Forum: Prospective Challenges

Discussing: Why Legolas?

Why Legolas?

I posted this message to the mailing list as well:

There's a question I keep coming back to, every time I reread the Fellowship of the Ring: Why Legolas?

Come on, let's face it: Legolas is a no-name Elf for all practical purposes. He's archetypal of Elves; he has a mischievious side, a love for song, mad bow skills, dislikes Dwarves (to start), loves the forest and twilight, and hasn't done anything to particularly distinguish himself until he goes with the Fellowship.

As addressed in a current challenge, Glorfindel is the much more obvious choice for such an important mission - he's killed a Balrog, for heaven's sake!

Yet, it's Legolas who's sent. So, here's the Nuzgul (that's bitten me several times and let go, then bitten me again):

Tell me *why* Legolas was chosen to go as the Elven part of the Company. In the movie he volunteered, but the book is far less specific; Elrond only specifies him as the Elf coming along. What was Elrond's reasoning? Did Legolas go to Elrond and ask for the honor?

Additional fun stuff would be the RL reason for Tolkien sending Legolas instead of Glorfindel. (If anyone knows about an article on that, I'd love to read it.) So, uh ... Nuzgul takers? Anyone?




Re: Why Legolas?

Elrond is retaining Glorfindel to aid in the defense of Rivendell, I suspect.

Legolas *is* a prince of one of the major elven kingdoms, and so has the royal standing to go along on such a journey (one might as well ask "Why Gimli?" and the answers, I think, shall be much the same.), he is presumably a damn good archer, which is a fighting skill they otherwise don't have, and he's level-headed.

A thought - Thrnaduil lost Gollum, entrusted to his care. Legolas may be going along as "payment" (that's not quite the word I'm thinking of, but it is close) for that debt at a time when war looms and Elrond must see to the safety of those in his care.

I myself wonder why Ellodanrohir (whatever) did not go along, aside from spoiling the symmetry of the number 9 (Though, it could have been 9 walkers against 9 riders and a Ring Bearer to confound a Ring Lord, but I digress) (LOTR numerology is *such* fun!). They do show up with the Grey Comapny, so they could be spared (or else they just snuck away w/o Daddy's approval).

I wrote an AU in which he was the choice of Gandalf, much to Elrond's annoyance because of the political problems it stirred up with Thranduil, but that won't answer the questions in the actual story.




Re: Why Legolas?

Have you read Teanna's Legolas Shall Be for the Elves? It's short, cute and clever. The author doesn't have her email listed, though, so I couldn't tell her how much I liked it!



Re: Why Legolas?

I'd also go with the "Elrond needs Glorfindel to help defend Imladris" theory. There might be some sense of making up for the snafu of losing Gollum, and especially if you take Legolas as a younger son (why would you send your heir, if your heir isn't Boromir and pushy?), he can be spared.

There's also a sense in the text that Legolas and Gimli have to be on the road anyway--they have to get over the mountains just to get home, so why not go along with the Ring-bearer? They can turn aside once they make it over Caradhras having honorably discharged their duties, but as Ang notes, if they decide not to, they have rank enough (and yet they aren't presumably critical to the homefront) to continue.

I don't think Elladan and Elrohir snuck out--they did bring a message specifically from their father to Aragorn, which I'm sure they didn't just steal from off his desk. They seem to have been Elrond's messengers and representatives (at least, that's how they act during the last debate in Aragorn's tent), and I'm guessing that perhaps Elrond felt he could spare them because Imladris wasn't as immediately threatened as Lórien or Mirkwood. It seems like he probably held Glorfindel back on the assumption that he would need him, then, as things shaped up, he found that Glorfindel alone as commander in Rivendell was enough. The twins come specifically to fight a war, implying that the Forces of Darkness (tm) weren't so overwhelming around Imladris that they would be missed. One can perhaps understand that, given Elrond and Glorfindel combined, plus everyone else in Rivendell who's ever held a sword.



Re: Why Legolas?

Legolas may have been pushy wanting the job.

See the 2nd half of chapter 13 of Az's Amid the Powers and Chances of the World, HASA beta, for her speculation on Legolas' thoughts after the Council of Elrond.



Re: Why Legolas?

A Little Nudge Out the Door also supplies reasons for the choice of Legolas, as well as being a very good read. I agree with you, though, that this is one of those intriguing story possibilities - I like to keep playing with it too.




Re: Why Legolas?

As Julie kindly pointed out, I did do a take on Legolas's motivations for wanting to go, and in part Elrond's for considering it, in Ch 13 of my current beta fic. Here's my bucketload of speculations, for what they're worth:

1) Legolas wants to go because he feels personally responsible for losing Gollum. Only at the Council of Elrond does he realise quite what a disaster this is - this funny little creature wasn't just important to Mithrandir and Aragorn; his loss may have catastrophic consequences for Middle-earth. ("In his fair elvish face there was great distress") And I read all Legolas's "we did..." "we judged..." in that scene, when he's giving his account, as meaning he was personally among the company guarding Gollum; given his position as the King's son, I choose to believe that he might have been commanding that company.

So wanting to go with the Company is partly about atoning, and making up for the damage he and his people have caused. (I have a hunch he may also feel Thranduil would want him along so that the Wood-elves potentially have some say in the fate of the One Ring - given that the bearers of the Three have never let the Wood-elves have much to do with those guarantors of Elvish power and security - but that's even more speculative.)

Why would Elrond choose him?

1) He specifically wouldn't choose the likes of Glorfindel, or any of the other great Elf-lords. I have a hunch that any Eldar whose power against the darkness is as great, as visible as Glorfindel's is - remember him gleaming white in the darkness at the Ford, and Gandalf's later suggestion that Glorfindel has great power against the Dark because he has been in the West - would attract the wrong sort of unwelcome attention any time he had to use that power to help get the Fellowship out of trouble. Remember how reluctant Gandalf is to use any magic on the slopes of Caradhras: "I have written Gandalf is here in letters all can read from Rivendell to the mouths of Anduin". Ordinary Elves only, thank you very much.

2) Fate - or rather, the will of the Powers - is a tremendously important factor for Elrond. Remember how much it weighs on him at the Council: all these Elves and Dwarves and Hobbits "gathered here, by chance as it may seem, to take council for the peril of the world." Therefore I think Elrond gave great weight, when choosing whom to send on the quest, to those people who wouldn't normally have been in Rivendell, who Just Happened to Turn Up, because he believes the Powers meant them to be there. So he believes the Ring-bearer's task is appointed to Frodo; he allows Gandalf to sway him into sending Merry and Pippin along. And not only does he choose the Dwarves' representative from those who happened to turn up for the Council, but for the Elves he chooses not one of his own folk (though he nearly added a couple of them too) but from the visiting Elves. Doesn't explain why he sent Legolas rather than Galdor, say, but I think it's an important factor. (And I do want to see Legolas' face when Elrond explains that he's going to be the only Elf on the Quest, and that he has to go along with a Dwarf. And when I get that far along in Powers and Chances, I shall write it )

Other people have suggested various personal qualities which also make Legolas a good choice - curiosity about the world outside Mirkwood which might make him more ready to get along with Dwarves and Men and Hobbits, relative youth, kick-ass archery skills if you believe his are particularly exceptional (Mirkwood archers do seem in canon to be renowned)... all of which are plausible and could go into the mix.

In some ways I'd love to write this up for a challenge, but equally I feel that in Chapter 13 of P&C I've already done it. Any other piece I did would be rehashing what I've already expressed in that, and inevitably end up rather similar, which isn't really in the spirit of a Challenge...



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