The saga of The Lord of the Rings continues. In The Two Towers, the Fellowship of the Ring has broken; Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli discover Boromir's death, and that the hobbits Pippin and Merry have been kidnapped by orcs. In desperate pursuit, they learn of the betrayal of the wizard Saruman, who seeks to align the two towers of Isengard and Mordor against the free people of Middle-Earth. Saruman's first step is the destruction of the horse-riders of Rohan, and the seige at Helm's Deep will determine the fate of a once-great people.
Meanwhile, Frodo Baggins, bearer of the One Ring, and his faithful companion Samwise Gamgee, continue to the east, charged with the terrible burden of casting the ring of power into Mount Doom. As they head towards the dark lands of Mordor, they encounter Gollum, a vicious creature twisted by centuries of exposure to the One Ring. At times it appears that Gollum can be trusted, as he reverts to his old self of Smeagol, guiding them through the hazards of the evil in front of them. But an encounter with Faramir, brother of Boromir and leader of the Gondorian rangers, delivers a terrible warning; Gollum may know more about the secret entrance to Mordor than he is telling.
J.R.R. Tolkien, considered by many to be the progenitor of the high fantasy genre, was an English writer and university professor. Indeed, as a professor he esteemed himself as well; his lecture on Beowulf had a lasting influence on research in that field, and his production of A Middle English Vocabulary and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with E.V. Gordon became academic standards for decades. He wrote The Hobbit, released in 1937, which was popular enough to request a sequel, and thus the epic trilogy of The Lord of the Rings was published in 1954-55. For his literary and academic works, Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on March 28, 1972.