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Thread: Swords of Westerness

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Our member Turin, as a side question under our LOTR Quiz in the Ivy Bush Tavern, asked:
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Why is it that when Merry stabbed WK the bonds holding his "flesh" together were broken, but when Frodo stabbed him it didn't do anything? They were both swords of Arnor.

I think you will find all Frodo stabbed was the Nazgul Lord's (the Witch-King of Angmar's) cloak, for as Aragorn said, in 'Flight to the Ford' of FotR,
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'...all blades perish that pierce that dreadful King.'
While Frodo's sword remained intact until it was lost at the Ford of Bruinen.

Did anyone catch that in 'A Knife in the Dark' of FotR, "...it seemed to him that it [Frodo's sword] flickered red, as if it were a firebrand"? I hadn't noticed that before. I think Narsil/Anduril flickered red too, but I don't know about Merry's sword, and then again Frodo's may have, only because he was wearing the ring at the time. Oh, and Narsil wasn't a Sword of Westernesse, because it was forged by Telchar of Nogrod in the FA. The highlighted colors are mine.

(Frodo's replacement sword, "Sting" was not a blade of Westernesse. those were made by the Dúnedain Númenórians for use against Angmar; Sting was even older, having been made by the Elves of Beleriand prior to the founding of Angmar and turned it blue in the presence of Orcs.)
I know! I know! Elf Sticking Tounge Out Smilie I forgot to add the trailing "e" in this thread's title. Sorry, but we can't edit titles once a thread is started.

Also a similar discussion may be buried somewhere in Death of the Witch-king, but this gets it out in the open for the newer members to chew upon. Wiggle Smilie
Alright, so you think that Frodo simply missed? I suppose that makes the most sense.

Anyway, here's another question: What does everyone think about Turin's sword Gurthang? (I say Turin's sword simply because he wielded the longest) I mean, it is a talking sword.....
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I mean, it is a talking sword.....

I think the poor fellow just had lost his mind.
Then again it could've been the evil will of the sword that had been born out of the hate that the hands that wielded it prior to him.
who knows? Smile Smilie
Sting was not a blade of Westernesse, hence couldn't hurt the Witch-King. Guess the Elven craftsmen of Gondolin didn't add an extra enchantment to make it useful against spirits, for indeed Morgoth's minions were all enemies in the flesh.

The Men of Arnor, of course, were in a different situation.

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Then again it could've been the evil will of the sword that had been born out of the hate that the hands that wielded it prior to him.

"Farewell, friend! I was a thousand times more evil than thou" - Stormbringer to Elric of Melniboné
I think that Gurthang could talk and had a will of its own (aka a part of Eol). I say this because when Beleg received it from the armory of Thingol, Melian states that is harbors the dark will of its smith and it will not stay with him for long. (or something to that effect)
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Sting was not a blade of Westernesse, hence couldn't hurt the Witch-King.


I think it could have. I think the barrow-blades had an extra potency against the Wraiths.

In my opinion one could slay the Witch-king with Sting, but first one has to master his or her fear simply to face him. The instilling of unreasoning fear is a very potent weapon, but both Eowyn and Merry were able to act in this crucial moment, for reasons obvious enough in the tale.
According to Aragorn, it was Frodo screaming 'Elbereth!' that drove the buggers off and did more damage than the blade. So it didn't seem Sting was able to break the spell that bound the Witch-King's unseen sinews to his will.
Frodo didn't have Sting at that point but his blade had missed the Wraith in any case.

Tolkien notes that the Bearer (Frodo) had resisted and '... had dared to strike at him with an enchanted blade made by his own enemies long ago for his destruction. Narrowly it had missed him.'

JRRT goes on to write that the Wraith must have thought Frodo was mightier in some way than the Barrow-wight (as he somehow had such a blade), and that Frodo was also in league with the High Elves of the Havens, due to him calling out a name of terror to the Nazgul.

This text comes from Marquette MSS 4/2/36 The Hunt for the Ring.
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JRRT goes on to write that the Wraith must have thought Frodo was mightier in some way than the Barrow-wight (as he somehow had such a blade), and that Frodo was also in league with the High Elves of the Havens, due to him calling out a name of terror to the Nazgul.


And you could say thatj both of these things were true, though not in the way the wraith imagined. Frodo was in league with the High Elves - seeing as Gildor Inglorion had helped him, named him elf-friend, and had apparently gotten word to Tom Bombadil about him before the four hobbits arrived at Old Man Willow's roots... and this made Frodo "mightier" than a Barrow-Wight, because he was able to call for Tom's help when to get rid of the wight.