148

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 our enemies are indeed numerous". Here "fly" means to run away, the same as when Gandalf utters the famous "fly, you fools!".


130

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 she was there, who was there before Sauron, and before the first stone of Barad-dûr; and she served none but herself, drinking the blood of Elves and Men, ...


121

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" schtick was a reference to the fact that a prism splits white light into a spectrum; it is implied that Saruman may have been the first to discover this. "...


114

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 be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in ...


114

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 was burned. Then we plunged into the deep water and all was dark. Cold it was as the tide of death: almost it froze my heart.' 'Deep is the abyss that is ...


114

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 the scenes that he was in, he was actually a four-legged dragon because we just had him stomping through Erebor in all of those flashback scenes," Letteri said. "...


112

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 flying mounts. With their horses gone, their only option was to get new transport or walk back to Mordor -- a very long way! 'You cannot destroy Ringwraiths ...


100

The term "oliphaunt" is not native to Tolkien. It is, in fact, the Midle English version (variations are Old French olifant and olyphaunt) used to describe the animal as well as ivory, and is a direct etymological ancestor of today's "elephant." Tolkien was, ahem, something of an English language nerd, so using archaic terms appealed to him quite a bit. ...


100

It is unclear whether anyone even knew Gandalf was a Maia ...save Elrond, Círdan, and Galadriel themselves. Word of God Tolkien says this in the Unfinished Tales: Wizard is a translation of Quenya Istar: one of the members of an "order" (as they call it), claiming to possess, and exhibiting, eminent knowledge of the history and nature the World. The ...


99

Trolls have turned into stone for a very, very long time One example is the myth about "the seven sisters", which tells the story of how seven trolls in Nordland, Norway, was turned into mountains when the sun rose. The myth was referenced in writing by the poet Peter Dass (1647 - 1707). This peculiar weakness of trolls is again referred to in "Norwegian ...


96

Speaking as a geologist: The Lonely Mountain is probably an extinct volcano. J. R. R. Tolkien depicted the mountain several times in sketches and watercolors, and in most of them the volcano is steep-sided and conical with a flattish peak. One of them clearly shows a crater at the top (http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Back_Door). None of the depictions show ...


90

It's mentioned in his authorised biography that Tolkien had a personal liking of mushrooms, stretching as far back as his idyllic childhood days in Hall Green, Birmingham, the very same memories that supposedly inspired his writings about the Shire. According to his younger brother Hilary Tolkien, his recollection is that a particularly loathsome farmer (...


85

The book does not claim to have recorded this. Before leaving, Frodo gives the book to Sam, inviting him to write the ending - "I have quite finished, Sam," said Frodo. "The last pages are for you." - Book 6, Ch 9, The Grey Havens I think we can assume that the ending was written not as a witnessed record, but rather the way Sam — who loved Frodo ...


84

Because using a sword was effective. (Keep in mind that Balrogs envisioned by Tolkien were not as big as what Peter Jackson depicts in the movies.) 'Do as I say!' said Gandalf fiercely. 'Swords are no more use here. Go!' The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Bridge of Khazad-dûm In the books, Gandalf says that particular line ...


77

Aragorn knew of the dangers of Moria Moria was plain notorious. The name "Moria" itself means The Black Pit in Sindarin. The fall of Khazad-dûm was well-known in Middle-earth, and it became widespread knowledge that there was a nameless terror, or to the Dwarves, Durin's Bane, lurking in the former Dwarven kingdom. So much so that even the Hobbits had heard ...


77

Karen Wynn Fonstad's highly regarded The Atlas of Middle-earth includes a diagram showing a vertical cross section of Moria. In the diagram, the horizontal distance of 20 miles from the guardroom to the bridge appears that to be about 2.5 times the vertical drop from the "First Deep" to the bottom of the abyss. Accounting for the 7:1 exaggeration of height ...


76

Although I don't believe it's ever explicitly stated, I think it's clear that the purpose is to give Sauron's name an air of mystique among his servants, thus instilling a greater fear of Sauron himself. Consider the language that the Orcs in the service of Sauron use to describe the people above them in the hierarchy: 'Whose blame's that?' said the ...


72

Tolkien's works reflect his personal Catholic theology. In Catholicism Satan is seen as the source of all evil, and he introduced evil into God's perfect world by tempting Eve to eat the fateful apple. Catholics see all the evil in the world as being descended (i.e. traceable to) that one original sin. In Middle Earth Melkor is the counterpart of Satan. ...


71

Gollum knows what's common knowledge among the servants of Sauron In the book The Two Towers, Sam asks Gollum more or less the same question as you're asking, in a typically suspicious manner: ‘No, no indeed,’ said Gollum. ‘Hobbits must see, must try to understand. He does not expect attack that way. His Eye is all round, but it attends more to some ...


70

Tolkien wrote on this subject in a letter to a fan. It was his belief that Shadowfax did indeed travel with Gandalf, despite it not being mentioned specifically. I think Shadowfax certainly went with Gandalf [across the Sea], though this is not stated. I feel it is better not to state everything (and indeed it is more realistic, since in chronicles ...


70

Sauron could not read Tom Bombadil’s mind without Tom’s permission, palantír or no palantír. In fact, he could not read anyone’s mind without their permission. Tolkien explains what we would call telepathy as ‘sanwe’, communication from mind to mind. Pengolodh says that all minds (sáma, pl. sámar) are equal in status, though they differ in capacity and ...


70

Tolkien explicitly states (in Chapter 4 - OF HERBS AND STEWED RABBIT) they're much bigger than our latter-day elephants. Sam saw a vast shape crash out of the trees and come careering down the slope. Big as a house, much bigger than a house, it looked to him, a grey-clad moving hill. Fear and wonder, maybe, enlarged him in the hobbit’s ...


69

Because that was the shortest and less dangerous route to go Just to clarify: Gandalf wasn't going by another path to Erebor by himself, he was heading to Dol Guldur with The White Council, and afterwards going back to Bilbo and the Dwarves. The other way round that Gandalf mentions would take the party more time to travel, in addition to being more ...


67

Nazgûl is Black Speech and is translated as Ringwraiths or sometimes Ring-wraiths. Nazg means ring and gûl means wraith/spirit in the broadest of terms. gûl is a loan from the "Black Speech" and refers to evil and necromantic arts. Cf. Nazgûl (nazg-gûl). Parma Eldalamberon XVII, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings"...


65

Elephants have historically come in a wide range of types and sizes, from the pygmy European elephants of Sardinia and Cyprus, all the way up to the gargantuan Asian straight tusked. There are other elephant-like animals that, had they not gone extinct, would probably also be called "elephants" (mammoths, e.g.) The Asian straight tusked, perhaps around 15 ...


63

"Is there something more to [Shelob] that Tolkien may have mentioned?" There's a lot more and it tends to meander into some rather esoteric territory, so bear with me... The ahem inklings of an answer begins, quite literally, in what inspired Tolkien to write LotR: the enigma of éarendel from Cynewulf's Crist. éalá éarendel, engla beorhtast, ofer ...


59

Thorin doesn't tell Bilbo that he has keen eyes because Bilbo found the giant carved dwarf, but rather because he found the secret stairs that led to the top of the dwarf and thus to where the secret keyhole is located.


58

The first question is What kind of being is Shelob? Since she is "in spider-form", she is clearly not an actual spider. She may be some other animal which is similar to a spider, but Tolkien has ways (as we see in his treatment of the flying mounts of the Nazgûl) of suggesting that animals are similar, but not quite the same. Further, his phrasing "in spider-...


49

It’s not eyewitness testimony, it's a literary flourish The most likely perpetrators of this are either Samwise Gamgee, its original author, or J.R.R. Tolkien its translator into English. However, it is possible that this flourish was added during the transcription from the Red Book to the Thain's book or in the final transcription back to the manuscript ...


48

In the book, as well as the movie, there was a main entrance to Erebor—the Front Gate, where the dragon had come in to begin with. When the dwarves first discuss the mission with Bilbo, Thorin mentions that they had considered getting in this way; But we none of us liked the idea of the Front Gate. The river runs right out of it through the great ...


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