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Old 01-18-2004, 07:48 AM   #7
The Squatter of Amon Rdh
Spectre of Decay
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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.
Man kenuva mtim' andne?
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