In Fellowship of the Ring, at the Lothlorien - the place of Galadriel - the Fellowship received gifts from Galadriel. Legolas received the Bow of Galadrim replacing his current bow, the Bow of Mirkwood. Now what is the importance of giving a new bow to Legolas? Since it is the same weapon, and the only difference is the color of the bow.

The Bow of Mirkwood

The Bow of Galadhrim

As you can see it is the same use of weapon.The only difference is the color.

  • 36
    You can also see that it's not the same. Difference may seem as purely cosmetic, but one must see that the appearance of wooden objects changes with the type of wood and the treatment, and, I imagine, so do the properties - e.g. tensile strength, durability, weight, which affect accuracy and the power of a bow. Apr 27, 2017 at 17:28
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    How about this. She was very proud of their own bows, so she gave one to Legolas 'cause she thought it was better (even if it wasn't) Apr 27, 2017 at 19:51
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    It's kind of weird to keep judging just for the looks in a world in which people pays hundreds of dollars to change an iPhone for a newer one - which looks exactly the same. Apr 28, 2017 at 2:43
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    I don't understand why you say it's the same. Yes, it's a bow, but apart from that it could be completely different and much better than his original one. You can't tell that they're the same just by looking at them! They could look exactly the same in size and color but be made of different wood or just wood treated in a different manner and so have completely different properties.
    – terdon
    Apr 28, 2017 at 11:04
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    A Stradivarius looks just like any other violin... until you hold it in your own hands. Apr 28, 2017 at 11:38

2 Answers 2


Legolas' Mirkwood bow was relatively short, and not especially powerful or long-ranged. From Fellowship:

Arrows fell among them. One struck Frodo and sprang back. Another pierced Gandalf's hat and stuck there like a black feather


Legolas turned and set an arrow to the string, though it was a long shot for his small bow.

We can see here that orc bows were powerful and accurate enough to reach the Fellowship at ranges where Legolas' bow would apparently struggle. Later, we get a description of the bow Galadriel gives him:

To Legolas, she gave a bow such as the Galadhrim used, longer and stouter than the bows of Mirkwood, and strung with a string of elf-hair. With it went a quiver of arrows.

A longer, stouter bow is almost by definition going to be more powerful than the short-ranged affair he had been using up to that point. It's not explicit that there was some form of 'magic' in the bow, but given what we know about other elven artefacts it seems likely; in which case, what with the Galadhrim being closer to the elven power of old, one can imagine it has greater virtues than the relatively mundane weapon from Mirkwood.

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    At short range, yes - at least, enough to penetrate crappy moria-orc armour.
    – Werrf
    Apr 27, 2017 at 17:49
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    The bow of Mirkwood was a weapon well suited to the dense forest he grew up in where line of sight was likely less than 30m. But shooting 70 to 90m requires something "stouter".
    – Verdan
    Apr 27, 2017 at 18:28
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    @anakindchosenone05192005 Only in the film, in which Legolas' abilities were hyped far beyond sanity. But even in the films, the orc he shot from across the chasm was almost unarmoured, while Legolas would soon be going up against heavily-armoured Uruk-hai -a more powerful bow would be needed.
    – Werrf
    Apr 27, 2017 at 20:24
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    The performance difference between a good and not so good bow, if both made by professional artisans, might not be very much at all - all else being equal. But a replacement would at least be new, as opposed to used and somewhat worn out. Apr 28, 2017 at 9:37
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    Mirroring @Verdan, Growing up I hunted deer in the woods and fields around our ranch. In the woods I used a 444 marlin lever action which had great power at a short distance but no accuracy at range. Needed to be able to glance off small branches with minimum deflection. When hunting in the open fields I used a 7mm magnum which was very precise at long range.
    – mccainz
    Apr 28, 2017 at 13:46

The difference essentially is like urban combat present day in real war calls for a smaller and more easily maneuvered firearm such as an AR-15, whereas a true ranged warfare artist not entwined in the urban structures (or the dense mirkwoods) would use a larger more powerful firearm such as a 308 Lapua Magnum

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    Perhaps you mean .338 Lapua? In any case, I don't think any firearms were available to Legolas.
    – Deolater
    Apr 28, 2017 at 13:12
  • Sorry I had a type for caliber. I am quite aware of the lack of current weapons but thoughts a more current example may be best used to show the difference Apr 28, 2017 at 13:47
  • I'm okay with this answer, but you'll find around here that people want Tolkien answers in Tolkien's Legendarium Apr 28, 2017 at 15:08
  • I like this answer. It shows how Tolkien put a lot of thought into his works by showing a real world corollary.
    – A Bailey
    Apr 28, 2017 at 16:56
  • Thanks A Bailey. I just wanted to put some in my answer because I figured that would helps some folks from wondering why Tolkien made the Mirkwood bows inferior when it was him being so precise in detail as to include tactical aspects most authors would never consider. Apr 29, 2017 at 4:58

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