Tag Archives: authorial intent

In the latest Hobbit movie, (keeping this as spoiler-free as possible) an elven sword, clearly not designed for throwing, is thrown some 25 or 30 feet upwards and buries itself in the chest of an orc. The question is: is this even possible given the design of the weapon? (look up Thorin Oakenshield’s sword, Orcrist. The sword in question is similar to that.)


Yes, but see, they weren’t on EARTH-Earth, they’re in Middle-Earth. The physics are completely different.

No, it’s the people. Tolkien was building off of material like Beowulf, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Norse myth (which is why Tolkien named the dwarves after the Norse gods, on “a whim”), and (possibly) Greek mythic heroes. Middle Earth is supposed to be a long forgotten dark age.

As with Beowulf and Gilgamesh, the concept of an alternate world, or at least an alternate earth, isn’t there. It’s an overly dramatized account of (fictional) history. Or, at least, that’s what Tolkien was trying to do. Reading it as an alternate world is, mostly, the result of applying genre conventions to the work that didn’t exist when Tolkien was writing.

It’s not that the physics are different, it’s that the people that inhabit the world are far more than human.

The Elves and Dwarves are very clearly superhuman, but Tolkien’s “Race of Men” is more closely related to, again, characters like Beowulf and Gilgamesh. Everyone, even ostensibly human characters like Boromir, is trending into the superhero range. And, honestly, that’s kind of important for understanding what’s going on with the book.

If you want to get into a discussion on authorial intent, Lord of the Rings is a decent counter-example it. Tolkien was trying to write a kind of modern epic. Instead he co-opted and redefined modern fantasy, replacing authors like Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber.

justyouraverageauthor said:

Can I just say this only happens in Jackson’s adaptation; it did not occur in the original book.

Yeah, you certainly may. I can’t speak to the Hobbit films (I haven’t watched them) but, based on the Lord of the Rings films, Jackson’s adaptations are kind of like having an overexcited eight-year-old trying to relate the book he just read.

The details are kinda messed up, and there’s random tangents that run on, because: awesome. Important plot points get delayed because he forgot; so he has to go back and add those in later.

But, most of it’s there, more or less, and ironically the perceived tone isn’t completely wrong, it’s just not what the author intended in any way shape or form.

fulminata2 said:


I can’t remember if Thorin’s weapon is an Orc-bane, like Glamdring or Sting… but, basically? No.

It’s kind of important to remember that, even in Tolkien’s books, the entire setting is pushing towards a kind of epic of myth. Everyone is capable of feats that are well beyond actual human limits. Whatever issues I have with Jackson’s adaptations, it is a basic concept from the source material he clearly understands.

Given that Tolkien and Robert E. Howard are probably the two most influential writers for modern fantasy, and both of them were prone to that in their own ways, it probably doesn’t matter for your writing.

But, no, throwing a sword with enough force, and accuracy, to impale someone is basically not possible.


Some of the old longsword treatises have sections on sword throwing, specifically Fiore de Liberi.

And thus was born the world’s most gruesome game of lawn darts. It actually doesn’t surprise me much that Italian school fencing would have some throws buried in its history.

That the technique apparently died out says something… I’m just not sure what. Possibly that it didn’t work, or just that disarming yourself on the hope that you’ll kill your opponent in the process is a really dangerous gamble.

It is worth pointing out that, “yes, people did try to do this,” though.