This idea has been out there in the LOTR community for decades so I might as well give it a fair hearing.
There is one other creature whose abilities and powers resemble Tom’s but no one has ever drawn comparisons, and that is the giant spider Ungoliant. Yes, THAT Ungoliant.
Here’s what the LOTR Wiki has to say about her:
“Who, what, or where Ungoliant came from is not clear; the Eldar and perhaps not even the Valar are certain. It is said by some that she came from the Darkness itself that lies about Arda and was once an ally of Melkor when he looked down upon the world with envy. Later, she changed her allegiance from him to herself, desiring only to be a mistress of her own insatiable craving to devour all light, to feed her everlasting emptiness.”
Sound familiar? Well, not the darkness part. More of the mysterious origin. In the Silmarillion, Ungoliant starts out as a spirit who is neither valar nor maiar, which suggests that there are other orders in Arda not classified by Tolkien.
Embodying the darkness, she takes the shape of a giant spider. Tom, being of the SAME ORDER AS UNGOLIANT, takes the shape of a man.
If you need a moment to digest that, I totally get it.
Take a sec, have a coffee or go work out. When you’re ready, read on.
The similarities continue:
- Ungoliant is immensely powerful, able to overpower Melkor, but is eventually driven away by his flame-whipping balrogs. So, powerful, but not more powerful. Much in the way Tom might be individually as powerful or more powerful than Sauron, eventually he would fall to Sauron’s might, because Sauron, like Melkor/Morgoth, would never be fighting alone.
- Much in the same way Tom is unaffected by the One Ring, the most powerful totem of the Second and Third Ages of Middle Earth, Ungoliant is unaffected by the lure of the most powerful totem of the First Age, the Silmarils. She eats them and only grows larger.
- Her weapon is her web of darkness, Tom’s weapon is song.
- He is described as ‘Eldest’ but the inhabitants of Middle Earth who do so presumably arrived later than the Valar, who might not see him as such. Treebeard apparently has no knowledge of Tom when he describes HIMSELF as the oldest being in Middle Earth. Since Ungoliant’s appearance seems to be a surprise to the Valar, she easily could have preceded them into Arda.
- Both are unconcerned with the power struggles of elves and men and Maia and Vala. Ungoliant just wants to eat, and Tom just wants to sing.
POSSIBLE CONCLUSION: There is a third, unnamed order of beings in Middle Earth to which Tom and Ungoliant both belong.
Thanks again, LOTR Wiki and the Creative Commons license! You rock!!