The world of Arda is full of fascinating characters and creatures not found in other tales or mythologies or, in any case, not in the same form J. R. R. Tolkien envisioned them in his books. Owing to a well-developed system of languages, it was possible for the Professor to use precise words in his invented tongues, for example in Quenya or Sindarin, to name those characters whose identities it was not always possible to render accurately in English. In a letter Tolkien mused that he was “under the difficulty of finding English names for mythological creatures with other names”. He did it so as not to shower his readers with “a string of Elvish names”, but some interpretations were false, according to Tolkien himself. One of the most interesting examples of this is Istari or the Wizards.
Reading books where characters go on a quest or an adventure usually have a great appeal to most readers. It is not surprising: travelling to different places, whether in your imagination by means of a book or physically in reality, has always been especially thrilling.
Very often weather can play an important role in narratives and become a major player in certain episodes. Natural phenomena can either help or hinder characters in different stories and thus influence the course of events greatly.
Unions between immortal Elves and mortal Men were rare in Middle-earth: the fates of these two kindreds are very different to be interwoven easily. When Elves and Men did intermarry, it was usually for a high, noble purpose, but had a sorrowful end.
Very few readers are left unimpressed when they, together with Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin, lose their way in the fog on the Barrow-downs and become trapped in the mound by the Barrow-wights. These creatures are horrible and horrifying, and appear even more so as we do not fully understand what they are exactly. So, what are these wights and where do they come from?
There are many creatures in Tolkien’s Legendarium that come across as uncanny and downright scary. The Nazgûl definitely belong to this category. Also known as the Ringwraiths, they send panic and fear before them, and this name — Ringwraiths — has hidden clues to their nature.
…Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, which suffered no rival,
and laughed at flattery, biding its time,
secure in its pride and its immeasurable strength.
(Two Towers, p. 192)
Just like Angband in the First Age became the citadel of Morgoth — the embodiment of evil and the Dark Lord’s tyranny in Middle-earth, so did Barad-dûr rise to fill its place in the Second and Third Ages as the fortress of Sauron. In many ways the Dark Tower of Mordor, built by once Morgoth’s most trusted lieutenant, became the descendant of Angband, sharing traits with it, but also being the reflection of Sauron’s own power, character, ambitions and evil. Read more
It is interesting how a dwelling place often matches the personality of its dweller. It is very often that an inhabitant imparts their own character to the place they live in, so the place becomes very much like the person that inhabits it. Once we look at Farmer Maggot and his farm, we see how well the similarities between the house and the dweller show. The Farmer is as perfect for Bamfurlong as Bamfurlong is perfect for him.
“Faërie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold”.
J. R. R. Tolkien (On Fairy-Stories)
When it comes to Faërie, mortals must exercise great care in dealing with it. While the land of eternal life and plenty presents a desirable destination for many, it is not fit for earthly beings, save for a temporary abode or occasional visits, most likely for a special reason and with a seal of approval from Faërie inhabitants themselves. Read more