"I am not going to tell you my name, not yet at any rate. For one thing it would take a long while: my name is growing all the time, and I've lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. Real names tell you the story of things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say. It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time saying anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to. " - Treebeard
This quote from Tolkien's The Two Towers gives us just a glimpse into these fantastic creatures known as Ents. In this week's Know Your LotRO Lore, we're going to explore the "Shepherds of the Trees" a bit more and help you understand their importance in the grand scheme of Middle-earth. Follow along below for more on these curators of the copse, these guardians of the grove, these wardens of the woodland! Ok, I'll stop that now.
What are Ents, exactly?
Ents are described a race of tree-like giants that appeared in Middle-earth at the same time as the Elves. They were created as the Tree Herders to protect the trees from the other races (originally Dwarves) who aimed to cause them harm. They often resemble trees or plant-life, and it's been said that their appearances vary tremendously, according to the specific trees that they shepherd.
They are very powerful beings, as is demonstrated by their ability to rip down the walls of Isengard "like bread crust" during the final battle with Saruman. They are also intelligent beings, thanks to the Elves who taught them to speak. Treebeard once referred to this as a great gift that "cured us of dumbness".
When Aulë created the Dwarves, his wife Yavanna became very worried about the state of her greatest love: nature. She realized that Dwarves would chop down and burn her precious trees, so she pleaded with Manwë to create something to protect all things that grow from the earth. The result was the Ents, which have historically had a difficult time protecting the trees from the progressively destructive nature of Men and Dwarves, despite their great power.
During the Council of Elrond, Elrond remarks that there was once a time when "a squirrel could go from tree to tree from what is now the Shire to Dunland west of Isengard." By the time the Fellowship sets out through Middle-earth, most of the trees have been destroyed. This was always a source of sadness for the Ents, as told by Treebeard, the eldest of all Ents by the Third Age. He refers to the Fangorn Forest (named after his Sindarin name) as simply the eastern end of what was once a vast primeval forest. Does this mean that the Ents failed at their task to protect the forests and trees? Not really, because they had done their job for thousands of years before Sauron's influence and destruction eventually became too great.
The fate of the Ents is a sad one, as their means of procreation had been destroyed. The Entwives (basically, female Ents) travelled to the Brown Lands to explore more ways to grow and control agriculture. The male Ents were always content to watch trees grow, but the Entwives needed something more lively. Of course the Ents would still visit them from time to time, but eventually it is said that all Entwives were destroyed by Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance. Tolkien remarked that this was in fact the end of the Entwives, although there were rumors that one was seen north of the Shire by Hal Gamgee.
Young Ents (Entings) were also a rarity in the books, with the closest resemblance being Quickbeam, a young "sapling" that was said to be more energetic and "bendy" than the other Ents.
Huorns are a variation of Ents that are more tree-like and less sentient. It is said that they learned from the Ents, but are nothing more than "walking trees". Most are good, fighting on the side of the Ents to protect the forests, but a sect of Huorns known as Black Huorns are pure evil.
Ents in the game
There are not many cases of Ents in Lord of the Rings Online, but their legacy lives on through Fellowship Maneuvers such as Ent's Stand, Ent's Heart, Entish Justice, Ent's Rage and others that predominantly use the Ent's Strength (red button) in the maneuver.
Longbough the Ent can be found in the Eavespires, northwest of Tinnundir in Evendim. He's a quest NPC that starts the quest chain known as Hewing the Wood that leads to the instance The Twisted Heart. According to this quest chain, Wood Trolls have infested the area and the Ents aren't too happy. Wood Trolls were created by Sauron to mock the Ents and destroy everything they set to protect, so his concern is warranted.
You'll also encounter your fair share of Huorns throughout the game, especially in places like the Old Forest and other woody areas. Despite the fact that Tolkien describes Huorns as being helpers to the Ents, in LotRO, many Huorns are evil.
Treebeard is a memorable character in the books, and his sense of humor and striking power help us to relate and respect him and all Ents a bit more. As with most other races and creatures created by Tolkien, the Ents have been repopularized by other fantasy franchises such as D&D, EverQuest, Warhammer and World of Warcraft. This popularity proves that the idea of a humanized tree is interesting to most.
We hope you've enjoyed this week's feature on the Ents, and we look forward to providing more from the lore of our favorite game(s) next week. If you have an idea for a future lore article, leave it in the comments below!