Legolas was a Sindarin Elf of the Greenwood (later Mirkwood) who became a part of the Fellowship of the Ring. Legolas, son of the King Thranduil of Mirkwood is a Prince of the Woodland Realm, and also a messenger, and a master Bowman.
With his keen eyesight, sensitive hearing, and excellent bowmanship, Legolas was a valuable resource to the other eight of the Fellowship. His age is never stated by Tolkien but is estimated by some to be between 500 and 3000 years old.
Legolas' character undergoes a series of changes that were the most explicit of all the characters in the fellowship.
Upon being informed of the secret council of Elrond meeting at Rivendell, Legolas had only lived in mirkwood with the elves, in complete isolation from the other races of Middle Earth, and all that he knew of dwarves and men were stories of old. Of how all the men were weak and easily corrupted. And of how the dwarves were jealous and greedy.
And so it was natural, that when he arrived at the council he was very unwilling to allow the men and dwarves and hobbits undergo this task without his presence. He was very proud and aloof. Greeting all the others save Gandalf (for he knew his true identity) with a condescending tone and treating them as though they were children. Having lived for several millenia already his compatriots were very young in comparison.
After having spent longer with the fellowship he grew less wary of the others and began to converse with them. Following a few skirmishes with orcs he began to trust the others, as they had saved him many times throughout these battles. In particular his friendship with one Gimli son of Gloin the dwarf is particularly noteworthy.
This warriors' bond soon developed into a brotherly relationship were the two became rather inseparable. Throughout all the battles Legolas shed his previous vanity and arrogance and embraced the battle with mirth and pleasure alongside his friend, always competing for who could slay the most orcs. His relationship with Aragorn also bloomed from mutual respect to the best of friends and they became stout allies, despite the unorthodox relationship.
Legolas was the first elf in a long time to forsake his beloved wood and meet and travel and battle with dwarves and men and he was the first elf to take a dwarf to the Undying Lands. He matured far in more in the few years during the War Of The Ring than in the millenia in Mirkwood, changing from a proud arrogant and self-centred being into a compassionate responsible and insightful elf.
Before The Fellowship
Very little is known of the exploits of Legolas before his arrival at Rivendell save that he often took his elves to Ithilien in Gondor. During this time relationships prospered as did the race of wood elves. His time in mirkwood is often unaccounted save time spent in his father's court.
During The Fellowship
Legolas was a vital part of the fellowship and had a wide skill set which was used throughout the quest. His most famous ability is his bowmanship, which is first demonstrated where he shoots multiple arrows at the Cave Troll, and seemingly never misses. His agility and lithe speed and tracking ability is essential following the loss of Merry and Pippin.
He develops a very strong friendship with Gimli throughout their travels and engages in competitions to see who can kill the most orcs at every oppurtunity. His most impressive feat is single-handedly taking down a Mumakil and killing all its riders.
After The Fellowship
Following the destruction of the One Ring, Legolas attended the coronation and wedding of his good friend Aragorn, or as he is now known King Elessar. He accompanied Gimli on a tour through the most wondrous of the dwarven mines and then provided Gimli with a tour of Mirkwood. Sortly after he replaced his father as King of Mirkwood, however after a short time departed with Gimli on an elven ship to the Undying Lands.
"Legolas Greenleaf, long under tree, In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea! If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore, Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more." Galadriel's message to Legolas (The Two Towers, Chapter 5)
Character and Personality
Although he lived among them and in their culture, Legolas was not one of the Silvan Elves. As a son of the Elven-king Thranduil, who had originally come from Doriath, Legolas was actually a Sindarin Elf. This is complicated by the fact that a small minority of Sindarin Elves ruled the predominantly Silvan Woodland Realm of Northern Mirkwood, a minority to which Legolas belonged.
The Sindarin minority in that realm, who should have been more nobler and wiser than the Silvan Elves, can be seen as having "gone native" at the end of the First Age: after Melkor was defeated and all of the grand Elf-kingdoms of Beleriand were destroyed, they can be seen as going back to "a simpler time" in their culture.
Like all elves, Legolas has a great respect and appreciation for nature. While in Fangorn Forest he longed to return once more in order to explore its wonders more thoroughly. He is kind, and cares greatly for his friends, even Gimli the Dwarf, which was a rarity for Elves and Dwarves to express a liking for one another. Due to his age however, he is somewhat egotistical and thinks of those around him, adults in technicality, as children (all except for Gandalf ).
In the Extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Legolas is shown to hold his liquor very well. Eomer challenged Legolas and Gimli to a drinking game, to which he won, when Gimli fainted and collapsed after drinking too much ale.
The name Legolas is a Silvan dialect form of pure Sindarin Laegolas, Greenleaf. It consists of the Sindarin wordslaeg, green; and golas, a collection of leaves, foliage (being a prefixed collective form of las(s), leaf).
The Quenya form (mentioned in the Book of Lost Tales in the context of another character of that name) is Laiqualassë. It may be that Thranduil named his son Legolas to at least in part refer to this people, who were remote kin and ancestors of the later Silvan Elves, the people Thranduil ruled and to whom - very likely - Thranduil's wife belonged.
Powers and Abilities
As one of the Sindarin Elves, Legolas is exceptionally skilled and powerful. He adopted a bow that was given to him by Galadriel and makes deadly use of it. This bow had a draw weight of about 150 pounds and Legolas was able to repeatedly draw and fire arrows from this bow, quickly and continuously, without tiring. This indicates that he has a lifting capacity of at least 1300lbs. Legolas’ agility and reflexes are also among the best of the elves, making prodigious leaps with ease, accomplishing difficult acrobatic movements and moving at meta-human speed while fighting and sprinting.
Legolas sees at a distance of roughly six times that of a keenly sighted human (like Aragorn). He has exceptional night-vision, hearing, and even an enhanced sense of smell. He can sense mystical presences, both evil and benign, and is well-versed in various forms of Elven magic. When in a natural environment, Legolas can move undetected and unhindered and at his top speed (in the book "Fellowship of the Ring," Legolas stood up and sprinted across the top of the drifts of snow without sinking).
Legolas is deftly skilled in hand to hand combat, melee weapon combat (knives and swords), and is a peerless archer. He can send an arrow with deadly force over great distance with pinpoint accuracy, and has mastered the art of the quick-draw shot.
Elven bow and long knife
Legolas carries two weapons with him on his journey with the Fellowship. He sports a slender bow of Mirkwood which he aims with deadly precision. He prefers to pierce his enemies from afar, but he also carries "at his belt a long white knife" (The Fellowship of the Ring, p314). In Lothlorien he was given a bow of the Galadhrim, stouter than those of the fashion of Mirkwood.
Nevertheless he adopts his new bow and makes deadly use of it in the remainder of the War of the Ring. This bow had a draw weight of about 150 pounds. It could reputedly send an arrow with deadly force for over 400 yards. The bow was over six feet tall, and was made from a single piece of Mallorn heartwood. Its string had a single strand of Galadriel's hair entwined with it to help speed the arrow along even faster. Legolas' skill with the bow is revered.
In the movie adaptation he wields a Rohirric sword at the Battle of Helm's Deep, presumably because his daggers would not be very effective from horseback. He also carries two knives across his back, instead of a single knife in his belt.
He appears in all three of Peter Jackson's Trilogy and is portrayed by Orlando Bloom.