Test Your Knowledge of Middle-earth

The following test was co-written by myself and kella <beavford@csulb.edu> as a general quiz of Middle-earth knowledge. Once you have completed the test, you may submit it to the appropriate authority to have your answers verified. We should note that Tolkien states explicitly in Letters #181 that "the One retains all ultimate authority", and therefore when you have completed your test you should submit it directly to Eru Iluvatar for grading.

Pick up your number 2 pencils and begin. You have thirty minutes.

Beginning Questions

1. Just exactly what was the nature of the friendship between Gimli and Legolas?

2. If Aragorn had the option, would he have ditched the Fellowship for a date with Pamela Anderson?

3. Why didn't Gandalf just blow up the armies that got in his way, if he was so powerful?

4. How many times is the word "passed" used in LotR? (No peeking!)

5. What exactly was in lembas? (Hint: in Letters #210, JRRT says quite explicitly that lembas is not a "food concentrate".)

6. Why didn't the hobbits in the Shire rise against Sharkey and his men sooner? (Were Frodo, Sam and the lads a cut above hobbitdom and thus extraordinary?)

7. If Aragorn truly spent uncounted years as a lone Ranger, then where the hell is Tonto? And why doesn't he wear that mask?

8. If Frodo hung the Ring on a chain, why didn't the chain turn invisible?

9. When Isildur had control of the One Ring, why didn't he use it to command the Ringwraiths? Or the Elven-rings? Or the Dwarven-rings? He could have ruled the whole of Middle-earth with that Ring, yet he decided instead to just write a couple of letters and then go for an unfortunate swim. What's his problem, anyway? Was he stupid?

10. When Legolas introduces Gimli to Treebeard, Gimli bows low and his axe falls to the ground. Treebeard notices this, but merely comments "Hoom! A Dwarf and an axe-bearer!" rather than smash Gimli to Play-Doh™. Doubtless you've heard of the poem, "Woodsman, Spare That Tree!"; did Tolkien have plans to write another version, titled "Tree, Spare That Woodsman!"?

11. Why is the tale of Beren and Luthien subtitled "Release from Bondage", when we never even once get to see her tied up? (And I was really hoping, too.)

12. And if, as is likely, a bacterium had landed on the inner surface of the Ring, would the Ring corrupt it into an evil bacterium? Would it be invisible to other bacteria? Would its' life stretch out and become an unending weariness? Would it use its' increased strength and stature to rule over other bacteria? Would it fight to keep other bacteria from adhering to the Ring? Would it still evolve genetically, or would it instead become a Bacteria-wraith?

Advanced Questions

13. When the Dwarves of beautiful Khazad-Dum built their Western door, why did they allow it to be inscribed with the insulting name of "Moria" ("Black Pit"), a name that would only be earned long years afterwards?

14. Reconcile Tom Bombadil's statement that he is "Eldest" with Gandalf's statement that Fangorn is "the oldest of all living things". Extra Credit: suggest a valid date of birth for each of them. Document your answers.

15. Aragorn states (Two Towers, p. 18 hardback) that Sauron never uses the name "Sauron", nor does he "permit it to be spelt or spoken". Reconcile this text with the text of Return of the King, p. 164 hardback, where the Lieutenant of Barad-Dur clearly states, "I am the Mouth of Sauron".

16. Though Moria is, by rightful ownership, Dain's, Balin nonetheless referred to himself as "Lord of Moria". Helm's Deep is clearly the property of the Rohirrim, being part of lands granted to them by Gondor long years ago, yet in Return of the King p. 360 hardback Gimli declares himself "Lord of the Glittering Caves". Explain the laws and history pertaining to Dwarven property rights, and how those differed from the customs of Elves and Men. For full credit your answer must also reconcile Dwarven property laws with the generous nature of Aule, the Dwarves' creator.

17. How would the history of Middle-earth have differed if Sauron had returned to Aman and received the judgement of Manwe at the end of the First Age, rather than remaining in Middle-Earth (Silmarillion p. 285 hardback)? Describe resultant cultural differences which would have taken place in the Second, Third and Fourth Ages. Special emphasis should be given to the cultures of the Grey Havens, Numenor (including the Dunedain and the Black Numenoreans), the Rohirrim, the Dunlendings and others descending from the peoples of the White Mountains, the Ents, the peoples of Khand, the Orcs (particularly those tribes living in the Grey, Misty and Ash Mountains and the Mountains of Shadow), the Elven peoples of Gil-Galad (include Elrond and the likelihood of Rivendell's being constructed), the Hobbits (beginning from when they were living in the Vales of Anduin), and the Haradrim (both Near and Far Harad must be covered for full credit). Also speculate on the differences in culture which would take place in Aman as Sauron describes his experience with evil to the Valar, Maiar, and Eldar living there. On Silmarillion p. 65, it states that "Manwe was free from evil and could not comprehend it"; would he gain an understanding of evil from the experiences of Sauron? Be prepared to defend your answer.

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We did have one test with all the answers right, but unfortunately it wasn't written with a #2 pencil.