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(This is another of my speculative pieces and nothing to do with Star Wars. This one is for an older trilogy.)

Old Tom Bombadil. Possibly the least liked character in The Lord of the Rings. A childish figure so disliked by fans of the book that few object to his absence from all adaptations of the story. And yet, there is another way of looking at Bombadil, based only on what appears in the book itself, that paints a very different picture of this figure of fun.

What do we know about Tom Bombadil? He is fat and jolly and smiles all the time. He is friendly and gregarious and always ready to help travellers in distress.

Except that none of that can possibly be true.

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( 245 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jun. 6th, 2012 02:07 pm (UTC)
Tom is the Master
If we are going to do a sinister interpretation of Bombadil, why not go into full crossover territory and postulate him as a renegade Time Lord, who is hiding from the Doctor behind amnesia and in an alternate (story-)universe?
In the book itself Goldberry explicitly states that Tom is the master...

The Master... Reborn! (cue the drums, the drums, the neverending drums)
Jun. 6th, 2012 02:20 pm (UTC)
I've got to say, Tom Bombadil was always one of my very favourite characters, which is why I was so pleased they didn't put him in the films, there's no way they'd get him right. Having said that, and although I agree with the point raised in "some basic errors," I really enjoyed this, thanks for a diverting post :)
Ian Watson
Jun. 8th, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
I think that this is an interesting analogy but misses the point of what Tolkien is trying to convey here.

Bombadil is oldest, fatherless, around before the Valar left to view Middle Earth, this of course is a reference to Illuvatar being present on Middle Earth in guise of a simple and humble farmer.

Of Goldberry, I suspect she is more likely a Maia, she is probably a Maia of Yavanna or Ulmo as it is known that the Maia travelled into Middle Earth long after the rising of the sun and the two awakenings, it was Maia that conveyed messages to Ulmo of the suffering of the two kindreds under Melkor and they gathered their information from rock, root and river which suggests further that more Maia were present than just the well known one in Menegroth.

Some aspects of this post are disingenuous in scoring cheap shots at what is an underplot never fully developed by Tolkien or maybe an underplot designed to bring out the speculation of the "God" or creator of Middle Earth, in Tolkiens mind a omnipresent being like Eru would suit quite well becoming a rustic farmer and I long suspected Douglas Adams portrayal of the creator and his cats in Hitchhikers was a pop cult reference to Bombadil.

To suggest Bombadil was a malevolent character I don't agree with, he certainly had formidable power that Sauron or Melkor could not contest with but it was an utterly benign power of neutrality, letting the birds, beasts and plant life act to their own with little interference from "God". In a way Tolkien is perhaps addressing the two "Gods" in the bible, the all powerful smiting and powerful god of the old testament to the almost serene and somewhat wet one of the new.
Jun. 20th, 2012 03:40 pm (UTC)
This is hilarious! I don't think the author is serious in claiming that Bombadil is a Dark Lord. I suspect much of this article was written tongue in cheek.

That said, I always did find Bombadil a bit unnerving. He's got the goofy side, but his blasé treatment of the Ring and sheer power did scare me a bit when I first read the book years ago. If anything, he reminds me a bit of Beorn - while not a bad guy, he's also not a good guy. Bombadil won't use violence, but he does have a disturbing effect on his surroundings.

Also, while Goldberry obviously isn't a prisoner, I agree there's something odd about her too. She seems a bit too ethereal to be human. Mermaid actually hits the nail on the head for how I feel about her - she seems so beautiful that it's almost too good to be true.
Jun. 24th, 2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
And the Huorns are the wives of the Ents, angered by their lost loves so much they've become bitter and enraged to trap and kill.
Jul. 2nd, 2012 04:42 am (UTC)
a little Bombadil before bedtime
User lanning referenced to your post from a little Bombadil before bedtime saying: [...] Very cool speculative piece: Oldest and Fatherless: The Terrible Secret of Tom Bombadil [...]
Jul. 2nd, 2012 07:11 am (UTC)
Goldberry an Ent?
Cracking post.

After reading Silmarillion I always had Bombadil as another Maia, who'd been on Middle Earth from the word go.

I'd also wondered whether his Wife was one of the female Ents, as the willow link was pretty clear, meaning he might know something about where all the others had gone (after reading this post, maybe the other huorns?), the reason Gandalf was going to have a quiet chat.
Hewy NoSleep
Jul. 28th, 2012 09:13 am (UTC)
Re: Goldberry an Ent?
I like the idea of connecting her with the Ent's wives. They ask, Where did all the Ent-wives go? Only Tom the Master knows!
Jul. 9th, 2012 09:09 am (UTC)
Thank you for this.
Jul. 25th, 2012 03:21 am (UTC)
A very good speculation.

But how do we know that Bombadil survives his "talk" with Gandalf? With all likelihood, Gandalf the White was powerful enough to rid Middle-Earth of the last Dark Lord.
Hewy NoSleep
Jul. 28th, 2012 09:10 am (UTC)
Great Post! I just heard about it on the Tolkien Professor podcast.I can see someone developing this concept into a full fan fiction.

I now await the coming of Iarwain Ben-adar!
Jul. 31st, 2012 12:49 pm (UTC)
That ... That's terrifying! O_O

And so awesome.
Aug. 10th, 2012 12:27 am (UTC)
Sorry But You've Missed the Mark Completely
Bombadil is Father Time. He is Oldest and Fatherless. He came into being at the moment that the Music of the Ainur ceased and Iluvatar declared "Ea". He is 'Master' because time has no master. Remember after the hobbits had dinner and Tom starts his storytelling. He begins following time back and continues the story all the way back to the "Beginning" when he stops talking . . . he has seen all since Middle Earth came into existence with Iluvatar's word.
Jan. 26th, 2013 11:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Sorry But You've Missed the Mark Completely
Thank you, Anonymous, for bringing up the scariest moment in the entire trilogy. "Awful" in the true sense of "Awe-ful". For just that moment the earth vanishes from under the reader into primal darkness. The hobbits are sitting there talking to someone who looks fairly ordinary but the realization creeps upon them that he witnessed the formation of the world.
As I loosely recall, the wise decide not to entrust the Ring to Tom because he is simply not interested in the battle between "good" and "evil". Which makes him a far more interesting character than many of the unambiguously "good" or "evil" characters in the trilogy.
Aug. 16th, 2012 12:36 am (UTC)
wonderful! thanks!
Sep. 5th, 2012 06:43 pm (UTC)
casting T Bombadil
lots of fun reading all of this... tee hee....

if they had put him in the movie(s)- who do you suppose would have played him best? please don't say robin williams...

my vote is this guy:


what say you?

Sep. 5th, 2012 07:02 pm (UTC)
casting TB
great fun reading all of this.... tee hee.....

any ideas about who would have best played the very difficult role of TB, if they'd seen fit to put him in the motion picture?

i like brian blessed (you might remember him as prince vultan in flash gordon).

i always dug TB, even as a small child when me mum read the stories to us... TB is ka-razy!

i have really enjoyed your thoughts km...

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( 245 comments — Leave a comment )