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The Lord Of The Rings Death Count Is A Lot Higher Than You Likely Think

How does this on-screen counting compare to the actual death count in Tolkien’s books? Chances are it’s a bit of a low number. Technically speaking, there are fewer direct deaths counted in the books. However, there are descriptions of expansive battles and fights to the death. Tolkien doesn’t clarify how many soldiers are in Sauron’s armies at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, either, but it’s at least tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of soldiers, like the movie, and it does say that nearly all of them die.

The Black Gate episode has many more soldiers involved. In the “Return of the King” book, Gandalf tells the Captains of the West that the attack on Minas Tirith is just the first of many to come — and the next assault will be bigger. That means there’s a lot more than 10,000 Orcs still in Mordor. When they attack Aragorn’s army, which is less than 6,000 strong, it says that group is outnumbered by more than 10 to one.

However, when things go south for Sauron, the earth doesn’t unilaterally open up and swallow the bulk of his soldiers. Instead, the book says the evil Men present fight to the death but adds, “The creatures of Sauron, orc or troll or beast spell-enslaved, ran hither and thither mindless; and some slew themselves, or cast themselves into pits, or fled wailing back to hide in holes and dark lightless places far from hope.” Again, no specific numbers to work with here, but chances are it’s higher than 10,000. In any case, by book or by movie, a heck of a lot of beings meet their fate in the epic wars and conflicts of “The Lord of the Rings.”

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