Why didn't Sauron conscript the Stone-Giants?

The title pretty much says it. Sauron commanded a pretty diverse horde of creatures, and races of men. Why didn’t he find a way to turn the Stone-Giants? Surely they would have been of invaluable help at siege warfare. Considering that other sorts of giants and elementals were present in Tolkien’s work, I shouldn’t think he forgot about them.

I doubt there is any accurate reason, but anyone want to speculate?

Real answer: Tolkien chose to downplay certain aspects of the Hobbit and the Giants were one part that he chose to largely ignore.

Fan Wank: There was never more than a few Giants and even Sauron could not control.

My personal Fan-Wank is that Tolkien thought of certain ancient races as more or less outside the Whole Good-Evil/Morgoth-everybody else struggle and wern’t that able to understand or get involved in politics.

Im not an expert on Middle earth (only read LOTR once) but Sauron Seems to be a highly arrogant being. He probably thought recruiting the giants was beneath him. If Frodo had not destroyed the ring Sauron would have overrun Middle earth, so it’s not like he needed them anyway.

There’s also the view that “There and Back Again” was an exaggerated tale crafted by Bilbo following his return from the Lonely Mountain. So there never really was a talking wallet in a troll’s pocket and there never really were Stone Giants playing 9 pins with mountain peaks in a storm.

My personal theory is that the stone giants, being creatures of the earth, were creations of Aule, who was also the creator of the dwarves, who were resistant to the effects of Sauron’s power. To the extent that when they put on their rings of power and he attempted to control them with the One Ring, they all said “bugger off” and ignored him. So, I’m assuming some sort of earth-creature package deal, which includes a lot of resistance to mental domination. Having very large people you can’t see who love to throw big boulders at things hate you is probably not a lot of fun.

True, but given the ingenuity, sheer numbers, and resources of the goblin smiths, the Urukhai, the horde general, etc, surely he could have devised a way to press gang a few a few into labor. I suppose that goes back to the “just not worth the trouble theory” though.

Sauron never did anything that Morgoth didn’t do first. Morgoth didn’t enslave the giants (and Morgoth never had allies, only slaves), so Sauron didn’t either.

Interesting. I was going to say Sauron did have allies, like the Haradrim. But on reflection I bet while they might have considered themselves his allies he probably considered them his slaves!

As far as the Stone-giants I have always subscribed to the interpretation Grey gives…Bilbo exagerated some aspects of his adventure when he wrote it down for his nieces and nephews.

Agree with “Bilbo spiced things up a little writing There and Back Again”. There weren’t any trolls who spoke like Yorkshire farmers in LotR. The elves of Mirkwood were quite different in the trilogy than they were in The Hobbit, if Legolas is any example. And the giants weren’t really giants…it was a storyteller’s description of a mountain storm.

Other possible explanations are:

  • They were merely trolls by another name.
  • They didn’t really exist, but Bilbo was fooled into thinking they did, and this was never corrected in subsequent versions of his book.

(on edit, it looks like jayjay and I had the same idea.)

Also, as earth-creatures, they seem like they would have limited mobility and be tethered to their places.

Just as the Goldberry is tied to her river and the ball-hog is tied to the lane.

But wasn’t it Gandalf who said that they might get picked up by a stone giant and be kicked sky-high for a football? Or was it one of the dwarves? If Gandalf said it, I’d tend to believe him.

Comic Book Guy: It’s as if Superman moved to Gotham City!
Martin: Which he did, in World’s Finest Comics #94. (Points to the comic.) See?
Comic Book Guy: That was an imaginary story, dreamt by Jimmy Olsen after he was kicked in the head by Supergirl’s horse, Comet. It never really happened.
Bart: None of these things ever really happened.
Comic Book Guy: Get out of my store.

Can we be certain that Sauron didn’t conscript Stone-Giants? It is possible that “Giants” were simply a large variety of Men, limited in range much as Hobbits and Woodwoses. We may hypothesize that the Giants were mostly native to the cooler and more remote climates of Eriador, such as the northern peaks of the Misty Mountains. This is consistent with Bergmann’s Rule, which predicts that warm-blooded species generally tend to be larger in cooler latitudes, due to their lower surface-to-volume ratio which enables them to conserve heat more efficiently. It is also worth considering that Beorn, perhaps the tallest Man encountered in the literature, dwelt in the north as well.

If so, it would make no sense for Sauron to deploy Giants in defense of Mordor; but they might reasonably have taken part in the more northerly battles such as Lorien, Mirkwood, Dale and Erebor.

I mention this merely as a possibility. I think it unlikely that Sauron would have been able to conscript Giants, and I tend to doubt that any participated in the War of the Ring on one side or the other. If Sauron could have, he surely would have incorporated Giants into his designs somehow, much as Gandalf feared earlier that the dragon Smaug could have been used by Sauron. Saruman, too, might have attempted to tame the breed by mingling their blood with that of other Men. What would a half-Giant have been like in battle?

Interestingly, it seems that the rarer and more unusual varieties of Men-- Hobbits, Woses, and possibly Giants-- tended to be least susceptible to Sauron’s domination. They all seemed to share a relatively provincial, “mind-your-business” attitude that kept them comfortably remote from the affairs of others in general.

[slight hijack]

I hope stone giants are well-represented in the upcoming Hobbit movie. They only get a couple of lines worth of mention in the book, but it was very effective.

[/slight hijack]

Everyone else ignored it, but I laughed.


Just seconding those kudos. Hilarious, Humble Servant.

Doesn’t JRRT say something to the effect that Sauron became even more depraved than Morgoth in the letter at the beginning of the Silmarillion?

I don’t remember that, but I’ll have to go check. Morgoth seemed to progressively become a raving nihilistic force while Sauron maintained a veneer of order and control.