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Are the swords sentient beings?


Jan 11 2013, 6:18pm

Post #1 of 16 (719 views)
Are the swords sentient beings? Can't Post

The One Ring is a magic ring which tempts and seduces everyone around it. The swords also seems to be much more than just sharp metal objects. They are given names, fates, they glow if enemies are present and some of them seem to give the bearer almost supernatural skills. And some of them only accept specific people, for example a king.

The most bizarre sequence of all though is from Children of Hurin. I quote:

"There is malice in this sword. The heart of the smith still dwells in it, and that heart was dark. It will not love the hand that it serves; neither will it abide with you long."
In the end of the book, the sword is actually TALKING to Túrin himself, ridiculing him for his mistakes and eager to take his life.

So what do you think? Are swords like Glaurung, Orcrist, Sting and Narsil / Anduril living objects with a personality and will of their own?


Jan 11 2013, 6:29pm

Post #2 of 16 (418 views)
You can read that [In reply to] Can't Post

and take a different interpretation, of course. The 'talking sword' could be Turn's fractured mind at that point, considering all he went through. It's almost like Gollum's plight at that point.

However, I think it's implied that some magical items were imbued with the spirit and will of their masters, so it's a sound theory. In terms of the movies, we probably won't see the Arkenstone whispering to Thorin, but it might make him see grandiose visions of himself. Sort of like Ralphie's many reveries in A Christmas Story. :)


Jan 11 2013, 6:30pm

Post #3 of 16 (427 views)
Glaurung was 100% sentient! [In reply to] Can't Post

Anglachel on the other hand ...


The passage certainly implies that the sword is "sentient", in that it spoke to Turin. It was made by the malice of Eol, so was it the sword's own thoughts, or Eol's? And if they were Eol's, then does it make it "sentient"?

And even then, one could read it metaphorically (as, I think, Rostron suggests above). Do Balrogs have wings? Are Stone Giants real? Is Anglachel sentient? They all fit under the same discussion, I suppose.

The best way to explore its sentiency is by comparing it with the talking purse. The talking purse is the epitome of a sentient object in Middle-earth. I don't think Anglachel and the talking purse are on the same sentient level. Unless Eol made the talking purse as well.

As for Sting etc., I don't think they are sentient. Tolkien certainly never implies this. The only objects that are implied to be sentient are Anglachel, the One Ring, and the purse.

(This post was edited by DanielLB on Jan 11 2013, 6:37pm)


Jan 11 2013, 6:35pm

Post #4 of 16 (366 views)
Ooops... [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry, I meant "Glamdring"... Blush


Jan 11 2013, 6:36pm

Post #5 of 16 (362 views)
Independent or not? [In reply to] Can't Post

So, when Eol was killed, did the sword "die" as well?


Jan 11 2013, 6:43pm

Post #6 of 16 (344 views)
interesting [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not sure I would say sentient, perhaps imbued with a singular purpose or multifold purpose and ability. Glamdring and Orcrist and sting, are all made to kill Goblins, and other evil creatures of Morgoth's corruption, therefore they glow almost with glee in their presence. Narsil and then Anduril gleem like fire when they go to war held by the king. So there is a definite magic to them. Anglachel, is similar but then comes the idea of darkness being more sinister. We never hear if the other ring of power whisper to their masters, or if the three elven rings untouched by Sauron guide their masters in a way like the One leads its bearers. In my opinion it comes down to the purposes of its creator, the swords maker gives it the purpose and strength it would have.

"clever hobbits to climb so high!"
Check out my writing www.jdstudios.wordpress.com

(This post was edited by elevorn on Jan 11 2013, 6:43pm)


Jan 11 2013, 6:47pm

Post #7 of 16 (341 views)
Maybe it was like The One Ring? [In reply to] Can't Post

Part of his soul was in it? Or memories?



Jan 11 2013, 6:54pm

Post #8 of 16 (335 views)
It's a pretty multi-faceted issue. [In reply to] Can't Post

It generally seems that in Middle-Earth making a magical object means pouring a portion of yourself into the creation. This theme is apparent anywhere from the Silmarils to the One Ring, and even the statues made by the Drúedain. So if a part of you lives on in the object that you have created, it could be said that there is a degree of sentience in the item, but I don't think it's ever exactly like a thinking human mind, more like echoes of the thoughts and emotions that you had while making the object. In the case of the talking sword, it may have reflected Túrin's despair back in words because there was so much hate imbued in it, but it's pretty ambiguous, all things considered.


Jan 11 2013, 6:55pm

Post #9 of 16 (397 views)
like a horcrux? as bad as that is to say [In reply to] Can't Post

Though one must admit that Rowling had an inkling of Tolkien inspiration with that bit of writing (pun not intended)

"clever hobbits to climb so high!"
Check out my writing www.jdstudios.wordpress.com


Jan 12 2013, 1:13am

Post #10 of 16 (266 views)
It could be that Eöl had the lore to put in Anglachel [In reply to] Can't Post

a spirit the way it was done with the watchers of the tower of Cirith Ungol. He seems the kind of guy who would like doing things like that. It could be that the meteorite itself was a fallen spirit in metal form coming from the darkness outside and Eöl had the craft to isolate some characteristics of it in Anglachel and others in Anguirel. In any case it is a very interesting question.

Tol Eressea

Jan 12 2013, 2:01am

Post #11 of 16 (257 views)
LOL ok Daniel, we know you dig the purse :P :P XD // [In reply to] Can't Post


--I'm a victim of Bifurcation--

Join us over at Barliman's chat all day, any day!


Jan 12 2013, 10:32am

Post #12 of 16 (244 views)
I had to slip it in there somewhere ;-) / [In reply to] Can't Post



Jan 12 2013, 11:19am

Post #13 of 16 (231 views)
Talking purses [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe you should have asked for a talking purse this Christmas. Surely, it can´t be that hard to manufacture a purse that utters a few whimsical Hobbit lines when handled.

Grey Havens

Jan 12 2013, 4:44pm

Post #14 of 16 (252 views)
If they can do talking refrigerators and cars, why not?? [In reply to] Can't Post

Though I really don't want one.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com


Jan 16 2013, 5:06pm

Post #15 of 16 (164 views)
I see a business opportunity here [In reply to] Can't Post

Daniel, get on it! Make a talking purse, and you've got an instant market for this kind of thing.


Jan 16 2013, 8:52pm

Post #16 of 16 (232 views)
well, they do seem pretty sharp! [In reply to] Can't Post

(sorry, but someone had to say it!)

In the world of the films, they made the Ring a character, that carried out actions on its own - "it abandoned Gollum", etc. It even talks on occasion. I wouldn't put the film swords in that same category though -- I see them more as more extensions of the characters who carry them, or touchstones for the cultures and heritage they represent.

In the books, I don't see the swords as having any kind of will or intelligence though, except for Turin's. And in that case, Turin is really at his wit's end by then -- the sword-dialogue to me seems more like a manifestation of his thoughts, or a projection. Or a way to externalize his thoughts for the reader, perhaps.

And now you have me thinking of Stormbringer in the Elric saga -- which is like a very, very bad boss I once worked for!



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