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In the movies, we see Legolas performing some skillful displays of balance. Here are just a few I remember at the moment:

  • Walking on snow when the fellowship were travelling through Caradhras (Fellowship of the Ring).
  • Climbing on the chain to stand on the shoulders of the cave troll in the Mines of Moria (Fellowship of the Ring).
  • Grabbing the reins of the horse when attacking Wargs (Two Towers)
  • 'Shieldboarding' down the stairs while loosing arrows into the Urak-hai at Helms Deep (Two Towers).
  • Single-handedly taking down a Mûmakil (or Oliphaunt) and its riders, much to the dismay of Gimli (Return of the King).

Apart from the first one, which I believe is in the novel, the others I mentioned were definitely for entertainment value in the movies, but I'm not sure if they also occurred in the novel. Does he in fact do these deft feats (or anything similar) in the novel itself?

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The short answer is "no": these are mostly movie inventions.

As you say, the snow-walking does occur, but that's the only one.

The scene in Balin's tomb is somewhat different in the books, and the troll is not even present in the main battle. Instead the battle is a much shorter affair instead of the extended scene of the movie, and is fully described as follows:

The affray was sharp, but the orcs were dismayed by the fierceness of the defence. Legolas shot two through the throat. Gimli hewed the legs from under another that had sprung up on Balin's tomb. Boromir and Aragorn slew many. When thirteen had fallen the rest fled shrieking.

The warg attack in Two Towers doesn't even happen at all in the books, and at Helm's Deep Legolas functions as just another warrior: the only thing of note is his contest with Gimli for who kills the most Orcs.

As for the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, the sole mention of Legolas is his arrival with Aragorn on the Black Ships:

There came Legolas, and Gimli wielding his axe, and Halbarad with the standard, and Elladan and Elrohir with stars on their brow, and the dour-handed Dunedain, Rangers of the North, leading a great valour of the folk of Lebennin and Lamedon and the fiefs of the South.

The only other feat of note that he does do in the books (and which doesn't occur in the movies) is rope-walking on the way to Lórien:

'Celebrant is already a strong stream here, as you see,' said Haldir 'and it runs both swift and deep, and is very cold. We do not set foot in it so far north, unless we must. But in these days of watchfulness we do not make bridges. This is how we cross! Follow me!' He made his end of the rope fast about another tree, and then ran lightly along it, over the river and back again, as if he were on a road.

'I can walk this path,' said Legolas; 'but the others have not this skill. Must they swim?'

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    Actually, there is a cave-troll involved in the fight in Moria: [Gandalf] ‘There are Orcs, very many of them,’ he said. ‘And some are large and evil: black Uruks of Mordor. For the moment they are hanging back, but there is something else there. A great cave-troll, I think, or more than one. There is no hope of escape that way.’ Other than that, you're right. – Joe L. Feb 3 '15 at 22:53
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    "A great cave-troll, I think" - couldn't that be referring to what later turned out to be the Balrog? – Rand al'Thor Feb 3 '15 at 23:05
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    @JoeL. --- the troll isn't present in the main battle. It tries to enter the chamber of Mazarbul, and Frodo stabs it. It plays no role after that. – Ian Thompson Feb 3 '15 at 23:08
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    What @IanThompson said. It was also explicitly stated to be "a huge orc-chieftain, almost man-high" that stabbed Frodo. (Interesting aside: the description of this orc - "His broad flat face was swart, his eyes were like coals, and his tongue was red; he wielded a great spear" - is very reminiscent of Tolkien's original description of the Balrog in HoME7: "They could see the furnace-fire of its yellow eyes from afar; its arms were very long; it had a red [?tongue]"). – user8719 Feb 3 '15 at 23:16
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    @Holger - I personally think they're excessive given what was written about him in the books, but I'm not going to conclude anything more specific than that. – user8719 Feb 4 '15 at 10:02

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