More Lord of the Rings plot whining

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In the Fellowship of the Ring, as everyone knows, the eponymous fellowship sets out from Rivendell to RMA the One Ring. Clearly this is an important mission, but for some reason they're incredibly poorly equipped. Relatively early on we discover that Frodo is the owner of some really cool mithril body armor, which saves his life. Yet none of the others are issued any, something Boromir no doubt comes to regret later when orcs turn him into a pincushion. Similarly, when they pass through Lothlorien, the elves give them elven cloaks, some sort of elf superbread, and some other gifts.

So, here's my question: why does their gear suck so much? If you're going to send 9 guys out to save the world, wouldn't you want them to have the best gear you could scrape up? You'd think the elves could have managed to find enough. Seeing as they started out from Rivendell, would it really have been so hard for Elrond to have given them bread himself? Maybe he was out, but surely he could have had Galadriel FedEx him some. Similarly with the armor, I get that Mithril is expensive, but the dwarves had whole mines of the stuff, so it's pretty hard to believe the elves couldn't get their hands on it, unless some sort of Elvish Donald Rumsfeld was out to prove he could win the war against Sauron on the cheap.

8 Comments

And this problem persists in every fantasy world since. In every adventure game ever, the king of some fantastical kingdom sends you off to slay the Greatest Threat Ever. However, before you do that, you have to go kill a boatload of hapless kobolds and take their gold, and give it to the local merchants in exchange for vital gear.

Nothing like realizing before you can go kill Onyxia, the badass dragon in Word of Warcraft, that you are facing an hour of fishing for Stonescale Eels to make the necessary potions. Isn't there some grunt they could send to do this?

May I suggest having a look at the real life:

A soldier gets the cheapest stuff that might possibly get the job done. Oh, and they have to stay under the weight budget. If you are to carry the stuff across half the world heavy armor isn't that comfortable...

Yeah, if I had been in their shoes, I would have run Moria a few more times to see if I could get some Phat Loot!

Student (perhaps the creator of the T distribution?) has a fact wrong here. Mithril is lighter than normal armor, so it would improve your weight budget.

I think part of the concept was there should be only a small group, designed to be fairly inconspicuous. Loading them up with fancy gear would draw attention which they didn't want. The mithril detectors at the Mordor border aren't super sensitive, and might false-negative a hobbit-sized chainmail vest, but might detect more accurately even one human-sized piece of gear.

@Student: mithril, being lighter than other metals, tends to help you on the weight budget.

Frodo's mithril mail was said by Gimmli to be worth more than the entire Shire. I dunno what happened to all the mithril the dwarves mined, but would it have been sensible to hand out maybe 20 shires worth of value (remember, not all the Company were pint-sized)? I'm not sure...

Please also recall the Gandalf Council of Wizards was compromised by Saruman, the Elves were in seclusion, and even then, mithral was rare enough that it was a "princely" gift--and there weren't many of those running around.

Also, Boromir was sent as special envoy from his father, the Steward of Gondor--he had the Horn of Gondor among his equipment, and in his final fight, slew dozens of orcs before he fell. Was it the Wheaties? The hobbits all had blades of Westernesse, which had special properties against orcs and the Nazgul (in the book, Merry injured the Nazgul Witch-King before Eonwyn slew it).

The had some good stuff, just no BFG2000.

If you're talking about the plot of the films, where Elrond teleports around Middle-Earth at will, and a mysterious army of Elves turns up in Rohan, then yes, it's gibberish.


In the books, long journeys are rare and dangerous. Elrond is not in direct contact with his mother-in-law in Lorien.


Excessive waffling on the subject on my blog

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