Over the ages of Tolkien's timeline, many beautiful and strange lifeforms filled the lands of Arda. Middle-earth is host to more than just the fair elves, sturdy dwarves, and peaceful halfings of the Shire. Beasts and birds of all varieties inhabit the land, some of them acting as allies to the free peoples of Middle-earth, while others have more sinister intentions. Many of the most terrifying creatures that lurk in the deep places of Middle-earth are the work of Morgoth, the being of pure evil and malice that defied the almighty Eru Ilúvatar at the beginning of all things. Morgoth created these wicked monsters to torment and destroy those who aligned themselves with the Valar and stood against his and Sauron's plans for domination.
Find out more about the little known secrets of some of the most ancient, incredibly powerful, and utterly vicious creatures that call the lands of Middle-earth their home. Here is a compilation of things you (probably) didn't know about the monsters and creatures in the Lord of the Rings.
Durin's Bane Used To Be A Maia, Or Spiritual BeingPhoto: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema
As the Fellowship traverses the dark halls of Moria, they are confronted by Durin's Bane, a gargantuan flaming beast known as a Balrog. These creatures take the form of hulking, demon-like beings and are filled with a compulsion to destroy all who stand in their way. Though they may seem like mindless machines of destruction, they actually have a complicated and tragic origin. All the Balrogs once counted themselves among the Maiar, which are pure and powerful spiritual beings that serve the Valar in peace and harmony.
To put this into perspective, the Balrogs were once the same type of being as Gandalf, the other wizards, and even Sauron, before they each came to Middle-earth. This actually makes the deadly duel between Gandalf and Durin's Bane much more poignant than it seems at first glance. Before their transformation, these Maiar are seduced into betraying their kin by the evil Morgoth, who makes false promises of great power and grandeur to them. Morgoth's temptation leads them to become twisted and filled with rage, transforming into demonic beings wreathed in fire and sporting flaming whips. The Balrogs end up falling under Morgoth's complete control as pawns in his war against the Free Peoples of Middle-earth.Intense?
Smaug Was The Last Great Dragon In Middle-earthPhoto: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug / Warner Bros. Pictures
Smaug is the dragon who steals the great wealth of the Dwarves of Erebor in The Hobbit. After his attack on the Lonely Mountain, Smaug lays claim to the treasure horde and stays asleep for 171 years, guarding his prize and basking in his riches. However, Smaug is slightly different from the other dragons of more antique times. Smaug is likely much younger than most of the other fire-drakes from the early wars and clashes of Middle-earth. As such, he is the last "great" dragon left in Middle-earth before the time of his demise. When Smaug first invades the Lonely Mountain, Gandalf notes that Smaug is not yet fully grown and will reach an even huger and more powerful state. Though there may yet be others dragons of a less fearsome sort still wandering the expanses of the Withered Heath, the true time of the dragons ended when Smaug met his doom at the hands of Bard the Bowman.Intense?
The Uruk-Hai Are Human-Orc Hybrids Bred Only To FightPhoto: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema
The Uruk-hai are vicious and twisted creatures, bred specifically to the be inexhaustible warriors of Saruman and his master Sauron. They appear to be born from pits of filth in the dark places of Isengard, but they are also said to be the cross-product of men and orcs. Though Saruman's dark magic clearly plays a role in their origin, and they rise into life in an adult state, ready to fight, the exact process by which this occurs is unknown.
However, clues about their true nature are given by Gandalf. He says that they "possess the traits of 'orcs and goblin-men' without the two races' weaknesses." The name 'goblin-men' may actually refer to half-orcs, who likely played some role in the emergence of the Uruk-hai, or were bred by using the same dark magic as the Uruks. There is also evidence that Saruman is not the original creator of these malicious beings, but that he copies the arcane method from Sauron.Intense?
Huan, The Hound Of Valinor, Savagely Defeated The Mightiest WerewolfPhoto: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey / Warner Bros. Pictures
Huan is the wondrous Hound of Valinor who features in The Silmarillion. He is a gift from the legendary hunter Vala Oromë to Celegorm, and travels alongside his master to Middle-earth when the Ñoldor rebelled. Huan is said to be the size of a small horse, wise, powerful beyond measure, and blessed with special abilities, including the ability to speak 3 times in his life. A prophecy is made about the loyal hound that nothing could slay him besides the most powerful wolf in the world.
Huan cuts through leagues of vicious werewolves on his quest to help Beren and Lúthien recover a Silmaril from Morgoth. Huan manages to claim victory against Sauron who, knowing the prophecy, transforms himself into the most fearsome werewolf in existence. However, this ploy does not prove successful and Huan strikes Sauron down, forcing him to flee. He protects Beren and Lúthien through many perils, helping them to eventually take back the Silmaril. Huan's doom finally comes after the horrifying Carcharoth, the werewolf raised and trained by Melkor, goes mad with pain and rampages after swallowing the Silmaril. Huan fights valiantly and slays the dread beast, but suffers a mortal injury in the process. He speaks for the final time when he says his goodbyes to Beren and Lúthien after that fateful battle.Intense?