97

The phrase “the Lord of the Rings” is ambiguous in the same way in English: it might, in theory, refer either to the One Ring, which rules the other rings, or to Sauron, who can use it to rule all the rings. However, the text does not make use of this ambiguity. The phrase “the Lord of the Ring(s)” appears four times in the text, and three times it’s clear ...


74

Tolkien said that Bombadil represented a sort of passive pacifism, which was important to represent in the story but couldn't play much of a role in the actual plot. From Tolkien's Letters, letter #144: Tom Bombadil is not an important person – to the narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a 'comment'. I mean, I do not really write like that: he ...


74

TL;DR: In this scene Aragorn confirms to Pippin that their relationship remains one of liege-lord and vassal within the feudal system of Gondor and Arnor. This confers high status and honour upon Pippin, as well as obligation: in fact, these are two sides of the same relationship. The north-kingdom When Aragorn says that his “realm lies also in the north” he ...


67

You should read The Silmarillion after reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy. To start off with an analogy: The Silmarillion starts on such a gigantic scale that if you begin with it everything else is going to seem confusing, petty, or irrelevant. If you want to understand the history of the American Civil War, you don't start with the Big Bang. What'...


41

Bombadil is indeed an anomaly, and does not appear to fit very well into Tolkien's overall narrative. He comes from nowhere (although he has been there all along, unobserved), and disappears equally abruptly from the story. Unless the author has given us some hints about the character's relevance, we are reduced to speculation, so let us just consider the ...


39

He's referring to Bilbo's retirement to Rivendell. Bilbo's plan was to relax, listen to the songs, translate some books, and work on his memoirs. As Gandalf put it in the next line: ‘He felt better at once'. I don't think Frodo had Bilbo's longer-term prospects in mind. He didn't know that a journey across the Sea was in the cards. All the rest Bilbo was ...


36

Partly: it's explored in the first chapter then hand-waved away. This "plot hole" is in fact the driver of the entire plot of The Hobbit: the reason why a hobbit is involved at all. "That would be no good," said the wizard, "not without a mighty Warrior, even a Hero. I tried to find one; but warriors are busy fighting one another in ...


36

I first read The Hobbit as an adult. My interpretation was that there were three different views: The dwarves trust the competence of a professional burglar selected by Gandalf. The burglar will need to see the configuration of Smaug's cave, especially the side door, before deciding anything. Gandalf knows that Bilbo has reserves of courage and cleverness ...


35

No, except yes TL;DR: ‘Wormtongue’ is a deliberately negative name given by his enemies, so it can’t be faulted for being pejorative, even if it’s not as unflattering as it might seem to modern ears. But ‘Gríma’ itself isn’t much better! As Mary points out, ‘Wormtongue’ is a nickname applied to Gríma by his opponents (which, Gandalf implies, is everyone but ...


34

The word "to miss" usually means "to regret no longer having". But it may mean simply "to no longer have", "to have lost", without experiencing regret. This seems to be the meaning here. See definition on wiktionary: [8] (transitive) To be wanting; to lack something that should be present. The car is missing essential ...


32

This answer grew too long for a single post, so I’ve split it in two, with history and analysis in this part, and detailed line notes in the other part. Summary Bilbo’s poem retells the myth of the half-elven hero Eärendil, who lived long ago, in the First Age of Middle-earth. He was a sailor who voyaged into the western seas, seeking the land of the gods (...


30

Yes. When leaving the Shire, the hobbits disturbed a fox: A fox passing through the wood on business of his own stopped several minutes and sniffed. 'Hobbits!' he thought. 'Well, what next? I have heard of strange doings in this land, but I have seldom heard of a hobbit sleeping out of doors under a tree. Three of them! There's something mighty queer behind ...


30

I agree with the content of the answers of Gareth Rees and hobbs, however, aside from the content of what he said, I think it's also important to address Aragorn's tone here. In particular: He's joking. Aragorn's 'harsh' tone to Pippin here is firmly tongue-in-cheek. His statement is a humorous way of expressing his appreciation for Pippin's service to him, ...


28

It was an allegory because, in spite of his dislike, Tolkien felt it was necessary and inevitable that it should be one. In several lesser-known quotes, the author freely admits that the tale is allegorical. Most clearly he states: "Of course my story is not an allegory of Atomic power, but of Power." The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien #186 He also ...


24

This is the second part of my answer, containing detailed line notes for the poem. If I’ve omitted any difficulties, let me know in the comments. I have preferred to use illustrative quotations from the Quenta Silmarillion (c. 1937), and not from the later revisions that led to the text of The Silmarillion (1977), because when Tolkien was composing Bilbo’s ...


23

Voronwë's answer is excellent, but I'm going to post the answer I was planning to anyway. LotR is a gripping tale; the Silmarillion is more like a textbook or encyclopedia. This is a slight exaggeration, but the Sil is definitely written in a much less engaging style; it describes the history of eons rather than the events of an exciting war. It focuses ...


23

While I agree almost entirely with Gareth Rees' answer, I think it can be made simpler with a bit of cultural context. Aragorn is a king. He's in a position to command, and while he's not the king of all Middle Earth, he has claimed the throne of Arnor as his birthright, which includes the part of Eriador that the Hobbits call the Shire. Pippin is a high ...


22

Here’s a bit more context from chapter 6: He [Frodo] turned round and listened, and soon there could be no doubt: someone was singing a song; a deep glad voice was singing carelessly and happily, but it was singing nonsense: Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo! Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow! Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo! ...


22

I've always interpreted that as 'being stealthy', not as 'being good at stealing'. Hobbits are nimble creatures (they're even described as being able to seemingly disappear without a trace), especially compared to dwarves which are much louder. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quietly ...


19

Grima calls Gandalf "Lathspell" -- Ill News -- because he hated him and wanted Theoden to mistrust him. Likewise, "Wormtongue" is what people who already hate him call him. It is true that Gandalf says to Theoden "him that all but you call Wormtongue," but that was probably a slow development. People call him that to urge ...


18

Tolkien started writing while on the Western Front. He wrote down his war experiences of the Great War down in Lost Tales according to his biography on the Tolkien Society. (Emphasis mine) During these last few months, all but one of his close friends of the “T. C. B. S.” had been killed in action. Partly as an act of piety to their memory, but also ...


18

The Lord of the Rings contains several appendices at the end of The Return of the King, and Appendix B, called The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), contains a timeline of events. The following years are 'Third Age', at the end of which the events in The Lord of the Rings takes place. The appendix lists Bilbo's birth year as 2890, and 2968 as ...


17

We don't really know, as they're not mentioned. We don't know all of the rules, because they're never really mentioned - this is the only time AFAIK, and they don't really say much: "Both wrong," cried Bilbo very much relieved; and he jumped at once to his feet, put his back to the wall, and held out his little sword. He knew, of course, that the riddle-...


17

For vowels the letters i, e, a, o, u are used, and (in Sindarin only) y. As far as can be determined the sounds represented by these letters (other than y) were of normal kind, though doubtless many local varieties escape detection. That is, the sounds were approximately those represented by i, e, a, o, u in English machine, were, farther, for, brute, ...


16

This is the original passage from the chapter Helm's Deep: ‘It will go ill with Wormtongue, if Gandalf comes upon him,’ said Théoden. ‘Nonetheless I miss now both my counsellors, the old and the new. But in this need we have no better choice than to go on, as Gandalf said, to Helm’s Gate, whether Erkenbrand be there or no. Is it known how great is the host ...


15

Another point that hasn't been mentioned. The Silmarillion has a summary of the Lord of the Rings as its final chapter, "Of the Rings of Power and The Third Age". It is a full summary of LoTR and would be a gigantic spoiler. Clearly the Silmarillion was meant to be read after LoTR. I realize you have already seen the movies, so a spoiler isn't that big ...


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