- "All was well, until one day they met a thunderstorm—more than a thunderstorm, a thunder-battle. You know how terrific a really big thunderstorm can be down in the land and in a river-valley; especially at times when two great thunderstorms meet and class. More terrible still are thunder and lightning in the mountains at night, when storms come up from East and West and make war. The lightning splinters on the peaks, and rocks shiver, and great crashes split the air and go rolling in tumbling into every cave and hollow; and darkness is filled with overwhelming noise and sudden light. Bilbo had never seen or imagined anything of the kind. … When he peeped out in the lightning-flashes, he saw that across the valley the stone-giants were out, and were hurling rocks at 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. Then came a wind and a rain…. Soon they were getting drenched and their ponies were standing with their heads down and their tails between their legs, and some of them were whinnying with fright. they could hear the giants guffawing and shouting all over the mountainsides."
- —Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Over Hill And Under Hill"
Giants were a mysterious race that lived in the Misty Mountains and North Moors of Middle-earth. There are at least two known subspecies described what seem to be generic fairy tale giants (human-like), the stone-giants of the mountains, and Tree-men (which may be regular giants or possibly Ents or Huorns).
The origins of Giants is unknown as is the exact time they began appearing in the Middle-earth; however, but it seemed that they entered the history of the peoples of Middle-earth in the Third Age.
In the HobbitEdit
In The Hobbit, Stone-giants are described as hurling rocks at one another as in a game, during a violent thunderstorm. Bilbo, Gandalf, and the thirteen Dwarves, if they actually saw them, were the only ones Tolkien mentioned as ever having seen them. Their physical form was not explained, nor was much else about them, and the entire passage indicates that the Giants may have been a metaphor for violent lightning strikes and their resultant thunder (or the other way around, and that descriptions of storms and thunder are a metaphor for the giants).
These Giants inhabited the Misty Mountains. It is never stated whether they occurred elsewhere. In The Hobbit, Thorin and Company encounter stone-giants in their trek through the Misty Mountains. The Giants are not in allegiance with the Goblins, however, and do not necessarily appear evil, although they seem far capable of it and very powerful. Elsewhere in the book Beorn having descended from the great and ancient bears that had lived in the mountains long before the giants came.
Gandalf used to tell stories to Bilbo when he was young at parties about dragons, goblins, giants, and rescue of princesses, and the luck of widow's sons. During the riddle game Bilbo thought of all the giants and Ogres he had heard of in tales.
At one point Bilbo sees a rock in a stream, and wondered if it had been cast miles into the plain some giant among giants. He also compares being struck like the crash of battering-rams made of forest oaks and swung by giants.
Gandalf later remarked that he would like to find 'a more or less decent giant' to block several of the orc caves.
In The Lord of the RingsEdit
Giants were only witnessed by Bilbo and the thirteen dwarves who were passing that way, and this information could only be found in the Red Book of Westmarch. Giants were also mentioned in passing at the beginning of chapter 3 of The Fellowship of the Ring. Said to be wandering in the North Moors described as Tree-men, and being as tall as an elm tree or even taller. Sam imagined himself meeting giants that were taller than trees on the journey. There are stories by men that in the far-off glory days of Gondor the sea-kings built the Hornburg with the hands of giants. Gondor is described poetically as not appearing to have been built but carven by giants out of the bones of the earth. Pippin is also later described as a young giant with a loud voice when he returned to the Shire (for he had grown large).
One of the riders of the Mumaks the mighty warrior was a giant among the Swertings (although this may only be poetic description).
In some of Tolkien's earliest writings giants were among the Uvanimor, or monster-folk that were bred in the earth by Melko along with monsters , Nauglath (wicked dwarves) and ogres (and perhaps goblins).
Two Giants were given names in Tolkien's earlier Book of Lost Tales Part 2: Gilim and Nan. In addition some of his other material there is Wade (who may be or have been based on a sea-giant of legend) and Noroth, said to be a giant.
During the development of the Hobbit, an early draft described more traditional human-like giants;
...rescued so many princesses, earls, dukes, widow’s sons and fair maidens from unlamented giants...
Though this was edited to Gandalf telling stories of '...giants and the rescue of princesses' in the final published version.
In a letter by Tolkien, it was mentioned that a Giant was to be included in the Lord of the Rings. Further information discussed in the History of Middle-earth series confirms that the giant later became the basis for Treebeard (early the character was going to be named "Fangorn Treebeard" or the Giant Treebeard), . These prototypical giants were a Big Folk only far bigger and stronger than Men the [?ordinary] Big Folk. Elements of these giants are still mentioned and referenced in relation to the Tree-men description by the hobbits. Which may have become 'tree-giants' before becoming the Ents. Bergrisland (a prototype for Ettenmoors) was derived from Old Norse berg-resi meaning hill-giant. During the writing of LOTR, Tolkien also toyed with the difference between Trolls and Ents, where that Trolls were stone inhabited by a goblin-spirit. Thus trolls were stone-giants, and Ents were the tree-giants.
There may be a loose connection between the giants described in Farmer Giles of Ham and references to generic fairy tale giants mentioned in Hobbit tales. Farmer Giles giants are described as rude and uncultured folk, and troublesome at times, and being as large as elms and stupid. In Tolkien's earliest drafts for LOTR, he wrote;
'Trolls and giants were abroad, of a new and more malevolent kind, no longer dull-witted but full of cunning and wizardry.'
Though 'giants' was edited out of the line in the published editions.
Christopher Tolkien and John Ratliffe speculate that some of the various references to giants by JRR Tolkien are inspired by giants from various mythology including fire-giants, frost-giants, hill-giants, sea-giants, and storm-giants.
Portrayal in AdaptationsEdit
Giants appear in the Peter Jackson film These stone giants were depicted as fighting each other as well as throwing rocks. They appeared as hewn from stone, they appear as the size of mountains, and indistinguishable from a cliff-face when still, they are often mistaken for mountains.
In the video game, they are represented as humanoid creatures made out of stone, who throw stones at Bilbo and unwittingly help him escape.
They appear in Battle for Middle-earth II, as the Goblins can recruit them. They seem to have a reddish tinge to them and throw the largest boulders in the game, being the ultimate Goblin long-range siege engines.
Though normally content in their dangerous pursuits (though only dangerous to non-Mountain Giants) and often neutral towards other species, a few had an unusual alliance with the Goblin king Gorkil, who promised them more interesting 'targets' for the boulders which they hurled.
Also, Angmar convinces other Mountain giants to fight for them, possibly suggested or arranged by Rogash. These can be summoned by Thrall Masters in specific missions and by their respective Tier 3 power (calls two Giants).
They also appear in the video game, where the three heroes must kill one named Bargrisar, who was corrupted by Agandaûr. It is said that they aren't aggressive towards the inhabitants of Middle-Earth, with the exception of Bargrisar.
In The Lord of the Rings Online, there three different races of giants. Two races live in the Misty Mountains. The most human-like race lives in the Misty Mountains and one can be found in the High Moor between Rivendell and Eregion. Another is found north-west of Bree in the woods. Stone-giants appear in Misty Mountains (in a fellowship instance). Finally are the Jorthkyn who are in the North Downs, Lone-lands, and the edge of Angmar.
Behind the scenesEdit
Tolkien's giants were probably based on the Jotun of Norse mythology which are similar in strength and bestial.
John Rateliff notes in The History of the Hobbit;
...‘ent’ simply means ‘giant’ in Old English... The Book of Lost Tales had referred to giants as one of the Úvanimor, or monster-folk (BLT I.75), a thoroughly traditional touch on Tolkien’s part; giants have a long, long tradition in folklore of being extremely dangerous if not downright wicked... Ents are one of the five Free Peoples; giants one of those races which may be called the Children of Morgoth... The stone-giants of The Hobbit do not seem to be aware of the presence of the travellers, but then again there’s no indication that they would have behaved any differently had they known; in short, they are portrayed as a perilous but almost impersonal force, rather like the thunder-storm itself... By contrast, a much more traditional view surfaces in the next chapter – when Bilbo is trying to think of the answer to Gollum’s last riddle (‘This thing all things devours’), his mind is filled with ‘all the horrible names of all the giants and ogres he had ever heard told of in tales’ (p. 158). Here we can plainly see the echoes of such traditional tales as ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ and ‘Jack the Giant Killer’, with their murderous, man-eating giants...Yet not all giants can be such monsters, for a chapter later Bladorthin casually suggests finding ‘a more or less decent giant’ to block up the goblins’ front gate in the mountain pass. It seems, then, that giants occupy a neutral ground, neither good nor evil as a race but varying from individual to individual. Dangerous, certainly – but as Gandalf points out in speaking of Treebeard, powerful and perilous is not the same thing as evil...
- ↑ HotH; "The stone-giants of The Hobbit do not seem to be aware of the presence of the travellers, but then again there’s no indication that they would have behaved any differently had they known; in short, they are portrayed as a perilous but almost impersonal force, rather like the thunder-storm itself.
- ↑ The Hobbit: Roast Mutton
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings
- ↑ The Book of Lost Tales 2
- ↑ Tolkien, J. R. R. (2011-05-03). Tales from the Perilous Realm: Roverandom and Other Classic Faery Stories (Kindle Locations 1389-1393). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.