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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Did anyone fathom the Isengard connection

Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Oct 1, 8:17am

Post #1 of 18 (1921 views)
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Did anyone fathom the Isengard connection Can't Post

Before it was nearly too late. At the end of the third age, many people turned up at Bree some of which where under the command of Saruman and up to no good. Now, then I suppose that people coming from the south was not a new thing in Bree, but I wonder if anyone of the Rangers or even in Bree figured out that the newcomers where under the instruction of Isengard. And even mentioned this to someone such as Strider. And if such would anyone think that they where under Saruman command and if so why was the head of the Wise sending these people over to Bree to cause trouble?


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 1, 2:06pm

Post #2 of 18 (1854 views)
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Maybe some of the Rangers. [In reply to] Can't Post

I doubt that many (if any) Bree-landers would have even heard of Isengard, or would have known the name Saruman. The more suspicious might have well guessed that some strangers were spies, but would have had their own ideas (largely wrong) about their masters.

Veteran Rangers might have known or guessed that Saruman used spies; however, they had no reason to suspect the wizard of ill intentions.

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." - DRWolf (after John C. Maxwell)


Solicitr
Rohan

Oct 1, 3:41pm

Post #3 of 18 (1841 views)
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Well, [In reply to] Can't Post

A couple of the Southerners were Saruman's agents, but by far the greater part of them were simply refugees. Rather like the recent wave of incomers into Europe from the Midle East: only a handful were ISIS or Al-Qaeda infiltrators mingling with huge numbers of genuine refugees, or at least economic migrants.

Moreover, according to Barliman the narrative's one actual, designated spy, the one with the squint, had only arrived very recently in Bree. (This is backed up in The Hunt For The Ring, where said spy was overtaken by the Nazgul and intimidated into working for them; this was a mere matter of days before Frodo & co arrived.)


InTheChair
Lorien

Oct 1, 7:48pm

Post #4 of 18 (1812 views)
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What caused it? [In reply to] Can't Post

Is it ever really explained why they were migrating northward? And who they were? Dunlendings one would suspect, rather than Rohirrim or Gondorians, and it is possible they might have been fleeing powerstuggles in Dunland engineered by Saruman, but I don't remember if it is ever specified anywhere? All I remember is something about rumours of war in the South. Could mean assault on the Bridges at Osgiliath, or it could refer to unrest further south in Harad, though that seems more unlikely.

There is of course the Nazgul roaming about, and the unreasonable fear they project. That might account for some of it maybe. Then there are wolves of Sauron and Saruman roaming about, though these latter seems like they could have been opposed by an organized dwelling. Or perhaps it could be that Dunland was beggining to feel cramped? A sort of economical migration. The fellow talking in the Prancing Pony suggests something on those lines, though he possibly did it only as a facade for more sinister motives.

What else? The Watcher in the Water? Did anyone live in Hollin?


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 1, 9:27pm

Post #5 of 18 (1800 views)
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Southerners [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I would expect that most Men from the South who might have appeared in Bree would have been either Dunlendings or possibly folk belonging to the Wild Men of Enedwaith (though according to Unfinished Tales, that folk were kin to the Woses of the Druadan Forest). Some might have been Rohirrim or Gondorians who had fallen under the sway of Saruman or even Sauron himself. It doesn't seem very likely, but might Bree have received any visitors originating from Umbar, Harad or the East?

It has been long suspected that the "squint-eyed" associate of Bill Ferny was in reality one of Saruman's "goblin-men", though that is far from a confirmed fact.

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." - DRWolf (after John C. Maxwell)


noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 2, 3:40pm

Post #6 of 18 (1725 views)
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it's never quite added up for me [In reply to] Can't Post

 
Most likely, it's too trivial a detail for Tolkien to have thought through. But it seems there are some refugees when it suits (met in the Shire or in Bree to spread rumours of wider disturbances; to be the Ruffians later) but otherwise the roads of Middle-earth are empty.

The lands of Middle-earth seem empty too. People arriving at Bree or The Shire have passed through many seemingly ownerless and empty lands - why not stop there, at least temporarily, if it's population pressure or threat of war, rather than trying to reach a certain destination?

How about the timings? The odd traveller has been turning up long before Frodo sets out, but the War of the Ring has only properly started the summer before Frodo turns up in Bree (with the attempt to rescue Gollum, and the attack on bridges to get the Black Riders across the Anduin). If people are refugess from those events, haven't they travelled awfully fast? Some other events even further off the map could of course have started refugees out earlier, but then they'd have to have travelled even further.

Flee-for-your-life situations put whole families of refugees on the roads. Tolkien doesn't mention women, children, pigs and sheep. That said, nor does he identify the party we hear about in Bree as being all male.

I'm not sure we're dealing with mass migration. For the parochial Bree folk or Shire folk, maybe the arrival of just a few strangers would seem like a major immigration?

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Solicitr
Rohan

Oct 3, 3:55pm

Post #7 of 18 (1613 views)
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Well, [In reply to] Can't Post

The distance from Dunland to Bree up the Greenway wasn't all that great, compared to, say, the 3500-km Oregon Trail, and even that famously arduous journey which included crossing a nasty mountain range only took on average about 140 days.


Solicitr
Rohan

Oct 3, 3:58pm

Post #8 of 18 (1609 views)
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Subject [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It has been long suspected that the "squint-eyed" associate of Bill Ferny was in reality one of Saruman's "goblin-men", though that is far from a confirmed fact.


The closest to "confirmation" is a line from the Scouring of the Shire, where one of the ruffians reminds Sam of the southerner at Bree and Merry of many he saw at Isengard.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 3, 4:30pm

Post #9 of 18 (1601 views)
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A Non-canonical Immigrant [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The closest to "confirmation" is a line from the Scouring of the Shire, where one of the ruffians reminds Sam of the southerner at Bree and Merry of many he saw at Isengard.


There is also Frodo's thoughts in The Fellowship of the RIng upon leaving Bree:



Quote
But as they drew near to the further gate, Frodo saw a dark ill-kept house behind a thick hedge: the last house in the village. In one of the windows he caught a glimpse of a sallow face with sly, slanting eyes; but it vanished at once.

'So that's where that southerner is hiding!' he thought. 'He looks more than half like a goblin.'


As a side note, the Bree supplement for The One Ring Roleplaying Game introduced a potentially intriguing non-player character as a relatively recent arrival to Bree (circa T.A. 2950). Non-canonical of course, but I thought I'd still include her here:


Quote
Anna Wintermoss, Schoolmistress
Anna runs the school in Bree, teaching the youths of Bree their letters and numbers. She's not a native of the North -- she came up the Greenway five years ago, pursued by strange men who chased her right to the end of Bree-land. Anna never talks about her past, but from her accent and speech, she must come from the distant South. When not teaching, she sometimes wanders the Barrow-downs, as if looking for a particular tomb.

Attribute Level: 1
Specialities: Rhymes of Lore, Shadow-lore
Distinctive Features: Clever, Secretive
Relevant Skills: Lore ♦♦♦, Song ♦♦, Explore ♦


Anna is a slender woman of youthful appearance and melancholy demeanor, with dark hair and what might be an olive complexion and seemingly grey or blue eyes.

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." - DRWolf (after John C. Maxwell)

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Oct 3, 4:39pm)


Solicitr
Rohan

Oct 3, 4:39pm

Post #10 of 18 (1596 views)
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Subject [In reply to] Can't Post

somewhere there is a plausible suggestion, derived from at least Tolkien's implications, that Saruman's hybrids ranged from somewhat orkish Men, like the southerner at Bree, to somewhat mannish Orcs, like (perhaps) Ugluk and his company (or at least the corpses Aragorn saw at Amon Hen).

Now, while this is the sort of variance we see with, say, mongrel dogs, that's a function of dogs having been both crossbred and deliberately bred for hundreds of generations, and are moreover all one species. First-generation interspecies hybrids almost always conform to type, like mules. So I would speculate that what we have are two defined types, depending on which species the sire and dam were (yuck, I wonder which human gender found their forced role in this more disgusting?)


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Oct 3, 4:40pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 3, 6:05pm

Post #11 of 18 (1582 views)
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Were Orcs truly a distinct species? [In reply to] Can't Post

Elves and Men could interbred, and Orcs were derived from the corruption of Elves and possibly from Men as well. Genetically, Orcs were likely closer to Men than donkeys are to horses (from where we derive the term 'mule'). It is also possible that Half-orcs and goblin-men were themselves were actually sterile mules.

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." - DRWolf (after John C. Maxwell)


squire
Half-elven


Oct 3, 6:35pm

Post #12 of 18 (1582 views)
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How did Frodo know what a goblin looked like? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't believe he'd ever seen one before, and all he would have had to go on would be Bilbo's description.

But Bilbo's book, at least, never really describes how goblins look, only how they act and talk. In fact, since Bilbo never really describes the appearance of any of the creatures in his adventure, we may well conclude that that was just not how he thought. Probably he would never have described a goblin's face to little Frodo even in conversation.

And Frodo evidently was the same way, to the degree that LotR is 'his' book as far as the events go where he was present. He almost never describes any creatures, only the landscapes and weather (at which he is positively eloquent, much like his older cousin).

So this 'thought' of his about the southerner stands out as very odd indeed, quite out of character for Frodo and almost inexplicable - except that it serves to foreshadow the later Isengard/ruffian connection in the long tale.



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Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 3, 6:46pm

Post #13 of 18 (1575 views)
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Presumably, Bilbo described Orcs to Frodo. [In reply to] Can't Post

Frodo did live with Bilbo for years and doubtless heard him tell his stories about goblins many times. Granted, that is a far thing from Frodo seeing them for himself.

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." - DRWolf (after John C. Maxwell)


Solicitr
Rohan

Oct 3, 9:08pm

Post #14 of 18 (1554 views)
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Fair enough, [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Elves and Men could interbred, and Orcs were derived from the corruption of Elves and possibly from Men as well. Genetically, Orcs were likely closer to Men than donkeys are to horses (from where we derive the term 'mule'). It is also possible that Half-orcs and goblin-men were themselves were actually sterile mules.


But it isn't really all that important in this context since Saruman's hybrids were first or at the very most second- generation crosses, between two strains of 'Homo Tolkieniensis' which had been genetically separate for thousands of years. Saruman couldn't have begun his program much more than 20 or so years before the WotR; with the conversion of Orthanc into a war factory populated with Orcs and Wargs (something which, apparently, the rest of the WC wasn't aware of, or at least Gandalf wasn't, in 3018). And, yes, those orc/men were born as infants and had to grow up; they didn't come full-grown from pods.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 4, 12:47am

Post #15 of 18 (1519 views)
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Yes, of course. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
And, yes, those orc/men were born as infants and had to grow up; they didn't come full-grown from pods.


Oh, I fully agree. And I don't seriously think that Saruman's Half-orcs were meant to be mules.

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." - DRWolf (after John C. Maxwell)

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Oct 4, 12:48am)


noWizardme
Valinor


Oct 4, 1:20pm

Post #16 of 18 (1467 views)
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Thanks - that's an excellent real-world parallel. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The distance from Dunland to Bree up the Greenway wasn't all that great, compared to, say, the 3500-km Oregon Trail, and even that famously arduous journey which included crossing a nasty mountain range only took on average about 140 days.


I agree that it overturns my 'how did they get there so quickly?' point.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


InTheChair
Lorien

Oct 7, 5:38pm

Post #17 of 18 (1294 views)
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Technically, none of us knows what a Goblin looks like [In reply to] Can't Post

Yet many of us may think that we know, or have some preconception.

Frodo's comment could be explained that way, if we allow tales in a tale.


uncle Iorlas
Rivendell


Oct 10, 3:26pm

Post #18 of 18 (1173 views)
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there are the visual arts to consider [In reply to] Can't Post

It would be no great surprise if the Shire boasted a rendering or two, maybe in oils, maybe prancing around an urn, of goblins of legend—they even had at least one locally-grown goblin adventure to report, to say nothing of what their more distant ancestors may have passed down by the fireside. Even Bilbo, a very near cipher for the author in several ways, may be supposed to have dabbled in paint. A single goblin face in a single notebook sketch might have loomed large in young Frodo's picture of the world.

As for Isendgarders on the Greenway, I'd always imagined they were operatives of Saruman's, scouts more or less, principally there to reconnoiter the Shire and seek likely spots to settle quietly nearby.

 
 

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