7 things you may not know about Lord of the Rings

My favorite novel in the world is Lord of the Rings. I’ve read it at least 20 times, in three languages. To anyone who has seen the movie or read the book, the basic plot is pretty well known. However, with multiple readings I started to notice little cool details which either aren’t emphasized or are easy to overlook. Here’s my list of such things. (By the way, this is about the book, not the movie.)

The One Ring was the only Ring of Power without a gem.

The One Ring was the only Ring of Power without a gem. [*]

1. Even though the movies show the four hobbits as about the same age, this is not the case in the books. At the time of the quest to destroy the ring, Frodo was 50, Sam was 38, Merry was 36 and Pippin was 29. Of course, considering hobbits come of age at 33, Pippin would have been about 16 if he were human.

2. Hobbits aren’t the only ones who look younger than they are: Aragorn was 87 at the time of the Lord of the Rings and Gandalf was over 2000 years old.

3. List of words that appear in Lord of the Rings that sound bad, but really aren’t:

–      faggot (Book 2, Chapter 3: “a bundle of sticks”)

–      niggard (Book 6, Chapter 6 : “a selfish person”)

–      boner (Book 1, Chapter 12: a nonsensical word in a song, rhyming with ‘owner’)

–      bastards (Book 4, Chapter 9: “illegitimate children, used in the context of Shelob’s offspring)

Rivendell, by Ted Nasmith

Rivendell, by Ted Nasmith

4. Sam actually has five siblings but only mentions one of them in the Lord of the Rings: his younger sister Marigold. He mentions her in the chapter “Mount Doom” as someone he would have liked to see again, after he realizes they don’t have enough food to get back home.

copyright John Howe

copyright John Howe [*]

5. The high elves are telepathic and can have conversations with each other without speaking out loud (Book 6, Chapter 6)

6. Gandalf has a telepathic link with Shadowfax and can call him mentally whenever he wants.

7. Nine women have speaking roles in Lord of the Rings. They are very ethnically diverse, although they usually don’t have many lines of dialogue. Here is the list, in order of appearance:

–      Lobelia Sackville-Baggins – hobbit (2 lines)

–      Mrs. Maggot – hobbit (1 line)

–      Goldberry – Maiar (wife of Tom Bombadil) (10 lines)

–      Galadriel – elf (many lines)

–      Eowyn – human/Rohirrim (many lines)

–      Ioreth – human/Gondorian (8 lines)

–      Arwen – half-elf (2 lines)

–      Rosie – hobbit (3 lines)

–      Mrs. Cotton – hobbit (1 line)

There tend to be large gaps between them, however, and at one point, 17 chapters go by between women speaking.

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About David Stewart

I am a writer of anything quirky and weird. I love most genres of fiction and in each there are stories that I would consider "my kind of story". View all posts by David Stewart

26 responses to “7 things you may not know about Lord of the Rings

  • Asha

    My favorite movie of all times. And the book too. This was nice insight David.

  • domingosaurus

    I discovered Lord of the Rings in high school, though I had been somewhat familiar with it (and The Hobbit) throughout my childhood because of the cartoons. I used to re-read them again every couple of years, invariably in the fall. (I associated them with cool crisp autumn days for some reason.) I haven’t been able to make it through them since the films came out. Don’y get me wrong, I think the films are excellent, but they ruined the books for me. Like most readers, I always had my own ideas of what the characters looked like, but now, no matter how hard I try to find my own incarnations of Frodo, Sam and Gandalf, I can’t help picturing Elijah Wood, Sean Astin and Ian McKellan.

    • David Stewart

      I understand what you mean. The fact that the movies are so visual that they tend to override other mental images. Still, I found that once I get back into the books, my old conceptions of the characters comes back.

  • 최다해 gongjumonica

    Wow. I adore you for reading this series for many times. I’m afraid I am not a fan. Didn’t even finish a single book, sorry.

  • Christopher De Voss

    Loved the movies, could not make it through the books, I’m sad to say. Maybe I’ll try again after I finish the newest Dan Brown. Also, you wrote boner!

  • Wanderer

    I’ve read the Hobbit several times and love it and I’ve seen the Lord of the Rings movies enough times to quote them. I’ve been meaning to re-read the books, but the first time I read them they were rather daunting (I think I was in early middle school). I must give them a second chance!

    • David Stewart

      They are pretty big, although I’d recommend them. I liked the movies, but the books (at least in my opinion) are a hundred times better.

      • Wanderer

        It’s funny because I’m usually ALWAYS a book-over-movie person (don’t even get me started on the Bourne series) but maybe I just got bogged down by the history when I was younger. I have them on my Kindle now, I believe, so there’s really no excuse!

  • octoploid

    While the Hobbit is an easy enough read, The Lord of the Rings isn’t, in part because parts of it is painfully slow, and while those of us who have read it several times know full well something will eventually happen, first time readers have no such assurance. As much as I love the books, they have always struck me as a bit self indulgent and in need of tighter editing. However, one result of the fact that they were not as tightly edited is that we get a deeper, more complete view of the world Tolkien had created than we likely would have otherwise, and that to me has always been Tolkien’s greatest strength anyway.

    • David Stewart

      He originally meant to connect all the stories into one great epic, spanning all the ages, which is why there are so many references to the older days in Lord of the Rings. You could have cut down parts of it (like a lot of the songs) but he did start out to create an epic story. No question though that it would be a very different story if it was written today.

  • Valentine Logar

    Like you I read this book multiple times, in fact I read the entire series including The Hobbit many times over a lifetime. All the words you pointed out were used in their original English meaning, they aren’t bad words simply properly used by the author.

    I have always loved the entire series. By the time I read it the third time, somewhere in my early twenties I recognized it as allegory, thus begin my love a this specific genre.

    • David Stewart

      It is interesting how language has changed over time. I like his use of slightly older terminology, although I’m glad he didn’t go full Middle English like his contemporary E.R. Eddison in The Worm Ouroboros. If you haven’t read it, it’s quite a book, but the language is something else.

  • moondustwriter

    wow 20 times
    I’ve read it many times but not 20. I was really sorry that Tom Bombadil and his lovely Goldberry got overlooked in the movie

  • Sharmishtha

    so that novel is absolutely male dominated barring the elf ladies? 🙂

    thanks for sharing these things I have not read the novels but have loved the movies!

    • David Stewart

      I don’t think Tolkien had anything against women; in fact, he probably put more powerful women in his stories than a lot of others at that time. In a lot of ways, it was a product of its time.

  • Lord of the Rings | ramblesrambling

    […] post is interesting, and is one of the examples of details missed from the movies. Thanks David Stewart for pointing these […]

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