Tom Bombadil The Hobbit TV Series, Esko Hukkanen as Bombadil in Hobitit, and Tom Bombadil from the Lord of the RIngs Trading Card Game | Agents of Fandom

Who Is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Most Mysterious Character? ‘The Rings of Power’s Tom Bombadil, Explained

One of Tolkien’s most exciting and enigmatic characters will grace Prime Video’s adaptation.

Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power returns for an all-new season, bringing fans back to the world of Middle-earth during the Second Age of Tolkien’s epic as Sauron rises to power. This newest season will introduce audiences to new places, battles, and characters from Tolkien’s works, including the fan favorite Tom Bombadil, who was just revealed to appear in the series played by Rory Kinnear.

Fans have long been yearning for Bombadil since his notable absence from the Peter Jackson‘s trilogy of films. With his inclusion in this new series, let’s look at who Tom Bombadil is and what role he could be playing in this new season.

Why Did J.R.R. Tolkien Include Tom Bombadil in The Lord of the Rings?

Tom Bombadil standing in front of The Stranger in a cottage in Rings of Power Season 2 | Agents of Fandom
Tom Bombadil may well be the most powerful being in Middle-earth. Image Credit: Prime Video.

The works of J.R.R Tolkien have long been the benchmark of modern-day fantasy, and the level of detail and attention he paid to crafting Middle-earth is second to none. To tell his magnum opus, Tolkien created languages, family lineages spanning thousands of years, and an entire mythology on which the world operates. It’s strange then to think that there is a character in this world that doesn’t have an expansive history to them, which brings us to Tom Bombadil.

Bombadil is one of the rare characters in Tolkien’s world with no origin. No one knows where he comes from or what exactly he is. Little is known about Bombadil, but The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring reveals he once left his previous home and came to Middle-earth to wander and explore, witnessing the first rain and the emergence of the forest. While some may scratch their heads at this, it was actually by Tolkien’s design to leave Bombadil a mystery. In a letter to Naomi Mitchison, Tolkien touches on his intentions for Bombadil, saying,

“As a story, I think it is good that there should be a lot of things unexplained ( especially if an explanation actually exists); and I have perhaps, from this point of view, erred in trying to explain too much, and give too much past history. Even in a mythical Age, there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally).”

—J.R.R. Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 144

What Role Could Tom Bombadil Play in ‘The Rings of Power’ Season 2?

Tom Bombadil standing in front of his home the Underhill on the edge of the old forest in The Rings of Power Season 2 | Agents of Fandom
Tom Bombadil remembers the first raindrop and the emergence of the forest. Image Credit: Prime Video.

The Rings of Power takes place during the Second Age of Middle-earth, one of the most obscure periods of Tolkien’s world. Not much is known about the Age besides significant key moments such as Sauron’s rise to power and the forging of the One Ring. While Bombadil was in Middle-earth during this period, much like the rest of his history, his role in the events of the Age is unknown. In the books, it is said that he has witnessed most of the major events and battles throughout the history of Middle-earth.

What is clear about Bombadil is that he must have interacted with some people during this period, as he is known as a figure of folklore among the Elves and Dwarves. The Elves refer to him as Iarwain Ben-adar, meaning old and without father. Men of this Age knew him as Orald and, to the Dwarves, Forn.

The Council of Elrond in The Fellowship of the Ring proves Bombadil is also known by many powerful beings of Middle-earth, such as Elrond and Gandalf. While the showrunners of The Rings of Power have a lot of creative freedom to flesh out this mostly obscure period and give Bombadil a more essential role in the unfolding events, his largely neutral nature should be taken into account.

What Powers Does Tom Bombadil Have?

While little is known about Tom Bombadil’s history, even less is known about his true nature. Bombadil is seemingly immortal, having witnessed most of the events throughout the history of Middle-earth and never aging. His wife, a river spirit named Goldberry, describes Bombadil as impossible to capture and the master of wood, water, and all things growing and living in the land in The Fellowship of the Ring. Bombadil also shows powers in his voice, and his singing is able to control powerful supernatural creatures such as Old Man Willow and Barrow-wights.

Bombadil is also one of the few beings of Middle-earth over which the One Ring has no effect. Tom cannot only see Frodo while he is wearing the Ring but can also put it on himself with no effect. Gandalf even states in Fellowship at the Council of Elrond that if given the Ring, it is unlikely Bombadil would know or care of its importance and he would simply misplace it.

Though Bombadil’s origins are meant to remain a mystery, many fans and Tolkien scholars have speculated about who and what Tom actually is. Some theorize he is one of the Ainur who were the first beings created by the God of Tolkien’s universe, Eru Ilúvatar, before the world’s creation.

Others believe Tom is a Maiar like Gandalf and the other wizards who are akin to the Ainur but lesser in power. One wild fan theory suggests he could be a living embodiment of the world itself, composed of the concentrated goodwill of the elder forest or a reincarnated spirit of the music of the Ainur, which was used to create the world itself.

‘The Rings of Power’ Season 2 Will Unite Tom Bombadil and the Stranger

Tom Bombadil and The Stranger standing in Tom's house staring toward the camera with the sun beaming through the windows for Rings of Power Season 2 | Agents of Fandom
Tom Bombadil and the Stranger may uncover long-lost mysteries of Middle-earth. Image Credit: Prime Video.

Tom Bombadil is a character of many mysteries which might never be fully answered. While we may not know much about him, we know enough that he is a very powerful player in Middle-earth despite his common appearance and jovial manner. Many of the big events of the Second Age are known, but the nuances between events are largely unexplored. The Rings of Power aims to flesh this era and its events out, presenting a unique opportunity to explore Tom Bombadil and his impact on this time period while still staying true to Tolkiens works.

The Rings of Power has done a wonderful job adapting Tolkiens Second Age thus far, providing deeper looks into fan favorite characters such as Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Elrond (Robert Aramayo), and introducing us to places and people only known in the pages of Tolkiens writings. Including Bombadil in this new season is not just a love letter to fans and Tolkiens work but could also be a very important piece for the battles yet to come for the fate of all Middle-earth.

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