The Origins of the Troll
“’You are forgetting not only your family history, but all you ever knew about trolls,’ said Strider.”
LOTR: FOTR: B1 C12
The creatures known as Trolls appeared in Middle-earth in the last years of the First Age. Their true origins are not clear, but it is believed they were spawned in the pits of Angband, along with the many other Servants of Shadow created by Morgoth.
In the Red Book of Westmarch it is written that the Ent Treebeard said to the halflings Merry and Pippin, that Trolls were “made in mockery of” Ents by the first Dark Lord in much the same way that Orcs were made from Elves, tortured and mutilated to create a ruined form of life, ever apt to evil.
“You do not know, perhaps, how strong we are. Maybe you have heard of Trolls? They are mighty strong. But Trolls are only counterfeits, made by the Enemy in the Great Darkness, in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves. We are stronger than Trolls. We are made of the bones of the earth. We can split stone like the roots of trees, only quicker, far quicker, if our minds are roused!” ~ Treebeard
Were Ents captured by Morgoth and made into monsters by the Dark Lord or were these creatures created from the molten power flowing beneath Angband? We cannot know for certain, only that they first appeared in Morgoth’s wars against the Valar.
These creatures were formed from the very bones of the earth and so were strong in ways that Orcs were not. Where as the Orcs were conceived to multiply quickly and replenish his armies of the Dark Lord, Trolls were bred for a different purpose. They were made of sterner stuff and did not procreate in vast numbers like the Orcs. These massive creatures were designed to do all the heavy lifting and their lack of intelligence made them pliable and easy to control.
Morgoth used Trolls only towards the end in his wars against the Valar. In the War of Wrath, nearly all of the evil creatures created by the Dark Lord were vanquished. Some however did survive and fled southwards after the destruction of Beriland. Like the other spawn of Morgoth, they became servants of Sauron during the Second and Third Ages of Middle-earth.
It is not known if Morgoth created the many variations of Trolls or if they evolved over time as the Orcs did, into different species that were shaped by the lands in which they lived. However, by the latter years of the Third Age, there were four distinct races of Trolls that troubled the free peoples of the West. Stone-trolls, Hill-trolls, Mountain-trolls and Cave-trolls. There is mention in the Red Book of Westmarch of a variation called Snow-trolls, but it’s this author’s belief that these trolls mentioned in the historical record of Rohan, were merely Mountain-trolls found in the high frozen peaks of the White Mountains to the south.
As the Sauron planned his final assault upon Middle-earth, he saw the potential of Trolls to be used not only as powerful creatures to move the engines of war, but also to act as formidable fighters in battle. He took what Morgoth had created and perfected it. Deep within the dungeons of Barad-dur, in the merciless breeding pits of the Dark Lord, a new breed of Troll was crafted through foul-craft and Morgul spells. Did Sauron use the elemental power of Mount Doom in the creation of this new species of Troll? Perhaps the fires of Orodruin played some part, but we will never know for certain, for none now live who remember it.
We do know these monstrosities were larger and more cunning than other Trolls, with the ability to walk in daylight. How this was achieved in not known, but there is no doubt that Sauron bred these Trolls with other species, perhaps orcs and no doubt men, because at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and in the final battle before the Black Gate, when Sauron unleashed his greatest forces against the West, there were said to have been Troll-men and Half-trolls fighting in battle. These creatures were likely the product of his failed attempts to create the perfect fighting Troll, his mighty Olog-hai.
These massive Trolls had the size and intelligence of the Mountain-trolls, along with the stiff hide of the Stone and Hill-trolls, and yet they could endure the direct light of the sun without turning to stone.
The Olog-hai were given armor and trained with weapons to fight in battle. They were given giant war hammers of black iron and massive scimitars to slice and rend their enemies. They were fearsome warriors in battle and few who stood against them lived to tell the tale.
These new trolls were said to have come out of Mordor in the later years of the Third Age. The Olog-hai were also seen in the dark ruins of Dol Guldur and used in battle with Lothlorian, Laketown and Erebor.
The Trolls of Middle-earth, like all of the creatures corrupted by the Dark Powers were ever apt to evil and easily swayed by the will of their masters. Much like the Uruks, which were also said to have been bred in the pits of Barad-dûr, resulting the creation of Sauron’s ultimate orc, the great Black Uruks of Mordor, the Trolls were improved upon by Sauron to create the mighty War Troll. These Servants of Shadow were under the thrall of Sauron and would charge into battle heedless of their own safety, fueled by the will of their Master.