Things From The Books Only Games Have Adapted

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is widely considered to be one of the greatest works of literature of the 20th century. With a lovable cast of characters, complex lore, deep themes, and detailed world-building, the books represent the pinnacle of the fantasy genre. Author J.R.R. Tolkien created not just a great story, but an entire world, one with a rich history, and culture every bit as complex and interwoven as that of the real world. It is therefore understandable why even the most faithful of Lord of the Rings movie adaptations had to cut out portions of the original source material here and there.

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Even the extended editions of the Peter Jackson movies – which clock in at a combined 11 hours and 22 minutes – cannot hope to include everything that J.R.R. Tolkien was able to pack into over 1,000 pages. However, video games are not as limited by the runtime as movies are, and with the numerous Lord of the Rings video game adaptations that have been made over the years, there are a number of things that were excluded from the movie adaptations that have found their way into the world of video games. In some cases, these games have gone even further and elaborated on events that were only briefly mentioned in the books.


Encounter With Tom Bombadil

Tom Bombadil is an enigmatic figure who first appeared in a poem by J.R.R. Tolkein called “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil” published in 1934. He would later appear in a few chapters of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. In the book, he ends up rescuing Frodo and his friends from Old Man Willow in the old forest next to the shire. He then welcomes them to stay the night at his house with him and his wife Goldberry, before eventually saving Frodo and his friends from the evil Barrow Wights.

Most adaptations view this entire segment as being unnecessary to the overall plot and generally opt to exclude it. However, a few video games have included him in some capacity, for example, in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring video game from 2002, Frodo encounters him in much the same way that he does in the book. He has made appearances in other games as well, including The Lord of the Rings Online, where he appears as an NPC. Bombadil can also be summoned and used as a hero unit in the RTS The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II.

Exploring The Barrow Downs

Another section that is regularly cut from movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings is when Frodo and his friends pass through the Barrow Downs. The Barrow Downs are an ancient burial site that was cursed by the Witch King of Angmar, and, as a result, it is haunted by evil spirits called Barrow Wights. Much like in the book, Frodo and his friends must pass through this area in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring video game from 2002.

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This area can also be found in LEGO The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Online, The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, and The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II – Rise of the Witch King. The absence of the Barrow Downs from the movies actually creates a bit of a plot hole about how Merry was able to harm the Witch King of Angmar. In the book and games that feature it, Merry’s sword is an enchanted blade that he took from the Barrow Downs.

Battle of Dale

It is mentioned in the appendix at the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King that while the forces of Gondor and Rohan fought Sauron in the south, a large host of Easterlings attempted to sweep in from the north. Had they done so, it would have meant certain doom for the peoples of Middle Earth.

However, this host was ultimately defeated by an alliance of men from the Kingdom of Dale (formerly Lake Town) and the dwarves of Erebor. It is understandable why filmmakers would choose to leave this event out since it is not relevant to the main plot of The Lord of the Rings. Even so, those who wish to experience this battle in forms other than text can do so in The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II.

The War Between Arnor and Angmar

This is yet another example of something that was written about in the appendix at the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King which game developers decided to expand upon. In the book, it is explained that there existed two kingdoms descended from the men of Numenor: Gondor in the south and Arnor in the north. By the time the books start, the kingdom of Arnor had been brought to ruin hundreds of years prior due to a centuries-long conflict with the realm of Angmar.

Angmar was an evil kingdom established and run by the Witch King of Angmar. This kingdom would also be destroyed only a short time after its victory over Arnor, though by that time the mission that it had been created for had already been accomplished. This conflict was faithfully adapted as the campaign of The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II – Rise of the Witch King.

The Fall of Dol Guldur

Another major victory for the peoples of Middle Earth was that of the Elves of Mirkwood and Lindon against the forces of Dol Guldur. Fans of The Hobbit will recall that Dol Guldur was the former lair of Sauron back when he was masquerading as the Necromancer and that he was driven from the place by the White Council.

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According to the appendix at the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Dol Guldur, though not as important as it had been, was nonetheless used to stage a series of attacks against Lorien. An alliance between the elves of Lorien and those of the Woodland Realm was able to drive them back until, finally, the fortress is completely destroyed by Galadriel. Gamers can experience an adaptation of these events as part of the good-aligned campaign in The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II.

Battles At The Fords Of Isen

In the movie version of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Aragorn urged King Theodin to openly attack Saruman’s forces at Isengaurd, but Theodin refused memorably saying “I will not risk open war.” He instead pins his hopes on a defense a Helm’s Deep.

However, in the book, Theodin does attempt this course of action and is defeated at two battles at the fords of Isen (Isen is a river that runs through Isengaurd and gives the location its name). These two battles both ultimately end in defeat and force Theodin to retreat back to Helm’s Deep. These battles were faithfully represented in The Lord of the Rings Online, albeit with much smaller armies due to game engine restraints.

The Fall of Minas Ithil

Another event that is only briefly mentioned in the books and later elaborated on in a video game was the fall of the Gondorian city of Minas Ithil. Once a fortress for the Kingdom of Gondor, Minas Ithil (translated as the Tower of Moon) kept guard over Gondor’s easternmost frontier. According to series lore, the fortress was Laid siege to in the year 2000 of the Third age and ultimately captured two years later.

From this point on, it became the dark abode of the Nazgul and was renamed Minas Morgul (translated as the Tower of Dark Sorcery). Players of Middle Earth: Shadow of War are able to witness the fall of Minas Ithil and its transformation into Manas Morgul. Players are even able to take control of the city and use it as their stronghold for a time.

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