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Q: Treebeard says in the chapter "Treebeard:" "Now I understand. He is plotting to become a Power," about Saruman. Now, I can only think that he means Valar, because that is the only thing and also the word "Valar" actually means "Power." Now how can Saruman, a Maia, hope to become a Valar? He can’t ever be as powerful as a Valar. Or does Treebeard mean a Valar in Middle-earth? What do you think?

– Cirdan

A: I think perhaps a slightly more literal and less connotative interpretation is necessary here. Though Tolkien was a great wordsmith and we are always probing his words for deeper meaning, I think here "power" simply means "power. " Treebeard was simply stating that Saruman wanted to become a force to be reckoned with in Middle-earth, much as modern nations struggle to be "superpowers." In other words, Saruman wanted power over others and felt that the Ring was the surest path to that end. It would be as if we said of Hitler, "He wishes to become a dictator."

- Anwyn

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Q: I am curious about the wind that sweeps in during "Return of the King" to turn the tide in the Siege of Gondor. Nobody really says much about it or thinks of it as anything more than a fluke of nature. Is there anything to be read into the appearance of the wind that sweeps away the darkness from Mordor and bears Aragorn and the fleet to the shore just in time to save the day? Intervention from above, conjuring of an existing Middle-earth power or fluke of nature?

–A Curious Reader

A: Well, this one made me so curious that I went back and looked up all the references to the weather during that period that I could think of. Many characters, in Gondor and elsewhere, made note of the fact that that the weather was A) not natural and B) a suffocating darkness.

"What is the matter?" [Merry] asked. "The king calls for you." "But the Sun has not risen, yet," said Merry. "No, and will not rise today, Master Holbytla. Nor ever again, one would think under this cloud. But time does not stand still, though the Sun be lost…" … The world was darkling. The very air seemed brown, and all things about were black and grey and shadowless; there was a great stillness. No shape of cloud could be seen, unless it were far away westward, where the furthest groping fingers of the great gloom still crawled onwards and a little light leaked through them. Overhead there hung a heavy roof, sombre and featureless, and light seemed rather to be failing than growing … "It comes from Mordor, lord," he said. "It began last night at sunset. From the hills in the Eastfold of your realm I saw it rise and creep across the sky, and all night as I rode it came behind eating up the stars. Now the great cloud hangs over all the land between here and the Mountains of Shadow; and it is deepening. War has already begun."

"Indeed what is the good even of food and drink under this creeping shadow? What does it mean? The very air seems thick and brown! Do you often have such glooms when the wind is in the East?" "Nay," said Beregond, "this is no weather of the world. This is some device of his malice; some broil of fume from the Mountain of Fire that he sends to darken hearts and counsel."

So there is no doubt that the gloom is the making of the Enemy, sent out as his first sally of battle, to darken the hearts of his foes before ever his troops arrive. But later, when battle has been joined:

". . . a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, recking nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn."

". . . Drive away bad air and darkness with bright iron!" . . . suddenly he stood looking up like some startled woodland animal snuffling a strange air. A light came in his eyes. "Wind is changing!"

Ghan-buri-Ghan foresaw the change before it came.

"Then suddenly Merry felt it at last, beyond doubt: a change. Wind was in his face! Light was glimmering. Far, far away, in the South the clouds could be dimly seen as remote grey shapes, rolling up, drifting: morning lay beyond them. . . . But it was no orc-chieftain or brigand that led the assault upon Gondor. The darkness was breaking too soon, before the date that his Master had set for it: fortune had betrayed him for the moment . . ."

So the weather betrayed Sauron and broke up his darkness with cool wind, scattering his horrible cloud and bringing natural rain clouds and beyond them, the sunlight.

"But the wind that sped the ships blew all their clamour away . . . there flowered a White Tree . . . thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn . . ."

The wind brings the ships of the Corsairs, carrying Aragorn and his troops, to the battle in the nick of time.

I believe there are only two possibilities here, and that they are related. Firstly, "fluke of nature." I would imagine that tampering with the weather is a very difficult thing to do. Forces of air and wind, clouds and water, are not weak forces. Look at hurricanes and tornadoes, and even just a strong, windy day. So we see that even Sauron cannot have complete control over the weather; I would imagine that the normal patterns of Nature were largely to be thanked in breaking up Sauron’s darkness too soon. But beyond that, remember who are the Masters of Air and Water. Manwe and Ulmo. Could they not have directed the airs into the sails of Aragorn’s ships and sent the rainclouds to remove the smothering blackness? I have always imagined Sauron’s cloud as being a brown sky, with the air beneath very humid and very still. Cool rain and wind would be the most anybody could ask for under those circumstances.

So while I believe it was largely Nature, which could not be stalled for so long, returning to her normal weather patterns, I also would not be surprised to find that Manwe and/or Ulmo had a hand in nudging Nature that day.

- Anwyn

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Q: At his meeting with Aragorn & Co. in Fangorn, Gandalf says to them that "None of you has any weapon that could hurt me." What did he mean by this? Did it mean that he could always use his power to stay their hands like he just had done, or literally that their weapons simply would not bite into him? Did this mean that he could only have been wounded by weapons with some evil power in them or their wielder, or what? It certainly doesn't seem as if it had been so before he became White, since he had been in just as much danger as any others when faced only by measly orcs and their blades.

– Juho Savolainen

A: There is another passage further on where Gimli jokes, "Since Gandalf’s head is now sacred, let us find one that is right to cleave!" But though he was being humorous, I think there was a grain of truth in his words. Whether or not Gandalf simply meant he could stop their weapons without thinking twice or whether their weapons wouldn’t bite, I can’t say. I would tend to think the former, although the mental image of a battle-axe whistling harmlessly through Gandalf’s midsection is moderately amusing. However, I think the key to the puzzle lies in Gimli’s words, not Gandalf’s: sacred. I believe that in the sacrifice Gandalf made in the battle with the Balrog, his old worldly form was taken from him. How could it have survived? The fall into the Abyss, the fall through deep water, the burning of the Balrog’s fire… I believe his old form was shattered/burned/drowned, what have you, but that the Maiar spirit within him lived and defeated the Balrog, as a sacrifice for his friends. The Eagle, when he picks him up off of Zirak-zigil, tells him he weighs light as a feather and that he can see through him. Most telling is what Gandalf says of his reply: "Do not let me fall!" I gasped, for I felt life in me again." This tells me that his spirit has been given a new form, that of Gandalf the White, and moreover, it is temporary. "Naked I was sent back–for a brief time, until my task is done." !! Naked. Without form. His spirit lay on the mountain-top and gathered a form about it for its brief stay on Middle-earth, until his task, to be the Enemy of Sauron, was done. Bottom line is that this form cannot be hurt by physical weapons, although I think he could have lost his soul. I believe that the forthcoming battles with Nazgul and the chat with the Mouth of Sauron at the Gate, etc., were all instances of spiritual warfare upon Gandalf’s part, and his standing firm helped lead to the victory. He would not have been the first Maia to succumb to Sauron and Morgoth, but he does not do so, and his spirit continues on until he returns to the Blessed Realm.

- Anwyn

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Q: I was wondering if you could answer some questions about one of my favorite characters, Legolas. There is so little that is known about him. I have found out, however, that he is at least 500 years old. In "The Two Towers," chapter six, "The King of the Golden Hall," there is this quote: "Five hundred times have the red leaves fallen in Mirkwood in my home since then," said Legolas, "and but a little while does that seem to us." That seems to imply that he has seen at least 500 autumns. And just a few pages into "The White Rider", Legolas says of Fangorn "It is old, very old...so old that I almost feel young again, as I have not felt since I journeyed with you children." Well, if he is several centuries old, then would he have a wife and children? Or is that still too "young" an age for elves, since they live forever? And I have heard of a Legolas from Gondolin, so does that mean that the one from Gondolin was reincarnated into the one from LOTR? What else do you know of him?

– Jennifer "Miss Greenleaf"

A: Well, firstly, I wouldn’t automatically assume that just because Legolas knows it has been 500 years since Meduseld was built, that it naturally follows he was around for all 500 of those years himself, but it doesn’t seem outrageous to suppose that he could be that old. Looking in the Tale of Years to see if it mentioned when Legolas was born, I was astonished to notice (I learn something new about this book all the time), as a small aside, that Smeagol murdered Deagol for the ring 106 years BEFORE the completion of the Golden Hall, and that if the events of the book are taking place 500 years AFTER the completion of the Hall, that makes Gollum far older than I had imagined before. But anyway, back to Legolas. I don’t find a reference to his birth year in the Tale of Years, but as I said, I don’t think it’s outrageous to suppose that he has lived that long. I also suppose that since they are not mentioned, that he did not have wife/children. It wouldn’t be out of the question, but the fact that it’s never mentioned is a good bet.

Unfortunately I cannot find the reference you made to a Legolas in Gondolin in any of my indexes, appendices or sources. If there was a "Legolas" living in Gondolin, my best bet would be that the name is simply recycled for our Legolas. I don’t believe reincarnation of Elves was a normal thing; once they were slain, their spirits dwelt within Mandos to await the changing of the world and the end of Time.

- Anwyn


Hi! Cirdan here.

About the Legolas you couldn't find: he's in Lost Tales, Part Two, in The Fall of Gondolin. What makes people think that it's the same one is that they were both called Legolas Greenleaf, they were both described as having very keen eyes and also something else I can't remember, I don't have my book with me.

The Legolas in Gondolin led the escape party from Gondolin at its fall and was there at Glorfindel's "death". I thought they were the same at first too but when I looked at the index it had to entries for Legolas Greenleaf, one for the elf from Gondolin and one for the one in the company. So I think it was a name recycled for the second

Legolas, as you put it, maybe because they had the same sort of personality? I’m not sure. It’s not likely that they are the same, because Legolas 2nd was the son of Thranduil and I don't think he was from Gondolin.

Thanks, Cirdan. Looks like it’s definitely time to start shelling out to expand my book collection!–Anwyn

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Q: 1) Any ideas on why it does not seem to be a big deal that Elrond's sons did not choose to leave Middle-earth with him? When Elrond and Arwen said goodbye it states "bitter was their parting that should endure beyond the ends of the world." However, the book never even mentions in the main story that his sons did not leave - it's only in one of the appendices that after Galadriel left Celeborn lived for a while in Rivendell with Elrond's sons.

2) Any ideas on why Elrond's sons chose to stay? Is it that they always seemed to be hanging out with the Dunadan and were born in Middle Earth so wanted to stay?

– ElanorSam

A: Well, the answer to question #1 is probably fairly simple. Elrond and Arwen knew that they would never see each other again. In having chosen mortality, Arwen had ensured that the parting would indeed endure beyond the ends of the world, since nobody, not Elves nor Valar, knows what happens to the spirits of mortal men and women when they die, while the Elves remain in their state of limbo in the Blessed Realm. (Kinda makes you wonder who really has the better deal here.) As far as we know there was no reason for Elrond’s sons to make this choice, and that just because they decided to stay a little longer in Middle-earth is no reason to think they won’t eventually sail over-Sea. In point of fact, Tolkien claims that the end of their story is unknown, but personally I believe that in the end, perhaps with Celeborn or later, they sailed and were re-united with their father.

As for #2, well, your guess is as good as ours. Perhaps they still relished the fight against evil beings and stuck around, knowing there would be a good deal of clean-up action to do. Perhaps they simply were not tired of the company of Elves, Men, Dwarves, Hobbits…. All the things of Middle-earth that the Blessed Realm would not afford them. Perhaps they were simply afraid of ships…. Just kidding. There really is no way of telling; just their personal whims, I suppose.

- Anwyn

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Q: I've read LOTR so many times that I can't even count, yet there have always been a couple of things that stumped me a little. The first is during the first meeting with Strider. He is telling the hobbits about the Black Riders and then seems to go into some kind of trance. It then ends with him crying out "There!" What the heck is he doing? It almost seems like he is "bending his will" to see what the Black Riders are up to. Any insight?

– Ken Ziegelmeyer

A: "They will come on you in the wild, in some dark place where there is no help. Do you wish them to find you? They are terrible!" The hobbits . . . saw with surprise that his face was drawn as if with pain, and his hands clenched the arms of his chair . . . he sat with unseeing eyes as if walking in distant memory or listening to sounds in the Night far away. "There!" he cried after a moment, drawing his hand across his brow. "Perhaps I know more about these pursuers than you do. You fear them, but you do not fear them enough, yet."

Have you ever been in a conversation where something is brought up that affects you extremely, whether with a sense of joy, love, hatred, fear, or some other strong emotion? You might wander off into your own thoughts for a moment, through your own memories or your own dread, and the people you were speaking to will look at you funnily, glance at each other, maybe clear their throats. You suddenly remember where you are and say something like, "Oh well!" and give a weak laugh, and then move on with the conversation.

I think that’s all that was happening here. Aragorn got so caught up in describing the danger to the hobbits, a danger which he knew to be all too real, but to them was yet only a shadow of the fear that would come later. He knew this, and I think he knew his task to convince them of the dreadful danger was nearly impossible. The memory of his own experiences with the Riders caused him to pause in what he was saying, lost in his own thought, till he remembered where he was and what he was speaking to. "There!" was simply his way of saying "Oh well, sorry I lapsed like that, where were we?"

- Anwyn

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Q: Gandalf is talking to Denethor and says something like "I'm also a steward, did you not know?" What is Gandalf referring to? What is he a steward of? All Middle-earth, perhaps.

– Ken Ziegelmeyer

A: I truly think you have answered your own question in this case. Gandalf’s task was to be the Enemy of Sauron. To me that says doing everything he could to preserve Middle-earth from the terrifying reign of Sauron that would commence if Sauron regained the One Ring and was able to take control. He is a Steward of the freedom of the peoples and the unspoiled-ness of the lands of Middle-earth.

- Anwyn

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Q: The way it is written, the story has always led me to believe that Boromir lied about also having the dream to seek out Rivendell. I just don't believe it was in him to have this kind of vision. I believe he made it up after Faramir told of his just so he could be the one to take on the mission. What do you think?

– Ken Ziegelmeyer

A: I think we might be reaching a bit on this one. Boromir is proud, haughty, and given to temptation of power, but I think he is telling the truth when he states that the Men of Gondor do not lie. Perhaps it’s a bit much to think that NO man in the whole realm of Gondor would ever lie, but perhaps Boromir judges other standards by his own. At any rate I think it is safe to say that Boromir does not lie, and that since he only mentions it in passing–after he tells the dream, he states that a like dream came many times to Faramir gain, "and once to me." So he admits that he only had it once, but I think that since the blood of Numenor is in him, though not as undiluted as in his brother (I’ve always wondered exactly how they know that), it is safe to say the vision would have appeared to him also, though not as frequently or as strong as to his brother. I don’t think that Faramir was willing to deny his brother anything within reason that he wished, and if Boromir desired to make the journey rather than suffer Faramir to take it, I’m sure Faramir let him with his blessing.

- Anwyn

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Q: Thingol was one of those elves who first awoke beside the waters of Cuiviénen. How could he have a brother, Olwë, since they don't share parents?

– Juho Savolainen

A: You could assume these two individuals were born later, perhaps down a generation from the true "First Elves," and Tolkien just neglected to record the names of their father and mother. That’s one possibility.

Let’s go with the general assumption that Elwë (Thingol) was one of the first to "awake" instead of being born of a biological union of parents. We’ll have to look at the concept of kin and brotherhood in a different light, given the metaphysical nature of Tolkien’s explanation of the Firstborn of Ilúvatar.

Consider that all these firstborn Elves were brothers and sisters to one another, all related by the nature of their communal genesis. In this context Elwë and Olwë (and indeed the entire population of Quendi) were kin to each other. This is a creation myth, after all, and not an exact science.

- Quickbeam


Olwë and Elwë may not have had parents, so to speak; however, they were leaders of the same "family," or group, of Elves: the Teleri.  That's likely why they are referred to as brothers.

The leaders of the other Elven groups are not considered to be Thingol's brothers.  Toward the beginning of The Silmarillion, Finwë is referred to as Olwë and Elwë's friend.  Later in the book, Melian informs Thingol of the slaying of his "friend" Finwë by Melkor.

-Robin Pollack

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Q: When the One Ring was destroyed, what became of the Nine? You would think they faded from existence because the One Ring controlled the Nine. Is this correct? I have never read anything about it and was wondering if you could help me out.

– Elrohir

A: The Nine Rings were almost certainly destroyed in the Fall of Barad-dûr. In principal, the One Ring was meant to control all the other rings, and they were all connected magically and physically by the will of Sauron (but the Three Elven Rings less so because although they were made using the Craft that the Elves learned from him, they were yet forged without his knowledge/influence).

When the One was unmade and Sauron’s last strength annihilated, so too were the Nazgûl and their Nine Rings, and also any of the Seven Dwarven Rings that Sauron had retained through the centuries. But because he had never touched them, the Three endured for a short while by the strength of their bearers, Galadriel, Elrond, and Gandalf. The Wise guessed that ultimately their powers would wane within Rivendell and Lórien. Eventually, the Three Keepers departed from the Grey Havens, bringing the Third Age of Middle-earth to an end.

- Quickbeam

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Q: My question is this. Gandalf is repeatedly described as a mighty and dangerous wizard. All well and good, but the number of times he is actually described as performing acts of magic, in both The Hobbit, and the LOTR series, number under twenty. In times when stealth was needed, I can understand going light on the fireworks, but I think that in front of the gates of Mordor, or before Minas Tirith, they could have used him launching fire and lightning from an elevated position. So, in short, if Gandalf was capable of inspiring such fear, why did he never display the reasons for it? (Balrog and The Battle of Five Armies excluded. The first was a private affair, and the second was when Sauron was presumed asleep.)

– Amy Domini

A: In Appendix A of The Return of the King, it says of the Istari:

[They] were messengers sent to contest the power of Sauron … but they were forbidden to match his power with power …

So Tolkien had already established that their role would be as supporting players, low-key in the magic department, inspiring Elves and Men in their ongoing opposition to the Enemy.

Also keep in mind that the actual number of beings in Middle-earth that were predisposed to magic and sorcery also numbered under twenty. We have Sauron, Elrond, Galadriel, the Istari, the Witch-king, a Wight or two, the rare Dragon, the even rarer Balrog, and maybe Bombadil if you want to be exact. That’s about it! Therefore the practice of magical arts was the rarest event in all of Tolkien’s legendarium. I believe for this reason it was the one thing to most "inspire fear" (by the fact of people being afraid of what they don’t understand). Any of the beings listed above produced awe, suspicion, or downright terror among the "non-magic" people of Middle-earth. Just mention one of them in conversation in The Prancing Pony and watch the inn-folk avoid you for the rest of the night!

Gandalf was well known throughout all the lands as a lore-master, a confidante of great Kings, and a mysterious "wizard" who held great power. No one but perhaps Círdan knew he was truly a Maia, but everyone who encountered him sensed he was powerful. Rumor and suggestion of power can be just as efficacious as an open display of force.

Note: Gandalf actually was out on the Pelennor at one point, blasting lightning at the Nazgûl during Faramir’s retreat. The White Rider would certainly have played a more active part in the Battle, if not for the distraction of Denethor.

- Quickbeam


In your recent Q&A files, you note:

". . . keep in mind that the actual number of beings in Middle-earth that were predisposed to magic and sorcery also numbered under twenty."

Perhaps this is true in the context of LOTR; but The Hobbit tells a different story; certainly, one can assume that the Ring discovered by Bilbo was thought to be one of the lesser rings made by the Elves of Hollin; but there are other hints scattered throughout the story that speak of the prevalence of magic:

• The song of the Dwarves in the Unexpected Party reads, in part: "the dwarves of yore made mighty spells..."
• The troll's purse is able to speak!
• When the party buries the Trolls' pots of gold, they put "a great many spells over them, just in case they ever had the chance to come back and recover them."
• Thorin's grandfather (at least) is able to use moon-letters.
• Beorn is a skin-changer.
• The spiders are prevented from entering the Wood-Elves' clearing by the lingering magic there.
• The Elvenking's doors open and close by magic.
• Upon combing through the dragon-treasure "Fili and Kili were almost in a merry mood, and finding there many golden harps strung with silver they took them and struck them; and being magical (and also untouched by the dragon, who had small interest in music), they were still in tune."

The most telling of these is the putting of spells over the Trolls' treasure; through Gandalf was certainly present, there is no mention of him setting the spells personally; all of the action in that sentence is in the plural, implying that the dwarves are capable spellbinders in their own right.

I agree that the presence of magic in LOTR is much more subtle; most of the magic encountered there seems to be associated with magical things, rather than magical people, and virtually all of those magical things were made thousands of years ago, rather than being modern innovations.

- Barzai the Wise

Yes, it's true that The Hobbit has a plentiful sprinkling of magic and magical references.  Tolkien's desire was to create a Fairy Tale for his children, and he did so by keeping the tone of the narrative light or, if you'll forgive the expression, fable-esque.  The tone of LOTR is certainly different; perhaps the Professor's attitude towards crafting a romantic epic caused him to reevaluate the magical system.

- Quickbeam

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Q: Morgoth couldn't create beings of his own. What could he have twisted the dragons out of? Orcs of Elves, trolls of Ents, dragons of… oliphaunts? What creature would have been suitable?

– Juho Savolainen

A: Maybe the first Dragons were bred from ordinary lizards, or maybe salamanders. But somehow I doubt that possibility. I speculate these great worms may not have been originally corrupted from any organic creature of Middle-earth. Perhaps they were Maia themselves, or some other spirit that Morgoth (Melkor) took into his service.

It is true that The Silmarillion states:

…Naught that had life of its own, nor the semblance of life, could ever Melkor make since his rebellion in the Ainulindalë before the Beginning: so say the wise.

But you’ll also see that:

…He was not alone. For of the Maiar many were drawn to his splendour in the days of his greatness, and remained in that allegiance down into his darkness; and others he corrupted afterwards to his service with lies and treacherous gifts.

If the Balrogs could have such an origin, so too could the Urulóki, the fire-serpents.

- Quickbeam

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Q: In "The Council of Elrond," Elrond says that when they wrought the Rings of Power Sauron was not yet evil to behold—the German translation is very poor here because "he was not evil to behold" is translated as "one could not regard him as evil." Is it now that the German translators did a bad job here? That must mean that Elrond does not speak the truth because at that time (I don't know, later or before?) he also caused the downfall of Númenor. Or did he really mean that he was not evil to look at so that the elves did not know who they were dealing with?

Keep up the good work!


A: Indeed, my friend, you have my full agreement that the German translation lacks something to be desired. Tolkien’s true intention was to explain how the Elves of Eregion were misled by trusting Sauron, for he was then in the guise of Annatar, the Lord of Gifts. At that time he greatly altered his appearance and was very fair in form, and they categorically welcomed his teaching, learning of him secret things that only a Maia of Aulë’s people could know. Not an Elf would have heeded him for those many years if Sauron had appeared as a terrifying shadow of evil. It was 17 centuries later, after the Downfall of Númenor, that Sauron was no longer able to appear fair in the eyes of Men or Elves.

- Quickbeam

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Q: In his battle with the Balrog, we are told that Gandalf is burned and becomes naked and further that he lies naked on the peak of Silvertine until he is borne to Lórien by Gwaihir. Given the graphic description of the battle, is it possible that he could have held on to his sword and the Balrog while the rest of his clothing was burned away? How does he recover Glamdring, as we see that he uses Glamdring both before and after the fight with the Balrog? In the same vein, is there an explanation for the recovery of his staff? His clothing, of course could have been easily replicated in Lórien and Narya would have remained on his finger, but what of his sword and staff? I am not one to look for inconsistencies, but have read LOTR 5 times and this point has always perplexed me. Perhaps the simple answer is oversight, perhaps there is a different explanation. Please advise. Thanks,

– Jim Miller

A: The moment Gandalf fell with the Balrog from the bridge, his staff was shattered but he still possessed his sword. But yes, it is difficult to explain how Glamdring escaped destruction from the depths of Khazad-dûm.

In Gandalf's account in The Two Towers it is clear that he somehow managed to hold onto Glamdring as he fell. Specifically he says that "ever I hewed him," during the lengthy chase below the mountain. Thus he had the sword with him at that point. After that, it is not mentioned when he speaks of the Endless Stair and the ensuing Battle of the Peak. I assume he still wielded it, and that it was instrumental in the final doom of Durin’s Bane. There’s no specific wording of how it survived Gandalf's physical destruction and re-embodiment. Indeed, he says "naked I was sent back," and by this we infer Valinor. I would take a leap of faith and assume that Glamdring survived the ruin atop the Silvertine, and was perhaps later recovered by Gwaihir.

I would even go so far as to say our Olórin was sent back as "a brand new Gandalf" with a new staff. If the Valar returned him to Middle-earth as a new being (The White Rider) to replace the treacherous Saruman, then maybe he was given a new token of office, a new device of power, before returning. Or maybe the Elves of Lothlórien created a new one for him.

- Quickbeam


It is not far-fetched that Glamdring, Gandalf's sword, remained with him after his battle with the Balrog: Glamdring was originally the sword of Turgon, the Elven King of Gondolin in the First Age.

Remember that the most powerful Elven swords of the First Age had magical, mystical  and occasionally dark powers.  For instance, the sword Gurthang  which came from the armouries of Doriath and was named Anglachel before it was reforged in Nargothrond for Túrin Turambar actually spoke to Túrin before his death.  Melian the Maia, Queen of Doriath, recognized Anglachel's dark powers; in The Silmarillion, she said, "There is malice in this sword . . . it will not love the hand it serves; neither will it abide with you long."

Glamdring was lost during the sack of Gondolin by Morgoth.  It remained hidden for almost two full Ages, until it was found in a troll's hoard by Gandalf and Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit, and was identified by Elrond, Turgon's great-grandson.  Obviously (to me at least) Gandalf was MEANT to find Glamdring for use in the War of the Ring, just as Bilbo was meant (as Gandalf said) to find the One Ring in the Misty Mountains.

By the way, you folks at Green Books and TheOneRing.net do a great job!  I love this website!

- Robin Pollack

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Q: Who or what were the Silent Watchers of [the] Morannon and Minas Morgul?

– Golden Avatar

A: Actually the Silent Watchers were at neither of those places. They were built into the outer wall of the Tower of Cirith Ungol. At the beginning of the Third Age (after Isildur defeated Sauron) Men of Gondor built the Tower to keep Sauron’s servants from using the Pass.

However, no tale tells who created these monstrous stone statues. Perhaps they were originally created by the Witch-king. In T.A. 2000 he marched through the Pass and besieged Minas Ithil for two years, eventually taking it. No doubt he was able to reclaim the Tower of Cirith Ungol as his forces made their way west. I believe some sorcery of the Chief Nazgûl was employed here, and the hideous figures were deeply imbued with his malevolence, as was all things within and beyond Morgul-vale.

- Quickbeam


A couple of weeks ago I sent a message quibbling with your statement that the Silent Watchers of the tower of Cirith Ungol were unique.  Unfortunately I made a fool of myself by relying on memory-misquoting the message "Nazgul uneasy.  Spies feared on steps.  Patrol to head of stairs," and attributing it to the wrong Orc (Gorbag instead of Shagrat).  However, now that I look it up, the next paragraph confirms my contention that Minas Morgul had its Silent Watchers too.  Gorbag explicitly says that it was their sensing (presumably) the presence of the Ring that led to his patrol (he goes on to say that this was delayed because the higher command was distracted by the opening of the war-which I think is Tolkien reinforcing the plot point about Aragorn's using the Palantír to distract Sauron).

- Roac Carcsson

Yes, it seems you are correct that the city of Minas Morgul had their very own 'Silent Watchers' according to Gorbag.  Too bad we never get to see them up close and personal, to determine if they are like their counterparts up in the Tower of Cirith Ungol.  The presence of additional Watchers reinforces my theory: they were a special creation of the nefarious Witch-king.

- Quickbeam

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Q: Shagrat and Gorbag referred to Lugbúrz in The Two Towers. Is that the orcish term for Barad-dûr, or something else?

– Golden Avatar

A: Yes, you are correct. Barad-dûr was the name the Elves gave to The Dark Tower. But in the Black Speech of Mordor, as devised by Sauron and used by his servants and lieutenants, the name was Lugbúrz.

- Quickbeam

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Questions 04/00
Quick navigation for questions asked this month.
 • Saruman become a Valar?
 • The Power of Nature
 • Is Gandalf Invincible?
 • Legolas Questions
 • Elrond and his sons
 • Strider's Trance
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 • Boromir lied?
 • Elwe and Olwe
 • Fate of the Nine Rings
 • Gandalf and Magic
 • Origin of Dragons
 • Sauron Evil to Behold
 • The Rebirth of Gandalf
 • The Silent Watchers
 • What is Lugburz?


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