In this scattershot series, we’ll be delving “too greedily and too deep,” prying gems out of the glorious rough that is the extended legendarium of Tolkien’s world. This includes drawing on The Lord of the Rings itself, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, and the History of Middle-earth (or HoMe) books.
Previously, on Tolkien’s Orcs…
I concluded in part 1, which covered the monstrous hoi polloi of Middle-earth as presented in The Hobbit and in The Lord of the Rings, that Orcs are driven to mayhem—and frankly, the will to do anything substantive—by the power of Sauron. Which is to say, when there’s no Dark Lord in the neighborhood to give them some moxie, they become idle (relatively speaking) and their numbers stay down. But what about before all that? What happened before Sauron even became the head honcho of evil?
In this installment, I’m going to look at the role of Orcs in The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, which are like the uber-prequel and the deleted scenes (respectively) to Tolkien’s more famous works. But to fans of the legendarium on the whole, they are also essential reading.