The three-volume J. R. R. Tolkien novel known collectively as “The Lord of the Rings” is, at its core, an incredibly complex fairytale. Tolkien created a rich history and culture for his characters, and invented more than 15 original languages (he was a professional linguist) for the Elves, Orcs, Dwarves, Ents, and other inhabitants of Middle-earth in “The Lord of the Rings” and related works.
Tolkien’s masterpiece was brought to the attention of a new generation by Peter Jackson’s three films, two of which are considered among the 55 best movies ever made.
Middle-earth continues to claim even more hearts and minds through The Lord of the Rings Online, an extensive and constantly evolving multi-participant role-playing game, whose latest expansion is scheduled to be released later this year. (These are the 20 best-selling video games of all time.)
For many of us, though, Middle-earth first came to life on paper, through the thousands of pages that make up the body of work known as Tolkien’s Legendarium — encompassing not just “The Lord of the Rings,” but also its predecessor “The Hobbit” and the subsequently published “The Silmarillion” and “Unfinished Tales.”
One Tolkien expert has computed that there are some 888 named characters in the Legendarium. At least 218 of these appear in “The Lord of the Rings.” To help make sense of the most important of them, 24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of the most popular characters in the trilogy, based on Wiki page views over the past 12 months.