Given the hugely emotional and action packed ending to book one of this incredible saga, it almost feels like opposing a force of nature by not starting book two almost immediately, without even stopping to take a breath. Regardless of that, the reader will begin the story with an almost overwhelming sense of trepidation and fear for the two brave little hobbits who have so far exceeded everyone's expectations already. The other members of the fellowship are left to support the forces of good as they battle for the soul of Minas Tirith. Frodo and Sam, however, have formed their own duology of hearts as they prepare to take on the might of Sauron and his ilk as they approach the famed cracks of Mount Doom in downtown Mordor. One wonders at which direction Tolkien will take the mind - and the soul - of the reader in this volume. After the heart breaking beauty of Lothloriel and the soul destroying grief of the loss of a much loved party member at the legendary Bridge of Khazad-Dum, it was almost too much to bear to read of the pain inflicted on our heroes as they left the sacred home of the elves. And what an experience it was! At least as readers we can return to those pages of the book again, and again, and again whenever we feel the need to escape the torrid world of reality. So many descriptions, phrases and unexpected displays of emotion, awe, and even love almost overwhelmed the reader, despite the fact that they may well have read, and experienced, the genius of Tolkien several times in the past. The story starts, quite literally, where volume one ended. Aragon the rest of the party are madly searching for signs of Frodo and Sam whilst simultaneously fighting off a small army of Orcs. It turns out the the hobbits were kidnapped by the Orcs and taken for questioning by Saramon. And so the hunt is on. But the mind of Aragon is just about torn in half by grief, guilt and madness as he struggles to accept recent turn of events with comrades lost in battle and much adored halflings left in his charge either taken by the enemy or lost and presumed drowned in a nearby lake. Soothing words by comrades bring sense to the man destined to rule the West and his mind is back in place as he manages to fend off madness and see the truth for what it is. Frodo and Sam have still got the ring and so Pippin and Merry need to be rescued from the ultimate forces of evil. And all of this is made clear to the reader in the space of the opening chapter! The fields of Rohan don't have the aesthetic quality of Lothlorien, (what does, this side of Heaven?) so Mr Tolkien does not waste words (or time for that matter) telling the reader about something that is not there. The book opens at a fast pace and does not let up. Before you know, Aragorn and his party have caught the foul scent of the Orkan raiding party and hope for a happy reunion soars. Time passes, the sun rises, sets and rises again, but all to no avail. Hope for a successful rescue fade but they soon meet up and befriend the riders of Rohan and discover the foul Orcs they were searching for are slain. But where are the halfings? Are they still alive? Were they mistreated by the foul demon-spawn that are servants of Sarumon (and by extension, the Dark Lord himself?). None of this is my place to reveal. Read these books, you must. Even in the times of almost overwhelming darkness that befall the forces of good in this tragic, epic tale, you will find the ultimate English wordsmith crafting beauty out of the most barren of environments. And what joy do the Elves bring to any story! Legolas, he that is more of a God than an Elf, grace and bless the pages of this book like an Angel sent down from above. Drama, betrayal, even elements of the dreaded Shakespearian tragedy bloom out of the barren fields of Rohan like flower buds in the most desolate desert. Experienced fans of Mr Tolkien will recognise the fact that I am barely five percent through this fantastic tale. But i am completely hooked, and immersed, and totally in love with the world that absorbs my heart, my soul and my mind every time I turn on my kindle, or open my faded paperback copies of this classic. Books are meant to be lived, and not just read. In Tolkien's world, you may well live, love and die in here. But if that is to happen to me, then I could not be happier.