Well here’s a familiar sight! Frodo and the boys stumble onto the anachronistically named Trolls: Tom, Bert and William.
Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 12 (p205-8, 50th Anniv. Ed.)
For some reason or another (I think I know why, but more on that soon), in this passage Strider doesn’t really seem like himself. He’s a bit too bubbly. That’s weird, right? He just seems out of character.
When Pippin comes running back telling everyone that he’s seen trolls down “in a clearing of the woods,” they proto-fellowship, led by Strider, who picked up a stick, went to check them out.
“Strider walked forward unconcernedly. ‘Get up, old stone!’ he said, and broke his stick upon the stooping troll.”
When the hobbits come to their senses and realize that they’re standing among the trolls turned to stone in The Hobbit, they all have a good laugh at themselves (except Pippin, who’s still a bit shaken). Strider replies:
“It is broad daylight and with a bright sun, and yet you come back trying to scare me with a tale of live trolls waiting for us in the glade! In any case you might have noticed that one of them has an old bird’s nest behind his ear. That would be a most unusual ornament for a live troll!”
To me, this sounds quite a bit like hobbit-speak. And it’s no wonder, really. This goes back to our old friend Trotter, the wooden-shoed hobbit, who played the roll of Strider in the early drafts of the story, before Strider became Aragorn.
The original draft is nearly identical to the final, published version, except for the lines spoken by Trotter/Strider.
“Trotter walked forward unconcernedly. ‘Hullo, William!’ he said, and slapped the stooping troll soundly.’ And he said: ‘In any case you might have noticed that Bert has got a bird’s nest behind his ear.'”
It’s slightly different – Trotter knows the story well and uses the Trolls’ names. It seems like he’s been here before. But there’s enough of the hobbit-speak left in the final draft to throw Strider’s character off a bit.
This version, written in 1938ish remained unchanged until 1942 when the Trolls’ names were dropped and Sam was finally given his song.
They had not had a song since Weathertop, which was twelve days past. And so Sam began to sing off the top of his head. Seriously. Sam is awesome. You can listen to Rob Inglis singing it here. His version is based upon Tolkien’s own (which had slightly different lyrics). You can hear that here.
Anyway, the song was originally to be sung by Frodo at the Prancing Pony, but when Tolkien discovered that the proto-fellowship had come to the same trollish haunts as Bilbo, he couldn’t do anything but use it here!
Following the song, Strider and the hobbits continue on toward the East Road.
A Few Notes
- This is such an important turn of the story, and yet I hardly have anything to say about it. Maybe I’m just excited about Glorfindel. “Hail, and well met at last!” Or rather, well met in a few days. Hold tight, kiddos!
- If you’ve not listened to Rob Inglis reading The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, you’re truly missing out. I know it’s fun to hear Tolkien read his own work, but Inglis is a voice actor and really does the work justice.
About the Photo
This is the Fremont Troll. It’s a huge sculpture constructed under the Aurora Bridge in Seattle. How bit? Well under his right hand is an actual VW Bug. I never get tired of visiting him, and a few summers ago, a local drama troupe even performed Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew around and on him.
- Day 80
- Miles today: 5
- Miles thus far: 396
- 63 miles to Rivendell
- 1,383 miles to Mt. Doom
Today’s stopping place: Book I, Chapter 12. Just past the old stone trolls. (map)