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Topic: Difference between orcs and goblins?

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Elf of Rivendell - Rank 2
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Difference between orcs and goblins?

What are your ideas? What are the differences between orcs and goblins? Cause in Hobbit they are called Goblins, but in LOTR orcs? Are they two different creatures? This might seem a real novice question, but since my friend wants to know and i cant give him the answer without knowning half of it will be wrong..So what are your point of views on this? I personally think that orcs are a breed of elves [(they really are)corrupted by Melkor/Morgoth, later Sauron] but goblins are foul creatures of the dark, and they are sometimes harder enemies than the orcs, but that really depends on orcs, so goblins are a different breed, though they look alike, possibly also the corruption of Melkor, but who knows? Elves divided themselves to 3 groups, so perhaps orcs are one breed of elves, while goblins are another? Im waiting for answers, maybe the Letters offer help, but since i aint got that..Also, if you want, you can message me at johanneskangur@hotmail.com (msn)

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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There is no difference between Goblins and Orcs as far as being different species. They are basically the same. If I had to name one difference it would be that Goblins are a type of Orc that has developed more to tunnels and caves, whereas Orcs I think of more patrolling in open spaces, such as the plains of Gorgoroth. I can think of nothing else, though I would say goblins are fouler.

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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Yes that seems about right. If you ask me the PC game 'Lord of the Rings, Battle for Middle-earth 2' seems to sum up the adpation distinctions between the two different Sub-species quite well. Goblins are portrade as hunched foul bests that crawl in and out of tunnels in the thousands and associate with foul spiders, while the Orcs are portrade in a more orderly, though not pleasant, manner.

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Elf of Rivendell - Rank 2
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I had a school project on Tolkien's imaginary world-its creatures,places,events, characters... so I did a lot of study about orcs and goblins and I found in many places that Tolkien himself didn't make any difference between them,they are just called by two names but they are identical-except maybe for what mos said-that goblins are mostly hidden inside mountains,tunnels and caves,they almost never go out so they have bigger eyes and sharper sight-since they're always in the dark, and orcs live on the surface,they go out, can be great warriors and they have more strenght than goblins


 


and are uglier;)



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Elf of Rivendell - Rank 2
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Than you very much

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Aredhel, by your last point do you mean Orcs are uglier than Goblins or vice versa?

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I'm pretty sure that Aredhel meant that orcs are uglier than goblins mos. And I think I would agree with that as well. Although goblins big eyes are quite freaky .

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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Well I must disagree there. I fnd Goblins far more repulsive than Orcs, they are more hunched, have bigger eyes and associate with foul creatures like the spiders. The Orcs are more battle ready, and as such are not as destorted as goblins.

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Orc captain of Morgul - Rank 5
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Just a matter of opinion I suppose.


Are you scared by my avatar Glorfindel?  



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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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I wouldn't say scared, I merely find goblins more repulsive than Orcs and Glorfindel obviously agrees. I find alot of insects repulsive but i am not scared of them (providing they are not near me...)



-- Edited by The One at 17:53, 2006-07-07

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Anarion, Son of Elendil - rank 8
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Agreed.

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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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the terms are synonomous:

"Orc is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is usually translated goblin (or hobgoblin for the larger kinds.)"
(The Hobbit - Foreword)

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There is no difference between the two.  As TM points out with the quote in The Hobbit.  They are just two words that can be interchanged to talk about the same creature. 


And on little note, mos, location or the place doesn't matter either.  Grishnakh was a messenger of Sauron...orc from Mordor, and was referred to as a goblin twice:
The hobbits felt Grishnákh's fingers twitch. 'O ho!' hissed the goblin softly.~The Uruk-hai


Grishnákh's sword was lying close at hand, but it was too heavy and clumsy for him to use; so he crawled forward, and finding the body of the goblin he drew from its sheath a long sharp knife. With this he quickly cut their bonds.~ibid

Bottomline, still remains, the two words are synonyms of eachother and can be interchanged.  There is absolutely no difference between an Orc and a Goblin.


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good quotes there Boromir88
(btw, happy to see you posted, and maybe you'll post some more)

and also, what is interesting, is that Grishnakh is never identified as an Uruk-Hai, but also never identified as a non-Uruk-hai.
So it could be that the term "goblin" was also used for Uruk-hai, and not only for the simple orcs

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Good quotes there Boromir. But still we scarcely ever here the orcs of Gorgoroth called Goblins.

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That's true mos.  As TM showed mostly 'goblin' was used in The Hobbit, I think because of the different age levels of the The Hobbit and LOTR, 'goblin' is a term kids would be more familiar with.  Where when we get to the Silmarillion and LOTR, more serious, and tragic stories, Orc is the one most often used.


Also, an interesting note, 'goblin' is typically lowercased where 'Orc' is capitilized...'goblin' seems to be an informal, or slang word, for the proper term 'Orc.'


So it could be that the term "goblin" was also used for Uruk-hai, and not only for the simple orcs



Well, TM, there is an interesting theory going around.  Personally, I don't think there's enough to prove it, and it mostly seems speculative, but just to give you the 'theory.'


The theory is is that Uruk-hai and Uruks are synonymous, Uruk-hai are not the 'crossbreed between men and orcs' as originally thought.


Let's start out with a bit of history.  Sauron first create the 'Uruks' which are simply a stronger breed of orc.  'The Black Uruks' as they are also called, simply being an improvement upon the Orcs.  And Uruk-hai is not a crossbreed between Men and Orcs, devised by Saruman, but another term the lengthened term of Uruk.


'Uruk-hai' translates into 'Orc Race' so the translation fits with the theory.  Also throughout Unfinished Tales Tolkien uses the term 'Man-orc' or 'Half-orc' to describe Saruman's crossbreeding of the two:


“When Theodred gained the Fords the day was waning.  He set Grimbold in command of the garrison of the west bank, stiffened with fifty dismounted Riders.  The rest of his Riders and all the horses he at once sent across the river, save his own company: with these on foot he manned the eyot, to cover the retreat of Grimbold is he was driven back.  This was barely done when disaster came.  Saruman’s eastern force came down with unexpected speed; it was much smaller than the western force, but more dangerous.  In its van were some Dunlending horsemen and a great pack of the dreadful Orcish wolfriders, feared by horses.  Behind them came two battalions of the fierce Uruks, heavily armed but trained to move at great speed for many miles.  The horsemen and wolfriders fell on the horse-herds and picketed horses and slew or dispersed them.  The garrison of the east bank surprised by the sudden assault of the massed Uruks, was swepty away, and the Riders that had just crossed from the west were caught still in disarray, and though they fought desperately, they were driven from the fords along the line of the Isen with the Uruks in pursuit.


 


As soon as the enemy had gained possession of the eastern end of the Fords there appeared a company of men or Orc-men (evidently dispatched for the purpose), ferocious, mail-clad, and armed with axes.  They hastened to the eyot and assailed it from both sides.  At the same time Grimbold on the west bank was attacked by Saruman’s forces on that side of the Isen.”~Unfinished Tales. The Battle of the Fords of the Isen


Some argue that this is the distinction Tolkien makes between 'Orc-men' and 'Uruk-hai' that indeed they are different.  However, I think they are just over-analyzing, Tolkien alternates between Orcs and goblins in a few sentences at times.  So, I don't see why I should believe he isn't just alternating the terms here between 'Orc-men' and 'Uruks.'


And in LOTR:
“But there were others that were horrible: man-high, but with goblin-faces, sallow, leering, squint-eyed.  Do you know, they reminded me at once of that Southerner at Bree; only he was not to obviously orc-like as most of these were.’


 


‘I thought of him too,’ said Aragorn.  ‘We had many of these half-orcs to deal with at Helm’s Deep."~Flotsam and Jetsam


So, the argument is.  Orcs, goblins, and Uruk-hai (Uruks) are all of the same breed.  Uruks are the stronger, 'soldier-like' Orc breed.


While 'Man-orcs' or 'Goblin-men' or 'Half-orcs' are Saruman's crossbreed between the two races, and Uruk-hai is not the crossbreed.  And at Helm's Deep, and in Saruman's army, he had both Uruk-hai and the Man-orcs, (as well as Orcs. Dunlanders and such).


It's all up to the readers interpretation, whether they think Uruk-hai can be synonymouse with the crossbreed of Orcs and Men or not.  Personally I think they are synonymous just like Orcs and goblins are, others will disagree.

 




-- Edited by Boromir88 at 06:51, 2006-07-21

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oh, thank you for helping me find out something new...
I was until now not familiar with the theory that Uruk-hai are a crossbread, I always though that, as you said, they were simply a stronger breed.
And yes, I think in LOTR itself, this is mentioned at Helm's Deep:
'But these creatures of Isengard, these half-orcs and goblin-men that the foul craft of Saruman has bred, they will not quail at the sun,' said Gamling.
But also here, these creatures are mentioned in the context of the sunlight.
So in my opinion this also indicates that except Uruks and normal Orcs, there were also wild men or Dunlendings and goblin-men.
Because, as Gamling says, "these creatures of Isengard" were resistand to the sun, not "the creatures of Isengard", but "these creatures". So I think I will agree with you on that one.

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The question then is if Sauron had Uruk-hai why did he not do away with the lessar Orcs and stick to the bigger breeds?

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do away?
I think Sauron wished to achieve victory by numbers and not necessarily by strength. Sauron did indeed improve many creatures, but in the same time he wanted to overpower his enemies by larger numbers.
However, he was in the same time too overconfident as he attacked in 3 places in the same time - Minas Tirith, Lorien and Erebor.
Had he concentrated all his troops in Minas Tirith, his victory would be surely achieved, by much more superior numbers.


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Also, I think (and I can't outright prove this), that it was rather difficult to get the 'bigger and stronger breeds.'  Most of Saruman's force that attacked Helm's Deep was not his crossbreed of Men and Orcs, but regular Orcs, and Dunlanders.  And in Unfinished Tales, the 'Man-Orcs' were only a 'company.'  So, with Saruman he didn't have a lot of his 'Man-Orcs' yet, because it takes time.


Most of Sauron's forces attacking Gondor were Men, not Orcs.  In Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of Middle-earth (a good guidebook to use) she approximates the numbers.  There are some errors in Fonstad's book because she did not have Letters available to her, but it is one of the better Tolkien guides out there, and I've never seen her numbers disputed...of the 45,000 sieging Minas Tirith, 20,000 were Orcs, Trolls, Uruks...etc, the remainder 25,000 were made up of Men...from Khand, Harad, Umbar...etc.  Also, Sauron's force he sent to attack the Dwarves of Erebor was said to be an 'Easterling force.'  I don't know any numbers as far as the remainder of Sauron's army at the Black Gates, but in those two instances the majority of Sauron's army was made up of Men.


I think it is difficult in general to keep a good 'supply' of Orcs, so to say...it wasn't as the movies portrayed where they just spawned and were full-grown out of mud pits.  Whatever your conception of the Orcs origins were from (Men, Elves, rocks...etc) what Tolkien does make clear is Orcs reproduce:


’There must have been orc-women. But in stories that seldom if ever see the Orcs except as soldiers of armies in the service of the evil lords we naturally would not learn much about their lives. Not much was known’~The Munby Letter (Dated Oct. 21 1963)


’For the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Ilúvatar’~The Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves


We are led to think too that their Lifespan wasn't all that long:


'They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart from these ills they were not immortal, even according to the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as the Edain'~Home X: Morgoth's Ring


So, Orcs multiply and reproduce like Iluvatar's children (Men and Elves) and they're lives are short compared to other races.  It takes time to build up a substantial force of Orcs and keep their numbers.  Unlike what the movies show you where it seems like Sauron just has an unlimitted supply of Orcs.  Sauron turned a lot to other means in order to win.  He would try to bribe the dwarves instead of having to fight them, then would recruit Men into his army.



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and only to add something, I believe that, as I said, the power of both Isengard and Mordor was not so much in strength of troops, but in numbers.
on the other hand, there were also some elite troop units, which were used in certain moments. For example the Olog-hai that attacked The Host of the West before the Black Gate, or the company of the Uruks sent to ambush the Company near Tol Brandir, or as the best example, the Nazgul. Such units were spared from normal battle and used for special missions, more difficult then usually, as they were stronger.
On the other hand, the normal Orcs were simply used as cannon fodder and sent forward into battle.
And, I would like to again add something, the same situation was that of the Warg Riders. The Warg Riders were not always sent inot battle, but were also more or less, better, and specialized units.



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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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I have a quote here that says the Orcs ar NOT Goblins:


"Personally I prefer Orcs (since these creatures are not 'goblins', not even the goblins of George MacDonald, which they do to some extent resemble)."
151 From a letter to Hugh Brogan 18 September 1954



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they are not goblins in the way they are perceived by others.
Tolkien used the term "goblin" in "The Hobbit" as he wanted to write this book mostly for small children for which the term "goblin" was easier to understand then the term "orc", as goblin was a much more known word and the children reading the book could much more easily picture themselves goblin. In the same time, the image these children had about "goblins" was perhaps not that which Tolkien wanted to give, as the term of "goblin" was already existant and could be misinterpreted and misunderstood, or perhaps compared to goblins from other creations.
That is why, when he decided to write a more complex book such as LOTR, he wanted to make sure that nobody misunderstands or misinterprets the orcs, or associates them for example with the goblins of George MacDonald.

And just to make it simple.
Orcs = Tolkien's Goblins
Orcs = not MacDonald's Goblins

But to make sure that all is clear for people he gave up the term of goblin.

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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TM wrote:






And just to make it simple.
Orcs = Tolkien's Goblins
Orcs = not MacDonald's Goblins






You are incorrect. Please read this part again:


"(since these creatures are not 'goblins', not even the goblins of George MacDonald, which they do to some extent resemble)."


It says 'Not even the goblins of macdonald' therefore is not limiting itself only to the goblins of macdonald but his own gobilns as well.



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no...
orcs are not "goblins" as they are seen by others including George MacDonald
but Orcs are Tolkien's goblins...
don't you see...he's own goblins are called orcs for the simple reason thatthey are not to be confused with other kinds of goblins

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If Tolkien meant that his Orcs are not the goblins of MacDonald then he would have said:


(since these creatures are not 'goblins' of George MacDonald, which they do to some extent resemble)."


However the way he says it in his proper quote means that 'Orcs' are not Goblins at all, his own and Macdonalds, simple as that.



-- Edited by mouth of sauron at 12:54, 2006-07-30

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ok, firstly, I'm going to give a larger quote from the same letter, to see in which context Tolkien said that. It is very easy to try to prove a simple affirmation without the context.

"Your preference of goblins to orcs involves a large question and a matter of taste, and perhaps historical pedantry on my pan. Personally I prefer Orcs (since these creatures are not 'goblins', not even the goblins of George MacDonald, which they do to some extent resemble). Also I now deeply regret having used Elves, though this is a word in ancestry and original meaning suitable enough. But the disastrous debasement of this word, in which Shakespeare played an unforgiveable pan, has really overloaded it with regrettable tones, which are too much to overcome. I hope in the Appendices to Vol. III to be able to include a note 'On translation' in which the matter of equivalences and my uses may be made clearly. My difficulty has been that, since I have tried to present a kind of legendary and history of a 'forgotten epoch', all the specific terms were in a foreign language, and no precise equivalents exist in English. ...."

Now as we see, it all has to do, as I said with the fact that Tolkien wanted that "all the specific terms were in a foreign language, and no precise equivalents exist in English"
That is why he chose "orcs" as a different term for "goblins".
That does not mean that the orcs from LOTR are different from the goblins in The Hobbit
It only means, they were the same creatures, but under a different name, a name that should have no equivalent in English.
This means that goblins = orcs, but that this name change was made so that (as Tolkien himself says) "to present a kind of legendary and history of a 'forgotten epoch', all the specific terms were in a foreign language".



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I am not utterly sure of what entirely your trying to say I can only provide the facts.

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no
the only fact is that Tolkien wanted to replace the term "goblin" with "orc" in order "to present a kind of legendary and history of a 'forgotten epoch', all the specific terms were in a foreign language, and no precise equivalents exist in English."

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There is overwhelming support that 'Orcs' and goblins are the exact same.  TM has provided the quote from The Hobbit.  Also, as I had shown with Grishnakh he was called (by Tolkien) a goblin twice, the rest of the times he's referred to as an 'Orc.'


And some further quotes which show the two terms being exchanged, where the two words are being interchanged in the same paragraph:


...and then suddenly they had crashed right into a group of Orcs: they were standing listening, and they did not appear to see Merry and Pippin until they were almost in their arms.  Then they yelled and dozes of other goblins had srpung out of the trees.  Merry and he had drawn their swords, but the Orcs did not wish to fight,...~The Uruk-hai


The quote you use does not disprove the fact that 'Orcs' and 'goblins' are two interchangeable words for the same thing:


"Personally I prefer Orcs (since these creatures are not 'goblins', not even the goblins of George MacDonald, which they do to some extent resemble)."


All Tolkien is saying in this quote is that the typical accepted view of what a 'goblin' is would not fit the description or fit in with his 'Orcs.'  And that's why he prefers the term 'Orcs.'  Because his 'Orcs' were not the world view of 'goblins.'  (And this is what it seems like TM is trying to get across).  He's not saying that in his story 'Orcs' and 'goblins' are different, just that he prefers to call them 'Orcs' (over 'goblins') because the orcs/goblins in his story were not the same as everyone elses.


Even if this is what Tolkien was saying then he would be contradicting himself (which he has done before), because he interchanges the two words many times, and several quotes have been provided to show this.  But, I doubt Tolkien is saying this, because for him to say something like this (in the way you have laid out) would mean Tolkien he would have had to have a total mindlapse of what he wrote throughout The Hobbit and LOTR, which I doubt he simply just forgot that he had interchanged the words many many times.  In Moria alone Orcs was said around 18 times and goblins about 6 if my memory is correct...I'll have to go back and count.



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pretty much my opinion
but I must disagree on one point
Tolkien doesn't really contradict himself, for the simple reason all he says is I prefer Orcs. Perhaps he preffered Orcs, but still used goblins as well, to also give the readers a term they are more familiar with.
For example, as we see, he even said he is not so happy with using the term of Elves, but still, he always used it.
Plus September 1954 as a date means LOTR was already published, and Tolkien didn't anyway change the term of goblin from other editions.
Maybe all he wanted to say is that he simply preffered Orcs more, not that he would never use goblin.

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mouth of sauron wrote:


Aredhel, by your last point do you mean Orcs are uglier than Goblins or vice versa?


  yes,I think that Orcs are uglier than Goblins,especially the Uruk.-hai, yuk;)

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perhaps only in the movie, because we don't really have so clear descriptions about them so we could actually say which are uglier.
I think they were all ugly, don't really care which were uglier...but I think trolls were worse.

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Wargs are worse in the films...

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ok...I think we are getting a little bit off-topic...

anyway, I think we reached a common answer...that orcs are the same thing as goblins, that Tolkien preffered the term "orc" to the term "goblin" as "orc" had no equivalent in English and belonegd to a "foreign" language, and finally, that he however used both terms, and by interchanging them in paragraphs again showed that they are the same.

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Tolkien doesn't really contradict himself, for the simple reason all he says is I prefer Orcs.~TM


Yes, I think I was a bit confusing in my last post.  I was saying if the quote provided by mos was Tolkien saying that Orcs and goblins are different, than Tolkien would have to be contradicting himself, because all throughout LOTR and The Hobbit we can see the words being interchanged.  But, as you have shown, I don't think that's what he's saying, he's just saying his preference to calling them 'Orcs' instead of 'goblins.'



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Yes, at least this time he does not contradict himself, though he very often does, at least in many of his later works, which do not always match what he says in his earlier works.
Alas, I believe that this topic has already been cleared up...

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Elf of Rivendell - Rank 2
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Posts: 53
Date: Aug 1, 2006

The Might wrote:



perhaps only in the movie, because we don't really have so clear descriptions about them so we could actually say which are uglier.



you're right about that



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anar kaluva tielyanna!
Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
Status: Offline
Posts: 3118
Date: Aug 1, 2006
well...I just took some time off today to watch the movies again...cause I kinda missed seeing them...
and personally I find the Uruk-hai better looking then the normal Orcs (well, at least by Orc standards)
the Uruk-hai look more...I dunno...better anyway...

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Honor, Freedom, Fatherland
Soldier of the East - Rank 4
Status: Offline
Posts: 306
Date: Sep 30, 2006

I think (even though this is off topic) that the orcs of the movies were uglier than the Uruks of the movies that were uglier than the goblins of the movies. I make the difference of Orc and goblin because in the movie it seems to associate the goblins to the misty mountains and the orcs to other.


I also think that the trolls were not as ugly as any of the Orc races. But that the mountain trolls were not nearly as ugly as the cave trolls. This might have something to do with the mountain trolls being dressed as opposed to naked swinging a club.



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