of the Sunset, a waterfall-shrouded window of the cave they'll be hiding in. Offering them food and drink, Faramir discusses Gondor's past grandeur and its decline as land was traded to the Rohirrim for military protection. In the course of the conversation, Sam inadvertently reveals that Boromir desired the Ring. Shocked, Faramir appreciates Sam's honesty and asserts he has no desire for the Ring. Frodo discloses his mission to destroy the Ring in the Crack of Doom, leaving Faramir amazed.
Late at night, Frodo is woken up by Faramir for consultation. Faramir brings Sam and Frodo to a riverside cliff at dawn. They spot a small creature in the water, which is Gollum, unnoticed by Faramir's men until then. When asked about Gollum, Frodo pleads with Faramir and his men not to kill him. Faramir questions Frodo about Gollum's knowledge of Frodo's precious item, the Ring. Frodo admits that Gollum is aware of it and even owned it once, but now is only hunting for fish. Despite the severe penalty for trespassing, Frodo offers to negotiate with Gollum. Once persuaded to leave the water, Gollum feels deceived by Frodo when he is captured by Faramir's men. Faramir insists on questioning Gollum, who resists at first. Frodo influences Gollum to trust him, and Faramir queries Gollum about his past visits to this region, which he denies. Despite his disbelief, Faramir accepts Gollum's denial. Faramir agrees to Frodo's request to spare Gollum, provided Gollum is considered Frodo's servant. However, Faramir cautions Frodo about the growing evil in Gollum and his interest in the Ring's past. He advises Frodo about the dangers of crossing the mountains on this journey. Frodo explains that he has no other choice as he needs to bypass the gates of Mordor. Faramir believes it's a futile mission.
Faramir warns Frodo and Sam about the dangers of nearby territory, telling them not to drink from the waters flowing from Imlad Morgul, the Valley of Living Death. He gives them food and staves for their trip before releasing them from his hideout, Gollum in tow, all blindfolded. As they proceed, Gollum warns of the perils and watchful eyes in the area. Frodo enquires about a distant dark shape, which Gollum confirms as the valley of Morgul. He urges them to quickly move to a place called the Cross-roads. One night, Gollum disappears, leading Sam to express his relief. Frodo, however, highlights Gollum's past assistance. Despite Sam's suspicion, the atmosphere changes with dark daylight and warm, heavy air. Gollum suddenly returns one afternoon, urging them to move eastward, up a slope to the Southward Road, leading to the Cross-roads. He insists that it's the only safe path. En route, they find a vandalized, headless statue of an ancient Gondor king. Sam discovers the head nearby, adorned with a crown of golden flowers. Frodo states that Sauron's evil forces won't rule forever in the kingdom.
Gollum leads Frodo and Sam away from a statue and onto the Southward Road, bringing them to Minas Morgul's valley. They're struck by the sight of the Moon Tower, but Gollum pushes them forward. The land is filled with a nauseating odor, making breathing difficult for the hobbits. Despite Frodo's pleas for a break, they press on. Suddenly, Minas Morgul explodes in a loud thunder, revealing a horde of soldiers led by the Nazgûl's Lord. Frodo freezes in fear, his hand involuntarily reaching for the Ring, and the phial of Galadriel, which could give him the power to face the Nazgûl Lord. The Ringwraith, however, resumes his journey, not discovering them. Despite this, Frodo worries he's too late to destroy the Ring. Yet, Gollum insists they advance, pushing them up a seemingly endless staircase. From this height, they are overlooking Minas Morgul. After a strenuous climb on Cirith Ungol's stairs, Gollum escorts the hobbits to a dark crevice to rest. They contemplate whether there's any drinkable water and whether they'll be remembered in legends or songs. They also question Gollum's loyalty. Frodo believes Gollum is reliable since he despises Orcs. Later, Sam wakes to find Gollum affectionately watching the sleeping Frodo. Sam accuses Gollum of skulking, causing an argument. Gollum denies the claim and Frodo calms the situation, telling Gollum he can leave if he wants to. Gollum, however, insists on guiding them until the end.
Gollum guides Sam and Frodo to a foul-smelling cave in a stone wall. He reveals it's a tunnel but refrains from naming it as Shelob's Lair. The hobbits are aware of the risk of Orcs, but they have no choice but to proceed. Inside the pitch-black tunnel, they navigate by touch. Gollum vanishes, leaving them to fend for themselves. An ominous feeling of danger and aggression fills Frodo, followed by a menacing hiss. In response, Sam prompts Frodo to light up the phial of Galadriel, a small vial bestowed by Galadriel that he carries. The powerful light uncovers countless eyes belonging to Shelob, a colossal, carnivorous spider appointed by the malevolent Sauron to secure his routes. Overwhelmed but determined, Frodo bravely advances, causing the eyes to retreat. They approach the tunnel's end, blocked by robust cobwebs. They initially feel trapped, but Frodo recalls his Elven blade, Sting, which they use to cut through the webs. They see the tunnel exit, and Frodo urges Sam to run. However, Sam spots Orcs in their path, quickly conceals the phial, and then Shelob strikes, separating him from Frodo. As Gollum forcibly silences Sam's warning to Frodo, it becomes clear Gollum has betrayed them by leading them to Shelob. Sam manages to break free from Gollum's grip and threatens him, but Gollum slips away.
During a confrontation with the terrifying spider-creature Shelob, Sam finds Frodo paralyzed by venom. Seeing his friend in such a dire state propels Sam into a fit of bravery and fury. He attacks Shelob, blinding her in one eye. In an attempt to crush Sam, Shelob unintentionally impales herself on his sword. She retreats in pain, and Sam hurries to Frodo's side before daringly charging the spider once more. After his victory, Sam calls to Frodo, initially thinking he is just unconscious. The frightening realization that Frodo might be dead dawns on Sam, filling him with dread at the prospect of taking over the Ring's destruction. He is reluctant to take the Ring from Frodo, remembering that the task was entrusted solely to him. However, he comes to the conclusion that his duty as Frodo's friend could allow him to rightfully take on the mission. As Sam takes the Ring, he hears the Orcs closing in on him. Panicking, he puts on the Ring, causing the world around him to alter. Wearing the Ring enables Sam to comprehend the Orc language perfectly. He watches as the Orcs pick up Frodo's body and whisk it away. As he trails the Orcs, Sam overhears their conversation. Shagrat, one of the Orcs, tells his comrade, Gorbag, about Shelob's injury. Gorbag is awestruck that any being could harm Shelob and sever her webbing, concluding that such a being must be formidable. Shagrat reveals that they have been ordered to return Frodo unharmed and inspect all his belongings. Gorbag questions if Frodo is still alive, but Shagrat assures him that Shelob only feeds on live flesh, meaning Frodo has to be alive, albeit unconscious. Sam is overjoyed to learn that Frodo is alive but his happiness is short-lived as the Orc guards shut the doors behind them, leaving Sam alone with the Ring but separated from his companion.