The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOTR.

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The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOTR.

Postby FrodoTook » Wed Mar 28, 2007 1:01 pm

In reference to the LOTR books only, disregarding any movies.

PLEASE FEEL VERY WELCOME TO ASK QUESTIONS AND DISCUSS YOUR UNRESOLVED ISSUES OF LOTR.
=======================

In the history of the TORC Books Forum.

I *think* I might have the top 2 right...

The Bombadil and Balrog Wings questions.
( Which might really be tied for first place, IMO ).
I had a hard time choosing one over the other.

My list ( below ) was just off the top of my head.
Some of the things I initially had in my list have now been **removed**
and **replaced** by those suggested in this thread by other members.

=======================

1) Who / what was Tom Bombadil?

2) Do Balrogs have wings?

3) What happened to the two Blue Wizards?

4) Why didn't Gandalf use one of the eagles to fly someone with the Ring to Mount Doom?

5) **What happened to the Entwives? Did Sam's cousin see one?**

6) **Was the Watcher of the Water allied to Sauron?**
( Prompting it to grab Frodo first? )

7) **Did Bill Ferny or the Nazgul attack the Inn at Bree?**

8 ) What color was Legolas' hair?

9) Why was there a reference to an "express train" when describing the passing of the dragon firework at Bilbos' farewell party?

10) Do Elves have pointed ears?

Honorable Mention...Is that really what the Fox thought? :wink:
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Postby MithLuin » Wed Mar 28, 2007 2:45 pm

I would not put 5, 6 or 7 on a list with such 'classics'.

Rather, one of the 'unanswered' (but obscure) questions from the books, like who was the lady who wore the brooch Bombadil took from the barrow? Or what was Aragorn remembering when he said "they are terrible!" about the Nazgul? Or...what was that cloud moving against the wind in Hollin? Or the final fate of Ungoliant.....or, well, something!

That being said, the rest of your questions definately belong on the top 10 list!
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Postby Iorlas » Wed Mar 28, 2007 3:03 pm

FrodoTook wrote:1) Who / what was Tom Bombadil?


A very powerful Maiar spirit.

2) Do Balrogs have wings?


It's inconclusive either way; my image of them is with wings.

3) What happened to the two Blue Wizards?


They lost sight of their original purpose. Got too caught up with the world of mortals; they ended up out East, and became either evil or inconsequential.

4) Why didn't Gandalf use one of the eagles to fly someone with the Ring to Mount Doom?


Because the eagles are agents of the Valar, and aren't supposed to get so directly involved in the affairs of Middle Earth.

5) After realizing the Black Riders were after the Hobbits, why didn't Gildor escort the Hobbits to Rivendell ( or at least to Bree )?


Um, he had better things to do?

6) Why did The Watcher of the Water grab Frodo first?


It sensed the power of the Ring and was drawn to it.

7) Why did Aragorn release The Army of the Dead so early?
( Why didn't he take them with him to Minas Arnor?)


Because they had already served their purpose and fulfilled their debt. They wouldn't have been much good against Minas Morgul anyhow. Sauron is a lot scarier than the Army of the Dead.

8 ) What color was Legolas' hair?


It's never mentioned, is it? So who really cares? :wink:

9) Why was there a reference to an "express train" when describing the passing of the dragon firework at Bilbos' farewell party?


Anachronism.

10) Do Elves have pointed ears?


Nope. When the line of Elros is able to choose to be either elf or man, do you think their ears mutate accordingly? :wink:

Honorable Mention...Is that really what the Fox thought? :wink:


Yes. :D
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Postby pippinsqueak » Wed Mar 28, 2007 3:27 pm

How about: Whatever became of the entwives, and was it an ent (or an entwife) that Sam's cousin Hal had seen in the Northfarthing?

I know this has been discussed here recently, but I don't know if it was satisfactorily answered: why wouldn't Sauron have known that the Ring had not been destroyed, since its later destruction resulted in his own destruction.
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Postby krawler » Wed Mar 28, 2007 6:06 pm

1) The master.

2) I say it has no physical wings, but rather extends his shadowiness into the shape of wings to appear more terrifying.

3) Saw a therapist who cured them of depression. Oh, wait...

4) It would have made the story too short.

5) More dramatic to leave the hobbits to their own devices.

6) Answered by Iorlas.

7) Answered by Iorlas.

8) Brown hair. He's a Silvan elf, and they have brown hair.

9) Why not?

10) I believe that somewhere Tolkien mentions that the ears of the elves are somewhat 'leaf-shaped.'

HM) Who's to say it isn't? ;)
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Postby scirocco » Wed Mar 28, 2007 6:13 pm

Hmm..I don't think that FrodoTook was actually looking for answers as much as for topics...but then I saw Iorlas' post with at least three wrong answers, and thought "maybe we do need answers". :D:D

Personally I'd put "how many Elf-mortal marriages were there" in there, if not on the most-discussed list, then certainly on the most complex, confusing and least-well-resolved list. :) Refer to the classic Four Unions of Elves and Men? for details. Or possibly "what was behind the Door in the Paths of the Dead" (see A hidden door.)
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Postby Iorlas » Wed Mar 28, 2007 6:21 pm

scirocco wrote:Hmm..I don't think that FrodoTook was actually looking for answers as much as for topics...but then I saw Iorlas' post with at least three wrong answers, and thought "maybe we do need answers". :D:D


Oh, and what wrong answers would those be? Don't just imply wrongness; give me specifics. I'm more than willing to debate them. :)
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Postby scirocco » Wed Mar 28, 2007 6:24 pm

Well, as I say, I didn't get the impression that FrodoTook intended this thread to degenerate into simultaneous discussion of a dozen or more topics. There are plenty of threads discussing individual topics already. He was looking for questions, not answers, it seemed to me. But since you ask, Tom Bombadil, Elf ear-shape and of course, Balrog wings. :D
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Postby krawler » Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:20 pm

scirocco wrote:Hmm..I don't think that FrodoTook was actually looking for answers as much as for topics...


Oh. Um... oops? :whistle:

Well, I'd like to know more about the community that Gollum came from. Also about what happened to Nimrodel. Any elf/mortal marriages we don't know about. I've always wondered just how the elves sustained themselves before the sun rose and awakened all the plant life. Where exactly the waters of Cuivienen were, and also where humans awoke.

How're those? :angel:
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Postby Iorlas » Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:20 pm

scirocco wrote:But since you ask, Tom Bombadil,


No one really knows what Tom Bombadil is. I think a powerful Maiar spirit is the most likely, since he is reckoned to be somewhere around the same power level as Sauron, though the fact that the One Ring has no power over him almost implies that he is one of the Valar, since the Ring certainly has a power over other Maiar such as Gandalf and Saruman.

Elf ear-shape


For their ears to be pointy at all, you would have to also assume that when Elrond chose to be an elf, and his brother to be mortal, one or the other's ears must have physically changed, which I find quite silly. (I don't really recall, but I think Tolkien's comments on the matter were less than definitive; almost as if he wasn't quite sure himself. Sort of like the origin of orcs.)

and of course, Balrog wings. :D


That is just my image of what a Balrog should look like, but krawler's explanation works for me too.
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Postby truehobbit » Thu Mar 29, 2007 4:23 am

scirocco wrote:Hmm..I don't think that FrodoTook was actually looking for answers as much as for topics...


True, but if he numbers something as an open question that in your opinion isn't in doubt at all, you have to say so in order to help identify the really open questions. :)

Why did Aragorn release The Army of the Dead so early?
( Why didn't he take them with him to Minas Arnor?)


Because he had promised. Good kings keep their promises. :D


Instead of this one, then, I'd second krawler's point - what I'd like to ask is: was Gollum a hobbit?

Also, the questions so far are all factual. One of the most discussed questions, though, would seem to be "What is the nature of the temptation and power of the Ring?"
"Nebulous concept", anyone? :D
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Postby FrodoTook » Thu Mar 29, 2007 7:50 am

scirocco correctly said...
*I don't think that FrodoTook was actually looking for answers as much as for topics*...

I should have made that clearer by bold facing what is now boldfaced in the initial message,

Thank you scirocco
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Postby FrodoTook » Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:40 am

Thank you for your suggestions thus far

MithLuin

pippinsqueak

scirocco

krawler


and

truehobbit


To everyone, if you have not done so yet, please read the initial message.
It has been revised for clarity. ( I hope ) :)

I look forward to seeing your lists.
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Postby wilko185 » Thu Mar 29, 2007 1:44 pm

I wouldn't say that "most debated" = "most interesting"; there has been a huge amount of discussion on, say, elven hair colour, which I reckon to be rather trivial and banal. But I'm sure that others disagree with me, which is one of the reasons these lists can be interesting :).

1) Who / what was Tom Bombadil?

2) Do Balrogs have wings?

Yes, I agree with these as the top two. I don't really have a particular order for anything after these, but I agree with 3,4,8 and 10 being good ones.

6) Why did The Watcher of the Water grab Frodo first?

I would personally cast this as: Was the Watcher allied to Sauron?

I might also add:
    What happened to the entwives (what was the giant that Hal saw)?

    What is the relationship between ents, huorns, and Old Man Willow?

    What form did Sauron take?

    Who is the elder, Gandalf or Treebeard (or Cirdan)?

    What happened to Radagast?

    Are orcs immortal?

    What is the flame of Anor?

    What happens to Elves/Men/Dwarves when they die?

    Who slashed the beds in Bree?

    Who was Gil-galad's father?

    edit: Was it Merry or Éowyn who killed the Witch-king?
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Re: Top 10 LOTR questions / debates / unknowns.

Postby Iorlas » Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:12 pm

FrodoTook wrote:I realize this list is really subjective ( by my and your lists ) but I think this could be fun...trying to list the issues in decending order.


Well, I don't know what is so fun about listing debated topics. I think it is more fun to try and solve the questions raised, but I do understand that they have probably been done to death already. However, in your initial list, some of them are not really worthy of much debate at all, specifically 4, 6, and 7, which I think already have perfectly adequate explanations just from reading the books, while 9 is obviously nothing more than an anachronistic reference put in for the benefit of the reader's understanding. I suppose some people may not have been satisfied with those answers, and wasted much time arguing them. But I would venture that questions such as what happened to the ent-wives are more worthy to be on a list of the top ten mysteries in Tolkien, even if in reality, they haven't been debated as much. Anyways, have fun.
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Postby FrodoTook » Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:43 pm

Thank you very much wilko185

First of all, I must say that it is wonderful to post with you and all who have posted in this thread again. I don't come around here as often now but, thank goodness, I know I can always depend on TORCers to be a great and invaluable fount of information on Middle-Earth.

Many who I highly respect for being knowledgable of Tolkien's works have posted in this thread and for that I am very grateful.

I do agree that the "most debated" does not always = "most interesting". :wink:

What I found interesting was that TORCers had many different interests and what was found compelling / intriguing was always ( and continues to be ) a matter of perspective. Personally, I definitely found all of the various issue(s) being debated at TORC a matter of very varying interest to me. Some debates / discussions I joined in on or ( on the other hand ) felt it was way above me to further enhance the great perspectives already shared.

For the other * less deep* issues, I just read what was being said by other members. I found the discussion on those issues to be merely entertaining and fun to read. :)

Not that I was looking for agreement ( I was actually looking forward to challenges to my list like mith offered ), I am relieved to hear *you say* in reference to...

1) Who / what was Tom Bombadil?

2) Do Balrogs have wings?

*Yes, I agree with these as the top two.*

I thought so as well.

And thank you for saying *I agree with 3,4,8 and 10 being good ones*.

I do like your rewording of my 6) Why did The Watcher of the Water grab Frodo first? to your...*Was the Watcher allied to Sauron?*

I also thank you for *your recommendations*...

What happened to the entwives (what was the giant that Hal saw)?

What is the relationship between ents, huorns, and Old Man Willow?

What form did Sauron take?

Who is the elder, Gandalf or Treebeard (or Cirdan)?

What happened to Radagast?

Are orcs immortal?

What is the flame of Anor?

What happens to Elves/Men/Dwarves when they die?

Who slashed the beds in Bree?

Who was Gil-galad's father?


I actually had *Who slashed the beds in Bree?* on my mind when I first made my list of the top 10. From what I have read at TORC many assumed it was the Nazgul. I admit I thought so as well. That is until I read the different perspectives of TORCers.

I have added a summary of your comments / suggestions to the initial message.

Thanks again for posting in this thread.
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Postby MithLuin » Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:46 pm

The other way of looking at this, Iorlas, is to say, what would go on an FAQ list for TORc? What questions come up time and again, and are debated ad nauseum? What questions do fans of Tolkien just ask, no matter what? And have to eventually agree to disagree, since there is no answer... We could include links to threads about each topic on the final list, so that anyone who was interested could leap into the debate.

I agree with the suggestion of the fate of the Entwives - that is an open question in Tolkien's writing, and something many, many people ask about.

Another possibility would be the 'unnamed' characters - what were the names of the Nazgul? what was the name of Legolas' mother? etc.

Also, I think you have to understand that there are 'niches' of Tolkien fans. If this list is specifically Lord of the Rings, issues such as the relative ages of the Princes of the Noldor or how Maedhros survived while chained to a Mountain for 7-25 years or the paternity of Gil-galad really won't come up. Because those questions are only debated by people who read the Silm and/or HoME.

So, my list at the moment:
    1) Who / what was Tom Bombadil?

    2) Do Balrogs have wings?

    3) Why didn't Gandalf use one of the eagles to fly someone with the Ring to Mount Doom?

    4) What happened to the Entwives? Did Sam's cousin see one?

    5) What happened to the two Blue Wizards?

    6) Do Elves have pointed ears?

    7) Did Bill Ferny or the Nazgul attack the Inn at Bree?

    8 ) What color was Legolas' hair? How old is he? What was his mother's name?

    9) Why was there a reference to an "express train" when describing the passing of the dragon firework at Bilbos' farewell party? Why does the Shire have New World crops like tobacco and potatoes?

    10) Why didn't Sauron guard Mount Doom? Why didn't he even suspect the possibility that someone would do what Frodo did? (the flipside of the Eagle question)


I only put 7 on the list because it is so easy to go back and forth on it, not because I think it comes up all the time. For alternatives, I could suggest the paternity of Gildor, or the question of why Elrond didn't send an elf like Glorfindel with the Fellowship.

I think the question of releasing the Army of the Dead is a movie-discussion. So I will ask, is this supposed to be LotR books or LotR movies? Because there are some movie-points that came up all the time as well. <Osgiliath>

Edit: How could I forget!

Was Glorfindel of Rivendell the same elf as the Glorfindel who died fighting the Balrog in Gondolin?

And, how many balrogs were there?

Maybe some question about ME being Europe or the War of the Ring corresponding to WWII.
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Postby FrodoTook » Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:56 pm

Thank you very much mith :)

You have definitely defined what I was looking for in this thread with your...
What would go on an FAQ list for TORc? What questions come up time and again, and are debated ad nauseum? What questions do fans of Tolkien just ask, no matter what? And have to eventually agree to disagree, since there is no answer

I just did not word my initial post clearly enough to get across what I was looking for. Very well said.

For all...

I wish this thread to disregard the PJ movie(s).

I wish this thread to regard only the book(s) ( LOTR ).
My true love....The thing that started it all for me and which I still cherish.

I haven't watched my Movie DVDs for a while but I still read the books quite often.
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Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:06 pm

wilko185 wrote:edit: Was it Merry or Éowyn who killed the Witch-king?[/list]


I'm surprised that it took an edit of wilko's for this to be mentioned. I would definitely think it should be included.
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Postby scirocco » Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:14 pm

Now that my friend Voronwe is here, we should add "what happened to the Second Prophecy" as a popular topic. Oh, sorry, LOTR only, isnt it...:D:D Actually, there have been a lot of threads on the topic over the years...

Another couple of popular ones of the more existential type have been "did Frodo fail?" and "did Gandalf really die?"
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Postby FrodoTook » Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:16 pm

Thank you Voronwe_the_Faithful for mentioning wilko185s' edit.( now added to the initial message )
I might have missed it otherwise.
==
Iorlas
Thank you for your comments. They have been recapped in the initial message.
==
scirocco, your...

"did Frodo fail?"
and
"did Gandalf really die?"
have been added to your suggestions in the initial message.
Thank you for coming back with them.
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Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Thu Mar 29, 2007 10:59 pm

scirocco wrote:Now that my friend Voronwe is here, we should add "what happened to the Second Prophecy" as a popular topic. Oh, sorry, LOTR only, isnt it...:D:D


:D

Another couple of popular ones of the more existential type have been "did Frodo fail?" and "did Gandalf really die?"


Those are definitely important ones.

So, Frodo, have you given up on the idea of limiting the list to the top ten? I don't see how you could possibly whittle down what you have already to the top ten. :)
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Postby FrodoTook » Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:23 pm

I agree Voronwe_the_Faithful

10 is just not going to get it. There are too many good ones which would be left out. I think I am going to have to make it the most debated / unresolved issues without any number limit. If I said 20 that would still not cover them all so I am just going to go for unlimited. :wink:

Now I just need to reword the title and initial message.
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Postby thebachelor » Fri Mar 30, 2007 8:50 am

I would suggest "Who is older, Tom Bombadil or Treebeard?" since that question reflects what seems to be an inconsistency within the text of LotR itself.

It seems clear that Tom and Treebeard are both much older than Círdan. Also, the physical forms of the Five Wizards are apparently much younger even than Galadriel or Elrond, since they seemingly came into existence only in the Third Age. Treebeard implies as much when he refers to "young Saruman". On the other hand, the Wizards as Maiarin spirits are older than Eä (the universe) itself.
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Postby dna » Fri Mar 30, 2007 11:11 am

The only REAL mystery is why the death of Gorbadoc Brandybuck is recorded as 1363, when he was clearly hosting Drogo and Primula at the time of their deaths in 1380...

:wink:
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Postby Mahima » Sun Apr 01, 2007 6:06 pm

I would also add "Were the barrow-wights under the dominion of Sauron?" or a general one on the "Role of the barrow-wights in the Third age". Still unresolved, IMO. :D
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Postby superwizard » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:36 pm

I would add: What are orcs? to the list.
Terribly difficult question IMO
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Postby FrodoTook » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:57 pm

I agree superwizard

The origin of orcs has been debated many times. IIRC, Tolkien, himself, changed his perspectives on the origins of orcs. I am adding your suggestion to the original message.

Thank you.
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Postby FrodoTook » Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:00 pm

wilko185

Please elaborate on your...

What form did Sauron take?


Is this pre-Numenor?
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Postby wilko185 » Tue Apr 03, 2007 5:35 pm

FrodoTook wrote:wilko185

Please elaborate on your...

What form did Sauron take?


Is this pre-Numenor?

I would say: "What form did Sauron take in the Third Age/during LOTR"

I think most discussion has been on that period, where we only get glimpses from the narrative (whether he had physical form, Gollum's mention of seeing his hand, what the Eye was exactly, etc). Though there is also the matter of him physically carrying the Ring after the Downfall back to Middle-earth, when he had been disembodied..
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