A Two Towers Jigsaw Diversion

It may interest you to know that the only piece of Peter Jackson movie-related paraphernalia I actually own is a jigsaw puzzle. Specifically, a thousand-piece Two Towers-themed one. I received it as a Birthday/Christmas present around 2003 or so, and for old time’s sake I decided to dust it off, and work on it with some puzzle-loving acquaintances. It had been a good decade or more since I last did it, and I can happily report that there are no missing pieces, even after all these years.

It’s not an overly tough challenge, of course, but it is primarily notable for essentially being several puzzles in one. Locations from Jackson’s Rings adaptation are featured in miniature – ‘The Battle of Helm’s Deep,’ the Argonath, Fangorn, Minas Tirith, Edoras, Isengard, Rivendell, ‘the Black Gates of Mordor,’ and ‘Edoras Castle’, plus images of the One Ring and the Eye of Sauron. And the title, in gold letters.

(Yes, the errors are vaguely infuriating. The image of the ‘Black Gates of Mordor’ is not the Morannon, but rather the gates of Minas Morgul. Meduseld should not be called a castle, seeing as it is just a mead hall. The book-reading pedant in me would prefer it if it were just ‘Helm’s Deep’, or ‘the Battle of the Hornburg’. I’m also not sure why a Two Towers-themed jigsaw would feature the Argonath, Rivendell, and Minas Tirith. But oh well).

Anyway, after a couple of evenings’ work, the puzzle is now complete. Here’s the appropriate image:

Some of the images are easier to complete than others, of course.

Isengard and ‘the Black Gates of Mordor’/Minas Morgul are probably the easiest, being relatively small and mostly distinctive. The latter has a black portion to the left, but you can just work around that. The One Ring is bigger, but it too is not too bad, since the gold and white pieces are pretty easy to spot in the piece pile, and it is handily convenient to the border of the puzzle. Most of the Argonath is pretty easy too – especially the statues – but it has the dark cliff on the left to complicate things.

Edoras and ‘Edoras Castle’/Meduseld are a bit nastier. The former because of its central location, and more importantly because of the copious clear blue sky. Sure, the sky cannot be confused with the sky in the other images, but that’s a lot of very plain blue to figure out. The latter has some deceptively confusing architecture, and the bright sky is not massively distinctive on first glance from the Argonath. Sorting through those differing sky pieces can be a headache.

The nastiest two images are probably Rivendell and Fangorn. The former is big, has lots of unhelpful black around the sides, and the easiest entry point, the sky over the waterfall, also needs to be differentiated from the Argonath’s sky. Fangorn is surprisingly evil for such a small image – the problem being that there is copious darkness, and the stuff that isn’t dark is easy to confuse with parts of Helm’s Deep, or even the mountains in the Edoras picture.

(Oh, and then there’s Minas Tirith. Which shares a green border with Helm’s Deep, and is also predominantly dark. A big part of this overall puzzle is figuring out which black pieces belong in which image).

As an aside, the border itself – otherwise a collection of runic images – becomes a good deal easier once you realise the differences between the four sides. One side has tengwar lettering touching the runic border, one side has tengwar not touching the runic border, one side has bureaucratic wording, and the other has neither tengwar nor bureaucracy.

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