Questions tagged [the-lord-of-the-rings]

For questions about the trilogy of movies or books, 'The Fellowship of the Ring', 'The Two Towers' and 'The Return of the King'. Always use in conjunction with the [tolkiens-legendarium] tag and, for movie questions, the relevant movie tag, e.g. [fellowship-of-the-ring].

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481 votes
17 answers
80k views

Would the One Ring even work for anyone but Sauron?

The temptation of the One Ring, we quickly learn, is always tied up with power: each character's fantasies of possessing it seem to be about what they would do with great power. Even Sam, as I recall, ...
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437 votes
16 answers
103k views

Who or what was Tom Bombadil?

The most iconic of Middle-earth questions: Who or what was Tom Bombadil? Was he an elf? Was he akin to Gandalf, and one of the wizardly stock? Was he something… else?
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342 votes
23 answers
133k views

Why didn't Gandalf or Frodo Fly to Mount Doom?

Why didn't Gandalf use his eagles to fly over Mount Doom and drop the ring? I know he feared what he would do if the ring overpowered him, so why not just give Frodo an eagle? And, if there would be ...
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211 votes
5 answers
243k views

Did Tolkien really explicitly consider Sam the true hero of The Lord of the Rings?

Quoting from Crouching Moron Hidden Badass: Literature on TVTropes (TVTropes link alert!!! Don't tell me I didn't warn you!): Perhaps even more aptly: Samwise Gamgee. His name roughly translates to ...
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184 votes
6 answers
30k views

Was Aragorn's claim to the throne legitimate?

In a recent post to The Toast, Austin Gilkeson argues that Aragorn, son of Arathorn's claim to Gondor's throne is invalid. The author goes into various details, but the core argument is: Gondor’s ...
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179 votes
9 answers
194k views

What does Gandalf mean by "Secret Fire", "Flame of Anor" and "Flame of Udûn"?

In Moria, when Gandalf confronts the Balrog on the bridge of Khazad-dûm, Gandalf says the following: I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass! The dark fire ...
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163 votes
13 answers
97k views

Why didn't Sauron become invisible while wearing the One Ring?

I'm curious as to why Sauron is the only being/person shown wearing the One Ring who does not become invisible? Isildur, Gollum, Bilbo, Frodo, and Samwise all become invisible while wearing the One ...
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148 votes
11 answers
29k views

What is the significance of Saruman's Ring?

At the council of Elrond, Gandalf tells of his encounter with Saruman. But I rode to the foot of Orthanc, and came to the stair of Saruman; and there he met me and led me up to his high chamber. ...
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142 votes
14 answers
32k views

Why is Shelob considered evil?

Shelob is an "evil thing in spider form," according to Tolkien. Now, we know that she is the "last child of Ungoliant to trouble the unhappy world," we know that she is fairly deficient in charm, and ...
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140 votes
4 answers
28k views

Who created the Secret Stairs as a way into Mordor and for what purpose?

Given how there were Orcs guarding the Tower of Círith Ungol at the top of the stairs, we can infer that the existence of these stairways was definitely not a secret. Perhaps the path was meant to ...
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126 votes
11 answers
26k views

Why were the Elves so great at archery?

It seems that there is an underlying assumption (I don't know of an explicit quote to confirm) that Elves in Middle-earth are exceptional archers, compared to other races. Am I correct in that ...
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124 votes
2 answers
22k views

What did Frodo mean by "He told me the true story"?

I'm re-reading the Lord of the Rings saga since 10 to 12 years ago, but something striked me as odd in The Fellowship of the Ring's first chapter: A Long-Expected Party (emphasis is mine): ‘She ...
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115 votes
5 answers
19k views

How many axes did Gimli bring on the quest of the Fellowship?

In the LotR movies, Gimli leaves Rivendell with the Fellowship directly following the Council of Elrond. Yet he seems to have an absurd number of axes with him. One is destroyed when he tries to ...
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111 votes
9 answers
28k views

Which seven kings does Saruman think Gandalf wants to control?

Just before Gandalf breaks his staff and casts him out of the order of Wizards, Saruman has a minor meltdown in which he accuses Gandalf of grabbing power. He makes specific reference to a handful of ...
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108 votes
8 answers
112k views

Why was Gandalf afraid of the Balrog of Morgoth?

As depicted in the film, Gandalf appeared to be shaken and in fear of the Balrog of Morgoth, even just as Saruman mentioned it. Why was this so? Did they have any previous encounters?
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107 votes
7 answers
20k views

Tolkien calls Sauron Morgoth's Greatest Servant - But does he ever really earn that with his actions?

Alright, so there is a great, incredibly well informed community here so let me ask a question that's been bothering me since I finished the Silmarillion. I'll lay out my reasoning for why it's a ...
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106 votes
3 answers
62k views

Who is / was the "Lord of the Rings"?

Who is the Lord, as referred to in the title? Frodo? Sauron? Someone else? Or is it more of an abstract title, not referring to a single person, like "He who wields the One Ring"?
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106 votes
6 answers
48k views

Did Eru Ilúvatar trip Gollum?

The LOTR wiki lists four times Eru Ilúvatar intervened in the history of Arda: creating Elves and Men removing Aman from the spherical Earth resurrecting Gandalf making Gollum trip In a letter ...
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105 votes
5 answers
18k views

How is Shelob's name known?

In Tolkien's world, there are quite a few "magical" beasts that have proper names: dragons for example, like Smaug. One can assume that their names are known either because their creator was ...
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105 votes
7 answers
33k views

Why not let a dwarf carry the One Ring to Mount Doom, since their will cannot be dominated by the rings of power?

As we know, the dwarves did not succumb to the seven rings as men did to the nine - it merely made them even more greedy, stubborn and wrathful: For the Dwarves had proved untameable by this means. ...
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103 votes
6 answers
74k views

Why Does Samwise Gamgee Call Frodo Baggins 'Mr. Frodo'?

I haven't finished my re-read of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (I just finished The Two Towers), but, at least in the movies, Samwise Gamgee consistently refers to Frodo Baggins as "Mr. Frodo." Why ...
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103 votes
7 answers
54k views

Did Peter Jackson ever explain why he left out the Scouring of the Shire?

In the book, while Frodo and the Fellowship were on their quest, the Shire was exploited and almost ruined by Saruman and his cronies. Jackson left this and the triumphant return of Frodo, Sam, and ...
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102 votes
9 answers
32k views

Why is invisibility the power granted by the One Ring?

Why is non-optional invisibility the one active supernatural power granted to non-Sauron wearers of the One Ring? I'm looking for an answer explaining authorial intent, not an in-universe answer. ...
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101 votes
8 answers
25k views

Why didn't Frodo take a map with him?

As the Fellowship departed from the Rivendell, all the seasoned adventurers knew they will not follow Frodo to Mount Doom. So, the optimistic version is Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin going to the Mount ...
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100 votes
14 answers
31k views

Why didn't Saruman take Narya from Gandalf?

We know that Gandalf was given Narya, the Ring of Fire (one of the Elven three), by Círdan the Shipwright. When Saruman imprisoned Gandalf, why did he not attempt to take the ring from him? It would ...
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97 votes
5 answers
26k views

Why weren't the Three Rings for the Elven-kings destroyed as well?

At the end of The Return of the King, after the One Ring is destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, the rings were carried out of Middle-Earth. IIRC it may have been Elrond, Galadriel, and Gandalf ...
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95 votes
6 answers
22k views

Does Aragorn wear pants?

Back when I was reading LOTR in Russian, I remember fans arguing over the issue of whether Aragorn wore pants (or rather, using the British term, trousers), or not - what I later learned was a major ...
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95 votes
6 answers
18k views

How does Gandalf (or anyone) know how to destroy the Ring?

The only way to destroy the Ring is by throwing it into the fire of Orodruin. This fact doesn't seem to be common knowledge and many people in the story (like Gimli) only learn about it at the council ...
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94 votes
9 answers
128k views

What are Gandalf's powers?

Gandalf is a wizard. He is also the Tolkien equivalent of a mortal angel (if I understand what the Maiar are correctly.) What are his powers though? Specifically what magics does he use in The Hobbit ...
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94 votes
10 answers
17k views

Why aren't there any sieges in Lord of The Rings?

In the few cases a fortification is attacked (Helm's Deep, Minas Tirith), the attackers don't besiege them, they start an assault as soon as they arrive. In real life, assaults were only done when, ...
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94 votes
6 answers
168k views

How is Gandalf the White a "significantly more powerful figure" than Gandalf the Gray?

After his fight with the Balrog of Moria, Gandalf changed: Gandalf was sent back as a significantly more powerful figure; Gandalf the White. - "Gandalf - Gandalf the White", Wikipedia What are ...
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92 votes
3 answers
14k views

Why would Shelob own Sauron?

In Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, in the chapter Shelob’s Lair, there is a rather lengthy description of Shelob, the last remaining child of Ungoliant in Middle-Earth. In this, there is also a ...
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91 votes
4 answers
18k views

What was Sauron's plan for a Middle-earth conquered and ruled by him?

I have watched only the movies but the question is about Sauron in the books. Sauron is said to be an aggressor who wants to conquer Middle-earth and bring all the people living in it under his ...
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91 votes
6 answers
18k views

What does Gandalf intend to chat with Tom Bombadil about?

Close to the end of The Return of the King, Gandalf tells one of the Hobbits that it's time for him to go and have a long talk with Tom Bombadil. Was there anything significant to this talk? Does ...
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90 votes
8 answers
29k views

Why didn't Sauron guard Mount Doom?

This fact had always bugged me. When Frodo finally goes to the Cracks of Doom he is met with practically no resistance. This seems uncharacteristic of Sauron which in my humble opinion makes it a tiny ...
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90 votes
6 answers
239k views

Is there a hidden significance behind the fact Galadriel gave 3 hairs to Gimli instead of one?

I just saw an interesting interpretation of Galadriel's gift to Gimli on Reddit today, I retraced the source of the image to this tumblr post: If you’ve read the Silmarillion, you know who ...
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90 votes
7 answers
20k views

Why did the Fellowship not choose to pass the Misty Mountains further north or south?

At the Council of Elrond, it is known that: Saruman is a traitor, thus it’s not possible for the Ring to pass through the gap of Rohan Nobody has heard any news of Balin and Moria for a long time; ...
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89 votes
14 answers
77k views

Are orcs and goblins really the same thing?

Are orcs and goblins really the same in The Hobbit and LotR, and where does it say that? Are they variant sub-races or something, explaining the different physical attributes? Or is my assumption they ...
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  • 1,358
89 votes
4 answers
20k views

Why Does Gandalf Think Rohan Should "Stand and Fight"?

In the Two Towers film adaptation (it has been about a decade since I read the book, so if there are differences, I'd like to know about them), Gandalf derisively sneers: They flee to the mountains ...
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87 votes
7 answers
330k views

Why didn't Gimli know Moria had fallen?

Between Gandalf's fear of Moria, and the amount of time that has obviously passed (due to the condition of the remains of the dwarves in Moria), why is Gimli so unaware of the fall of his kin? At ...
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86 votes
2 answers
16k views

What's the big deal about the Nazgûl losing their horses?

I have only watched the movies and I am currently reading The Fellowship of the Ring (haven't finished it yet, I am at "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"). A number of times we see characters such ...
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85 votes
8 answers
24k views

Why did Gollum ever take off the ring in the first place?

Bilbo was able to take the ring because Gollum had taken it off. If you had the ring, and were accustomed to wearing it, why would you ever take it off anyway?
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85 votes
7 answers
61k views

Was the "Eye of Sauron" Sauron's actual physical form?

During the time frame of The Lord of the Rings, was the Eye of Sauron Sauron's actual physical form? If not, what form did he have?
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85 votes
4 answers
519k views

Why did all the Ringbearers leave Middle-earth in the end?

At the end of The Return of the King, Frodo, Bilbo, Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel left Middle-earth on a ship, along with other elves. I named those five because they were all ringbearers and it ...
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84 votes
3 answers
27k views

How did Sauron feed the armies of Mordor?

According to TolkienGateway.net, Mordor's troops consisted of some 18,000 Easterlings and Haradrim, several Haradrim war Oliphaunts, and tens of thousands of Orcs just for the Battle of the Pelennor ...
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84 votes
6 answers
83k views

Which are the Two Towers in The Lord of the Rings?

I always wondered which are the two towers that are referred to in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. My memory is a bit hazy right now but there are at least 5 Towers that are mentioned in the ...
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84 votes
8 answers
180k views

What is the true origin of the Orcs?

There are a bunch of theories about the true origin of the Orcs. Tolkien tried out a few different origins for his Orcs throughout his life but died before he could fully revise The Silmarillion with ...
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83 votes
5 answers
19k views

Do the books ever say oliphaunts aren’t elephants?

In a comment here, Valorum states "Zero elephants. Several Oliphaunts". Which made me wonder: is there anything in Tolkien's writings to support the notion that Oliphaunts are not elephants? The ...
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83 votes
11 answers
63k views

Why didn't Sauron fight in the final battle?

As depicted in the trilogy: Sauron did not lead his army to Minas Tirith He did not defend the gates of Mordor from Aragon's army In fact, he was never physically involved in (any) battle ever since ...
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82 votes
6 answers
18k views

Where does Gandalf Live?

Does Gandalf have his own home or does he just live where he goes? Is there a place that he prefers to live and calls home most of all?
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