Hidden in a corner of Dunbog in the southwest of Dunland lies probably the most beautiful place to date in LOTRO. Enchanting as Rivendell , stunning as Ered Luin, this is a place full of mystery and magic...welcome to The Pristine Glade. A tribe of Dunlendings , the proud native folk of this land. is guarding and defending the glade from the advance of the White Wizard Saruman, what we are trying to establish is why they are doing so. Under the a huge tree we meet Maugan - he will give us a few clues to solve this mystery....
'Saruman is constantly trying to discover what we have hidden here. We watch the edges of the Glade very carefully for any of his spies because if he finds out the true magic of this place, we fear that he will destroy the Tree. We found this craban and killed it but, I worry that it is one of the Wizard's.'
What is this 'true magic' Maugan is telling us about ? Why is this tree so important that it must be defended from Saruman at all costs ? I have tried to look everywhere for some references concerning this quest and this particular tree in LOTRO but I was unable to find anything, so I went to read about the trees of Middle-earth hoping to find some clues. Tolkien love for trees and nature is very well represented in the history of Middle-earth. It is no surprise then that he created a long and detailed list of plants and trees, each with a name, a story, a description and, sometime, a purpose. I wish we could find out from the game designer that wrote this original quest more about this little mystery, but as that is unlikely to happen, I shall write my story about the tree and the glade. Just remember these are just my own personal thoughts, not the actual game-lore.
The Great Tree
Many of the trees of Middle-earth were brought here by the Elves from the island of Tol Eressëa. Trees of many shapes, colors, and sizes came with the Elves. They needed the wood to build their ships. They used the fragrant leaves and flowers and fruit. Trees are at the center of the history of Arda, just think about how many we can name : Laurelin and Telperion the Two Trees of Valinor, The White Tree of Gondor, the Party Tree in the Shire, Old Man Willow in the Old Forest, the Mallorn trees of the Golden Wood of Lothlorien. And these are only the well known trees, there are many more. But what about The Great Tree in The Pristine Glade...? Let's have a look at it....
The tree's trunk is huge, this is a massive specimen, which is obviously very old. The canopy is enormous, the leaves are bright green , and we can see long-hanging clusters of flowers from its branches. These flowers appear to be white or pale yellow in the light of the sun. It is definitely not a Mallorn tree like those that grow in Lothlorien, they are much taller, and their bark and leaves are silvery in color. I personally think this could be a Laurinquë tree which is described by Tolkien as a tree with "long-hanging clusters of yellow flowers" that grew in the province of Hyarrostar in Númenor, where it was brought from Tol Eressëa by the Elves. The name is derived from Quenya laurë 'golden'. The elves used its wood to build their ships. After the downfall of Númenor the Laurinquë tree was not found within the circles of the world., but maybe..just maybe, one sapling survived and was brought to The Pristine Glade.
The Númenorians delighted in it for its long-hanging clusters of yellow flowers. They believed the Laurinquë tree was related to Laurelin, the Golden Tree, of Valinor but it was not true as far as we know. Laurinquë's name is derived from Quenya laurë which means 'golden'. These are just assumptions about the origins of The Great Tree, but to me it makes sense because Maugan mention the 'true magic' of the tree - Maybe the Dunlendings believe this tree is a decedent of The Golden Tree Laurelin. Maybe they want to protect it from the hands of Saruman which is clearly very keen to get it. As Maugan will tell us when the glade is under attack : " The Tree cannot be allowed to perish..."
It is most likely that my theory is wrong but surely this special trees has been placed in the most beautiful and special spot in Middle-earth by the game designers. The tree is probably just honored by the Dunlendings as a symbol, and its 'magic' is only in its age and beauty. The Pristine Glade is a ' Sacret Grove ' a grove of trees of special religious importance to the local folk, yet it was fun to add to it a 'Middle-earth' twist. This is a wonderful quest and story and one of my favourite LOTRO's little secrets. When you are in Dunbog don't forget to look for The Pristine Glade and The Great Tree, it is special place well worth a visit.