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I'm just wondering why Frodo and sam just used the eagles to fly to Mordor, and Aragorn and the others could distract The Eye of Sauron? It would go a lot faster if you ask me. Or maybe it's just the thrill of the hunt? They perhaps couldn't borrow the eagles? Or does it make the book more exciting?
I simply think it's because it wouldn't give our dear professor the change to tell the story he wanted to tell. He wrote a story and a story behind it. He wouldn't have been able to write the story behind it if it's just such a short story. It's a wonderful story. I don't really get the point of your post because if you really like the story you wouldn't want to change it. And you wouldn't even really think of it. Or is that just me?

Also the Eagles weren't there to be "Used" they were their own beings and only lent help when they and or Manwe wanted to. Flying into Mordor at Its full strength would have been a suicide mission while the Nazgul were around and Giant Eagles would certainly have alerted Sauron that something was up.

agree with breg, eagles are not for Use,and siting on them to modor is telling Soron what they are up to, it almost like delare war.

I always considered the eagles a sort of deus ex machina. It's like the hand of god. Look at all the evil in the world as we know it....how many beams of light come from the clouds to save the day? It's just not the way of things. That's why whenever the eagles DO intervene it's a really big deal!

Yes, I also agree with Brego and Balrogs. Wink Smilie

I agree with the last posts, for me, the eagles mean the "last option" to be used; as those tools on which is written "only use in case of emergency" (just to make an idea). The eagles have their own lives and rules, they cannot be used as a horse for example. They are wild, huge and aren't easy to see so that makes me think, they have a life aside the story, as if they weren't a part of middle-earth, something sacred, a sort of Tom Bombadil... 

I don't take eagles as such sacred creatures. I think they are just intelligent beings like human, live in their own way with proud and pure mind, something like elves, keep away from cunning and greedy Mankind.

But went into Mordor by eagles not a efficient way, they are big enough and famous enough to alarm Sauron who had equal weapons to confront eagles.

All agreed. Tolkien's eagles, the giant sentient giant variety, were not really birds at all. They are probably inhabited by minor Maia spirits in the service of Manwe. They had a purpose in Arda and that was to bring news and carry out errands for The Valar and never to the beck and call of Eru's children. If the took kindly on Gandalf and co it was only because of their hatred of the Orcs.

Remember also that Olorin, AKA Gandalf, was a Maia who came to Middle Earth as an Istari at the specific request of Manwë himself.  So Gandalf and the eagles were really on the same team, and it was his wise way to not set power against power...  Our beloved wizard would call on the eagles only as a very last resort --as several Planetarians have said above-- or perhaps he didn't even call them and they were sent by the Elder King himself (in the case of the Battle of Five Armies).

Agreed; yet was it not also that the eagles would eventually succumb to the ring? The eagles, being powerful creatures, would be too powerful and mighty to let the Ring slide from their grasps.  Very few, remember, could resist the pull of the ring; not even Frodo, in the end.

 

“Eagles are not kindly birds some are cowardly and cruel”
 
The Airspace around Mordor was “well-guarded by winged beasts searching for spies”
 
     The idea seems to be the eagles could be able to sneak in and drop the ring in the proper place, this of course would fail and the ring would be delivered to the enemy. The eagles themselves would know this and would refuse as if they would be interested in the first place
 
     There are a handful of different reasons not to transport the ring by eagle for any distance not just into Mordor. The movies did not do a good job of making that point. I’ve even heard late night comics pointing out this idea as a joke; the books however make it pretty clear.

Also, no one else has pointed this out, but I think that eagles would have been very susceptible to archers as well.

Too true Keylec. And indeed archers had at least injured Eagles in the past.

That's a really good point Asea that not many have touched on. How susceptible are the eagles to the power of the ring? Saruman couldn't resist it, Isildur couldn't resist it, Galadriel wanted it...all great beings who could not resist its pull. Just imagine even if they COULD get them over Mordor, Thorondor looking at the talon holding the ring, eyeing its every motion, thinking to himself "well heck I got it this far, maybe I CAN be the first to control it. After all I'm an eagle!)....is it so unlikely he would second guess his decision? As powerful as the eagles were...they were still creatures with a will (especially a will of their own) that lived in Middle Earth....

Very interesting....

Indeed Balrogs. The Eagles had their own purpose in Arda. The were no better or worse than the Istari. And if Saruman could fail anyone could. Nothing is simple or clean cut in the Tolkien World. If it was Illuvatar would simply have destroyed Melkor in the Elder days and then all would have been good and simple .......

well imagine if Tolkien made Frodo and Sam ride eagles to Mordor than there would be no exitment or drama and the story would be done quick as you can say Gandalf 

the book just wouldn't be the same if it was that easy, without the constant threat of failure there wouldn't be any drama to the story, right?

I always considered the eagles a sort of deus ex machina. It's like the hand of god. Look at all the evil in the world as we know it....how many beams of light come from the clouds to save the day? It's just not the way of things. That's why whenever the eagles DO intervene it's a really big deal!

Balrogs, you read my mind, because this is exactly how I would describe it. Whenever Manwe's eagles are coming, it's like some kind of divine intervention.

I also agree with Marghana that when it comes to the events of Third Age Gandalf and the Eagles are "on the same team". From this perspective it seems that the mission of rescuing Middle-Earth was "doomed to victory" - if the Men (who were supposed to take care of Eriador's future) were willing to fight the evil the Valar would do whatever it takes to help them achieve the victory. Therefore Gandalf was back after his fall in Moria, and the intervention of the Eagles on the Field of Cormallen.

I don't take eagles as such sacred creatures. I think they are just intelligent beings like human, live in their own way with proud and pure mind, something like elves, keep away from cunning and greedy Mankind.

Maybe we should distinguish Manwe's Eagles (I believe the most powerful among them was Thorondor, all of them had names and their ancestry) from 'plain' eagles (I suppose there were 'plain' eagles in Middle Earth). Manwe's Eagles were true emissaries of the West, not really a species like any other on Arda.

But went into Mordor by eagles not a efficient way, they are big enough and famous enough to alarm Sauron who had equal weapons to confront eagles.

I don't think Sauron had beast comparable to Manwe's Eagles when it comes to strength or intelligence. Maybe Morgoth had, but Sauron was still less powerful than his master. On the other hand, I don't think that the eagles would be able to fight Sauron's forces by themselves. If everything else would fail, I believe there would be another intervention of Valar - but as I wrote earlier in this post, everything was dependent on Men and their willingness to fight against Sauron.

Good stuff Indis, but in regards to your last paragraph, Ainu quoted some good lines earlier in the thread. Not positive where I read it, I want to say in Unfinished Tales or maybe Book of Lost Tales 1, but it pretty strongly implies eagles weren't the only giant winged creatures in the sky. Nazgul anyone?

 

 

Another point I forgot to mention earlier is, remember, Mordor was covered in shadow, almost literally, meaning it wouldn't just be like flying over a sunny mountain, which even in slightly foggy conditions can leave you blind. Add on top of that the thousands of orc archers stationed around the place, guard towers, in the mountains or on the black gate....just doesn't seem like a good idea. Again like Ainu said, sure it MIGHT work, but what if it doesn't? That's a first class delivery to the enemy right there.

Good stuff Indis, but in regards to your last paragraph, Ainu quoted some good lines earlier in the thread. Not positive where I read it, I want to say in Unfinished Tales or maybe Book of Lost Tales 1, but it pretty strongly implies eagles weren't the only giant winged creatures in the sky. Nazgul anyone?

You mean the quote about winged beasts? Yeah, I read that and I didn't forget about those creatures when I was writing this. Of course, Nazgul on the winged beast is a powerful force. I was trying to say that the winged creatures alone aren't comparable to Manwe's Eagles. Yes, they were huge and strong, but I believe that the forces behind the Eagles were too powerful and in a direct battle I guess they would win. Of course I'm talking about battle Eagles vs. Winged Beasts, not Eagles vs. all the forces of Mordor. I don't know if a winged creature had a mind of their own or they were just slaves like the horses Sauron gave to the Nazgul? I don't remember any helpful quotes on that, I may need to look in the books.

I think that Morgoth's forces were comparable to the Eagles (I mean Ancalagon, Carcharoth, maybe some other especially those who were Maia spirits). I mean the forces that stood behind those creatures were comparable to the powers of Vala. I can't be sure about that though because it seems that the Eagles had a different task on Arda - they were more like rescuers than soldiers.

EDIT: as I think about it - most of the very powerful forces from the books had their own names - like Ungolianta, Ancalagon, Huan etc. I think it may suggest their unique identities, intelligence, powers. The Eagles had their names. The winged creatures didn't.

I just checked the books, and they reminded me how exactly J.R.R. Tolkien described the winged beasts of the Nazgul. Be prepared for a long post, sorry about that!

The most detailed description I found in LOTR, Return of the King:

The great shadow descended like a falling cloud. And behold! it was a winged creature: if bird, then greater than all other birds, and it was naked, and neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers; and it stank. A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, fingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed.

What was intriguing that they were described as allegedly "creatures of an older world". It seems like they were sort of a dinosaurs (maybe), that the Dark Lord adapted and prepared for his own purposes. What kind of purposes?

From "Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers"':

You ought to know that they're the apple of the Great Eye. But the winged Nazgul: not yet, not yet. He won't let them show themselves across the Great River yet, not too soon. They're for the War – and other purposes.'

The other purposes - striking fear into Men and their allies was probably one of the most important ones. The creatures' appearances were horrifying. They were disgusting and aggressive. As it was mentioned in the first quote - they were living in forgotten place before Sauron took them as his servants, so when he allowed them to be seen - people were shocked and scared to death because they never seen anything like that before. And what was the most important -  Nazgul had the ability to move fast and 'see' more, so it would seem impossible to hide or to escape from them, especially if they were looking for something. Frodo mentions it in the quote I wrote below:

"Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers"

And if they are Black Riders same as before, then they can't see much by daylight, can they?' 'No, perhaps not,' said Frodo. 'But their steeds could see. And these winged creatures that they ride on now, they can probably see more than any other creature. They are like great carrion birds. They are looking for something: the Enemy is on the watch, I fear."


The Nazgul on those beasts are often described as 'winged Shadows' or 'winged Messengers'. I guess that would suggest that the creatures - of course much more frightening and stronger than the horses Nazgul used before - are still just 'an addition' to the Ringwraiths. Their way to translocate. "Winged steeds".

"Lord of the Rings, Return of the King"

'The winged Shadow?' said Théoden. 'We saw it also, but that was in the dead of night before Gandalf left us.' 'Maybe, lord,' said Dunhere. 'Yet the same, or another like to it, a flying darkness in the shape of a monstrous bird, passed over Edoras that morning, and all men were shaken with fear. For it stooped upon Meduseld, and as it came low, almost to the gable, there came a cry that stopped our hearts.

"Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers"

'The Winged Messenger!' cried Legolas. 'I shot at him with the bow of Galadriel above Sarn Gebir, and I felled him from the sky. He filled us all with fear. What new terror is this?' 'One that you cannot slay with arrows,' said Gandalf. 'You only slew his steed. It was a good deed; but the Rider was soon horsed again. For he was a Nazgul, one of the Nine, who ride now upon winged steeds. Soon their terror will overshadow the last armies of our friends, cutting off the sun. But they have not yet been allowed to cross the River, and Saruman does not know of this new shape in which the Ringwraiths have been clad.

"Cutting off the sun" - that's one of the reasons the Eagles can't be sent there to destroy the Ring - some of the members already wrote it in this thread.

Fair enough points, but I can't help but disagree with a few things. Before I say anything though I want to say Indis, I enjoy our discussions tremendously, when we disagree we seem to see so evenly yet oppositely at the same time, it's great.   Also you seem to counter react in an extremely civilized way, which I really do appreciate.

Ok, so Manwe's eagles is a good start. I don't think it's fair to assume that they could easily outmatch the fell beasts, which at this point were barely known by any (thus barely known by Tolkien too). So as far as I'm concerned they were pretty evenly matched, and for a few reasons. I don't necessarily see them as "Manwe's eagles." True they listened to him and acted as his messenger (more or less), but it wasn't necessarily that he owned them, just that they respected him enough to follow his strong suggestions (not orders). Of course in a sense I do see them as Manwe's eagles, so my point ultimately being that they weren't necessarily infused with some godly power. True you have Thorondor who was a confirmed Ainur, but also I don't believe all of the eagles who flew with him from the West were maia. It's kind of like saying Gandalf was Manwe's wizard. Yes and no at the same time.

Also keep in mind, it's generally agreed that second age Sauron was more powerful than Morgoth at the end of the first age. And the winged creatures you refer to were most likely created by Sauron in the second age (and apparently from an even more powerful ancient creature). Meaning, if Sauron could outmatch a "god," then I don't see why a creation of his couldn't also match that of a "god." Especially since Morgoth was considered one of the more powerful, even at his weakest it took all of the Vala and then some to capture him.

And with all due respect, I also think you misinterpreted the "creatures of an older world" line. That seems to be implying the creature that BRED the modern fell beasts was an ancient being, not the steeds themselves. And of course I can't help but point out the "allegedly," an important word in the Tolkien canon! Though I think it makes enough sense in this case.

On top of that (this isn't necessarily towards you either, more on the general topic), I think it was more than a "if they were powerful enough" scenario. Let's even assume for a minute that the eagles did outmatch the fell beasts without nazgul and there were no archers down below....the creatures would most likely take out at least one or two eagles. So why should the eagles risk their children for a cause not of their own? They haven't in the past for, arguably, more dire causes. I mean, as shown throughout history, no matter who's in charge, the eagles get on just fine.

I don't think theres any denying they were bred to be mounts for the nazgul. Though if I'm not mistaken, eagles of the third age were descendants from Thorondor....not maia from Valinor turned eagle. Thus, moral of the story, I think the eagles would have suffered heavy casualties from these fell beasts over Mordor simply because they were creatures with a heart beat. Clearly they are intelligent, but so are wargs. And werewolves. And so why not Hell Hawks? I'd like to believe they would ultimately win, but not without great loss.

True you have Thorondor who was a confirmed Ainur, but also I don't believe all of the eagles who flew with him from the West were maia.

I'm not saying this isn't confirmed, but at the moment I don't recall the text, Balrogs.

I do remember a note made to a typescript of The Annals of Aman that would seem to imply Thorondor had a Maiarin spirit, but there's another note made roughly about the same time [I can't tell which description came before the other] that seems to say otherwise.

Another factor might be Thorondor's long life, but possibly this can also be explained by Tolkien's statement in text VIII Myths Transformed: that the Eagles were taught language by the Valar and 'raised to a higher level' even while having no fear however -- 'fear' as in plural of fea, roughly translated 'spirit'.

Good catch, Galin. To be honest I, for whatever reason, thought I'd read that somewhere and just assumed, but if you don't recognize it, and I can't find much on it anyways, then it's probably incorrect.

It seems like Thorondor was more along the lines of an ent. A creature seemingly brought into this world by a Vala for whatever purpose. Thorondor was sent under Manwe from Valinor and fortunately somehow he was able to reproduce in Middle Earth and the rest is history.

Now Thorondor could probably take on all those hell hawks by himself! Unfortunately he has since disappeared and it was his son Gwaihir who we had in the Third Age, who's still awesome, but not quite as awesome.

I think the basic rule in Tolkien's world is that sentient beings, whether Ent, Hound, Eagle or Balrog are either Childen if Eru, or animal shape inhabitted by a Maian spirit. I see no other way around it. Dragons I include in this. Orcs and Trolls as we know are a corrupted forms of other beings. I can't fathom another reasonable, explainable or viable explanation. We know that most lower Maia took forms of lower animals in Valinor, so why wouldn't they in ME. Whether Wargs, Werewolf, Eagle or Hound I think it stands to reason that these intelligent beings would be Maia who chose to aid either side to their best ability within the body in which they felt most comfortable in due to their own countenance.

Ents are not maia. Or corruptions. And when you have talking creatures like Ungoliant or Tom Bombadil, it does not seem fair to assume all creatures with a voice are maiar or corruptions. I'd say most of them are. But I still believe eagles came about for the same reason as ents....emissaries of their respective vala. Ents were probably "awoken" by elves, but created by Yavanna. Considering the eagles' role in the story, and comparing it to equal or greater roles, I see no reason why there would be no mention of Thorondor being a maia if he was meant to be.

And I also still don't believe wargs were maia but creatures with a fea. Wargs could communicate, but not necessarily speak. They picked up a few basic words here and there that they'd use with the orcs. So they weren't necessarily superiorly intelligent beings, just smarter than your average wolf.

I thought eagles and ents were inhabited by spirits.

Well the truth is both are a mystery. I'd say more evidence points to them being Vala or earthly creations moreso than Ainur, Maiar, or Fea. Especially the ents. Plus I like the idea of them coming from nowhere more :P

Admittedly I'm a fan of the mysteries of Middle Earth more than the known...

According to TolkienGateway eagles were Maia. I can't see a source there, I don't think I saw a any confirmation of that.

And I also still don't believe wargs were maia but creatures with a fea. Wargs could communicate, but not necessarily speak. They picked up a few basic words here and there that they'd use with the orcs. So they weren't necessarily superiorly intelligent beings, just smarter than your average wolf.

Would "smarter than average wolf" mean that the regular wolves also had 'fea'? Wouldn't 'fea' mean 'soul' in the way most people perceive 'a soul'?

Ents are not maia. Or corruptions. And when you have talking creatures like Ungoliant or Tom Bombadil, it does not seem fair to assume all creatures with a voice are maiar or corruptions. I'd say most of them are.

I can't remember it now, but wasn't it stated in the Silmarillion that aside of Vala and Maia spirits there were other kinds of spirits? Not as powerful but also in some cases also immortal. Or would they be Maia and we can assume there's a lot of different kinds of Maia spirits?

Fair enough points, but I can't help but disagree with a few things. Before I say anything though I want to say Indis, I enjoy our discussions tremendously, when we disagree we seem to see so evenly yet oppositely at the same time, it's great.   Also you seem to counter react in an extremely civilized way, which I really do appreciate.

Oh, I enjoy our discussions too Smile Smilie And I didn't know the word 'tremendously' before!

I don't necessarily see them as "Manwe's eagles." True they listened to him and acted as his messenger (more or less), but it wasn't necessarily that he owned them, just that they respected him enough to follow his strong suggestions (not orders).

Well, I do. But just as ents belonged to Yavanna and had their role on Arda given by her, the eagles were there because of Manwe's will. I don't recall reading that he created them.

From what I was reading about sending Istari to Middle Earth, I always see Manwe's orders as suggestions. Or 'strong recommendations' Wink Smilie

EDIT: I just found a quote in Silmarillion (chapter: "Of Beginning of Days)" that might be helpful for our discussion here Wink Smilie

Spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles flew ever to and from his halls; and their eyes could see to the depths of the seas, and pierce the hidden caverns beneath the world. Thus they brought word to him of well nigh all that passed in Arda; yet some things were hidden even from the eyes of Manwe and the servants of Manwe, for where Melkor sat in his dark thought impenetrable shadows lay.

Also keep in mind, it's generally agreed that second age Sauron was more powerful than Morgoth at the end of the first age.

I never thought that Sauron could be mightier than Melkor was. Did I missed something?

Another thought came to me yesterday - The Eagles would be more similar in power and abilities to the Dragons in my opinion.

I don't agree at all that Sauron was ever as powerful as Melkor.  Yes Melkor's power waned as he leant it to his various minions, Sauron included.  He spread his power over his millions of Orcs and other soldiers.  Sauron's power, I believe was great, however his greatness, as with Melkor overreached him.  This is the exact point of all of Tolkien's works.  Its not how powerful you are, its how restrained you are and how you use it.

Well here's one quote from HOME that's worth considering. Taken from the Barrow Downs forum...

Originally Posted by Notes on motives in the Silmarillion, Myths Transformed, HoME X
 
"Sauron was 'greater', effectively, in the Second Age than Morgoth at the end of the First. Why? Because, though he was far smaller by natural stature, he had not yet fallen so low. Eventually he also squandered his power (of being) in the endeavour to gain control of others. But he was not obliged to expend so much of himself. To gain domination over Arda, Morgoth had let most of his being pass into the physical constituents of the Earth – hence all things that were born on Earth and lived on and by it, beasts or plants or incarnate spirits, were liable to be 'stained'. Morgoth at the time of the War of the Jewels had become permanently 'incarnate': for this reason he was afraid, and waged the war almost entirely by means of devices, or of subordinates and dominated creatures.

Sauron, however, inherited the 'corruption' of Arda, and only spent his (much more limited) power on the Rings..."
 
 
So Sauron was more "powerful" than Morgoth at the end of the second age, not because he attained greater power, but because Morgoth lost much of his.

Great quotes Balrogs. Indeed over the Ages Melkor wasted his power in the pursuit of Dictatorship. At his end indeed perhaps Sauron was more powerful than the original Dark Lord. But only at his end. It's well noted that Melkor was made greater than the other Valar, however he squandered his power on selfish foolishness as indeed did Sauron.

Correct me if I'm wrong, I read somewhere that whether Sauron it was intentional or not in making the one ring, but it made him more powerful than his original state while wearing it.
I think of The One Ring as a kind of Horcrux. While wearing it he is at full strength. Without it he sheds a portion of his strength and power. It is kind of stored within the ring.

So Sauron was more "powerful" than Morgoth at the end of the second age, not because he attained greater power, but because Morgoth lost much of his.

So it's basically the case of Morgoth's loosing power, not Sauron actually gaining it? Now it makes sense, because in any other way it would just seem incoherent to state that Sauron being 'just' a Maia and a former servant of Morgoth would be able to outdo Morgoth's abilities. Thank you for the quote, Balrogs! Smile Smilie

I never saw it this way before - Melkor was working on gaining slaves and forces to fight against the rest of the world and that made him waste the power he previously had. He was spreading his power and invested so much of it to be even more powerful but he was making him weaker at the same time. I love this theory. I always find something new here, it's great!

Correct me if I'm wrong, I read somewhere that whether Sauron it was intentional or not in making the one ring, but it made him more powerful than his original state while wearing it.

Hmm, it's interesting.

I admit this idea did cross my mind. But as I contemplated it I began to think it would be pointless. The Fellowships greatest weapon was that the Dark Lord had no idea that they intended to destroy the One ring, so having a hobbit astride a giant eagle, flying straight towards the cracks of Doom would certainly lead him to contemplate what they planned to do with it, as he already knew a hobbit had the ring of power.

But the whole epic journey of the quest to destroy the one ring etc.. is what I myself and I assume all fans of the book love about it. It would certainly be a very short and predictable tale if it was just the eagles bringing Frodo to Mordor, assuming of course they weren't stopped by the Nazgúl on the way or shot down from the sky.