But he looked at Algund and Andróg, and he said: ‘Home, do you say? Tall and cold stand the Mountains of Shadow between. Behind them are the people of Uldor, and about them the legions of Angband. If such things do not daunt you, seven times seven men, then I may lead you homewards. But how far, before we die?’

from The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien

Does it mean just 49 men? It feels rather awkward to me and seems not to make natural connection within the sentence.


It does mean that (though it is probably intended to be understood more vaguely - a large number of men).

It is indeed awkward, but it is in a style that calls up old traditions of story telling, familiar from bibles and folk tales.

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