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294 votes
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What did Frodo and Sam eat when they crossed Mordor on foot?

They ate stuff they brought with them. As they are about to leave the Tower of Cirith Ungol and entering Mordor, Frodo jokes: I can't go all the way at a run, Sam,' said Frodo with a wry smile. 'I ...
Mark Olson's user avatar
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189 votes
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How is Shelob's name known?

From Letter 144: Shelob (English representing C.S 'she-lob' = female spider) is a translation of Elvish Ungol 'spider'. 'Shelob' is therefore not, strictly speaking, a name, but rather a ...
Victim Of Circumstance's user avatar
178 votes
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What did Frodo mean by "He told me the true story"?

This is partly explained in the introduction. It's basically what these days we would call a retcon. In the originally published version of The Hobbit, Gollum is willing to give the Ring to Bilbo as ...
Daniel Roseman's user avatar
166 votes
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How did Sauron feed the armies of Mordor?

You're not the first to have asked this question; in fact Sam pondered the very same thing on the way to Mount Doom (RotK Book VI Chapter 2: The Land of Shadow): 'I don't like the look of things at ...
Victim of Circumstance's user avatar
159 votes

What unit system does Middle-earth use?

In the appendix titled "Númenórean Linear Measures" of the Disaster of the Gladden Fields chapter of Unfinished Tales, Tolkien goes into some detail about what a league is, and how he '...
LAK's user avatar
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155 votes
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Why is the number of orcs thousands instead of millions in "The Lord of the Rings"?

"Amateurs think tactics, professionals think logistics" The above is a much-repeated quote because it is still relevant. Quite simply, in a pre-industrial setting it is not possible to ...
KerrAvon2055's user avatar
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154 votes
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Who is "He that flies" in Lord of the Rings?

It means "the accounts of people who are scared enough to flee the battle are unreliable because they tend to overestimate the size of the enemy force, but I have spoken to brave men and they confirm ...
Andres F.'s user avatar
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150 votes
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Why did Aragorn call this stranger father?

Definition 4 of “father” from Collins English Dictionary: A respectful term of address for an old man. That is the sense in which Aragorn uses the word, he doesn’t think that the old man is ...
Mike Scott's user avatar
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148 votes
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What lies in Mordor besides Mount Doom and Barad-dur?

Mordor has more than just a mountain and a tower. As you can see from Tolkien's annotated map (bottom), the Mountain of Doom and Tower of Sauron merely make up a small corner of Mordor, namely the ...
Edlothiad's user avatar
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146 votes
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Is Sam Gamgee an orphan?

The "Gaffer" that Sam's refers to is his father, Hamfast "Ham" Gamgee. They appear to be living in a rented Hobbit hole on Bagshot Row, presumable one owned by the Baggins family ...
Valorum's user avatar
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140 votes
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Why didn't Gandalf just fight Smaug directly?

It was not his job. The Istari (wizards) were sent to Middle Earth to oppose Sauron, but to do so by stirring the free people's of Middle Earth to resistance. They were explicitly forbidden from "...
Werrf's user avatar
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138 votes
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What if a MAN actually stabbed the Witch-king instead of Éowyn?

For one thing "Prophecies" in Tolkien's work aren't the "Nostradamus" kind of prophecies that we are used to, it's not a fortune teller saying "you'll meet a tall dark witch-king and end him". Neither ...
Binary Worrier's user avatar
135 votes

Why is Shelob considered evil?

Per Two Towers, Shelob isn't just an unthinking spider, feasting on prey, she's an intelligent creature that is actively seeking out other sentient intelligent beings to murder and eat. But still ...
Valorum's user avatar
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135 votes
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Why was the Balrog beneath Moria

Silmarillion, Chapter XXIV Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath: The Balrogs were destroyed, save some few that fled and hid themselves in caverns inaccessible at the roots of the earth
Yaroslav  Kornachevskyi's user avatar
130 votes

How is Shelob's name known?

"Shelob" probably wasn't her name Fun fact, Sam's name is actually Banazîr and his father Ham is Ranugad. Tolkien's stories are meant to be translations of old books into English. He did, however, ...
isanae's user avatar
  • 11k
128 votes

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

Return of the King, Book IV, Chapter I: The Tower of Cirith Ungol: As he gazed at it suddenly Sam understood, almost with a shock, that this stronghold had been built not to keep enemies out of ...
Victim of Circumstance's user avatar
127 votes
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When Frodo claimed "The One Ring" for himself, did he become a new Dark Lord?

Practically the very next passage after Frodo claims the Ring is one where Sauron detects Frodo. He immediately understands that the plan is to destroy the Ring, and with a certain amount of panic, ...
Radhil's user avatar
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127 votes

Why did Peter Jackson add the Nazgûls attack scene in Bree when it was not present in the original story, nor very important for the plot?

He didn't deviate from the book...much At least one Ring-Wraith does enter Bree in the night and is seen by Merry: "I have seen them Frodo! I have seen them! Black riders!...Here. In the village....
NKCampbell's user avatar
127 votes

Are there any (natural) scientists in Middle-earth?

Saruman Yes, he was evil, since Tolkien was not a great fan of industrialization, but Saruman studied the natural sciences. Specifically, he was familiar with optics. His "Saruman of many colors&...
Adamant's user avatar
  • 117k
124 votes

What does Gandalf the White mean by his strange speech about Boromir?

What Gandalf has to say probably has to be understood from Tolkien's religious point of view. The Lord of the Rings is subtly—but significantly—influenced by the author's devout Catholicism, ...
Buzz's user avatar
  • 98.4k
124 votes
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If Sauron wins eventually without the Ring, why weren't Elrond/Gandalf in panic mode before Frodo showed up?

We can start the clock even further back. It would have been sensible, after Sauron's defeat at the War of the Last Alliance, to take military measures so that his forces could not use Mordor as a ...
alexg's user avatar
  • 5,390
121 votes

What was the value of the Shire and everything in it?

It's a metaphor non-rigorous comparison rather than an evaluation of literal worth. To paraphrase Gandalf's statement "A King would part with lands greater than the shire (and everything therein) for ...
Binary Worrier's user avatar
121 votes

Why didn't Eru stop the Dark Lords from causing trouble in Middle-earth?

It was part of Eru's plan? Eru implied as much to Morgoth at least, when he commented on Morgoth attempting to alter the music that created the world. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may ...
suchiuomizu's user avatar
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121 votes
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How far did Gandalf and the Balrog drop from the bridge in Moria?

Tolkien is not at all specific: 'Long time I fell,' he [Gandalf] said at last, slowly, as if thinking back with difficulty. 'Long I fell, and he [the Balrog] fell with me. His fire was about me. I ...
Mark Olson's user avatar
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120 votes
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What's the big deal about the Nazgûl losing their horses?

The Ringwraiths couldn't fly on their own or teleport. To get from point A (near Rivendell) to point B (Mordor) they had to travel every foot in between. In LotR, they walk, ride horseback and ride ...
Mark Olson's user avatar
  • 41.5k
119 votes
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Why didn't Frodo take a map with him?

They didn't feel that there was a need. I think your assumption that: "all the seasoned adventurers knew they will not follow Frodo to the Mount Doom" is flawed. This is the very reason ...
Cearon O'Flynn's user avatar
117 votes
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Does Aragorn wear pants?

It's hard to tell, but I'd be inclined to suggest he probably wore breeches, which are more like pants than like kilts. Tolkien was actually asked in a letter about what kinds of clothes the people of ...
Jason Baker's user avatar
116 votes
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Why does Smaug have 4 legs in the 1st movie but only 2 legs in the 2nd?

Blame Benedict Cumberbatch, from MTV news: "Originally, the dragon we envisioned was bigger. The idea was to get the fear through his bulk. In fact, if you go back and look at the first film and ...
Ankit Sharma's user avatar
  • 10.4k
115 votes
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What was the tallest structure built in Middle-earth?

It depends what you mean by "structure" In terms of freestanding structures, which I think you are most interested in, it would probably be Barad-dûr with a height of at least (and even perhaps much ...
isanae's user avatar
  • 11k
113 votes

Why doesn't Smaug die in the 2nd Hobbit film if it was titled the 'Desolation of Smaug'?

It means "the desolation caused by Smaug". In the book, this is the description given to the barren area around the Mountain, specifically to the south and west. (The map displays north to ...
Daniel Roseman's user avatar

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