• Tolkien Newsgroups FAQ (3/4)

    From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Fri Feb 21 22:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sat Mar 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Tue Apr 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Thu May 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jun 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Tue Jul 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Fri Aug 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Sep 21 23:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Wed Oct 21 23:14:02 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sat Nov 21 22:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Dec 21 22:14:01 2020
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Thu Jan 21 22:14:02 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sun Feb 21 22:14:02 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sun Mar 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Wed Apr 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Fri May 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Jun 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Wed Jul 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sat Aug 21 23:14:02 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Tue Sep 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Thu Oct 21 23:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Sun Nov 21 22:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Tue Dec 21 22:14:01 2021
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Fri Jan 21 22:14:01 2022
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Feb 21 22:14:01 2022
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Mon Mar 21 23:14:01 2022
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Steuard Jensen@21:1/5 to All on Thu Apr 21 23:14:01 2022
    [continued from previous message]

    ... The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that
    strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth,
    and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked,
    immovable.

    A very similar comment about Morgoth appears in Text X of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/:

    ...Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom; for in their corruption
    they had lost almost all possibility of resisting the domination of
    his will. So great indeed did its pressure upon them become ere
    Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were
    conscious of his 'eye' wherever they might be.

    We know with absolute certainty that Morgoth had a huge but humanoid
    physical form during the First Age, so "eye" here obviously refers to
    his will. The similarity between this description and the many
    references to Sauron's "Eye" is striking, which seems to make the
    meaning of that term clear.
    -------

    12. What were the names of the Nazgul?

    The only known text to name any of the Nazgul is "The Hunt for the
    Ring" in /Unfinished Tales/. It names "the second to the Chief, Khamul
    the Shadow of the East" as Sauron's lieutenant in Dol Guldur; in a
    previous draft, he was called "the Second Chief (the Black
    Easterling)". Some believe that Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, was
    also a Nazgul; see question III.B.13 for further discussion.

    Some people have used the name "Angmar" to refer to the Witch King.
    We know of no instance in which Tolkien used "Angmar" as a personal
    name; in his writings it always refers to the Witch King's country.
    Some still defend the use of "Angmar" as a convenient nickname, but as
    others find this irritating it is probably best avoided.
    -------

    13. What was Gothmog (the lieutenant of Morgul)?

    Gothmog (who shares his name with the Lord of Balrogs in the First
    Age) took command of Sauron's forces after the Witch-king was
    destroyed. Some believe that like the Mouth of Sauron he was human,
    while others claim that so responsible a position in Minas Morgul would
    only be given to another Nazgul. Several other possibilities also
    arise repeatedly. There seems to be no explicit evidence for any
    particular answer.
    -------

    14. What was the origin of Orcs?

    [This updates question V.G.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    Tolkien never seems to have firmly resolved this question in his own
    mind, let alone on paper. While /The Silmarillion/ as published states
    fairly clearly that Orcs were corrupted Elves, /Unfinished Tales/ hints
    that some strains of Orcs may have been bred from the Druedain.
    Tolkien's latest writings on the issue (found in Texts VIII-X of the
    "Myths Transformed" section in /Morgoth's Ring/) show him considering
    many possible origins: corrupted Elves, corrupted Men, very minor Maiar
    (a small number of original Orcish leaders only), or even beasts given fragments of Morgoth's own will so they would have some measure of independence. Some combination of these origins seems most likely from
    the texts, though the last of them was probably rejected.

    All of these suggested origins still support the notion that Orcs
    reproduced in the same manner as other races (and therefore that there
    were female Orcs). This is explicitly discussed in Text X of "Myths Transformed", which states that

    Men could under the domination of Morgoth or his agents in a few
    generations be reduced almost to the Orc-level of mind and habits;
    and then they would or could be made to mate with Orcs, producing
    new breeds, often larger and more cunning.

    The role of female Orcs in their society is not at all clear.
    -------

    15. Were Orcs immortal, and what happened to them after death?

    Given that Tolkien never firmly decided on the origin of Orcs (as
    discussed in question III.B.14), it is unsurprising that little is
    known about their fate. It seems clear that creatures descended even
    in part from humans would be mortal (as the Princes of Dol Amroth were;
    Elrond and his kin were special exceptions). In one his many
    conflicting essays about Orcs (Text X of "Myths Transformed" in
    /Morgoth's Ring/), Tolkien does give a direct answer to these
    questions:

    They could be slain, and they were subject to disease; but apart
    from these ills they died and were not immortal, even according to
    the manner of the Quendi; indeed they appear to have been by nature
    short-lived compared with the span of Men of higher race, such as
    the Edain.

    The apparent clarity of this statement may be misleading, considering
    the frequency with which Tolkien made and contradicted assertions about
    Orcs in the "Myths Transformed" texts.

    There are several reasons to believe that at least some Orcs had
    very long lives. One of the strongest is based on the death dates of
    the Orc Azog and his son Bolg. Azog was killed at the Battle of
    Azanulbizar in 2799, while Bolg was killed at the Battle of Five Armies
    in 2941. Thus, Bolg was still alive and strong over 140 years after
    his conception.

    More circumstantial evidence can be found in "The Choices of Master Samwise", when Sam overhears Gorbag speaking to Shagrat:

    '...if we get a chance, you and me'll slip off and set up somewhere
    on our own... somewhere where there's good loot nice and handy, and
    no big bosses.'

    'Ah!' said Shagrat. 'Like old times.'

    At this time, Sauron had been openly ruling Mordor for sixty-eight
    years, but Shagrat and Gorbag seem to recall a time when he wasn't in
    charge. This could mean that they were over seventy years old, that it
    took Sauron many years to establish firm control over his minions, or
    that they heard stories of "old times" from their elders.

    Gorbag also makes reference to "the Great Siege", which might refer
    either to the siege of the Last Alliance on Mordor or to the siege of
    Angband in the First Age, but it is less clear that he actually
    remembers it. Similarly, the goblins who captured Bilbo and Thorin in
    /The Hobbit/ had a surprisingly clear memory of the swords from
    Gondolin that they called "Beater and Biter", but there are
    explanations for that other than personal experience.

    As for their fate after death, this would depend very much on their
    origins (again, refer to question III.B.14). Beasts would presumably
    not /have/ a fate after death, and it seems likely that creatures
    descended even in part from Men would share their Gift and leave the
    world. Near the end of Text VIII of "Myths Transformed", Tolkien
    comments that if there were an Elvish strain among Orcs, "dying they
    would go to Mandos and be held in prison till the End." It also seems
    possible that Orcish spirits would refuse the summons to Mandos, as
    discussed in question III.B.6 of this FAQ; it is even conceivable that
    they could be reborn or re-embodied if they then returned to Morgoth or
    Sauron.
    -------

    16. What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

    [This supplements question V.F.1 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning,
    but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in /The Hobbit/ has led to
    considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

    /Orc/ is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is
    usually translated /goblin/ (or /hobgoblin/ for the larger kinds).
    /Orc/ is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these
    creatures.

    Some have taken this and other comments in /The Hobbit/ (such as the
    reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of
    "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs"
    larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name /Orcrist/ is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all
    editions of /The Hobbit/. Another clear example comes from the chapter
    "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of
    Fangorn:

    Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its
    shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

    The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk
    himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the
    end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin,
    any Orc could.
    -------

    17. What was the origin of Saruman's Uruk-hai?

    Whatever the details of their origins, all evidence indicates that
    like all Orcs, Saruman's Uruk-hai were bred "naturally" by mating
    humanoid creatures who then bore live young. The real questions are
    whether it was Sauron or Saruman who planned that breeding, and what
    stock they were bred from.

    It is important that the meaning of "Uruk-hai" be clear from the
    start. Appendix F says that "the word /uruk/ of the Black Speech...
    was applied as a rule only to the great soldier-orcs that at this time
    issued from Mordor and Isengard." As for the plural, the index of
    /Unfinished Tales/ says that "Uruks" is an "Anglicized form of
    /Uruk-hai/ of the Black Speech". A similar translation is provided in
    Parma Eldalamberon 17 within Tolkien's explanatory note for the first appearance of the Ring verse:

    The debased form of the B. S. which survived in the Third Age only
    in the Dark Tower is seen in a few names (as Uruk-hai 'Orc-folk')

    In addition to the translation, this shows that the term "Uruk-hai" was
    used in both Isengard and Mordor. It is not clear whether, at the end
    of the Third Age, the term "Uruk" referred to all "great soldier-orcs"
    or to a specific breed of them.

    According to Appendix A, the race of Uruks first appeared out of
    Mordor in the last years of Steward Denethor I, before TA 2475. If
    "Uruk" is the name of a specific Orc breed, then this proves that
    Saruman had no hand in their creation. However, by the time of LotR
    there is some evidence that several breeds had that name: the companies
    of Ugluk, Shagrat, and Gorbag were all Uruks, and they differed at
    least slightly in size and appearance (for example, Sam observed that
    Gorbag's troop's gear was "a better fit" than Shagrat's). Still, this
    evidence is not conclusive; it seems that we cannot determine the
    meaning of the word /Uruk/ itself without answering the larger
    question.

    As for Saruman, it is well established that he conducted a breeding
    program crossing Orcs (quite possibly Uruks) with humans. Immediately following the quotation from /Morgoth's Ring/ cited in question
    III.B.14 (Text X of "Myths Transformed") which describes Morgoth's
    technique of mating Orcs with Men, Tolkien says that

    There is no doubt that long afterwards, in the Third Age, Saruman
    rediscovered this, or learned of it in lore, and in his lust for
    mastery committed this, his wickedest deed: the interbreeding of
    Orcs and Men, producing both Men-orcs large and cunning, and Orc-men
    treacherous and vile.

    While this is the only explicit statement of Saruman's deeds, there are numerous comments in LotR about Orclike Men and Manlike Orcs associated
    with Isengard. The most direct comments come from the chapter
    "Treebeard", where Treebeard ponders Saruman's Orcs:

    For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of
    evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide
    the Sun, but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I
    wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he
    blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!

    The close agreement between Treebeard's thoughts here and the explicit statement in /Morgoth's Ring/ makes it seem very likely that this was
    Tolkien's intent.

    The remaining question is whether Saruman's Uruk-hai were the
    "Men-orcs" from his breeding program. This seems likely, but it is
    difficult to find solid proof. (Treebeard's comments about the
    Isengarders' tolerance of sunlight may support this view, but it is
    hard to prove that Uruks of Mordor lacked that tolerance.)
    -------

    18. What was the origin of Trolls?

    [This updates question V.G.2 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    It is not at all clear. One piece of information comes from
    Treebeard's statement (in the chapter "Treebeard") that Trolls were
    made "in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves". However, this
    probably only means that Ents gave Morgoth the idea for Trolls, not
    that the two races are actually related: the two races have almost
    nothing in common except great strength. Also, in Letter #153, Tolkien discusses this very quote and says that "Treebeard is a /character/ in
    my story, not me... and there is quite a lot he does not know or
    understand."

    One of Tolkien's more direct comments on the origin of Trolls comes
    a few lines later in that letter. He says of the Trolls in /The
    Hobbit/ that

    I am not sure about Trolls. I think they are mere 'counterfeits',
    and hence ... they return to mere stone images when not in the dark.
    But there are other sorts of Trolls, beside these rather
    ridiculous, if brutal, Stone-trolls, for which other origins are
    suggested.

    At least when he wrote this in 1954, then, it seems that Tolkien
    believed that the Stone-trolls in particular were barely even
    independent beings, relying on some sort of "spell" or external will
    for their existence.

    Another direct statement about Trolls can be found at the end of
    Text IX of the "Myths Transformed" section of /Morgoth's Ring/
    (probably written in the late 1950s):

    The Elves would have classed the creatures called 'trolls' (in /The
    Hobbit/ and /The Lord of the Rings/) as Orcs - in character and
    origin - but they were larger and slower. It would seem evident
    that they were corruptions of primitive human types.

    Christopher comments that "he seems to have been thinking...
    specifically of the /Olog-hai/, the great Trolls who appeared at the
    end of the Third Age (as stated in Appendix F)", quite likely in part
    on the basis of the comment in Appendix F that "Some held that [the
    /Olog-hai/] were not Trolls but giant Orcs".

    However, Tolkien's mention of /The Hobbit/ in this quote suggests
    that its "Stone-trolls" were meant to be included as well, and Appendix
    F goes on to say "but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind
    quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind... Trolls they were..." which suggests that all Trolls were fundamentally the same, and different
    than Orcs.

    It is not clear how to reconcile these statements, though the
    evidence from LotR naturally carries the greatest weight. In any case, Tolkien's indecision about the origin of Orcs in /Morgoth's Ring/ (as
    discussed in question III.B.14) almost certainly applies even more
    strongly to the passing comment regarding Trolls quoted above.
    -------

    19. What were the giants (seen by Bilbo in /The Hobbit/)?

    Nobody knows. Among texts considered to be at all canonical (see
    question III.A.2), giants are mentioned directly only in /The Hobbit/.
    This has led some to doubt their literal existence entirely, but they
    do seem to have a firm place in that book: giants (and the destruction
    they caused) were seen and heard by everyone, and both Thorin and
    Gandalf were worried about them. Later, Gandalf says "I must see if I
    can't find a more or less decent giant" to block up the goblins' new
    gate (where the group was captured). He also mentions them to Beorn.
    It would be difficult to reject giants without rejecting /The Hobbit/
    as a canonical source entirely, which Tolkien clearly did not do. Some
    believe that the voices heard by the Fellowship on the Redhorn pass
    were giants, or even that Caradhras itself was a "giant" in some sense.

    Three explanations for giants are relatively common. Perhaps the
    most natural is that they are an exceptionally large race of humans.
    Another is that they are a very large breed of troll, which could
    explain why they are not seen away from the mountains: they would need
    very large caves in which to hide from the sun. Finally, they could be
    "nature spirits" associated with mountains (and possibly with storms);
    this, too, would explain why they were only seen there. (Some
    discussion of this can be found in my essay on Tom Bombadil, mentioned
    in question III.B.3) There is no clear evidence for or against any of
    these possibilities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    III.C. STORY INTERNAL QUESTIONS: HISTORY AND HAPPENINGS

    1. Why didn't they just have an Eagle fly the Ring to Mt. Doom?

    This debate is most interesting when limited to "story internal"
    arguments (i.e. "Otherwise it would be a dull book" is a cop-out). One possibility is that there were no Eagles available when they were
    needed. Another common argument is that Mordor was well defended,
    while the Eagles were wary even of shepherds with bows. It may have
    been an issue of secrecy: a group of Eagles far from the Misty
    Mountains flying toward Mordor might well have drawn Sauron's
    attention, and might have even hinted at the plan to destroy the Ring.
    Some suggest that like the Istari, the Eagles were forbidden by the
    Valar to help so directly. Another suggestion is that Frodo may have
    needed the long journey to (hopefully) develop enough strength of will
    to cast the Ring into the Fire. Many other explanations are seen
    repeatedly as well. In the end, most participants tend to agree that
    an Eagle taking the Ring to Mount Doom would not have worked.

    But that is not the end of the discussion. Even if those objections
    are valid, many believe that this topic should have come up at the
    Council of Elrond (after all, the book shows discussions of other
    flawed options there, like sending the Ring to Bombadil or throwing it
    into the Sea). And some people still think that making use of the
    Eagles would have been effective (even if only for part of the journey,
    rather than flying all the way to Mordor). These aspects of the
    question remain unresolved.
    -------

    2. Were the barrow blades magical? In what way?

    The swords that the Hobbits got from the Barrow Downs were
    apparently magical in some way: in "The Departure of Boromir", Aragorn
    says this of Merry and Pippin's blades:

    Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives,
    knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about
    with spells for the bane of Mordor.

    Some have objected that Men could not use magic "spells", as Tolkien
    discusses in Letter #155: "'magic' in this story... is an inherent
    power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." However, against
    this in the margin Tolkien wrote, "But the Numenoreans used 'spells' in
    making swords?" (and he omitted the whole discussion of magic from the
    final version of the letter).

    The magic of the blades is confirmed in /The Lord of the Rings: A
    Reader's Companion/ by Hammond and Scull. In their final comment on
    the chapter "A Knife in the Dark", they quote from an unpublished
    portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Explaining the
    Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop, Tolkien writes that Frodo "had
    dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies
    long ago for his destruction", and that a wound from a barrow blade
    "would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo
    (as was proved in the end)". /Unfinished Tales/ indicates that all
    versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written between the
    publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this reflects
    Tolkien's view while writing the story.

    Even apart from this unpublished essay, there are several reasons to
    believe that the barrow blades were particularly harmful to the Nazgul.
    A major piece of evidence is the effect of Merry's blade on the Witch
    King, as discussed in question III.C.4 (which should be read as part of
    this entry). A related quote comes from Letter #210, where Tolkien
    compares that case to what would have happened if Sam had "[sunk] his
    blade into the Ringwraith's thigh" on Weathertop: "the result would
    have been much the same...: the Wraith would have fallen down and the
    sword would have been destroyed."

    In earlier drafts of LotR, the text itself was explicit that the
    Nazgul feared the barrow blades: in the chapter "At Rivendell" of /The
    Return of the Shadow/, Gandalf refers to them as "the one kind of sword
    the Riders fear." Although no such statement survived into the final
    text, it is apparent that this remained Tolkien's intent. Question
    III.C.3 discusses how the barrow blades were part of the reason the
    Nazgul did not take the Ring at Weathertop (and should also be read as
    part of this entry).

    We know almost nothing about whether the barrow blades had any
    special effect on other evil creatures. In "Flotsam and Jetsam", Merry
    says that Ugluk (leader of the Uruk-hai band) took the swords but then
    "threw the things away as if they burned him." However, this may just
    be a poetic description of the normal fear mentioned by Aragorn in the
    first quote above.
    -------

    3. Why didn't the Nazgul take the Ring at Weathertop?

    The Nazgul withdrew from Weathertop despite a five-against-one
    fighting advantage and with the One Ring almost within their grasp.
    Many share Aragorn's confusion about this: "I cannot think why they
    have gone and do not attack again." The true reason appears to have
    been a combination of several factors.

    Aragorn's analysis in "Flight to the Ford" is least in part
    accurate:

    I don't think they expected to be resisted... They will come again
    another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because
    they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the
    Ring cannot fly much further.

    Many have considered this explanation inadequate: the Ring seems like
    too great a prize for the Nazgul to take such foolish caution. Some
    quote Letter #210 where Tolkien says that the Nazgul "have no great
    physical power against the fearless", arguing that Aragorn was able to
    drive them away. However, this quote does not preclude them from
    having "normal" physical power, and the Witch King was willing to do
    battle with skilled warriors at other times.

    Tolkien's most detailed explanation of this issue has recently been published in /The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion/ by Hammond
    and Scull. In their final note on "A Knife in the Dark", they quote
    from a previously unpublished portion of Tolkien's essay "The Hunt for
    the Ring" discussing the Witch-king's thoughts after Weathertop
    (already mentioned in question III.C.2). The first factor mentioned is
    that "the Bearer has been marked with the Knife and (he [the
    Witch-king] thinks) cannot last more than a day or two". But more
    important, the Witch-king appears to have been afraid:

    Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the
    Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved in the end), he withdrew
    and hid for a while, out of doubt and /fear/ both of Aragorn and
    especially of /Frodo/.

    The excerpt says that his fear of Frodo was a combination of several
    factors, including Frodo's ability to resist attack at all, his use of
    an "enchanted sword" (presumably gained after overcoming a
    Barrow-wight), and his use of the name /Elbereth/, "a name of terror to
    the Nazgul" that connected Frodo to the High Elves. Realizing for the
    first time that this mission to find the Ring "was one of great peril
    to himself", the Witch-king fled, until "fear of Sauron, and the forces
    of Sauron's will" drove him back to the hunt. (/Unfinished Tales/
    indicates that all versions of "The Hunt for the Ring" were written
    between the publication of FotR and the completion of RotK, so this
    passage does reflect Tolkien's belief while writing the story.)

    Evidence for much of this can be found in the text itself. After
    remarking that Frodo's sword had not harmed the Witch King, Aragorn
    says, "More deadly to [the Witch King] was the name of Elbereth." This
    idea is clearer in an early draft: in /The Return of the Shadow/ ("At Rivendell"), a fragment includes Gandalf saying, "Not to mention
    courage - and also swords and a strange and ancient name. Later on I
    must be told about that curious sword of yours, and how you knew the
    name of Elbereth." (Presumably Gandalf is discussing this very
    question.) However, the name was probably not a major factor on its
    own: in the final text it is Aragorn who comments on "Elbereth", but he
    did not attempt to use it during the attack himself.

    As discussed in question III.C.2, the danger to the Nazgul from the
    barrow blades can also be guessed from the text, though it is by no
    means clear. The description of the attack on Weathertop is consistent
    with the idea that they fear such weapons: after Frodo put on the Ring,
    three of the wraiths

    rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword, and it seemed
    to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the
    figures halted. The third... sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

    All of the wraiths seem to have left immediately after the Witch King
    stabbed Frodo. As Frodo was seeing into the "wraith world" with the
    Ring on, some read the description of his sword flickering red as an
    indication that its magical power was directly visible there. Later, as half-faded Frodo faces the Nazgul at the Ford, he draws his sword "with
    a red flash". This evidence is not entirely convincing on its own, but
    in light of Tolkien's writings in "The Hunt for the Ring" it appears to
    be quite solid.
    -------

    4. Who killed the Witch-king, Merry or Eowyn?

    Most agree that Eowyn's stroke was the immediate cause of the
    Witch-king's death: she certainly struck /something/, and his death cry
    and disappearance followed immediately after her blow. The primary
    debate is whether Merry's role was simply to provide a distraction, or
    whether his sword (taken from the Barrow Downs) was necessary to break
    some "spell of protection" that would otherwise have guarded the
    Witch-king from harm.

    Question III.C.2 discusses the magical nature of the hobbits' barrow
    blades and their effect on the Nazgul. In the context of Merry's
    encounter with the Witch King in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields",
    the crucial statement is that

    No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have
    dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh,
    breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

    (See question III.C.2 for a related quote and further discussion.)
    Most read this quote as a direct statement that Merry's sword was
    especially harmful to the Nazgul, which is confirmed in other writings
    (as discussed in the earlier question). It is less clear what "spell"
    is being broken: some read this as a poetic description of a
    (nonmagical) collapse due to (possibly magical) great pain, while
    others take it to mean that the Nazgul had only indirect, magical
    control over their physical bodies. Based in part on this quote, some
    go even farther and suggest that the Witch King was immune to physical
    weapons before being hit by the barrow blade. No clear answer is
    known.

    It is worth taking particular note of the quote from portions of
    "The Hunt for the Ring" first published in Hammond and Scull's
    /Reader's Companion/ (and discussed in questions III.C.2 and III.C.3), indicating that a wound from a barrow blade "would have been as deadly
    to [the Witch-king] as the Mordor-knife [sic] to Frodo (as was proved
    in the end)". The parenthetical remark must refer to Merry's blow, and
    could be read in a wide variety of ways. It might mean that Merry's
    blow was indeed the "deadly" one, or that it would have proven deadly
    within hours or days if Eowyn had not made the point moot, or simply
    that it provided a deadly distraction.
    -------

    5. Did Frodo and the other mortals who passed over the Sea eventually
    die?

    [This updates question V.C.1 of the Tolkien LessFAQ.]

    While he seems to have been initially unsure, Tolkien eventually
    made it clear that mortals who sailed to the West would remain mortal.
    In Letter #154, he explains this:

    ...the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their
    'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary
    reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for
    ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and
    will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world.

    He makes a similar comment in Letter #246, saying that

    Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that
    could be done, /before he died/. He would have eventually to 'pass
    away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within
    Time.

    An interesting addendum to these statements can be found in the
    appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in /Morgoth's Ring/.
    After explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of
    Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the
    time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the
    following comment on Frodo:

    The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an
    extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world
    (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to
    death.

    This leads to the fascinating (if uncertain) suggestion that Frodo and
    the other mortals who went West may have gone to Mandos while still
    physically alive.
    -------

    6. Did Sam follow Frodo into the West?

    While LotR strongly implies that Sam eventually sailed West, it
    never says so explicitly. In "The Grey Havens", Frodo says to Sam,
    "Your time may come." Appendix B says that in S.Y. 1482, Sam was last
    seen by Elanor in the Tower Hills, and that "the tradition [was] handed
    down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey
    Havens, and passed over Sea". However, Letter #154 makes Tolkien's
    intent clear. In it, he writes that

    certain 'mortals'... may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus
    Frodo ... and Bilbo, and eventually Sam.

    Whether Frodo was still alive when Sam reached Elvenhome is uncertain,
    but it does seem possible: in the same letter, Tolkien says that
    mortals in the West "can and will 'die' - of free will", so Frodo may
    have waited to pass on until Sam arrived.
    -------

    7. What is known about the Blue Wizards?

    [This supplements question V.E.2 of the Tolkien FAQ.]

    The Tolkien FAQ discusses most of what is known about the other two
    Istari (out of five). As explained there, the essay on the Istari in /Unfinished Tales/ tells us that their names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando, and that they went into the east of Middle-earth and did not
    return. In that essay and in Letter #211, Tolkien suggests that they
    may have failed in their missions, though he never said that was
    certain.

    A small amount of new information on the Blue Wizards appeared in
    the "Last Writings" section of /The Peoples of Middle-earth/. One
    interesting point is that Tolkien seems to have considered the idea
    that Saruman "was letting out a piece of private information" when he
    revealed their existence by mentioning "the rods of the Five Wizards"
    in /The Two Towers/.

    In another passage, Tolkien gives other names for the Blue Wizards, "Morinehtar" and "Romestamo" ("Darkness-slayer" and "East-helper"), and suggests that the Blue Wizards came to Middle-earth in the Second Age
    (much earlier than the other Istari) in the company of Glorfindel (for
    which possibility see question III.B.7). In this writing, he is
    considerably more optimistic about their success:

    They must have had very great influence on the history of the Second
    Age and Third Age in weakening and disarraying the forces of East
    ... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have
    ... outnumbered the West.
    -------

    8. Who was aware that a Balrog lived in Moria?


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