When Frodo was in the Barrow, He sang Bombadil's rhyme. This rhyme summoned Bombadil to help them. How was Bombadil able to come within a moments notice? If Bombadil was at his house wouldn't it take time for him to get to the Barrow? Was he following Frodo and company?

There was a sudden deep silence, in which Frodo could hear his heart beating. After a long slow moment he heard plain, but far away, as if it was coming down through the ground or through thick walls, an answering voice singing.

How was Tom able to respond after only a moment?

  • 1
    Can someone please leave a comment to explain why my question was down voted? May 12, 2013 at 15:43
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    I didn't downvote but I guess it has to do with you asking a literal interpretation of a trope from fairy tales. Tom here is acting like a folklore creature/fairy, and responds to his rhyme as he promised he would. It's a fairy tale element. What else is there to understand? It's like asking why he wears a hat: he just does.
    – Andres F.
    May 12, 2013 at 16:16
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    I think it is pretty obvious from the description of Tom that he exists outside of the normal rules experienced by the other characters.
    – DQdlM
    May 12, 2013 at 23:05
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    Additionally, he is the fastest creature in the world, if his songs are to be believed. "None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master. His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster." ;)
    – Sconibulus
    May 13, 2013 at 12:33
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    @Sconibulus you should put that as an answer. May 13, 2013 at 12:44

4 Answers 4


The idea that Tom can effectively "teleport" anywhere he wants in his domain is probably correct, but there's also a possibility that Tom may have either followed the hobbits or just been wandering in the area.

After Tom recalls their ponies and announces that he's going to accompany them towards Bree, he also says this:

'I've got things to do, my making and my singing, my talking and my walking, and my watching of the country. Tom can't be always near to open doors and willow-cracks. Tom has his house to mind, and Goldberry is waiting.'

I've bolded the relevant part here, which implies in Tom's own words that he was somehow nearby. Of course, this may not be literally nearby (i.e. Tom's definition of "nearby" in this context may just mean that he was being attentive for the hobbits' call) but the suggestion is definitely there.

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    "Of course, this may not be literally nearby" I like this train of thought; we know that Bombadil is absent minded about the world and careless, which is why Gandalf does not go to him for help. So that suggestion is support later on with comments made at the Council of Elrond.
    – Alex Deas
    Sep 24, 2015 at 12:32

The thing to remember is that no one is 100% sure of what Tom Bombadil actually is- the only thing we know is that he is very, very old. The top answer for this question ( Who or what was Tom Bombadil? ) suggests he might be a deity. If you're a god, it seems to me that you can get anywhere you want, whenever you want.

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    +1 Plus this is a part of the books that most resembles a fairy tale or a folklore tale. Magical creatures respond to special calls, no other explanation needed!
    – Andres F.
    May 12, 2013 at 16:20

Another answer is to point more at what he is; He is described as be inexorably linked to the Old Forest. Going along with his undefined origin it could be presumed that he is the reason the Old Forest exists, and vice versa. Without one there wouldn't be the other. Which fits in with the concerns with leaving the Ring with Tom. Eventually Sauron would descend upon the Old Forest and destroy it, along with Tom, although it's never said that Sauron would face Tom outright (as combat).

After that start, the simple answer is; if called within Old Forest area that Tom is "Master" of, he doesn't just come, he is already there. Outside of the Old Forest, he simply doesn't exist as it's outside of his Realm.

  • McFuu: May I ask, have you anything to back this up or is it just your personal opinion? May 13, 2013 at 12:36
  • The Old Forest is a remnant of Fangorn. Fellowship of the Ring mentions this at some point. It said that a squirrel could go from tree to tree all the way from the Brandywine to Isengard. May 13, 2013 at 12:44

This seems to me like an example of faerie magic, like lots of other magic in Middle-earth. Only occasionally are visible effects used, such as lighting logs on fire or yanking weapons telekinetically away. It is more often the kind of magic woven into things, like the elven cloaks in Fellowship of the Ring, Farewell to Lorien:

‘Are these magic cloaks?’ asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.

‘I do not know what you mean by that,’ answered the leader of the Elves. ‘They are fair garments, and the web is good, for it was made in this land. They are Elvish robes certainly, if that is what you mean...

Now imagine Tom providing a summoning "spell" they can use. Would it compel Tom to appear, like conjuring a demon within a magic circle? No, because Tom is the "master" and would know whether aid was really needed. Maybe he was loitering in the general area. Maybe he was just ultra-fast. But the real answer is magic, and one ought not examine it too closely to find how it is actually not possible, or look for mechanics as to how it works, as that would spoil the magic.

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