The Horror of the Rings

[This is a slightly revised version of my answer at Quora to the question "What if H. P. Lovecraft wrote The Lord of the Rings?" Apologies to the Maori and the All Blacks, but I had to get Lovecraft's racism in somehow. Thanks to Bill Welden for correcting my Sindarin.]

Hobbits were an unobtrusive but ancient people. A well-ordered and well-farmed countryside was their favourite haunt, for there they had no need to recall disquieting tales of the Elder Days and Elder Gods. They lived in the North-West of the Old World, where Arcturus shines high in winter, yet their Shire looked surprisingly like New Zealand, as if some geometry glimpsed by the most abstruse modern mathematicians linked their land with its antipodes, where penguins roam the sea-strands and even white sportsmen practice the rituals of swarthy savages. In hobbits' quaint, partly subterranean villages, they loved to eat and drink all manner of dainties, untroubled by the noisome miasmas that rose from the Marish, and many a visitor of the Big Folk observed smiling that hobbits would fry delectably in their own fat.

They were shorter than dwarves, with round features and brown curling hair on their heads and on their feet. Only in the ancient Took family did there crop up long, narrow eyes, thin noses, long ear-lobes, and nearly glabrous feet that bespoke an eldritch ancestry. And hobbits were a merry folk, fond of simple jests and books that set out facts they knew, fair and square with no contradictions. But the Tooks' chief town, Tuckborough, on the banks of a stream whose name did not appear on maps but was whispered to be "Miskatonic," boasted a library with a tenebrous crypt housing less comforting books, manuscripts older than the Red Book, whose pages made from unclean beast-fells troubled the dreams of any so rash as to look upon them.

Seldom did hobbits leave their country, and they specially feared the sea, giving in explanation only a belief that that certain of its denizens called to one. Only at whiles would Tooks with the atavistic features wander "into the Blue" and seldom return. If such vagabonds did not go to sea, they followed a weed-grown road to three towers whose unusual dimensions and graphic bas-reliefs discouraged more prudent souls. An old tale hinted that from the top of the third tower one might hear music from the skyey void. Benijas Took, who had climbed part of its vertiginous height and returned changed told hobbit-lads and lasses that it was the music of the Ainur, but once after many cups of Old Winyards, he muttered a phrase that sounded like "mindless piping".

Few heeded Queer Old Benijy at any time, and none when he warned of Black Riders in a hamlet east of Hobbiton, where the hills rise wild and there are valleys with deep woods whose trees seem to move as they ought not to do. [Et cetera. Still to come: shamble, morbid, curious, corridors, immemorial, the plateau of Leng, phosphorescence, lhoegor (Sindarin spelling), and of course tentacles.]