Friday, 30 April 2010

The King of Birds: A Halfling Tale

While researching the background for Halflings in The Realm of Zhu   - designed to be somewhat akin to Tolkiens Hobbits (which I term Edwardian Pastoral) with a dash of Richard Adams. I came across this story retelling the King of Birds:

The Eagle summoned all kinds of birds together, to choose their king ; it was agreed that the one which could fly highest should be elected.

The Rook flew so high that he called out,
Caw, caw, caw,
I can zee it all.
The Lark flew quite up to heaven's gate, and there sung a sweet song of triumph.

But whilst these trials were going on the little blue Tit-mouse crept under the feathers of the Eagle and hid itself there. When the Eagle's turn came he soared far higher than any of the others and remained stationary at that point, looking proudly downwards.

At length when quite exhausted with the prolonged effort, he was obliged to commence to descend at that moment the little blue Tit-mouse flew out and mounted still higher than the eagle had done, with its pert note of  
Tit, tit, Higher it, 
Tit, tit, Higher it.
All the birds were therefore obliged to acknowledge that the little blue Tit-mouse must be their King.

A couple of inspiring points regards this tale:
  • It tells of the small overcoming the great though cunning- surely a central theme of all Halfling stories!
  • The twisted mnemonic logic of a birds social standing (i.e. kingship) being based on it's ability to fly high, which in turn is based on, or somehow related to their song - the influence of a Halfling Bardic tradition perhaps!
  • The appearance of Eagles (a Tolkenian theme, so therefore already "Hobbity")
  • The generally rural and 'woodsy' feel of the whole thing.

As a Halfling folk-tale, this could be lifted straight into the background, but with a little work, it could become more mythic in proportion.


  1. I like this a lot. I'm currently working up a halfling community in my politically fraught D&D campaign and this fits really well. Just shows that starting with a blog from the beginning can really pay off! :)

    1. Cheers StuntCat! Glad you like it Hope you share whatever Hobbity goodness you cook up :-)