Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tom Bombadil

I'm going to be weirdly specific today... I'm going to talk about one character from one book of one series by one author: Tom Bombadil, from Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkien. He's also the focus of the majority of the poems in the short collection we're reviewing this week.

I hate him.

Tom Bombadil is the reason I put down Fellowship and never picked it back up again. You read for pages and pages and pages and nothing happens. Just this weirdo in the woods faffing about, telling nature not to mess with him (and nature pays attention for some ridiculous reason).

When our ragtag group of hobbits run across him, I feel far worse for them than at any point in the movies when horrible events befall them. Oh, you were captured by orcs? Separated from everybody because you touched the scary crystal ball thing? You're at Mount Doom? Nope, you'll be fine, because you survived a visit with Tom Bombadil; you can do literally anything.

A lot of LotR fans use Tom Bombadil as a metric for "true fans." If you've seen the Peter Jackson movies, you know that Tom Bombadil is nowhere to be found. I have heard of people who were disappointed by this. I have nothing to say to those people.

So I guess I read just far enough to "count" but I still hate the guy, and I can't read anymore of those books. Who knows what other poncy git might show up just like him? I can't risk it.

At any rate, I think I needed to get all of that out before we do our review tomorrow so my feelings about the character (which I shared at a book club last night and discovered that I'm absolutely not the only one who feels this way about the guy) don't taint my review of the poems.

Have you read Fellowship? How do you feel about Mr. Bombadil?


  1. Tom seems to be a "vala". Or rather a "maia", not sure which. Anyways, to put it this way, gandalf is an "astari" (a form of maia). Sauron is a Maia, his master (who was defeated in ancient lotr lore) was a vala (his name was melkor). If you watched the movies, the "balrog" was a form of maia.

    I personally think Tom Bombadil is a Vala (kind of like an angel). He seems to show this when he exhibits his power over the one ring. He also has defined himself within middle earth stating that he will not leave his borders. I think that Tom is merely seen as a "man". I personally think he is the Valar of earth and crafting (Aule). These are beings who come from the "void" (the domain of Eru).

    Tolkien wrote of Tom Bombadil as a character he had in his life and wanted to bring him in the story for his own delight. I don't think it was intended to make sense to anyone but him. Anyways, Tom seems to not make sense but the major power in middle earth is "music" (Tom states that he has a specific tune for old man willow). The whole of middle earth was created through the music of the valar under the direction of Eru (God).

    Normally don't comment on stuff but I thought it might help to give some back story for Tom. If you read the silmarillion and all the books it should make a degree of sense. Personally I like the element of metaphysics that Tom brings to the story making it seem that we as limited mortals see only the danger whereas there might be a higher power that foresees what good will come when good men act (to some degree Gandalf is like that being from the "void" himself).

    You pose a good question

  2. Hullo!

    Backstory I heard was Tolkien's daughter (or niece, don't remember), has this cute doll (a garden gnome-type) when she was like quite young & took it everywhere, was obsessed w/thwe poor thing, as most children are wont to be. Then, the Tolkiens went to the beach & the doll got lost. The little girl was devastated & JRR told her the doll actually went "on an adventure". This was the basis for the Tom Bombadil character, as I believe that was the doll's name.