I’m going to kick off Orc Week a day early to give a sort of introduction for what’s to come. Mostly, I’d like to take a look at when and how Tolkien first wrote about the Orcs, how they changed through the decades, and what they mean to us.
Any evaluation of the Orcs always goes back to their in-story origins. It has to, as they are a very potential anomaly. In the Lord of the Rings, Treebeard hints at their origin, while the published Silmarillion seems to clarify it.
The Orcs appear in the earliest of writings, and show up in the most unexpected of places (the North Pole!). Everyone from Fëanor to Beren, from Bilbo to Frodo, and even a Polar Bear does battle with these gobblins.
But who are they? Where did they come from? What did Tolkien actually think about them? And how did his thoughts evolve over the years? All these questions (and really, much much more) will be posed and mostly answered over the coming week. There will be a few surprises thrown in as well.