“Far, far below the deepest delving of the dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he. Now I have walked there, but I will bring no report to darken the light of day.” (Gandalf, p.122, The Two Towers)
Hobbit, Ent, Orc, Fell Beast – Tolkien’s world is rich with the great and small, good and evil, heroic and cowardly; all unique, all memorable. But it is the one brief description, that has sat at the back of my mind for many years, that has intrigued me most. We can always ask questions about alternative history – what would have happened if… and why didn’t… – and have a relatively strong consensus about what may or may not happen; but what about those things that we cannot explain, nor even so much as describe? I am, of course, talking about the ‘nameless things’, who dwell deep within the fabric of the world.
These creatures: Do they bear claws? Do they have multiple eyes or limbs? Do they have rows and rows of sharpened teeth? Who knows? Only our imaginations. It is our imaginations that forge the images we perceive from those few written words upon the page; and it is those few words that make all the difference from a passing description, to a hidden labyrinth of endless possibility and imagery.
“Imagination is the reality of the dreamer.” (Ringenbach 2020) How apt is that statement? It’s something I’m sure even Tolkien would approve of. It was never Tolkien’s intent to embed reality within our minds, but for us to decide upon the reality we perceive from his words; perhaps, in a way, like the Bible.
Who could be aware of such creatures without name, nor form? Eru perhaps? They are, after all, dwelling within the world he created. Surely, of all beings, he would be the most aware of their presence? Could the Valar know of them; those supposedly, ‘all-wise’, ‘all-knowing’ beings who live far from the troubles of Middle-earth? I think not. They were blind to Morgoth’s manipulations during his time in Valinor, the fight of the Noldor, and many more events that shaped the First Age and beyond. Perhaps Morgoth? Some make the claim that the nameless things are creatures of the Dark Lord’s design during the early days of the world, perhaps bred in the lairs of Utumno and Angband. I find this unlikely, as not even Sauron was aware of their presence, as Gandalf states in The Two Towers. As Sauron was Morgoth’s lieutenant, he would be privy to his master’s council and command, rendering any argument for Sauron’s awareness and therefore the likelihood of Morgoth’s creation of them completely improbable. One being that would almost certainly be aware of them would be the Balrog, Durin’s Bane, as it was he who fought Gandalf to the very bowels of the earth, and used the tunnels made by the nameless things to dwell in and travel through. It could even be possible that Durin’s Bane fought with them, mirroring the battle between Morgoth and the Balrogs against Ungoliant, thousands of years before. Perhaps this is some wishful thinking, but I believe that was Tolkien’s intention – to encourage more wishful thinking among his readers.
I would tell you to bear this in mind – are these creatures not of the same design as Ungoliant, the Great Spider; wrenched from the void during the Ainulindalë as the songs of both Eru and Morgoth brought unbalance to the One’s creation? It must be this riff that brought the void’s darkness into the world and, over time, this darkness manifesting itself into those nameless things Gandalf later describes.
The nameless things then, are creatures akin to Ungoliant, who was the incarnation of the void itself: a force of pure darkness, always hungry, always devouring, that brought even Morgoth to heel. If she, a single creature of this kind, could have wrought so much devastation to both the Valar, by draining the life of Laurelin and Telperion (the Two Trees of Valinor), and to Morgoth (by trapping him within her darkened web), then who knows what those nameless things could conjure? As it states, there are multiple ‘things’, so how do we know that, given the chance, they wouldn’t grow to the size of Ungoliant, or even supersede her?
Despite Tolkien’s tendency to narrate the battle between good and evil, he has, perhaps without even realising, created another battle; the battle between light and dark. This is certainly not the same as good versus evil. It is easy for people to categorise light with good and darkness with evil, as this is the perception we often grow up with from our parents telling us stories, to watching children’s programmes or reading superhero comics. It is a very religious narrative, and with Tolkien’s strong practice of Catholicism, it is understandable, but predictable. But this battle between light and dark signifies more the battle between life and death. Nothing can grow without light. No flower. No tree. Nothing. It is what the nameless things typify: the devouring of all life without care, nor understanding for good versus evil; and that is arguably a far greater foe than Morgoth ever could be.
I believe they lie in wait, trapped within their own darkened labyrinth; a prison matched only by the Timeless Void in which Morgoth awaits his fateful return to the world, wrapped within the chains of Angainor and collared by his own monstrous iron crown. Perhaps, when the fateful day of Dagor Dagorath arises, then these creatures will finally rear their heads and reach the surface, hell- bent to extinguish all light within Eä.
– Liam Clements-Pope
Liam is a guest writer for TheOneRing.net and a student at the University of South Wales, UK. He is also an aspiring film director/screenwriter.
References: Tolkien J.R.R. (1954) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. George Allen and Unwin. Ringenbach. S. (2020) Quotes.net (15/11/2020)
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Middle-earth Madness officially starts today! We’ve split our field of 64 characters into four divisions:
Movies Only – characters who appeared only in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and/or The Hobbit movies Books Only – characters who didn’t make the final cut for the movies Movies and Books – characters who graced both the written page and the silver screen Wider Mythos – Middle-earth characters not in the movies from Tolkien’s works outside of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
There are some very interesting match-ups in round one this year. In one of the more intense match-ups in the Movies Only division, Tauriel is up against the Warg Matriarch, Azog’s vicious white warg. A perennial TORn fav, FIGWIT (stay-tuned for the story behind the name if you don’t know it already) takes on Alfrid, and it’s anybody’s guess as to who will come out on top in the match-up between Sebastian the Hedgehog and the Goblin Scribe.
The Books Only division is chock-full of interesting matches such as Ghan-buri-Ghan vs. Quickbeam, and The Fox (who wondered at Hobbits traveling through The Shire in FOTR) vs. Prince Imrahil.
It was almost impossible to narrow down the Movies & Books division with so many amazing choices, but there are some gut-wrenchers in the contests as they stand with Beorn going up against the Balrog and Shelob battling Sauron.
Finally, some of Tolkien’s Titans go mano-a-mano in the Wider Mythos division, with two powerful dragons, Ancalagon and Glaurung battling it out, and Beren and Huan facing each other in what is sure to be a close call.
A note on how the bracket combatants were determined. TheOneRing.net created a document containing all combatants, sub-divided into divisions. We asked staff to cast sixteen votes per division, with the votes having a weight of 1-4. Each staffer cast four 4 votes, four 3 votes, four 2 votes and four 1 votes in each division. We then totaled all the votes from each division to determine their rank, and ultimately placed the top 16 into each bracket for seeding.
As you can imagine, our staff is diverse and the results were very interesting! Not only are there some great match-ups in this first round, the final four will pose some amazing choices between the various literary and film sources.
Games Workshop produces little mini-figures that you can buy, put together, and paint yourself. These little figures are really cool when done up and painted by someone who knows how to handle a brush. Today, we’re pleased to bring you their wave of figures for the second of The Hobbit Trilogy. These figures range in price from $20 for a single figure to $65 for a set of the Dwarves in their barrels. This wave contains 11 new figures which can be pre-ordered by visiting the Games Workshop website.
As we reported earlier, today is The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit day at Comic-Con 2012 (aka #HobbitCon) and LEGO® was kind enough to send us this exclusive image of a brand new ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘ Playset! The set is called ‘An Unexpected Gathering’ and features Bag End with six mini-figures. As you can see in the image above, we have Bofur holding an axe, Bombur with a sausage and knife, Dwalin wielding a really large weapon and knife, Balin with chalice, Gandalf the Grey with walking staff, and Bilbo Baggins. As you can see the set is highly detailed with greenery, vegetables and much more. From the looks of the image we’ll have a nice inside component to play with as well. Stay tuned as we report more from Comic-Con 2012! [Live Coverage]
‘…There are Orcs, very many of them,’ he (Gandalf) said. `And some are large and evil: black Uruks of Mordor. For the moment they are hanging back, but there is something else there. A great cave-troll, I think, or more than one. There is no hope of escape that way…’
I think back on my relatively young life and can fondly recall a few events that I would consider highlights: My marriage to my beautiful wife; the birth of our daughter; TheOneRing.net Oscar Parties from 2002-2004; Finding my dream job with Sideshow; and that time I got to see 26 minutes of The Fellowship of the Ring at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001. As you can read in my original report, I was blown away by the revelation of Peter Jackson’s vision of The Lord of the Rings on the big screen, especially when it came to the infamous Mines of Moria. Sure it was different from the books, but visual execution seemed to transmit my own visions of Middle-earth and put them on the big screen. So many years later, it is now my privilege to relive some of that sequence through the ‘Mines of Moria’ LEGO® Set, now available at most retailers.
As a preface to my review, I need to remind you all that I am not a LEGO® Set expert. My first experience with LEGO® Sets in many years was building the ‘Shelob Attacks‘ set I reviewed last month. So if I get some terminology wrong, please don’t hold it against me :P.
There are a few obvious differences between the ‘Shelob Attacks’ LEGO® Set and ‘The Mines of Moria.’ First, and most obvious, is that the set is much larger and more complex. Whether it is the ‘action’ elements in the gate and right side piece, or it is adding the detailing stickers just in the right place, you will find this set takes anywhere from 3-4 hours to piece together. Let me say…that is not a bad thing! I’m quickly finding myself addicted to the enjoyment and plain old fun of LEGO® Sets again! (After the break I’ve got 84 pictures of the set!)
…the most loathly shape that he had ever beheld…Most like a spider she was, but huger than the great hunting beasts…Great horns she had, and behind her short stalk-like neck was her huge swollen body, a vast bloated bag, swaying and sagging between her legs; its great bulk was black, blotched with livid marks, but the belly underneath was pale and luminous and gave forth a stench. Her legs were bent, with great knobbed joints high above her back, and hairs that stuck out like steel spines, and at each leg’s end there was a claw…
For every Tolkien fan, the name leaps from the pages (and screen) of Middle-earth to invade a commonly held fear in our everyday life – the fear of an impossibly large, eight-legged, creepy-crawly finding us in the dark. *shiver* According to Wikipedia, it is estimated that 55% of women and 18% of men are Arachnophobic. You can count me among those with a mild fear of spiders, which basically means I have to ‘act’ the role of father/husband when it comes disposing of them. I can’t very well unleash a high-pitched scream and run away now can I…
So when I first saw the ‘Shelob Attacks’ LEGO® Set at the 2012 Toy Fare, I have to admit…I was a bit creeped out. Yes, its LEGO® blocks, but the piece is still surprisingly life-like. In fact, one of the reporters getting the sneak peek at this set could not go within 5 feet of the display. Yes, he was that Arachnophobic!
Before we get to the meat of this review, I will warn you ahead of time, that I am in no way a LEGO® Set expert. To be honest, I haven’t touched the popular construction toys for possibly 10 years, so I’m a bit behind the times when it comes to the licensed themed sets. However, I can tell you, within 1 minute of opening the box, the wonderful memories of LEGO® set building came swooping back.