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Armetiel 01-17-2004 04:07 AM

Two Questions about the Stone Giants.
I was just wondering who or what exactly you think the stone giants in "The Hobbit" were or are? Also, whose side were they on in the war of the Ring and what happened to them afterwards. They don't necessarily seem to have been "evil" and Gandalf seemed to have been on speaking terms with them.


"I must see if I can't find a more or less decent giant to block it up again," said Gandalf, "or soon there will be no getting over the mountains at all."
Now this leads me to another entirely different question. Did Gandalf ever find a giant to block up the passage or not? Because it seems to me, that what he predicted would happen if he DIDN'T find them to, happened...It seemed pretty much the case in the Lord of the Rings that there was no getting over the mountains at all, they went under instead. So, if he couldn't find a "decent" giant to block it up, then the way was still opened. If it was opened, why did the fellowship not take this passage through the mountains instead of heading south to Caradhras and eventually Moria.

I mean, i admit that they didn't want to run into the Goblins, but even in the Hobbit Gandalf proved to have a lot of power in him to defeat them, and now he had Aragorn, Legolas and Boromir with him.

Not saying that they would still want to run into the Goblins (or orcs as they are called in LOTR), but I'm imagining that the Goblins would be better than the chance they took on "Cruel Caradhras" or the Passage through the Mines of Moria which Gandalf thought they might end up having to take. There were orcs in both the Mines and Passage that Bilbo took, but at least there was no Balrog. Even if Gandalf didn't know about the Balrog, he knew that there was another stronger kind of evil in the mines.

And now, let's assume that Gandalf DID find a decent giant to block up the passage that Bilbo took. Could he not find another decent giant, if not the same one, to UNBLOCK the passage for just as long as it would take them to get through?

O and one more question...anyone have any idea how big the stone giants were lol? jw.

symestreem 01-17-2004 07:32 AM

Don't forget, Gandalf also had Gimli with him! [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
The stone giants are something of an anomaly. I think maybe they were so low-intelligence/uncaring/irresponsible that they wouldn't have helped anyone in the war. Probably they were like dwarves, and some were decent and some were not. I think Gandalf must not have found a giant to block the cave. Otherwise, they could have gone that way. But perhaps this was unwise for some reason? They may have wanted to avoid coming close to Dol Guldur.

Falagar 01-17-2004 10:06 AM

Gandalf mentiones the reason for not going that way in Fotr:

"Their purpose was to hold their course west of the Mountains for many miles and days. The country was much rougher and more barren than in the green vale of the Great River in Wilderland on the other side of the range, and their going would be slow; but they hoped in this way to escape the notice of unfriendly eyes."

The Barrow-Wight 01-17-2004 10:46 AM

Past discussions of this topic can be found in our Huadh-en-Ndengin Index under Giants

Since those discussions are all quite old, feel free to continue the discussion here.

Armetiel 01-17-2004 12:09 PM

Thank you. I will certainly go and read what is said there The Barrow-Wight. however, although I have read that quote from FOTR that you gave Falagar, many times it seems to me that it was meant more as they were staying on the west side of the mountains to avoid being seen when crossing them, however if they went under the mountains through the path that Bilbo took my guess is that they still would not have been seen. I also wonder if it is possible that the giants be distant relative to Ghan-Buri-Ghan and the other Druadan lol

Noxomanus 01-18-2004 04:43 AM

I think these Giants represent a different species of humanoid,untold of elsewhere in Tolkiens work.
They certainly weren't Hobbits,Dwarves,Druedain or Elves. No need for explaining why.

They could have been a sort of Orc or Troll but the fact that these are evil and Gandalf is on speaking terms with Giants seems to imply this isn't the case.

Ents are a possibility as these are very large and extremely strong, but Ents are connected with forests and don't seem to be of the violent kind,throwing rocks at bypassers or using them as a football. Huorns look like trees and are not humanoid,as the Giants do seem to be.

I don't think they were Ainur either as these would seem to be a bit more intelligent then these Stone-Giants and it seems all in all unlikely that they are Ainur.

It is a possibility that they were in fact a kind of Men. Men are quite diverse and this seems to have been the case in ME as well. And think about Samoans,those guys are huge and would really be Giants in the eyes of Hobbits,Dwarves and an old man bend over a staff. Not to imply Giants were Samoans but to mean Men can get very large and impressive.

And then,they could be beasts of some kind. It would be a good explanation of their rather violent play and lack of human-level intelligence. The fact that Gandalf could speak with them doesn't have to be an objection;The Wizards are said to have 'conversed with the people of ME and birds and beasts the like.'

To conclude I think these Giants are either Men,Beasts or a seperate kind.

The Squatter of Amon Rdh 01-18-2004 07:48 AM

I think it is important to remember that when Tolkien wrote The Hobbit he had no idea that he would later write The Lord of the Rings. It was never intended to be the sort of high adventure that the later work was, and it naturally contained many elements of Farie that were inappropriate or difficult to place in the later conception. He could rewrite it to a certain extent to fit with the later book (such as in the case of Bilbo's meeting with Gollum), but he tended to do this only when he had to do so to avoid direct contradiction. As a result, there are a number of places where The Hobbit and its sequel don't quite see eye to eye: an auctorial failing that doesn't significantly affect the story except for the most incurable pedant.

The Stone Giants would have to be extremely large. Although their size is not mentioned, Thorin says: "If we don't get blown off, or drowned, or struck by lightning, we shall be picked up by some giant and kicked sky-high for a football". If the relative size of the giants to Dwarves is similar to that of a man to a soccer ball, their height can be judged to have been great indeed. Also, I hardly think that Bilbo would have thought it worth noticing their game if the rocks they were throwing were of less than massive size. If they are related to any creature in Middle-earth, the most likely would seem to be trolls, although they still fail to agree with the idea that those are creatures of Morgoth. The Stone Giants seem to be a fairly neutral force, almost a personification of avalanches, although this idea is never developed. I believe that they would have been as neutral in the war as the mountains themselves.

As for the passage of the Misty Mountains: Thorin and company leave Rivendell at midsummer, so they arrive at the mountains at just the right time of year to find a high pass open to travellers. When the Fellowship of the Ring leave Rivendell, it is December 25th. Any high passes in the mountains will be completely closed, which is why they never even consider this alternative. The Redhorn Pass is clearly at a lower altitude, and even that proves impassable to the Fellowship.

It must be remembered that Thorin, Gandalf and company do not plan to use the goblin passages to cross the mountains, being completely unaware that there is an entrance in the pass. The pass itself is their intended route across, and the episode in Goblin Town is an unexpected diversion. Gandalf wanted to block up the entrance to the Goblin city precisely in order to make the high pass a little safer for travellers, since going through Orc tunnels is hardly the wisest route to take across the mountains. If he ever found his more or less decent Giant, I think we can be sure that the entrance would have stayed well and truly blocked.

Selmo 01-18-2004 09:35 AM

I don't think that Gandalf and Thorin were speaking of actual giants.
They were using the words "stone giants" in the same way that we might say "The Gods are angry" when there is thunder. It's not meant to be taken literally.

The Squatter of Amon Rdh 01-18-2004 10:05 AM

I don't think we can say that with any certainty. After all, Gandalf doesn't normally anthropomorphise natural phenomena; and in any case Bilbo actually sees the Giants:

When he peeped out in the lightning-flashes, he saw that across the valley the stone-giants were out, and were hurling rocks one another for a game, and catching them, and tossing them down into the darkness where they smashed among the trees far below, or splintered into little bits with a bang.

Knight of Gondor 01-18-2004 03:19 PM

The stone giants always puzzled me too. Giants are elements of lots of Fairy tales, and are even featured in Chronicles of Narnia, both good and bad.

But in that passage of The Hobbit is the only place (as far as I know) where giants are mentioned. I think it might relate to the fact that there are several elements in The Hobbit which aren't part of the trilogy itself. Gandalf is rather conceited, and there's a good deal more silliness, sort of. I shouldn't wonder if the giants were abandoned elements later on, but made it in The Hobbit.

It's also possible that these might be trolls. In the verse about trolls, it's said that one might as well lay foot to stone as kick a troll's kiester. And they DO turn to stone when daylight hits them.

Lost One 01-18-2004 03:37 PM

In LOTR there is talk in the Green Dragon of 'giants' seen walking on the borders of the Shire.

samrohan 01-22-2004 03:19 PM

People in pubs and inns talk a lot of rubbish. Presumably Hobbits do the same.

I can't remember reading anything about giants in the Hobbit or the LOTR. However I have not read the Hobbits for a few years. Is the quote not just purely speculative, does Gandalf not talk using metaphores.

I don't believe there were any giants on Middle Earth bigger than Trolls and Ents. If there were, surely Sauron would have found a way to enslave them too to his cause.

The Saucepan Man 01-24-2004 12:13 AM

I may be missing something here, but in a world where Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Trolls and Balrogs exist, I don't see any problem with accepting Bilbo's account of the existence of Stone Giants.

Then again, maybe that's the ex-D&D'er in me talking. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]

KamexKoopa 12-27-2012 03:53 PM

They don't seem to directly tie in with anything else from Tolkienverse that I remember ... it's been a while since reading Silmarillion, is there anything which could ambiguously be them from that?

Notice how in the Hobbit movie, PJ turns a distant spectacle into a silly action sequence? You can't put any variation of the words "giant monster" in front of him and not expect a drawn out scene :rolleyes:

EluThingol 01-31-2013 08:55 AM


Originally Posted by KamexKoopa (Post 678561)
They don't seem to directly tie in with anything else from Tolkienverse that I remember ... it's been a while since reading Silmarillion, is there anything which could ambiguously be them from that?

Notice how in the Hobbit movie, PJ turns a distant spectacle into a silly action sequence? You can't put any variation of the words "giant monster" in front of him and not expect a drawn out scene :rolleyes:

Indeed I thought about Jackson merely using these creatures, even the very thin rumor of them from the actual book, as a whole spectacle for the movie.

But then again you sort of have to do that a little bit in hollywood, taking these movies as an adaptation of a tale rather than the screen version of what you read.

That being said, there are many times where Tolkien (in all his work) references creatures that come from mysterious places, and spirits that are totally undefined as far as the lord of the peoples of middle earth. Using my willing suspension of disbelief, and of course my overly active imagination, I chalked them up to being a form of primordial spirits of the mountains, whose existence is so unrelated to the politics and energies of middle earth to the point that they just do their rock-thing every once in a while and then slumber without paying too much attention to anything else.

I liken it to a bunch of like, children playing in the dirt where there is an entire civil war going on underneath them between ants. Stone giants may very well be maiar of some sort, or maybe even living (violent) shepards of rock akin to ents.

William Cloud Hicklin 02-01-2013 11:56 AM

Even well after The Hobbit became more or less an official extension of the Legendarium, Tolkien thought that his universe included Giants. In early sketches for The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf was to be held prisoner not by Saruman (who hadn't yet been invented), but by the "Giant Treebeard." Subsequently Bilbo, then Bingo/Frodo, then Legolas and Gimli were supposed to encounter "Giant Treebeard," who morphed from evil to "decent" to good, and eventually of course became an Ent (itself just an Old English word for "giant").

It's also I think the case, even in the context of the published "official canon," that we shouldn't try to fit everything into neat pigeonholes; T himself certainly felt that reality, even feigned reality, was always full of exceptions, enigmas, and "strange creatures beyond count."

Notice how in the Hobbit movie, PJ turns a distant spectacle into a silly action sequence? You can't put any variation of the words "giant monster" in front of him and not expect a drawn out scene


Galin 02-01-2013 12:51 PM

In addition to what WCH noted, in the sequel to The Hobbit Tolkien described a Big Folk, seemingly mannish giants, but as The Lord of the Rings took shape these beings got revised away. Also Treebeard was notably huge in early drafts, and even he 'shrunk' considerably.

'Fangorn is an evergreen (oak holly?) forest. Trees of vast height. () If Treebeard comes in at all -- let him be kindly and rather good? About 50 feet high with barky skin. Hair and beard rather like twigs. Clothed in dark green like a mail of short shining leaves. He has a castle in the black mountains and many thanes and followers. They look like young trees [?when] they stand. () The tree-giants assail the besiegers and rescue Trotter &c. and raise siege.'

In The Lord of the Rings Hobbits certainly seem to think giants might exist at least: 'But what about these Tree-men, these giants as you might call them? They do say that one bigger than a tree was seen...'

'He [Sam] had imagined himself meeting giants taller than trees, and other creatures even more terrifying, some time or other in the course of his journey, but at the moment he was finding his first sight of Men and their tall houses quite enough, indeed too much for the dark end of a tiring day.'

But neither of these are, in my opinion, like Gandalf actually saying he's going to ask a giant for help, and Gandalf will later explain: 'Some say that he is a bear descended from the great and ancient bears of the mountains that lived there before the giants came.'

Which of course makes one wonder is 'some' are right or wrong about the giants ;)

EluThingol 02-08-2013 09:48 AM

I think Tolkien would have liked that we make assumptions and form hypothesis, collecting facts and trading quips. THe level of mystery here was something he put there for that very thing.

that clever bastard

Inziladun 02-08-2013 11:15 AM


Originally Posted by EluThingol (Post 681218)
I think Tolkien would have liked that we make assumptions and form hypothesis, collecting facts and trading quips. THe level of mystery here was something he put there for that very thing.

Well, we've been doing exactly that at this forum for over twelve years now, so I like to think the old fellow is smiling down on us. :)

My wild theory on the giants is that they were the Entwives, who had camouflaged themselves and gone to the mountains to get away from it all. ;)

Huinesoron 04-12-2019 06:39 AM


Originally Posted by Inziladun (Post 681224)
Well, we've been doing exactly that at this forum for over twelve years now, so I like to think the old fellow is smiling down on us. :)

Over eighteen, now, and still going strong... :)

While looking into giants for a recent Password, I came up with a new theory: could Stone Giants be Morgoth's construction equipment?

This theory is based mostly on the tale of Tarlang, which Tolkien Gateway renders as follows:


Originally Posted by Tolkien Gateway: Tarlang
According to folklore, Tarlang belonged to a group of giants who in "ancient days" were building the White Mountains in order to prevent Men from entering the giants' land close by the Sea. While carrying a heavy load of rocks, Tarlang stumbled and fell on his face, fatally breaking his neck. His corpse was used by the other giants to finish the wall: his remants formed the pass Tarlang's Neck (from the break in his neck), Dol Tarlang (consisting of his head), and Cl Veleg and Cl Bn (remnants of his load of rocks).

Like the two references in The Hobbit (Stone-Giants in the storm, and Gandalf's 'more or less decent' reference), these giants are known only for building - specifically, building mountains. Assuming we discount the idea that they were working for themselves, who do we know who might need to raise mountain ranges? Well... Melkor raised the Misty Mountains to inconvenience Orome, and later formed Thangorodrim (no word on whether he also lifted up the Iron Mountains behind it). Findegil's map comparisons show that the Mountains of Mordor and the White Mountains would both have started out as the sea-bed of the Inland Sea of Helkar - which means that someone must have deliberately raised them up, too. Melkor or Sauron, the result is the same - heavy-duty earthworks by the Dark Lord.

Could they pull that off just by their own innate power? It's not impossible - the Valar appear to have increased the height of the Pelori that way after the death of the Trees. But it probably takes a lot of effort, right? If, instead, you can build a handful of semi-autonomous G.I.A.N.T.-class rock transporters and let them handle it... well, why not?

There's nothing in the canon to indicate the giants must have been intelligent. Bilbo thinks he sees them playing, but they could just have been moving rocks around to repair the mountains. Gandalf says 'decent', but he could mean 'in decent condition' - if they're constructs, they're going on ten thousand years old; a lot of them are probably broken down into rocks by now.

And Tarlang? Ignore the Gondorian 'land of giants' folklore and see it for what it is: a machine, tasked by Sauron to build up the south coast against the flooding of the Fall of Beleriand, that broke down and was left in situ afterwards.

(Per the obscure characters thread, Gilim and Nan are probably irrelevant to this discussion - they're either weird incarnations of Summer and Winter, or - if 'like an elm' applies to both of them - Ents.)


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