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This article is about monster-like race. For other uses, see Troll (disambiguation).

Trolls were a very large and monstrous, and for the most part unintelligent,[1] humanoid race inhabiting Middle-earth.

History[]

Melkor devised trolls during the First Age, in the twilight of the Elder Days. They were very strong, but turned into stone in sunlight. Many trolls died in the War of Wrath, but some survived and joined the forces of Sauron, the greatest surviving servant of Melkor. In the Second and Third Age, trolls were among Sauron's most dangerous warriors. He created the Olog-hai, which were smarter than earlier breeds of trolls. While most trolls could not bear exposure to sunlight without turning to stone, the Olog-hai apparently could (to the same extent as Orcs); this attribute was mentioned in The Return of the King as making them particularly dangerous.

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A mountain troll at the Black Gate, used for opening the gate

During Bilbo's quest to the Lonely Mountain, trolls were known to speak with thick Cockney accents, specifically three Hill-trolls who had dwelt on the Ettenmoors and moved down to the Trollshaws. They turned to stone when exposed to sunlight, for stone, as told in The Hobbit, is what trolls were originally made of. They enjoyed eating anything they could get their hands on. While threatening, the trolls in The Hobbit serve as a comic element. They even had normal names: Tom, Bert, and William (Bill) Huggins (the only one with a given surname).

During the War of the Ring, Frodo and the Fellowship encountered Cave-trolls alongside various Orcs within Moria. Boromir's sword recoiled off the scaled hide of one troll. As things seemed perilous, however, the trolls fled (although this was due to the approach of the Balrog, Durin's Bane). Sauron used Olog-hai in the Siege of Gondor and Battle of the Pelennor Fields. In the subsequent Battle of the Black Gate, the hobbit Peregrin Took killed a large Olog-hai troll with his barrow-blade. As a result of the One Ring being destroyed, most of the trolls present at the battle were killed, and the others are known to have fled.

Armored Troll

Rendition of an armored Mountain Troll for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Legacy[]

Sometime during the Fourth Age, Samwise Gamgee wrote a poem called Perry-the-Winkle.[2] In his poem, a Lonely Troll entered the Shire seeking for friends, because he was the last troll "from Weathertop to the Sea". In fact, he was a very strange troll, because he did not steal, drink beer and eat meat. However, when he came to Michel Delving all the secretive and scared Hobbits started to run and hide whenever they saw him. Thus, only Perry-the-Winkle show up and befriended the troll while he was crying outside of the Lockholes. Because the troll was a very good cook, thanked Perry fed him generously. When the other Hobbits learned that Perry had eaten well thanks to the troll, they show up asking for food, but they were refused since they had refused to be his friend. Perry, instead, was invited to tea every Thursday and the troll taught to him how to be a great baker.[3]

Physiology & characteristics[]

Trolls were strong and vicious, but generally dim-witted. Some were described as being able to speak, while others appear to be as irrational as animals. The major weakness of at least some trolls was that they turned to stone in sunlight. Their hide was as thick as stone and nigh-impervious to physical attacks. It is stated that they were created by Melkor, although it's not clear exactly how. The Ent Treebeard says that trolls were "made in mockery" of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves, though not necessarily from Entish stock. However, they could be based on another race of Middle-earth, as neither Morgoth nor Sauron had access to the Secret Fire, and therefore could not create things, only alter that which already existed. There is reference that sunlight will return them to the stone they were made from in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. They seem to be fond of meat, and will eat almost any animal or being they come across. They also have very disgusting manners.

During the wars of Beleriand, Gothmog, the Lord of Balrogs, had a bodyguard of trolls. While leading his men in a final stand to protect the retreat of Turgon and the continued secrecy of the Kingdom of Gondolin, the great warrior Húrin faced them and, due to Morgoth's emphatic orders to have Húrin captured alive, he managed to kill many of them. Their apparently caustic blood, however, melted his axe, allowing Orcs to swarm over him and bind him, his capture ending the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, where Morgoth triumphed over the united armies of Elves, Men, and Dwarves.

During the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, there is a reference to "men-like half-trolls", also called troll-men, but it is unclear whether these men actually had some trollish ancestry or were simply compared to trolls (for some readers, the first interpretation is supported by the similar and interchangeable terms "orc-men" and "half-orcs", referring to crossbreeds of Saruman).

Etymology[]

Torog was the Sindarin name for those of troll-kind. The equivalent term in Black Speech was Olog.

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Stone troll

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A cave troll

Types[]

Originating in Norse mythology, an extremely widespread belief in its time, there are many types of trolls, each unique to its inhabitants:

  • Hill-trolls are described in the chronology at one instance as having killed Arador, grandfather of Aragorn, in the Coldfells. J.R.R. Tolkien described the trolls of that region, including the three from The Hobbit, as stone trolls, suggesting that hill trolls might be a subclass or alternate term for such. However, the Army of the West fought "hill-trolls" of Gorgoroth that could move in sunlight at the Black Gate, inferring that these hill-trolls, at least, were Olog-hai rather than stone-trolls.
  • Cave-trolls were seen in Moria, and were also in the Ettenmoors. One was described as having dark greenish scales and black blood. Their hide was thick enough that when Boromir struck one on the arm his sword was notched and did no damage. However, Frodo Baggins was able to impale the "toeless" foot of the same troll with the enchanted sword Sting.
  • Mountain-trolls were mentioned once, wielding the great battering ram Grond in shattering the gates of Minas Tirith. From their name, they are generally assumed to live in the mountains, and their choice as the creatures to wield Grond is sometimes taken to suggest that they were particularly strong even for trolls.
  • Snow-trolls are alluded to only in comparison to Helm Hammerhand. When Helm went out clad in white during the Long Winter to stalk and slay his enemies, he was described as being "like a snow troll".
  • Olog-hai were "strong, agile, fierce, and cunning" trolls created by Sauron, not unlike the Uruk-hai, and were able to withstand sunlight while under the sway of Sauron.
  • Half-trolls were troll-like humanoids from Harad who served Sauron in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. While it is unlikely that they had any actual troll blood in them, it is still possible (but more likely they were a superior breed of Orcs and/or men).
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Mountain trolls

The Olog-hai seldom spoke and were said to know no language other than the Black Speech, in which Olog-hai means "troll-folk" (singular olog, "troll"). Because of their cunning, they were (incorrectly) believed by some to be giant Orcs rather than trolls. They appeared towards the end of the Third Age and could be found near Dol Guldur and in the mountains around Mordor. In the Battle of the Black Gate, there appear "Hill-trolls" of Gorgoroth, which are implied to be Olog-hai in one of the appendices to The Lord of the Rings (the term is not used within the story proper). These were described as being taller and wider than Men and their hide or armour was described as a mesh of horny scales. They had black blood. Peregrin Took slew one of these trolls at the Battle of the Black Gate and, after the destruction of the One Ring and the fall of Sauron, the surviving trolls scattered as if mindless.

In The Hobbit is implied that could exist a breed of two-headed trolls, but no other details are given.[4]

In adaptations[]

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A snow troll in rage

Rankin and Bass animated films[]

Trolls here are shown as large humanoids of apparently mammalian nature, with large noses and tusks (though Tom's have apparently been broken off in his mouth). Other than Tom, Bert, and William, several trolls in armor are seen in the Siege of Gondor in The Return of the King, as melee fighters and as operators of the battering ram Grond.

Bakshi's animated film[]

Ralph Bakshi's 1978 The Lord of the Rings follows the book very faithfully in its depiction of the encounter with the troll in the Chamber of Mazarbul; however, the troll does have toes here. From the parts of it seen through the door it seems to be a humanoid reptilian around nine feet tall. Tolkien described the troll's foot as flat and toeless. There are no other trolls.

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy[]

In Peter Jackson's 2001 The Fellowship of the Ring, there is also only one cave-troll. Boromir first sights it; it later barges through the open doors, and smashes much of the Chamber of Mazarbul, including Balin's tomb, in the ensuing fight. It stabs Frodo, who is saved by his Mithril shirt (in the book it is an Uruk captain who spears him). It is killed by the members of the Fellowship (though it puts up a good fight), who spear and hack at it until Legolas dispatches it with an arrow through the mouth and skull. It has been noted that, in Jackson's version, light from a window falls on Balin's tomb, which the troll steps into. This theoretically should have turned it to stone, although the light may be coming from the moon during early morning hours.

Ctrol

A cave troll that appears in Moria and confronts the Fellowship

Battle trolls are shown in The Two Towers and The Return of the King, sporting armor and spiked clubs alluded to in the appendices. They are seen at the Siege of Gondor, as primary shock troops entering Minas Tirith when Grond has broken its Gate. At least one survived, which carried a hammer instead of a club, and is seen later, attempting to break down a gate.

Sauron's military used other trolls for moving extremely heavy objects such as gates and siege towers, sometimes chaining them. The cave troll in Moria wore a collar with a trailing chain, suggesting it may have been a former labourer, though this particular specimen was undisciplined enough to attack some of its own allies in the fight, thus perhaps showing others' need to restrain it.

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A troll confronting Aragorn in the third New Line film

Aragorn fights one of the Olog-hai during the Battle of the Black Gate. This Olog's entire upper body is covered in black plate armour. While most trolls in the movies wielded clubs, this one wielded a sword as well as a briefly-seen mace. It fled when the Ring was destroyed, and was last seen running past the ranks of Sauron's army before the ground collapsed beneath them.

The Hobbit film trilogy[]

Hobbler-trolls

Tom, Bert, and William

In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Stone-trolls known as Tom, Bert, and William are encountered by Bilbo, Fíli and Kíli after having stolen several of the Dwarves' ponies. Fíli and Kíli stay back, while Bilbo tries to steal a blade from the trolls to cut the ponies free. When Bilbo is caught accidentally by the trolls, the Dwarves charge them and a small skirmish ensues as Bilbo tries to free the ponies. However, Bilbo is caught, and when the trolls threaten to tear Bilbo apart, the Dwarves surrender and are put into sacks. Half of the Dwarves are put onto the spit to be cooked over the fire, while the others, including Thorin, along with Bilbo, are left on the ground in their sacks. Bilbo spots Gandalf sneaking around, and begins to discuss with the trolls ways of cooking dwarf in order to buy time. As this plan starts to fail as Tom attempts to eat Bombur raw, Bilbo quickly states the Dwarves are infested with intestinal parasites to try to stop the trolls from eating them, but they do not get easily fooled, especially William. Then Gandalf appears, and as the trolls curiously wonder who he is (and if he can be eaten), the wizard using his staff splits a rock that was shielding the trolls from the sun's light as it rises, turning them to stone. After the company was set free, Thorin and Gandalf reflect that the trolls never ventured this far south from the Ettenmoors since the Second Age, when a darker power ruled the lands.

Guldur Olog-Hai

A group of "Guldur Olog-hai"

In Peter Jackson's 2014 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Azog's Orc army is bolstered by a few dozen colossal "Guldur Olog-hai". Some act as siege beasts and carry catapults or similar equipment, while others are used primarily as battle trolls, and are clad in partial plate armor as well as being given cruel weapons such as maces, clubs, and scythed gauntlets. In the fight for the Lonely Mountain, they are seen engaging the allied armies of Dwarves, Elves, and Lake-men in both the large valley of Erebor and the ruined streets of Dale. Most of these trolls stand at about 25–30 feet tall, though a few are smaller, at around the 9–12 foot tall range.

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"Stumpy" being commandeered by Bofur

A large, truncated, albino Olog-hai with multiple prosthetics (who was nicknamed "Stumpy" by the producers) is killed by Legolas during the later portions of the battle. In the Extended Edition of the film, he is first seen in an earlier scene where he is commandeered by Bofur in an effort to fight against the Guldur Orcs and other War Trolls.

Video games[]

In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Volume 1 (1994) SNES, the player can fight Trolls with a sword, dagger or axe. They appear in green and blue palettes, and are the most dangerous enemies.

In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2002), the player can fight trolls as Aragorn or Gandalf.

In The Hobbit: The Prelude to The Lord of the Rings (2003), Bilbo encounters three trolls at the campfire and must sneak past them before he gets caught.

Various movie-only sources, like The Lord of the Rings: Weapons and Warfare, and the spin-off games by Electronic Arts, have expanded on what Tolkien described of trolls.

"Forest trolls" were invented for Electronic Arts' The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. They have hard, grey skin, are resistant to arrow fire, and carry a large quiver of wood logs (to use as firewood and projectiles) and a mace.

Drummer

A drummer troll at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields

For EA's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King video game, trolls also returned as enemy units. Although they were slow, their attacks could not be blocked and were very strong; however, there was often a war pike around that made them easy to kill. They also appeared as enemies in "Lord of the Rings: The Third Age". In this game, they were again slow but powerful, and could take a lot of damage before dying. Some of the later trolls in the game (the Attack Troll) wielded a pair of large swords, while a stronger kind carried massive war hammers.

In the 2010 video game, The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest, Trolls appear as enemy units that Aragorn has to fight.

Cave troll vs gondor soldiers

A cave troll fighting Gondorian soldiers in the BFME series

Trolls also appear as controllable units in The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth, its sequel, The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II and its expansion The Rise of the Witch-king. In The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth, it is necessary for a regular mountain troll to gain a rank (after destroying enemy units, etc.), to become an attack troll, where it gains an armour bonus and can heal by itself as the only non-hero unit who is able to do so. In The Battle for Middle-earth II, attack trolls can be made from a Level 3 Troll Cage. In The Rise of the Witch-king, the Angmar faction has a troll hero named Rogash. Rogash was portrayed to be an apparently relatively intelligent hill-troll, seemingly serving as the Witch-king's key to power over the trolls. Rogash's authority over the trolls is displayed in his ability to convert other trolls on the battle field to the player's side. Rogash is a potent fighter who wears armor and wields a hefty sword. Mountain-trolls and Cave-trolls usually flail when dying in Battle for Middle-earth. In all the Battle for Middle-earth games, trolls serve as "tank" units, and Drummer Trolls who boost the stats of nearby infantry are also available.

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Snow trolls in service of Angmar, as seen in The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch king

Wood trolls in the MMORPG The Lord of the Rings Online are trolls that appear to be semi-Entish and made of wood. They appear in the Trollshaws and Evendim, are particularly difficult to kill, and deal a lot of damage.

The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, produced by Games Workshop, includes an Isengard troll, which is depicted as wearing armour and carrying a shield similar to Uruk-hai.

In Norse mythology, trolls are magical creatures with special skills, and are so accepted to this day in Norway. In Tolkien's writings, they are portrayed as evil, with crude, bloodthirsty habits.

In Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Olog-hai are introduced as a new type of enemy and potential nemesis. The Ologs are portrayed more closely to the sentient, if at times dull portrayal of the trolls from The Hobbit novel rather than the more bestial portrayals in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings film trilogies. The Ologs are capable of speech, with some speaking in broken sentences, others in complete sentences, and occasionally those who only speak in Black Speech. Like the Uruks, Ologs can become captains, warchiefs, or overlords, and can belong to one of the nine tribes present in the game. However, the game only refers to them as trolls rarely, and often instead mislabels them as orcs.

Gallery[]

Translations[]

Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ትሮሎች
Arabic الترول
Belarusian Cyrillic тролі
Bengali ট্রলস
Bulgarian Cyrillic Троловете
Chinese 巨魔 / 食人妖
Croatian Trolovi
Czech Trollové / Zlobři
Danish Trolde
Dutch Trollen
Finnish Peikot
Georgian ტროლები
German Trolle
Greek Τρολλς
Gujarati વેતાળ
Hebrew טרולים
Hungarian Trollok
Italian Troll / vagabondo / Uomini Neri
Kannada ರಾಕ್ಷಸರು
Latvian Troļļi
Persian عضو شورای نظارت مدت
Polish Trolle
Russian Тролли
Slovak Trollovia
Slovenian Škrati
Spanish Trols
Tamil ட்ரால்ஸ்
Telugu ట్రోలు
Turkish Troller
Ukrainian Cyrillic тролі
Yiddish טראָללס

References[]

  1. "Trolls were abroad, no longer dull-witted, but cunning and armed with dreadful weapons." J.R.R. Tolkien (2009-04-17). The Lord of the Rings (p. 44). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
  2. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "Preface"
  3. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, chapter VIII: "Perry-the-Winkle"
  4. The Hobbit, Chapter II: "Roast Mutton"
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