This adventure book tells of Tom’s encounters with the River-woman’s beautiful daughter, Old Man Willow, the Badger-folk, the ghostly Barrowwight, a lovely princess, trolls, dwarves, and legendary beasts. A delightful volume of 16 songs, rhymes and poems from the acclaimed The Hobbit. Illustrated.
- “Eldest, that’s what I am… Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn… He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless – before the Dark Lord came from Outside.“
- —Tom Bombadil (The Lord of the Rings)
Now I find writing about Tom Bomdadil to difficult/odd, mostly do to the fact that he only has one appearance and mentioned through out the LOTR story line. His background is basically unknown and from what I gathered in my reading. Tom is said to exist before the Dark Lord(in this case it was Morgoth and not Sauron.) came to Arda( Arda is known as the world in which all peoples of Middle-earth and of Valinor lived. For those who did not know.). Some people have theorized that Tom Bodadil was alive before the coming of the Valar.
For those who don’t know Middle Earth to well. Valar were the 14 Ainur who were the Powers of Arda. They help shaped the world and ruled it. But that is another history for later.
Tom Bomdadil also went by a few other names like; Iarwain Ben-adar, Orald, Forn, “Moss gatherer”. His power seem to range from destroying ancient enemies with little to no effort, to playing games and singing songs.In the first and second age of Middle Earth, little is known to what Tom actually did, what is known is that he traveled all over Middle Earth and kinda became this Folklore/legend to the Elves, Dwarves and Men. In the third age of Middle Earth Tom made his home outside of Old Forest and was witness to the arrival of the Hobbits as well the rise & fall of Angmar. The Tom Bombadil was given by the Bucklanders do to his cheerfulness and whimsical being.
Now there is a tale says, Tom is challenged by various river-residents on his journey down the Withywindle to Brandywine river. So happens to be where the Hobbits live at Haysend, including birds, otters, but charms them all with his voice, ending his journey at the farm of Farmer Maggot. Where Tom drinks ale and dances with the family. At the end, the charmed birds and otters work together to bring Bombadil’s boat home. Not to mention his random adventures to the Bree, where he met with Barliman Butterbur(who is the owner of the The Prancing Pony).
- “But I had forgotten Bombadil, if indeed this is still the same that walked the woods and hills long ago, and even then was older than the old. That was not then his name. Iarwain Ben-adar we called him, oldest and fatherless. But many another name he has since been given by other folk: Forn by the Dwarves, Orald by Northern Men, and other names beside. He is a strange creature…“
- —Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring
It was wasn’t till the War of the Ring started and in the novel Fellowship of the Ring is when we get to meet Tom Bombadil. Frodo, Merry and Pippin where in the Old Forest and had an encounter with Old Man Willow. While Frodo look for help he found Tom. As the story goes, both of them went back and commanded the release of his friends. In which Old Man Window immediately did. Later on the Hobbits would stay with Tom Bombadil for two days. In that time Frodo told Tom about the One Ring. Now here is the odd thing. When Tom asked if he can seee the ring, Frodo gave it to him with no second thought. Once Tom had the One Ring, he put it on and it did nothing to him. Tom did not vanish nor was any effects. The other thing is that Tom was able to see Frodo when he had the One Ring on. The three Hobbits left Tom’s house to only be in trouble again. Captured by Wights(Barrow-wights were shape-shifting beings of darkness, similar in circumstance to Wraiths, who dwelt in dark places of Eriador such as the Barrow-downs.) on the Barrow-downs. Fortunately, Tom once again came to their rescue, dispersing the Wights and breaking open their tomb. After this, he escorted the Hobbits to the borders of his land and left.
It was at the Council of Elrod, Tom became a topic of discussion. Mostly on the fact that the One Ring had no effect on him and if they should give it to Tom to hold. Gandalf would state that Tom would take the Ring if asked, but wouldn’t fully understand the reason behind it. Because Tom would likely forget it or throw it away. Also stating that Sauron would sooner or later focus all his power to Tom and bend him to his will. But over all the council assumed that Tom would not care and/or be able to keep the Ring within his realm. That was it. No more was said about Tom with in the LOTR novels.
After a number years after the One Ring was destroyed. Gandalf spent time with Bombadil. Little is unknown how the meeting involved or what was discussed between the two. When asked by Frodo, of how well Bombadil is getting along, that he is, “as well as ever”, “quite untroubled” and “not much interested in anything that we have done and seen”. Except encounters with the Ents.
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy:
In many film and radio adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, Bombadil is notable by his absence, possibly because nobody knows quite what to do with him. Peter Jackson justified his omission of Bombadil from the film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by pointing out that the character had little to do with the grand story-line, and did not advance the Hobbits’ progress towards Rivendell. However, much of Bombadil’s dialogue, and the scene in which the hobbits meet Old Man Willow, are transplanted into scenes that Merry and Pippin share with Treebeard in the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
Because of the imprecision of his true identity or nature, Tom Bombadil is considered to be the most mysterious character created by Tolkien.
Both Tom and Treebeard were referred to as the oldest living creatures of Arda, though it is not clear which of the two is the oldest. However, according to Tolkien’s letters, it is implied that Bombadil was the oldest living being in Middle-earth.
I’m still digging around to find more information about this character. It’s interesting to have this person with great power and not really use him. To only have him pop up every so often in conversations.