That Darn Elf a random musing

but wait, there's more

Legolas shall be for the Elves.

In The Book, we first meet a heroic Elflord named Glorfindel. He helps our heroes, shows great compassion to the wounded Frodo, and has a really nice horse. He shows up, kicks butt and vanishes from the tale, never to be heard from again. And the next thing we know, this unknown kid from Mirkwood is going on the quest.

Whattheheck happened to Glorfindel?

I wrote an entire fanfic exploring this idea (Legolas Shall Be For the Elves,; it involved two young Hobbits, one of Elrond's piepans and a couple of stoic Dwarves, as well as our woodland prince. The bottom line is Legolas is young, curious, flexible, capable of bending like a willow shoot, not breaking like a mighty oak. And, in The Book, Elrond himself says "The road must be trod, but it will be very hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it." Power alone, even the power of a mighty Elflord, cannot help the Fellowship.

In The Book, Legolas is introduced with a simple few lines:'There was also a strange Elf clad in green and brown, Legolas, a messenger from his father Thranduil, the King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood.' This is followed by a detailed paragraph and a half of description of Boromir's magnificent and princely appearence. In the film, they ride in upon each other's heels; Boromir son of the Steward of Gondor, clad in finery, his horse covered in fancy trappings. The real prince rides up quietly, clad in simple camoflaged hunter's garb, on a horse with much simpler gear. And in the film, he looks up at Imladris, and his face has an openess, a sense of wonder on it. Perhaps it is his first time there; later he tells Aragorn; you have traveled further than I.

Humility was a quality Tolkien seemed to cultivate within himself. His best characters all have it. Aragorn spends years tromping about the lands of Middle-earth serving under other kings, sleeping under trees, eating coneys he's shot himself ("No-ego Viggo" it seems, occasionally eats the odd coney he's accidentally run over with his car: quite the ranger/elvish bit of philosophy, waste no life). The Hobbits are by nature and culture humble. Gandalf has the powers of a Maia, but he is clad in travel-worn grey, showing his many journeys among the ordinary folk of Middle-earth. Real nobility serves. Legolas is the son of a king of one of the last great Elven kingdoms of Middle-earth. Yet he willingly follows and serves a mortal Man (Aragorn) as a faithful Hero Companion, and when Merry and Pippin are kidnapped utters lines like: "it burns my heart to see those merry young folk driven like cattle."

Legolas is silent for pages and pages throughout the Council of Elrond. He apparently is listening to the wisdom of the wise. At last he makes the connection between the stories he's been hearing and the news he has brought; "Alas! Alas!" cried Legolas, and in his fair Elvish face there was great distress."The tidings that I was sent to bring must now be told. They are not good, but only here have I learned how evil they may seem to this company. Smeagol, who is now called Gollum has escaped." I always loved the line; and in his fair Elvish face there was great distress. There is no grim, stoic warrior here, but a guy with much emotional sensitivity and empathy. In his description of his people's treatment of Gollum we see more of this gentle empathy for even something as warped as Gollum; "But Gandalf bade us hope still for his cure, but we had not the heart to keep him ever in dungeons under the earth where he would fall back into his old black thoughts." Legolas does not react to Gloin's outburst referring to the temporary imprisonment of the Dwarves in "The Hobbit": "You were less tender to me"...says Gloin. It is Gandalf who smoothes Gloin's ruffled feathers, while the Elven prince remains diplomatically silent.

Movie fans who haven't read The Book will have missed a deeper level of the Legolas/Gimli friendship: the clash between their fathers in The Hobbit. Gloin is one of the thirteen dwarves who, with Bilbo, go on a quest to the Lonely Mountain. The Elvenking of Mirkwood in The Hobbit, is Thranduil, father of Legolas. An older rift exists between Elves and Dwarves, going back to the awakening of the Dwarves by the Vala Aule, in The Silmarillion, somewhere at the beginning at the dawn of time. The Legolas/Gimli friendship heals some very old old wounds.

I go to find The Sun.

Little more is said of Legolas for awhile. As the Fellowship of the Ring sets out, they form a marching order, rather like our D&D teams; in front are Gandalf and Aragorn 'who knew the land even in the dark. The others were in file behind, and Legolas whose eyes were keen was the rearguard.' So now we know something of his unique, and useful physical capabilities. But we still don't know very much.

One thing I do notice is that his introduction in Rivendell is the last time we hear about him being a prince. After that, he's just Legolas the Elf.

They reach Hollin, Gandalf tells us "Much evil must befall a country before it wholly forgets the Elves." It says something about how closely the Elves are tied to their land, and how much they have affected it. We see this connection again with the healing of Ithilien by the folk of Mirkwood, after the War of the Ring.

"What do you think of Elves now Sam?" Frodo asks in Lothlorien. In one of my favorite Sam lines, Sam replies: "...there's elves and there's elves. They're all Elvish enough, but they're not all the same. These folk...seem a bit nearer to the likes of us: they seem to belong here, more even than the Hobbits do in the Shire. Whether they've made the land or the land's made them, it's hard to say..." Elves feel a bit like indigenous peoples; Native American people, or traditional Australian Aboriginal people, or the Maoris of New Zealand. Not owning and changing the land, but blending with it. Letting it shape them. In tune with it. Real indigenous tribes have made their own ecological mistakes, but by and large they were, and are, tuned in to the natural rhythms of the land and sky and seasons. They have a deep spiritual connection to the land. Something most modern "advanced" civilizations have forgotten.

LOTR was published in 1954-1955, post WWII, impending baby boom, growth, prosperity, the 60s we were watching peregrine falcons succumb to DDT, and other eco-disasters were happening worldwide. A few tree-huggin' hippies found LOTR had a message that was applicable to the times. Respect for and kinship with the natural world runs as a strong undercurrent in the entire book. You see it in the Hobbits homey, comfortable agricultural Shire. In the constant recurring imagery of tree and star. In the galloping horses. In the Ents (an endangered species). The Elves, though, are the Firstborn, the ones who woke up the trees and taught them to talk. They don't seem to be agriculturalists, they're not farmers like the Hobbits; they live among the trees of ancient forests, or on the edge of the Sea. They may garden and grow things, but more the way the Haudeenosaunee (Iroquois) did; on a small scale, in tune with the forest around them. In LOTR, Legolas is the voice for the natural world. While everyone else is planning battles or laboring to end the reign of the Dark Lord, he shows us the beauties of Middle-earth, the things we are fighting for: 'Nor till spring comes and the new green opens do they fall, and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the roof, and its pillars are of silver, for the bark of the trees is smooth and grey.' And it is his voice we hear when those things are destroyed; "no other folk make such a trampling."

Legolas replies to Gandalf's words about Hollin; '..the Elves of this land were of a race strange to us of the silvan folk, and the trees and the grass do not now remember them. Only I hear the stones lament them; deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they builded us, but they are gone. They are gone. They sought the Havens long ago.' He may be speaking poetically, but I always pictured him actually being able to pick up some sort of psychic vibration from the earth itself. From the very stones. Most readers from the Mainstream culture would call this fantasy...but there are many people from Native American to Asian to other cultures across the living world who connect with it through meditation, who feel the energies of tree and rock and animal and do not call it fantasy.

It gives him an air of otherness. The sort of thing you see in the traveling kung-fu monk. In Spock. And yet it is part of us. The Elf archetype is some part of who we are, or who we were, or who we want to be.

In the films, Orlando Bloom manages to evoke that quality you see in the characters in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, in the classic Seven Samurai; a catlike grace, a stillness, a balance that is a harmony of mind-body-spirit. Like the title of a book I saw recently; Samurai zen.

Sindarin zen.

Use the Force, Legolas.

The Company climbs Caradhras, is inundated by snow, and 'it passed the skill of Elf or even Dwarf to strike a flame that would hold amid the swirling wind or catch in the wet fuel.' It seems more than rangers have excellent outdoor survival skills, even if they didn't work in this extreme environment. It's likely Legolas wasn't just sitting around the King's Halls drinking meade and singing the Elvish top 40. He is likely the kind of guy you can drop in the middle of the wilderness with only a knife, and he would survive. Maybe even without the knife.

On Caradhras we learn that he's more than a pretty face, everybody else is on the verge of freezing, and he's ready to pull out the snowboard and have some fun: 'The storm had troubled him little and he alone of the Company remained still light of heart.' We get the first glimpse of his sense of humor here too: He and Gandalf exchange a few lines: Legolas; "If Gandalf would go before us with a bright flame he might melt a path for you." Gandalf; "If Elves could fly over mountains they might fetch the Sun to save us." Legolas stands back and watches (guarding the Hobbits with Gimli and Gandalf) while Manly Men Aragorn and Boromir man the snowplows and bash a way through the drift that is blocking their escape. Legolas watches them till they get stuck "...choose an otter for swimming, and for running light over grass and leaf or over snow--an Elf..." and zooms past them, on top of the snow, with all the exuberance of a snowboarder at the first snowfall. "Farewell, I go to find the Sun! "

Someone on a forum on asked why Legolas isn't blown off the mountain by the wind, if he is light enough to walk on snow (in the film). Obviously they've never seen many kung-fu movies. Crouching Tiger is the best example I can think of, though it is not unique: defying the apparent laws of physics is part of martial arts, real and imagined (Star Wars' Jedi do the same thing). In Crouching Tiger, people run up walls and stride across rooftops and dance in the swaying tops of bamboo. The characters are real flesh and blood people, but they have developed an extreme version of "mind over matter" (the film of course, is done with “wire-fu” special effects). Tolkien was probably not thinking of kung-fu movies, he probably wasn't thinking conciously at all, he was writing from the unconcious. I think, what he was saying here, unconciously perhaps, is something about spiritual lightness, mind over matter. Legolas runs on snow, not because he weighs 20 pounds or has really big feet, or because he's the only one who remembered to pack the skis, but because his mind and spirit are stronger than his apparent physical limitations.

The Men have nearly given up, inundated in the great drift, and it is Legolas who tells them they have only a few yards to go till they are out of it. I didn't notice this scene much the first time I read The Book, though a friend said she always wanted to be able to run over snow like that. I do remember being a kid, and loving snow, and noticing its different textures; (native arctic peoples have a zillion different words for snow, for a reason); the mooshy kind that made good sculpture, the fluffy kind like powder that made lousy snowballs and you sank in, and the kind that had melted and frozen enough to make a crust dense enough for a kid to walk on. Not adults, just kids. I would run over the deepest drifts in glee, while everyone else floundered. Now I do it with the help of a small team of Siberian huskies.

Legolas has a very large and healthy inner child.

Perhaps we should remember and nourish our inner Elves. And hook up our Labs and pit bulls to sleds.

Despite all that childhood building of snow horses and tunneling of hobbit holes into drifts, I am a Leo, a creature of bright August sun and beaches at high noon. As an adult, at least, I always hated winter (though I retained a childlike love of snow), then I aquired, by accident, a Siberian husky. Then another, and another. I got a dogsled from a friend, trained a 3-dog team, and learned to love winter again. I watch the Manly Men out there grumbling over their snowblowers, and smile as the last dog leaps into the crate in the van.

Farewell, I go to find the Sun!

The journey darkens as the Company reaches Moria. Only Gimli lifted up his head, a smouldering fire was in his eyes. On all the others a dread fell at the mention of that name. One good line from the Bakshi movie hangs in my head: Elves do not walk in the dark earth. It's archetypal: in Norse myth, dark elves (Dwarves) are the earth-dwellers, light elves belong to air and sky.

Legolas tells Aragorn at the edges of Fangorn you have traveled farther than I, so it is likely he has never been out from under the trees of Mirkwood in his life, so Moria is a name of dread, from the songs of his people, but Legolas has no experience there.

Despite Peter Jackson's inventive numbers (2000 + years old), Tolkien never tells us exactly how old Legolas is, but there are some clues. In his article "Speaking of Legolas" Michael Martinez makes the most of these clues and suggests: "Legolas may have been born after his father left the Emyn Duir (Mountains of Mirkwood) and led his people north to settle along the Forest River. That would have been shortly after Sauron rose again and established himself on the hill of Amon Lanc, building the fortress of Dol Guldur (1050) ' may be...that Legolas was born sometime in The Watchful Peace, and perhaps towards the end of it.'

The Watchful Peace; 2063-2460 Third Age; when Dol Guldur was temporarily abandoned by Sauron because of a desire to preserve his true identity from an increasingly inquisitive White Council. (New Tolkien Companion). The Hobbit begins in the year 2941 Third Age. LOTR in 3001 with Bilbo's farewell feast, 3018 Gandalf arrives back in Hobbiton to send Frodo on his Quest.

I always saw Legolas as young, for an Elf, and agree with Mr. Martinez. I like the fact we don't have a specific age for him: he's a wonderful conundrum of young and old, naive and wise, skilled and inexperienced, all at once.

Legolas knows things about the broader world of Middle-earth, about its peoples and legends; but he knows it from songs, tales told around the fire, books. The reality, as I have often discovered, is different from books. Training a real wild mustang proved to be somewhat different than the idealistic relationship between Joey and Fury on Saturday morning TV when I was four. The guy who wrote Ring of Bright Water never told me otters can bite through 6mil dive gloves. And who would have thought a chanimail byrnie would make one slosh weirdly on horseback, making me rethink twenty years of riding experience.

Legolas does not wish to go into Moria, but he goes anyway when the Company decides in favor of it, faithfully following the lead of the Wise, and not abandoning his friends. He shows his archery skills for the first time in a warg attack before the Company reaches Moria, and demonstrates his trademark shot; shooting them through the throat. Not an easy shot, but one guaranteed to kill fast, and more effectively on something wearing armour. (At Helm's Deep in the film, he tells the others, that the orcs' armour is weak at the neck, among other places). He shows those skills again in the dark of the dwarrowdelf, a place where he feels not at all comfortable. There is nothing alive there, nothing green, growing and glad. No wind, no sky, no light dancing through green leaves, no stars, no birdsong. It is cold and dark and utterly alien for him. Orlando Bloom understood this, he talks about it in an interview, and tried to project that feeling of Legolas being in what was, for him, a dark and nightmarish place, and yet remaining strong, controlled, capable. In the film, Legolas' terrified reaction to the balrog is subtle. It works there beautifully. In The Book, he drops his arrow, a huge flub for such a skilled archer, and 'he gave a great cry of dismay and! ai! a balrog! A balrog is come!' Gimli drops his axe, and even Gandalf leans on his staff as if defeated. The reactions of such doughty warriors show what a huge horror they are facing. In " The Letters of JRR Tolkien" a lengthy letter to Naomi Mitchison describes many of the details of Middle-earth, including the balrog; ' is here found ...that one had escaped and taken refuge under the mountains of Hithaeglin (the Misty Mountains). It is observable that only the Elf knows what the thing is--and doubtless Gandalf.' Besides the wizard, Legolas is the only one in the party who knows, who really understands the enormity and horror of what they are facing. Later, in Lothlorien, he tells Galadriel; 'It was a Balrog of Morgoth, of all Elf-banes the most deadly, save the One who sits in the Dark Tower.'

Gandalf falls fighting the balrog, they flee. 'Thus at last they came beyond hope under the sky and felt the wind on their faces...grief at last wholly overcame them, and they wept long: some standing and silent, some cast upon the ground.' In The Book, we do not know what Legolas' reaction is, whether he is one who is standing and silent or cast upon the ground. He seems emotional and empathic in other situations, so I think he does not do the archetypal Man Thing of holding his grief in. Again, the movie provides a strong image that resonates with my reading of The Book; there on the screen, Legolas looks like one who is young, a little naive, and has just had all that blasted away. He is neither standing and silent, nor cast upon the ground, but his grief is evident.

There is an aloneness to him in that scene. The Hobbits are sharing their grief, as they share everything else. They are a family, a tribe...flock, pack, pod. It lightens the load. Even Boromir relates to the Hobbits at that moment in the film. But Legolas is alone. And it has nothing to do with pride or aloofness. In the entire Company, Gandalf and Aragorn...and perhaps Frodo who has learned the old tales through Bilbo...are the only people who would truly and deeply understand an Elf's heart.

I am at home among trees, by root or bough.

In their race from the walls of Moria, Frodo falls behind, in pain from his wound (the spear thrust delivered by an orc chieftain in The Book, and the troll in the film), it is Legolas who first senses his distress and halts the others. One of his defining character traits is a keen awareness of his surroundings, senses sharp as a natural creature like a wolf or hawk, and deep empathy for other living things.

It is he and Aragorn who look in awe on the distant woods of Lothlorien, while some in the Company look on it with uncertainty, or fear. Here, on the brink of grief and disaster, Legolas pauses to look in wonder upon those distant trees, which he has never seen before, only heard of in song; 'there are no trees like the trees of that land. For in the autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold. Nor till the spring comes and the new green opens do they fall, and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the roof, and its pillars are of silver, for the bark of the trees is smooth and grey. So our songs in Mirkwood say. 'There are many times in the whole tale where, even with darkness all around, he pauses to appreciate, and point out to others, that which is full of beauty and light To me he often seems to be the candle in the dark, the ray of light, the distant glimmer of the light of the Two Trees. The scene between him and Aragorn in the film, at Helm's Deep, (when he loses it and snaps at Aragorn in Elvish, to which Aragorn replies, "Then I will die with them") is nicely done, but it does not ring true for me because it seems out of character for Legolas.

As the Company steps into the eaves of Golden Wood, the guides are Aragorn, who has been there before, and Legolas, who has not; "It is long since any of my folk journeyed hither back to the land whence we wandered ages ago. We hear that Lorien is not yet deserted...." He knows much about the land from his people's songs, and is delighted to share them with the rest of the Company, including part of the Lay of Nimrodel. He sings it on the banks of the stream which bears her name. But after several verses his voice finally falters and ceases. He says "I cannot sing any more...for I have forgotten much..." Perhaps, but I think it has raised emotions too strong to share with the others of the Company. He says later that he and his companions forgot their grief for awhile, wandering into Lorien, but it is possible that singing the Lay of Nimrodel raises feelings of grief for Gandalf.

We have not seen much of the Elf/Dwarf interaction yet (but for a brief moment in Moria when Legolas drags Gimli from Balin's Tomb to safety). As Legolas ends his song, he says "it tells how sorrow came upon Lothlorien...when the Dwarves awakened evil in the mountains."

"But the Dwarves did not make the evil." said Gimli.

"I said not so, yet evil came," answered Legolas sadly.

He softens his words about the balrog, carefully not laying blame directly on the Dwarves. Princely diplomacy, and likely he already knows the warrior worth of one tough and valiant little Dwarf.

"I am at home among trees, by root or bough..." he says, and prepares to climb one of the great mallorns, a new experience for him, and one he approaches with wonder, and childlike exuberance. A year before I met Legolas in the Pages of LOTR, I met another Elf on the silver screen: Luke Skywalker of Star Wars. It may be a stretch to place him in the Elf archetype, but I think the Jedi are. Mark Hamill, who played Luke (just in case you were living in Antarctica, or were trapped in a cave for those years) was described as being childlike, not childish. The difference is important; childish is self-centered, throws tantrums, plays head games. Childlike looks at the world with a sense of wonder, remembers how to play, sings to the stars, talks to trees and animals.

Like Legolas.

Pippin mutters I cannot sleep in a perch! and Legolas tells him Then dig a hole in the ground if that is more after the fashion of your kind, but you must dig swift and deep if you wish to hide from orcs. I suppose that could be read several different ways, but I always see him saying it with a merry glint in his eye and a quirky smile. He is no aloof and haughty Prince of Faerie, but a friend who, with humor, shows the less wise and experienced Pippin the truth of the matter.

Upon meeting Haldir and Orophin and Rumil, the Lorien guards, Legolas again becomes the guide, the liason between Elf and Company. He hedges a bit when asked about the Company, not mentioning the Dwarf till he must. He and Aragorn, as the only ones deeply familiar with Elven culture, must guard and answer for the Dwarf. In a few pages he goes from being excited and merry as a kid coming to Disney World for the first time, climbing trees, singing songs, to taking on the diplomatic responsibilities of a real Prince.

One of the fun things about the films was seeing Legolas move. Orlando Bloom paid a great deal of attention to how the Elf should move; "like a cat." Like a umpteenth degree kung-fu black belt. Natural, efficient, flowing like a wolf or horse or running water. In the Bakshi animated film of 1978, Legolas looks, and moves, like a refugee from Swan Lake. Don't get me wrong, I like Mikhail Baryshnikov, but Legolas should not move like a ballet dancer; formal and tippy-toed. Orli moves with a bit more natural grace, even when he's got a few broken ribs, as in the race across Rohan scene. Some martial arts, especially kung-fu, are based on animal movements; there is a tiger-claw strike, a crane block, horse stance, snake strike...and entire forms based on what we can learn from the natural moves of animals. That's how I picture Legolas; an entirely natural creature. Tolkien says in his essay 'On Fairy Stories': "Supernatural is a dangerous and difficult word in any of its senses, looser or stricter. But to fairies it can hardly be applied, unless super is taken merely as a superlative prefix. For it is man who is, in contrast to fairies, supernatural (and often of diminutive stature); whereas they are natural, far more natural than he."

The film made use of Legolas' obvious physical capabilities by having him do several outrageous stunts that would have had Tolkien rolling in his grave. Spinning, actually. While I would have preferred for the films to do a bit more character development, ok, a lot more...the stunts were fun, and echo what he actually does in The Book; like tightropewalking across the Nimrodel.

On the borders of Lorien, Gimli sets his heels at being blindfolded. He draws his axe and Haldir and Co. draw their bows and all hell is about to break loose.

"A plague on Dwarves and their stiff necks!" said Legolas. As he loses patience and any trace of princely diplomacy.

It is the wiser, if not older in actual years, Aragorn who suggest that all the Company be blindfold, even Legolas. At which point the Elf loses all coolth and composure and blorts out, "But I am an Elf and a kinsman here!"

"Now let us cry a plague on the stiff necks of Elves." Says Aragorn. You can just see the stern fatherly expression. And the glint of humor underneath. I like this little exchange, even though Legolas comes off rather childish. It shows his impulsiveness, and the other side of the childlike quality he often has. It also, for the Aragorn fans, shows the ranger's wisdom. Yet, even though Legolas complains; "Alas for the folly of these days, here all are enemies of the one Enemy, and yet I must walk blind, while the sun is merry under leaves of gold..." he follows Aragorn's lead, as he will throughout the tale.He may have many years under his belt, but he is young as his folk go, and he recognizes when one has more real "age" and experience than himself.

One of my favorite images from Lothlorien is this: "...Frodo was aware that they had passed out under the shining Sun. Suddenly he heard the sound of many voices around him. A marching host of Elves had come up silently..." As we watched the part of the fillm where the Three Hunters leap off up the hill at the end of Fellowship, one of my D&D buddies quipped, "I can hear the Elf running." . I certainly would have edited that sound differently. The ability to run light...and silent..."over grass and leaf or over snow," is one of my favorite Elven qualities. It's something I tried over and over to do, and just came out sounding like a loose moose in the woods. Lately, in a martial arts class I take with one of my kayaking buddies, we learned a kind of walk done with certain forms of kung-fu and tai chi; sinking low on bent knees, rolling silently and fox-footed from heel to toe, never bobbing up and down. It's good exercise and the concept is to go silent and flowing.

Like an Elf.

Practice that for 500'd be able to walk crunchless over fallen leaves too.

There is no "cut to shot of Legolas' reaction" in The Book when Galadriel's gentle and compassionate words move Gimli to say "Yet more fair is the living land of Lorien, and the Lady Galadriel is above all the jewels that lie beneath the earth." But it is soon after this that we discover: "Legolas was away much among the Galadhrim...Often he took Gimli when he went abroad in the land, and the others wondered at this change." I always pictured his reaction to the exchange between Galadriel and Gimli as startled amazement, and a sudden insight into the Dwarf's true heart. Perhaps Gimli hmself asked Legolas if he would be his guide to Lothlorien, his own heart having been opened to the inner beauty of the Elves, and perhaps Legolas was glad to show something of his own world to someone who, till now, had been an alien.

"And with that word she held them with her eyes, and in silence looked searchingly at each of them in turn. None save Legolas and Aragorn could long endure her glance."

Tolkien tells us Elves "were tall, fair of skin and grey-eyed, though their locks were dark, save in the golden house of Finarfin." I always pictured sea-grey, that shifting color of the surface of the sea. In fact, in his description of Voronwe (Noldorin Elf of Gondolin) in Unfinished Tales, Tolkien says "piercing glance of his sea-grey eyes".Tolkien often describes Elven eyes as bright, or starlit. And, like the description of Galadriel reading the hearts of the Fellowship, deep, and hard to look into. Tolkien uses light as an image in his tale, as often as he uses trees. Elven eyes seem to shine with the inner light of the soul, not like a glow-in-the-dark special effect, but on some other, non-visual level. Like an aura.

Tolkien never tells us certain obvious things about Legolas, things we would notice right away if we met him. How tall he is (Aragorn is the tallest of the Company), or what color his hair is. Debates have raged on internet forums (are Tolkien geeks trivia freaks, or what?), but the bottom line, is nobody knows. His dad was blond; in The Hobbit; the scene where the dwarves crash the Mirkwood elves' woodland party for the first time; the Elvenking is described as "a woodland king with a crown of leaves upon his golden hair." Of course, Legolas' mother could have been dark. Thanks to that Judy King-Reniets illo, I have always seen him as blond. With sea-grey eyes.

There is a lovely scene in the film, where the Lorien elves are singing the lament for Gandalf. Legolas paces under the trees with the grace of a stalking leopard, silver-blue tunic flowing like live water with every move. "For me, the grief is still too near." And his face is like a deep dark pool of quiet water, with much unseen below. In The Book, we hear: "But if Legolas was with the Company, he would not interpret the songs for them, saying that he had not the skill, (the Lorien dialect was different from his Mirkwood Sindarin) and that for him the grief was still too near, a matter for tears and not yet for song." No macho tough guy here, holding all of his emotions in like chained dragons. Empathy, emotion; one of favorite parts of his character.

continued in part three...

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