Being somewhat hobbit-like myself, in stature as well as in eating habits, I am usually safe in the assumption that grown men will be taller than I -- or, if they're dead, that they were taller. Turns out Tolkien was just about my height. Delightful! (In case you're wondering, there's no need to worry about how I draw Walter: I know for a fact that he was six feet tall. Howard Dully, author of My Lobotomy, is six foot seven; if I ever meet him I will have to stand on a milk crate to shake hands. If I were to draw our meeting, it would be a challenge to get us both in the frame.)
Now, all authors have favorite words. When you have more than half a million of something (in the case of English, the most voluminous language ever to exist) it's only natural that you'll favor a few. If the favored word isn't too weird, this usually isn't a problem. Generally speaking, the weirder it is, the more time the reader's brain needs to reset between uses -- so, for example, that is practically free, murmur (James Herriot's favorite word) requires a few pages between uses, and ubiquity you can get away with maybe a handful of times in a full-length novel, unless you're going for comic effect. When your favorite word is as unusual (and, dare I say, pretentious) as darkling, there is a problem -- especially when your style is generally straightforward and free of ornamentation to the point of being spare. If I had been Tolkien's copy editor I would have tried to keep him to no more than two darklings per volume, because come on, Professor, you could just say dark like a normal person, and who would be the worse for it? It wouldn't have worked, but I would have tried.
A friend is moving to California and has been sending me home with armloads of her stuff over the past several days. So far among other things I have gotten a chive plant, some type for a printing press, an espresso pot, and a monkey skull. I don't know exactly what kind of party I could throw with all this stuff, but I know it would be awesome.