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Olog Haiís and Lows

by The Barrow-Wight


Appendix F. of The Lord of the Rings describes a new breed of troll, the Olog-hai, bred by Sauron in the late Third Age with the unusual ability (for trolls) to go about in the sunlight without petrification, a power which was available when the projected will of the Dark Lord was upon them. Sauron also heavily armed the Olog-hai and gave them a rudimentary education in the Black Speech These new trolls made their first appearances in Southern Mirkwood and the mountain borders of Mordor.

In the War of the Ring, Sauron used many trolls extensively in his forces as an equivalent to heavy cavalry and shock troops. Daytime trolls such as the Olog-hai would certainly have proved to be extremely beneficial to his forces and devastating to those of his enemies. But, since many of the battles fought in the war were fought in the hours of daylight, were all of the trolls in Sauronís armies of the Olog-hai variety, or were other breeds of trolls also able to fight beyond the hours of darkness? We have to look at the history of trolls for possible answers.

Trolls have their beginning far back in the dawn of the First Age where, according to Treebeard, they were made by Morgoth in mockery of Ents. Originally they were all dull and lumpish in nature, very unintelligent and posessing no language. They were very strong, powerful and extremely large in size, sometimes nearly as big as Ents. But the early trolls had one great weakness, they could not endure the light of the Sun. When exposed to its rays they immediately and permanently turned to stone.

During the long years of the First Age trolls slowly evolved into at least two different varieties: those that turned to stone in sunlight and those that didnít. The day-walking trolls were first witnessed in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad where they formed the guard of Gothmog. During that battle, Hķrin was overcome after slaying seventy of the creatures, spewing their black blood with each hew of his axe. But he was eventually overcome as Ď the sun went down beyond the seaí.

As time went on and the Ages passed, not much was seen of trolls until near the end of the Third Age. By then trolls had apparently divided into five distinct types, some achieving increased abilites and intelligence along the way.

According to the Red Book of Westmarch the Stone-trolls living in the western parts of Middle-Earth spoke a debased form of Common Speech. Because Tom, Bert, and William, the three trolls famous for their part in The Hobbit, spoke Westron of a sort, it was likely they were Stone-trolls. If so, Stone-trolls were a troll type unable to withstand the sun.

There were several trolls in Moria which Gandalf thought were cave-trolls. If the wizard was correct, Cave-trolls were very large, had green, scalish skin and toeless feet. Their hides were so tough that only Frodoís blade Sting could pierce them. Like their original ancestors of the First Age, they bled black. Their reaction to exposure to the sun is uncertain, but being cave-trolls they were like as afraid of the sun as stone-trolls were.

Another type of troll was the Hill-troll. This breed of troll lived in and around Gorogoth. They were taller and broader than Men, wore huge round bucklers and wielded heavy hammers in battle. They had a terrible practice of biting the throats of creatures they felled in combat. They were hill-trolls that swarmed out of the Morannon against the armies of Gondor. Again, black blood is seen gushing at a wound caused by a blade of Westernesse, this time wielded by Pippin of the Shire.

Yet another breed of troll was employed by Sauron in the War. Mountain-trolls were present at the Siege of Gondor wielding the great battering ram Grond against the Gate of Minas Tirith.

From these descriptions it is plain the the Olog-hai, being only recently developed, were probably not the only day-trolls in Sauronís arsenal. The ancient trolls of Gothmogís train certainly predate them. The Hill-trolls worked quite well in the sunlight during the battle at the Black Gate, and the Mountain-trolls were able to travel all the way to Minas-Tirith to participate in the Siege of Gondor and the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. The Stone-trolls and Cave-troll were probably not present in Sauronís traveling forces.

The Olog-hai variety of trolls is only referenced once in The Lord of the Rings. Otherwise trolls are identified simply as trolls or as the type of troll they are: hill-, cave-, mountain- or stone-trolls. Orcs on the other hand are identified as orcs or as Uruk-hai, the super-orc equivalent of the Olog-hai. Throughout the books it is plain when an orc is being identified as an Uruk-hai because the orcs themselves will usually say so. But when trolls are shown they are never labelled as Olog-hais.

If Gandalf had just once labelled any trolls as Olog-hai like he labelled orcs as Uruks in Moria, then the question might be answered. But, since there are obviously different types of trolls that can stand the sunlight and sun-proof trolls existed long before the Third Age, it would be impossible to assume that all trolls in Sauronís service were Olog-hai and equally impossible to accurately label a troll as Olog-hai simply because he walked in the sun.

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