from J.R.R. Tolkien's own original
illustration for The Hobbit
Lumbering evil creatures originated by Melkor. Their origins are mysterious: the only clear statement on the matter is Treebeard's suggestion that they were made by the Dark Lord to resemble Ents. That claim is certainly false (Melkor had no power to create thinking beings of his own) but it seems possible that the first Trolls were twisted and corrupted Ents1. However they came into existence, we know that Trolls had appeared before the end of the First Age. Their first mention in history was in the great battle known as the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, where they formed the bodyguard of Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs.
The history of the Trolls after the Nirnaeth is not well known, though at least some must have escaped eastwards from the destruction at the end of that Age. It is clear that some remained under the control of Sauron, and he was able to send some to Moria after its fall in the Third Age. Many others wandered wild in Middle-earth, especially in the northern Misty Mountains and the lands westward. The regions known as the Troll-fells and Trollshaws were named for the Trolls that lurked there.
Trolls in general were a primitive race: though they could communicate in a rough manner, they had no knowledge of even basic technologies such as building (though they did use caves as dwellings). There were differences between the different types of Troll, and those that emerged in the later Third Age were considered especially clever and dangerous, especially by comparison with their duller cousins.
Trolls fell into various different varieties, depending on their origins, habitat and habits. This list shows all the types known to have existed in Middle-earth (though note that information on many of these types is very scarce, and certain groups may overlap with one another).
Even Tolkien himself seemed unsure about the origins of these creatures. Almost his only specific comment on the subject was 'I am not sure about Trolls' (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, No. 153, dated 1954). There he suggests that Stone-trolls, at least, were simply 'counterfeits' of rational beings, which was part of the reason for their turning to stone in sunlight. In the same letter, he suggests that different types of Trolls may have independent origins, which would explain, for example, why some are able to withstand sunlight while others are destroyed by it.
Aragorn Elessar, Arathorn II, Arroch, Balin, Bert, Cave-trolls, Coldfells, Durins Bane, Ettendales, Glamdring, Gothmog, Great Darkness, Half-trolls, Hill-trolls, Khazad-dûm, [See the full list...]
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