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Two-headed Trolls

"Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless?" - Tom Bombadil
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
Stephen King - "Two-headed" Troll
"Yes, I am afraid trolls do behave like that, even those with only one head each."
Roast Mutton

Two-headed Trolls might have been a legendary race of Trolls, whose possible existence is fleetingly suggested in a chronicle of the Quest of Erebor, commenting on William wiping his lips on his sleeve.[1]

If this statement was not merely a way of speaking, perhaps there were indeed Trolls in Middle-earth that, unlike the Stone-trolls, had at least two heads.

Contents

[edit] Inspiration

Commenting on the above remark, John D. Rateliff has noted that trolls "with multiple heads appear in many stories", especially pointing to George Webbe Dasent's "Soria Moria Castle".[2]

In many fantasy settings, but also some adaptations of Middle-earth, there are two-headed monsters, which usually are called Ettin(s).[3][4][5] C.S. Lewis was perhaps the one who introduced the trope, mentioning the ettins of Ettinsmoor, some of which have two heads.[6] Tolkien used the English word ettin in the names Ettenmoors and Ettendales probably as another name for Trolls, but there is not indication he associated them with two-headed creatures.[note 1]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

1982-97: Middle-earth Role Playing:

Although neither a race of "Two-headed" Trolls nor Ettin/Ettens are mentioned, there exists an individual monster called Skessa, a cross-breed between a troll and giant, having two heads.[7]

1995-8: Middle-earth Collectible Card Game:

"'Two-headed' Troll" is a Warrior Ally for evil players.

1998-2004: Middle-earth Online:

Ettins, a race of two-headed trolls, was intended to be included in the game.[8]

2002-5: The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game:

Ettens resemble the Hill-trolls, but they possess "not one but two long heads". The solitary creatures, a result of an ancient experiment by Morgoth, live almost exclusively in the Ettenmoors.[9]

2017: Middle-earth: Shadow of War:

The Overlord of the Núrnen region of Mordor is an Olog named Ranger, who poses as a Troll with two heads. In reality, the second head is that of the Uruk Ratbag the Coward, who is riding on Ranger's back and wearing a large helmet to conceal his identity.

Notes

  1. The word is etymologically related to Ent.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Roast Mutton"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The Second Phase, "Trolls", p. 99 (note 9)
  3. Dungeons and Dragons (1977), Monster Manual; see further Ettin (Dungeons & Dragons) at Wikipedia
  4. Ettins at Ultima Wiki.
  5. Ettin at World of Warcraft Wiki (accessed 15 November 2010)
  6. Ettins in Narnia Wiki
  7. Zachariah Woolf (1995), Lake-town (#2016)
  8. Roundup 12.1 (02-09-2004) at My.lotro.com (accessed 16 November 2010)
  9. Scott Bennie, Mike Mearls, Steve Miller, Aaron Rosenberg, Chris Seeman, Owen Seyler, and George Strayton (2003), Fell Beasts and Wondrous Magic
Legendary Races of Arda
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Dragon-kind:  Great glow-worms · Sea-serpents · Spark-dragons · Were-worms
Evil Races:  Giants · Gongs · Half-trolls · Hobgoblins · Ogres · Snow-trolls · Two-headed Trolls
Fairies:  Dryads · Leprechauns/Leprawns · Mermaids · Sprites · Sylphs · White cow
Other:  Badger-folk · Great beasts · Lintips · Mewlips · Nameless Things · Spectres
Individuals:  The Hunter · Lonely Troll · Man in the Moon · The Rider · River-woman · Tarlang · Tim