Trolls

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Trolls
Race
J.R.R. Tolkien - The Three Trolls are turned to Stone (Colored by H.E. Riddett).jpg
"The Three Trolls are turned to Stone" by J.R.R. Tolkien (coloured by H.E. Riddett)
General Information
Other namestorog (S; singular)
olog (BS; singular)
OriginsDevised or corrupted by Morgoth in the First Age (believed by Treebeard to be "made in mockery" of Ents)
LocationsBeleriand
Southern Mirkwood
Mordor
Ettenmoors
Trollshaws
Moria
AffiliationOriginally Morgoth; later Sauron
RivalriesEnts
LanguagesBlack Speech (Olog-hai)
Debased form of Westron
PeopleSee below
MembersWilliam Huggins
Tom
Bert
Physical Description
LifespanUnknown
DistinctionsStrong beasts with limited intellect
Average heightLarge; some being at least twelve feet tall (3.66 meters and above)[1]
Skin colorDark, with greenish scales
GalleryImages of Trolls

Trolls were a race of large humanoid creatures of limited intellect. They were strong and vicious, but some of them could not endure sunlight and turned to stone when exposed to it, which rendered them permanently lifeless[2].

History[edit | edit source]

First Age[edit | edit source]

Origins[edit | edit source]

Morgoth devised or corrupted Trolls during the First Age ("twilight of the Elder Days").[3] Their exact origins are unknown, though Treebeard believed that Trolls were made by the Dark Lord "in mockery of Ents", similar to the belief that Orcs were a twisted parody of the Elves.[4][note 1] Whatever their exact origins were, Trolls were dull and lumpish, and at least in their beginning, were as inarticulate as animals.[3]

Nirnaeth Arnoediad[edit | edit source]

Troll guard by Joel Kilpatrick

The participation of Trolls in the War of the Jewels was not recorded in the tales of the Elder Days until F.A. 472,[5] when the Battle of Unnumbered Tears took place.

The hosts of Angband attacked and killed all of the rearguard of the brothers Húrin and Huor and the remnant of the Men of the House of Hador from Dor-lómin except Húrin at the river Rivil.

When Húrin was the last man standing, he threw away his shield and gripped his axe with both hands. A song tells that his axe smoked in the black blood of the Troll-guard of Gothmog, the Lord of Balrogs and the High-captain of Angband until at last he was taken alive by Orcs by Morgoth's command, being bound by Gothmog and dragged to Angband.[6]

Second and Third Ages[edit | edit source]

Later on, Sauron taught them the little that they were able to learn and increased their intelligence with wickedness. As a consequence, the Trolls learned as much language as they could from the Orcs. In the Westlands Stone-trolls spoke a debased form of Westron. The Olog-hai only spoke the Black Speech of Barad-dûr.[3]

Since days before memory Trolls settled in the north of the Misty Mountains, in particular near the Ettenmoors. The realm of Angmar was founded in their area, and while it lasted (c. T.A. 13001975) the Trolls' numbers increased, as did their wickedness. After the fall of Angmar, the Trolls retreated to the east of the Misty Mountains, but 300 years before the War of the Ring they returned to Eriador. They managed to make dens in the hills as far west as the North Downs despite the efforts of the Rangers of the North to watch the area.

In the time of Arador, the 14th Chieftain of the Dúnedain, a band of Trolls threatened his house in the woods near the river Hoarwell north of the Trollshaws.[7] In T.A. 2930[8] hill-trolls captured Arador in the north of Rivendell and killed him.[9]

In the Third Age, Sauron bred a new race of Trolls, which were called Olog-hai in the Black Speech. In contrast to the older race of Trolls from the First Age the Olog-hai could bear exposure to sunlight as long as they were controlled by the will of Sauron. They were cunning, strong, agile, fierce, harder than stone and spoke little. The Olog-hai were first seen at the end of the Third Age in southern Mirkwood and in the mountain borders of Mordor.[3]

The Quest for Erebor[edit | edit source]

Bilbo and the Three Trolls by Justin Gerard

In T.A. 2941,[10] Thorin and Company encountered Bert, Tom and Bill, three Trolls who had come down from the mountains and eaten a number of Men equivalent to village and a half, who probably stopped there on their way through the area, as well as sheep.

The trolls captured Bilbo and the Dwarves, but Gandalf returned in time to keep the trolls go on arguing how to cook the Dwarves by impersonating the voices of the Trolls from a place of hiding until the first lights of the morning sun came over the hill and turned the trolls to stone. Afterwards Thorin and Company discovered the cave of the trolls and took the swords Glamdring and Orcrist, the knife Sting, gold coins and food from the cave.[11]

It is not known how the trolls had gotten the sword, but Elrond guessed that the Trolls had robbed other robbers or had found them in a hold in the mountains as remnants of old robberies.[12]

The War of the Ring[edit | edit source]

When the fiftieth birthday of Frodo Baggins was getting near, probably early in the year T.A. 3018[13] rumors had reached the Shire that Trolls were abroad, more cunning than normal and armed with dreadful weapons.[14] By T.A. 3018 when Aragorn and the Hobbits were attacked on Weathertop[15] the land east of Weathertop was uninhabited and had been deserted, because Trolls sometimes came down from the northern valleys of the Misty Mountains.[16] At that time Trolls still lived in the Ettendales,[17] the valleys of the Ettenmoors, which ran up to the foothills of the Misty Mountains far north of Rivendell[18].

On 18 October T.A. 3018, Aragorn and the Hobbits found a path in the Trollshaws, which had probably been made by the three Trolls, followed it and discovered that it led to the cave of the trolls and then on to the clearing in the woods not far below the cave where the three trolls that had been turned to stone still stood.[19]

Troll slayer by Jan Pospíšil

On 15 January T.A. 3019,[20][21] the Fellowship of the Ring was attacked in the Chamber of Mazarbul by a cave-troll and Orcs. When Boromir hewed at the arm of the troll which came through a gap in the door with his sword, his sword was notched, glanced aside and fell from his hand. However the troll retreated when Frodo stabbed it in the foot with his sword Sting.[22]

In the early hours of 15 March T.A. 3019,[23] in the siege of Minas Tirith mountain-trolls walked behind the great hundred-foot long battering ram Grond to the Great Gate of Minas Tirith and swung Grond four times against the gate until the gate broke.[24]

On 25 March T.A. 3019,[25] at the beginning of the Battle of the Morannon the Army of the West consisting of forces of Gondor and Rohan was attacked on the Slag-hills before the Black Gate of Mordor by a great company of hill-trolls from Gorgoroth with huge round bucklers and heavy hammers. Pippin managed to fell the chief of the Trolls by stabbing him with his Barrow-blade when the troll tried to bite the throat of Beregond who had fallen down after having been stunned by the monster.[26]

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Trolls were taller and broader than men[26] with a height of twelve feet or more[1]. They had dark skin with greenish scales, large flat toeless feet[22][27] and knotted hands with claws[26]. Their blood was black.[6][26][22]

Regular Trolls turned back to stone from which they had been created when exposed to the sunlight,[11] but the Troll race called Olog-hai that appeared at the end of the Third Age could tolerate sunglight as long as they were controlled by the will of Sauron[3].

Trolls lived in different terrains and were known as cave-trolls,[22] hill-trolls[26][28] or mountain-trolls[24]. They did not build buildings,[29] and slept in caves or holes[2]. It is possible that the term Stone-trolls[3] was used for regular trolls who turned back to stone when exposed to the sunlight.[30][note 2]

Types of Trolls[edit | edit source]

Other names[edit | edit source]

The Sindarin word for a "troll" is torog.[3] The Black Speech equivalent is olog.[32]

The name Rhudaur is translated by Tolkien as "Troll shaw", with rhû translated as "evil, wicked".[33]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

Early legendarium[edit | edit source]

In an early chart of different creatures, Trolls are given the Qenya name maulir. Patrick H. Wynne and Christopher Gilson have suggested that maulir is possibly related to Qenya maule ("crying, weeping"), thus perhaps "referring to cries made by these monsters or to the weeping of their victims".[34]

Later legendarium[edit | edit source]

In an earlier version of what would become the Appendix F it was also mentioned that the evil Power had crossed their breed with that of larger Orcs.[35]

In an unpublished note on the origin of the Orcs without any indication of the date when the note was written, Tolkien stated that it would seem evident that Trolls were corruptions of primitive human types.[36]

Trolls in the hobbit poems[edit | edit source]

In The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, a collection of mostly hobbit-derived poems, often whimsical in nature, there are mentions of two Trolls:

Troll sat alone on his seat of stone by Matěj Čadil
A Lonely Troll by Amani Warrington
  • The second one is mentioned in the playful poem Perry-the-Winkle, also composed by Sam,[38] where the Lonely Troll was one of the main characters of the poem. However, unlike every other troll in the legendarium, this one was friendly and good-natured.[40]

Inspiration[edit | edit source]

Trolls were originally a part of the Norse mythology (as a negative synonym for jötunn, "giants") and Scandinavian folklore (as ugly, large creatures of remote wildlife areas). J.R.R. Tolkien used elements of old barbarous mythmaking that Trolls returned to stone when they were not in the dark.[30]

Helen Buckhurst, a friend and colleague of J.R.R. Tolkien presented a paper titled Icelandic Folklore in 1926 in which she stated that Icelandic Trolls in the Sagas and in more recent tales were huge, mishappen and ugly creatures who generally lived in caves in the mountains, were almost always evil, often raided outlying farms at night to take sheep, horses, children, men and women and ate them in their homes in the mountains. She also mentioned that some kinds of Trolls must stay in caves during the day, because the light of the sun turns them to stone.[41][42]

Other fiction[edit | edit source]

In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight there are mentions of the "wood-trolls" (translated by J.R.R. Tolkien from the manuscript word wodwos).[43] The latter word is related to the Woses.[source?]

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

Trolls in adaptations
A "Groan" in The Hobbit (1967 film)  

Films[edit | edit source]

1967: The Hobbit (1967 film):

The three Trolls' position in the narrative was taken by two creatures called "Groans".[44] They had wooden, bark-like skin, and, instead of stone, turned into dead trees when exposed to sunlight.

1978: The Lord of the Rings (1978 film):

The troll that attempts to enter Balin's Tomb is depicted as a shadowy creature with dark green fur. Unlike in the novel, its feet have toes. It is the only troll seen in the film.

Games[edit | edit source]

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:

Like in the film adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring, a Cave-troll serves as the boss of the "Balin's Tomb" level. A pair of Cave-trolls also serve as the bosses of the "Hornburg Courtyard" level. Also unique to this game are a new breed of troll known as "Forest-trolls", which appear in several levels including "Fangorn Forest" and "Breached Wall".

2003: The Hobbit:

In addition to the three Stone-trolls from the book, a Cave-troll was intended to appear during the "Over Hill and Under Hill" level in the PC and console versions, where it would have served as the level's boss. Even though the encounter was cut from the final version of the game, Bilbo still mentions the troll to Gandalf when he reunites with Thorin and Company, and Kili informs Bilbo that Trolls are known to live in the Misty Mountains, and hopes Bilbo didn't encounter any while he was separated.[45]
Third-party trainer programs for the PC version allow the boss battle to be reintegrated into the game. Like the three Stone-trolls, the Cave-troll would have been capable of speaking Westron, as shown during its introductory cutscene where it complains about having a toothache. Defeating it would have yielded the Troll Key which, in the final version of the game, instead lays on the floor for Bilbo to take without having to kill any of the creatures that guard it.

2011: The Lord of the Rings: War in the North:

Compared to other enemies, Trolls are much stronger. Trolls first appear in Fornost, where one traps Eradan, Andriel and Farin.[46] Another troll appears at the end of the level, where Eradan, Andriel and Farin have to protect Elladan and Elrohir. When this troll is killed, the player is able to enter the Citadel to confront Tharzog and Agandaûr.[47]

2014: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor:

The Udûn and Sea of Nûrnen regions of Mordor are inhabited by large troll-like creatures known as "Olog Graugs". According to their Nature article in the Appendices menu, Sauron intends to use the Graug to crossbreed with ordinary Trolls, and create a new breed of "hill-trolls" that can withstand direct sunlight. Graugs are very rare in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game due to technical limitations, but are more abundant in the PS4, PC, and Xbox One versions.

Notes

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien pointed out in a letter to Peter Hastings that Treebeard did not say that the Dark Lord "created" Trolls, he merely said that he "made" them in counterfeit of pre-existing creatures.
  2. This is also suggested by the use of the term Stone-trolls before the paragraph about the Olog-hai, which could endure sunlight.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Road to Isengard", p. 549
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Flight to the Ford", pp. 205-6
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Other Races", p. 1132
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Treebeard", p. 486
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part One. The Grey Annals", entry 472, §240, pp. 76-7
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XVII. Silvan Elves and Silvan Elvish", note 12, p. 366
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 2930, p. 1089
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen", fourth paragraph, p. 1057
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 2941, p. 1089
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Roast Mutton"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Short Rest"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3018, April 12, p. 1090
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past", p. 44
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3018, October 6, p. 1092
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Knife in the Dark", p. 190
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Flight to the Ford", p. 203
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Unfinished index for The Lord of the Rings", in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry Ettendales, . 188
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Flight to the Ford", pp. 204-5
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Journey in the Dark", p. 318
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3019, January 15, p. 1092
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm", pp. 324-5
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3019, March 15, pp. 1093-4
  24. 24.0 24.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Siege of Gondor", p. 828-9
  25. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for the year 3019, March 25, p. 1094
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Black Gate Opens", p. 892
  27. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, mentioning the illustration title The Trolls that J.R.R. Tolkien drew for The Hobbit, p. 293
  28. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen", p. 1057
  29. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Flight to the Ford", p. 201
  30. 30.0 30.1 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 153, (dated September 1954)
  31. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Roast Mutton"
  32. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), entry B Urukhai and entry B Ologhai, p. 136
  33. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), entry S Rhudaur and entry S rhû, p. 115
  34. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Early Qenya and The Valmaric Script", in Parma Eldalamberon XIV (edited by Carl F. Hostetter, Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, Patrick H. Wynne, and Bill Welden), pp. 7, 9
  35. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "II. The Appendix on Languages", text F2 §17, p. 17
  36. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Five. Myths Transformed", "[Text] IX", p. 414
  37. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "The Stone Troll"
  38. 38.0 38.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "Preface"
  39. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Flight to the Ford", pp. 206-8
  40. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "Perry-the-Winkle"
  41. J.R.R. Tolkien; Douglas A. Anderson, (ed.), (2002) The Annotated Hobbit: Revised and Expanded Edition, p. 80
  42. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 189
  43. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 555
  44. Gene Deitch, "Comment 5311" dated 25 July 2012, genedeitchcredits (accessed 17 October 2012)
  45. The Hobbit (2003 video game), "Over Hill and Under Hill"
  46. The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, Chapter 1: Fornost, Outer Wards
  47. The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, Chapter 1: Fornost, The Citadel