What Ho, Wee Readers and welcome to the fifth glory of the Nine Glories of the Rings of Power. Remember to sign up to the Wee Mailing List before the 27th of February, to discover the Ninth Glory of the Rings of Power.
Hobbits, undoubtedly my favourite part of any Tolkien based project, are a peculiar race as fantasy races go. Unlike Elves or Dwarves, they are not particularly fantastical at all. This is by design of course, as being the viewpoint characters for the two most well-known works in Tolkien’s legidome – they needed to be more recognisable (culturally speaking) to the original intended audience.
Which was, probably, late 20th century middle-class English people.
Which, very clearly, are the people that Bilbo and Frodo Baggins most resemble, both in speech and manarisims.
And yet…even from the first, there had always been hints that the history of the hobbit people, was very different from the sheltered, middle-class English veneer we get in the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.
We hear talk of the different tribes, Fallowhide, Stoor and…Harfoot. We even hear talk of their wandering days before the Shire. But because Tolkien’s got a ring quest to start, the narrative can’t spend too long delving into this rich backstory.
Surely the only way we could properly explore this fascinating part of hobbit history, is with an entirely new tale.
Enter The Rings of Power…
Like their descendants the Harfoots love laughter, family, good cheer, and food, lots and lots of food. But they live in a very different world – unlike Bilbo, they don’t really have a land they can venture away from. All they have is the path – the set route through the lands they travel through – and those that wander away from the path, get left behind.
It’s a much harder, more brutal life. And what I find particularly fascinating about it, is how we can see the foundation for many of the foibles of the Third Age hobbits begin here. They are untrusting of outsiders because in their past, a stranger – particularly a tall stranger – might mean death. And they don’t want their children going on mad adventures, because in the past that would absolutely mean you never saw them again.
There are some that complain that the Harfoots are a bit too mean, in comparison with their later cousins (they do have a tendency to abandon those that don’t follow the rules) – but to that I’d like to argue, what hobbits have you been reading about? Because the hobbits I grew up with, would declare someone dead just so they can sell off his stuff.
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