One of the great creatures of Tolkien’s world are trolls. Hill Trolls, Stone Trolls, Mountain Trolls, Olog-hai (not to be mistaken for the Uruk-hai), even the fleeting Stone Giants (sort of borrowed from the Cyclopes of The Odyssey). Trolls are well established in Norse mythology which was a baseline for Tolkien’s imaginary world.
Early in The Hobbit Biblo has an encounter with three stone trolls outside the Shire, who through Odysseian trickery, Biblo manages to waylay until the sun strikes and they are turned to stone (now appropriated to vampires). They sit there, like massive stone statues until Frodo encounters them a generation later in LoTR.
These three brutes were at the Wellington world premier yesterday of Hobbit 1 (28/11/12) and also greet visitors at Wellington airport. They differ quite markedly from the Trolls of the later LoTR. In The Hobbit they are conversational, kind of rustic ignorant vagabonds. In LoTR they evolve into more mindless oxen brutish beasts.
Many do not know that Tolkien was a reasonably accomplished artist. He made several competent ink and water colour illustrations for The Hobbit and early editions of LoTR. In one of them, he depicts the the three rather wooden Stone Giants hiding, Bigfoot like, behind trees as a hooded Biblo enters the clearing to check out their campfire (see below).
Peter Jackson has done a much better job of capturing the essence of these creatures. His portrayal is perfect in my view, exactly as I had imagined them and consistent with the Tolkien descriptions, although Tolkien’s drawing does depict the scales said to be on Trolls. Oafish, brutish, toothy, clumsy brutes of massive size.