Of Treebeard and Entwives
We all know about the mystery of Fangorn, the guardians of the forest, and the ultimate destruction of Isengard. But a major part of the Ents’ stories in Lord of the Rings are the Entwives. Where did they go and what became of them? The Ents were created in response to the creation and expansion of the dwarves. The Valar Yavanna wished to protect her forests from the dwarves’ axes and constructions, so Eru created the Shepherds of the Trees – Ents. In the First Age the Middle-Earth was mostly forest, Elrond explains “Time was when a squirrel could go from tree to tree from what is now the Shire to Dunland wast of Isengard.” (LOTR, FOTR, Council of Elrond). However with the colonization of the Númenóreans, rise of Orcs, spread of the Edain, and the Dwarven kingdoms, the large forest began to shrink. Initially Entwives and Ents were together, but they grew apart, “the Ents loved the great trees; and the wild woods, and the slopes of the high hills; and they drank of the mountain-streams, and ate only such fruit as the trees let fall in their path; and they learned of the Elves and spoke with the Trees. But the Entwives gave their minds to the lesser trees, and to the meads in the sunshine beyond the feet of the forests; and they saw the sloe in the thicket, and the wild apple and the cherry blossoming in spring, and the green herbs in the waterlands in summer, and the seeding grasses in the autumn fields. They did not desire to speak with these things; but they wished them to hear and obey what was said to them.” (LOTR, TT, Treebeard). With the destruction of the forests and the growing powers of Men and Orc, the Ents and Entwives became more separated. By the time of the Second Age the Entwives had moved to a region on the Anduin called the Brown Lands. However, when Treebeard attempted to visit to see them (Notably Fimbrethil, his love), they were gone and the land was barren, which it remained well into the Third Age. “They had come to the Brown Lands that lay, vast and desolate, between Southern Mirkwood and the hills of the Emyn Muil. What pestilence or war or evil deed of the Enemy had so blasted all that region even Aragorn could not tell.” (LOTR, FOTR, The Great River). Whether they were destroyed in Sauron’s war on Men or left for another land is unknown. Theories include them being alive in the Old Forest, them finding a way to the West, or unfortunately destroyed in the War of the Last Alliance. Better ask Bombadil.
“’Maybe I shall,’ said Treebeard. ‘But I shall miss them. We have become friends in so short a while that I think I must be getting hasty – growing backwards towards youth, perhaps. But there, they are the first new thing under Sun or Moon that I have seen for many a long, long day. I shall not forget them. I have put their names into the Long List. Ents will remember it.
Ents the earthborn, old as mountains,
the wide-walkers, water drinking;
and hungry as hunters, the Hobbit children,
the laughing-folk, the little people,
they shall remain friends as long as leaves are renewed. Fare you well! But if you hear news up in your pleasant land, in the Shire, send me word! You know what I mean: word or sight of the Entwives. Come yourselves if you can!’”
-Treebeard on Hobbits, Two Towers, The Voice of Saruman