Last Desert

From Tolkien Gateway

The Last Desert was a possibly fictitious place located within the "East of East" where wild Were-worms possibly dwelled.[1]

History[edit]

The Last Desert is mentioned only in The Hobbit. When Bilbo Baggins insisted to Thorin and Company that he was fit to be the burglar on their quest, he said he was willing to travel to the "East of East" which, according to him, was the location of a region known as the "Last Desert" where the wild Were-worms lived.[1] However, this is the only mention of the Last Desert and the Were-worms, and Hobbits (who rarely left the Shire) had an extensive folklore, so the existence of the Last Desert is debatable.[who?][2]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit]

In the earliest drafts of The Hobbit, Bilbo offered to walk from The Shire "to [cancelled: Hindu Kush] the Great Desert of Gobi and fight the Wild Wire worm(s) of the Chinese."[3] In a slightly later version, J.R.R. Tolkien altered this to say "to the last desert in the East and fight the Wild Wireworms of the Chinese",[4] and in the final version it was altered once more to say "to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert."[5].

Although the Last Desert is mentioned only in The Hobbit, there is another mention of the greater region where it was located. In the Quenta Noldorinwa, an early version of The Silmarillion, the first Men were said to have awoke in the land of Eruman, which lay in the "East of East."[6]

Legendary Locations in Arda
Islands:  Meneltarma
Mountains:  Astulat · Mountains of the Moon · Merlock Mountains
 Regions:  Aerie · Belmarie · Fantasie · Last Desert · Sindanórie · Thellamie · Tode
Rivers:  Derrilyn
Other:  Caves of the Forgotten · Gorbelgod

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
  2. Mark Fisher, "Last Desert", The Encyclopedia of Arda (accessed 4 March 2018)
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The First Phase, "The Pryftan Fragment", p. 9
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The First Phase, "The Bladorthin Typescript", p. 40
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "III. The Quenta: [Section] 5"