Study Guide

The Two Towers Setting

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If you want some general coverage about what's up with this whole "Middle-earth" thing, you can head over to our setting analysis in The Fellowship of the Ring. In this guide, we're going to head straight in to the various location our travelers visit.

Let's get to it.


The vast fields of the Rohirrim are where most of the travels of Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf take place. The flat, open lands make Rohan a perfect territory for the horse-lords who dwell there, although they also leave it quite vulnerable to attack.

When pressured by Saruman's armies, Rohan's king withdraws his people into the stronghold Helm's Deep, a fortress built within the stones of the mountains. Rohan's kingdom was and remains scattered, but the new strength of Théoden and the defeat of Saruman may help reunite the region in time for the coming war with Sauron.

Fangorn Forest

At first dark and creepy but soon brimming with life, Fangorn feels in many ways like Lothlórien, the Elven forest from the first film. Characters are frightened by it and the myths of what lies inside. But just like the "Witch of the Woods," who turns out to be the kind, helpful (if a bit scary) Galadriel, the creatures of Fangorn are just some nice old tree people.

Fangorn is where most of Merry and Pippin's storyline takes place, and is central to the theme of Man and the Natural World.

Emyn Muil

The beginning of Frodo, Sam, and Gollum's journey, Emyn Muil is a vast land of rocky crags that have our heroes going in circles. It's the difficult, confusing landscape of the country that forces the hobbits to adopt Gollum as a guide.

Maybe one can simply walk into Mordor, but it certainly isn't simple.

The Dead Marshes

The Ring bearer & Co. just can't catch a break. As soon as they're out of Emyn Muil they step into a swamp which constantly threatens the travellers with mires and pits of muck. It's a safe passage because Gollum knows a path of solid land through the swamp that the orcs do not.

At the same time, they're not called the Dead Marshes for nothing. This was the battleground of the War of the Last Alliance, and the swamp is filled with the strangely preserved bodies of orc and man and elf—not to mention their spirits, which seem to have stuck around as well.


This once-great city is in the realm of Gondor, and is under attack by the armies of Mordor when Frodo and Sam arrive as captives. By then the city is in ruins, and is merely an army outpost, a strategic position that's always under threat of attack.

This is our first glimpse at the toll the war has taken on Gondor, the civilization closest to Sauron's wrath. But not only is it important strategically, it's important because Faramir faces a second wrath—that of his father, Denethor II. He already failed to hold Osgiliath once and can't let it happen a second time.

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