Was Gwaihir the “Great Eagle” in The Hobbit?

Eagles

On my first few readings of The Hobbit I paid no attention to the possible connection between the Lord of the Eagles, who rescues the Hobbit and the Dwarves from a fiery forest, and Gwaihir, the Eagle who saves Gandalf three times in The Lord of the Rings.

Yet, the more I read the books, the more I found it unquestionable that the creature was one and the same in both stories. Continue reading

Snow-Trolls and Stone-Giants in Middle-earth

La dix-neuvième Caravane des Dominicains d'Arcueil. [With a deThe evidence for the existence of both snow-rolls and stone-giants haunting the deep, shadowy passes of Middle-earth is, at best, poor.

To begin with, we have a stronger argument in favour of giants. Continue reading

From Gondolin to Trollshaws: Glamdring, Orcrist and Sting

sting

© Warner Bros. & MGM Studios

Three Elven swords were forged in Gondolin during the First Age, and presumably lost after the fall of this city as recounted in The Silmarillion. Glamdring, Orcrist and Sting make their proper appearance in The Hobbit in the lair of the three trolls, some 6,462 years later and just under 1,900 miles away from their original place of forging.

How and when could these swords have been carried such a long distance through three ages of wars, plunder and cataclysmic events? Continue reading

Northern Courage, Ofermōde and Thorin Oakenshield’s last stand

Thorin 1

Northern Courage

Tolkien was fascinated by the concept he called “the theory of courage”, which exemplified one of the highest qualities in the literary Northern hero: that of unflinching courage, steadfast resolve and sheer determination of will in the face of impossible odds. Continue reading

Explained: Dragon-talk and Dragon-sickness

Smaug

I thought it would be a good idea to spend just a few minutes understanding the concept of “dragon-talk” and “dragon-sickness”. I have always found that many people confuse the two as being one and the same. Moreover, with the advent of the film trilogy, this distinction between them seems to have disappeared completely.

So, whilst I claim to be no Tolkien expert, here’s my take on the issue.

Continue reading

Wind on the Withered Heath

withered heath (map)

Whence come the dragons …

Within Tolkien’s works there are only two instances in which the Withered Heath is mentioned, and both come from The Hobbit.

The first (and only) time we get to know about this place is from a comment made by Thorin during the ‘Unexpected Party’.

“And I know where Mirkwood is, and the Withered Heath where the great dragons bred.”

The Hobbit, ‘An Unexpected Party’

Whilst my curious reader-appetite has been satisfied, I’ve always wanted to know more about this particular location in Middle-earth. Continue reading

Salmar: The Forgotten Maia

Salmar

Researching and Speculating on Tolkien

As I have often remarked on this blog, one of the great things about Tolkien’s works is the large number of mysteries and questions he has left unanswered; mysteries that can be picked up by any reader and researched to their heart’s content: looking for clues and cross-referencing over the thousands of pages of Middle-earth material, trying to dig up further information.

You may have read The Silmarillion numerous times and yet, with every new read, you discover something new. I know this because it happens to me. It has happened to me right now as I’m beginning my 10th or 11th re-read of the book and came across the oft forgotten character of Salmar. Continue reading