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Thread: Nazguls' part in the battle

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Hey, pleople. This is my very first post on the forums. Hope somebody reads it.

Anyways, I've seen all the 3 LOTR movies about a million times. I actually didn't know that any book of such a name ever existed before I saw the movies (Pardon, me for saying that, but now, I find myself to be proud of being an LOTR fan as well as reader and I'm spreading the word to my friends). But, after I saw the movies, I found myself with many questions, many of which were eventually answered as I read the books, starting with The Hobbit. Now, when you consider replying to this thread, please bear in mind that I've read the books only once and that too not as well as I would've liked. I'm in the process of reading them again, but right now, I've only made it to the Old Forest.

Anyways, in the movies and also in the books in a way, I found myself confused with the Nazguls during and after The Battle Of The Pelennor Fields. (By, the way, please pardon me if I get the spellings wrong.)

In a scene in the movies, the nine (or maybe 8, because I believe that the Lord of the 9 is leading the armies) are shown to be flying into the scene over Minas Tirith. Now, during the actual battle, once their initial part of throwing people from the skies is done, there isn't any part of them in the battle, especially after the Rohirrim appear. Then suddenly, we have the Witch-King slayed. After that, I couldn't see anyt of the Nazgul involved in the battle, especially after the arrival of Aragorn by the ships. Then when we finally get to The Black Gate, we can see the Nazgul again.

Now, I cannot remember the situation in the book, so I posted this under the movies section.

Anyways, what I'm thinking that, maybe, in all this massive work done by PJ on the movies, I think this is one area where probably, things aren't clear. As far as I think, the Nazgul should have been involved in the battle more that they've been showed to be.

Then, I also have a question about the actual powers of the nine. For that matter, I found myself asked by one of friends, who has only watched the movies and hasn't read the books at all. When we actually get to the black gate and Aragorn goes into the battle, and then the armies including Gandalf go in after him, he asked me why would Gandalf The White need to fight like other humans? Why doesn't he use his powers.

Now, I feel this applies to some more of such "powerful" characters. I feel the movies don't really give much scope into the characters' true powers.

What do you people think? And, if you think that I should read the books more carefully, well, I'm already into it. Don't worrry. I'd just like to hear other peoples' views on this. Thank you. Hope reading this was worth your time.
The Nazgul's power lies in fear and dread rather than physical combat.... they are wraiths and they commanded their armies to fight while reducing their enemies to quivering wrecks or forcing them to run in fear.

At the Black Gate the Nazgul were doing this until the Eagles came led by Gwaihir the Windlord.

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Straight down upon the Nazgul they bore, stooping suddenly out of the high airs, and the rush of their wide wings as they passed over was like a gale.

But the Nazgul turned and fled, and vanished into Mordor's shadows, hearing a sudden terrible call out of the Dark Tower.....


And from The Letters of JRR Tolkien, he says about the Nazgul in TFotR

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Their peril is almost entirely due to the unreasoning fear which they inspire (like ghosts). They have no great physical power against the fearless; but what they have, and the fear that they inspire, is enormously increased in darkness. The Witch-king, their leader, is more powerful in all ways than the others; but he must not yet be raised to the stature of Vol III. There, put in command by Sauron, he is given an added demonic force.


Back to the Pelennor Fields, I don't think the Nazgul were picking people up and dropping them in the book but the film differs a lot at this point. Gandalf stood up to the WitchKing at the gates of Minis Tirith and although they didn't fight, the WitchKing left and vanished to go to the Pelennor Fields where the Rohirrim were winning the battle against his armies.

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...victory was slipping from his grasp even as he stretched out his hand to seize it. But his arm ws long. He ws still in command, wielding great powers. King, Ringwraith, Lord of the Nazgul, he had many weapons, He left the Gate and vanished.


I don't want to comment on all your points - this has the makings of a good discussion and I hope others join in.

I have seen bits about the Nazgul but I can't recall too much at the moment..... someone else will.

P.S. Welcome to PT - great first post!
Hi there, Floyd_n_milan.

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I actually didn't know that any book of such a name ever existed before I saw the movies (Pardon, me for saying that, but now, I find myself to be proud of being an LOTR fan as well as reader and I'm spreading the word to my friends).


It’s good to see that the movies have encouraged more people to read these great books. It’s good to see you on the site. You’ve raised some interesting questions in your first post, so I’ll have a go at answering a few of them for you.

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In a scene in the movies, the nine (or maybe 8, because I believe that the Lord of the 9 is leading the armies) are shown to be flying into the scene over Minas Tirith. Now, during the actual battle, once their initial part of throwing people from the skies is done, there isn't any part of them in the battle, especially after the Rohirrim appear. Then suddenly, we have the Witch-King slayed. After that, I couldn't see any of the Nazgul involved in the battle, especially after the arrival of Aragorn by the ships. Then when we finally get to The Black Gate, we can see the Nazgul again.


The book does not give too many details on the part the Nazgul played during the Battle of Pelennor Fields. PJ managed to provide us with a very impressive scene where the Nazgul were destroying the trebuchets on the city walls and dropping men from great heights. I think he used a little poetic licence with this scene for Tolkien only said:-

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The Nazgul came again, and as their Dark Lord now grew and put forth his strength, so their voices, which uttered only his will and malice, were filled with evil and horror. Ever they circled above the city, like vultures that expect their fill of doomed men’s flesh. Out of sight and shot they flew, and yet were ever present, and their deadly voices rent the air. More unbearable they became, not less, at each new cry. At length even the stout hearted would fling themselves to the ground as the hidden menace passed over them, or they would stand, letting their weapons fall from nerveless hands while into their minds a blackness came, and they thought no more of war, but only of hiding and of crawling, and of death.


Apart from this passage, no more is said of them, and as in the film, they do not appear to be involved in the fighting with the Rohirrim. My guess, however, is that they were still flying above the walls of Minas Tirith, demoralising the troops there, when the Witchking flew to meet Theoden. I would then guess that his unexpected demise came as such a blow to the rest of them that they retreated back to Barad-dur. The next time we see them, in both the book and the film, is when they are fighting the eagles outside the Black Gate. Their absence in the film does, therefore, appear consistent with that of the book.

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Then, I also have a question about the actual powers of the nine. For that matter, I found myself asked by one of friends, who has only watched the movies and hasn't read the books at all. When we actually get to the black gate and Aragorn goes into the battle, and then the armies including Gandalf go in after him, he asked me why would Gandalf The White need to fight like other humans? Why doesn't he use his powers.

Now, I feel this applies to some more of such "powerful" characters. I feel the movies don't really give much scope into the characters' true powers.


Gandalf was a Maiar spirit, given flesh, and sent to Middle Earth by the Valar to guide and instruct the free peoples of Middle Earth in their struggles against Sauron. As such he would have had extensive magical power at his disposal, but he was forbidden by the Valar from openly using it, or for that matter becoming a “power” himself. In this, Saruman, who was under the same instructions, failed. The times we do see Gandalf using his power, other than making fireworks etc, is when he is trying to counter the powers of evil…. The Balrog, and the Nazgul.

In the case of the Nazgul, their power is primarily fear. They do not need to physically fight or cast death balls etc, for the mere sight of them, or the sound of their voice is sufficient to make most men fall to the ground in fear. At the height of their power this effect was so strong it was given the name, Black Breath, and could result in despair, unconsciousness and even death. The Witchking was said to be a sorcerer of great power, but again we do not see him casting many fireballs or other such spells. This, however, is consistent with most of Tolkien’s writings in which magic appears to be more subtle than pyrotechnic displays. Good magic appears to be more concerned with healing and raising moral etc, while evil magic appears to concentrate itself into darkening men’s hearts etc.

I hope this has been of some help. Keep asking them Smile Smilie

Whoops.... Vee appears to have answered this one in the time I was composing my own answer.... At least we seem to be giving more or less the same information.
Also, in the movie it wasn't the Nazgűl physically doing the dropping of people to their deaths: they were goading their horrific mounts to do the grabbing and dropping and strafing. The Nazgűl were just the puppet masters pulling strings, or reins of terror, causing their mounts to do these dastardly deeds. I think this was inline with the book: PJ just added more filler. IMHO
Hmmm. I wonder.

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Gandalf was a Maiar spirit, given flesh, and sent to Middle Earth by the Valar to guide and instruct the free peoples of Middle Earth in their struggles against Sauron. As such he would have had extensive magical power at his disposal, but he was forbidden by the Valar from openly using it, or for that matter becoming a “power” himself. In this, Saruman, who was under the same instructions, failed. The times we do see Gandalf using his power, other than making fireworks etc, is when he is trying to counter the powers of evil…. The Balrog, and the Nazgul.


And also at this..

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In the case of the Nazgul, their power is primarily fear. They do not need to physically fight or cast death balls etc, for the mere sight of them, or the sound of their voice is sufficient to make most men fall to the ground in fear.


So, this means, (let's keep aside the Witch King) that at any given time, Galdalf was more powerful than the 8 of the Nazgul. So, when Gandalf carried Pippin to Minas Tirith, before starting the journey, I remember him saying, "Three days, as the Nazgul flies and you better hope we don't have one of those on our backs." Why would this be. That was of course the answer when Pippin asked him how long Minas Tirith was. Technically speaking (well, I'm an Electronics Engineer!!!) Gandalf should have no problems with the Nazgul at all. What about that???

Now, I remember reading somewhere in the forums about the two parallel worlds that exist in middle earth, I mean the real world and the wraith world ( I don't exactly remember their exact names). I read that the Nazgul were only images of their true selves when it came to the real world. But Gandalf was flesh and blood in the real world also. Now, I also remember someone say that the Nazgul were only the shadow of the power they might become, if Sauron had the ring.

From this, I have another question. What possible powers would they be???

From what Val said, (Or I think it was Val. Please pardon me if I'm wrong!!) I remember about The Hobbit and the incident involving the Dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf on the trees surrounded by wolves or wargs whatever. I think it was there that Gandalf managed to burn them. Are those the fireballs referred to???

Again, speaking of Gandalf, what powers did he have in actual war? Same question goes for the Witch-King. Now, if they were to dual at the gate, how would that battle be? I mean, in what way would they fight each other. I don't think they would've used their swords. Well, maybe this could be a saperate thread. Anyways.

As far as I can remember, in the 3 movies, (movies and not books. Let's not mix em up, but I think it wouldn't be totally wrong to use the book for references. Well, after all, I read the books because I had so many questions from watching the movies that were unanswered.), the incidents which actually showed the powers of the two Wizards, were at the Caradrhas, then against the Balrog. We never saw Saruman doing his bit, in the movies, against the Ents. Then after that, I don't really see any incidents where such powers might actually be shown. And I still have my doubts, why Gandalf would have to fight like ordinary humans in war.

Speaking of magic, I think JRRT shows us just why the books are so great. I think his sense of magic is much practical. I mean, for instance, Gandalf claiming, I think in The Hobbit, that he can only manupulate fire. He cannot create it. I think it's quite sensible as compared to J.K. Rowling. I mean, come on, I can't imagine people creating actual physical things, for example, ropes out of their wands. Maybe, that's why, Harry Potter is for the kids. Anyways, that would be a different thread as well.

Anyways, coming back to the LOTR. Speaking of Gandalf's powers, what exactly was the use of his staff?

I'm sorry, but I still find myself thinking about the Nazgul's powers. Going back to the first movie or maybe even the book. When Frodo was being taken to Rivendel from Weathertop, the elf that met them on the way (What was his name? I can't spell it, sorry !!), should've been more powerful than the 8. (Maybe, because the Nazgul apparently didn't scare the elves to death, PJ chose Arwen to appear there to carry Frodo. Surely, I woulnd't have risked her life otherwise, Aragorn or even Elrond would have killed me !!!) Anyways, speaking of that, I think the Nazgul except maybe the Lord, could have been finished there itself by the power of the Elves. Why was it not so?

Am I asking too many questions? Well, please forgive me, but I DO have a habit of asking too many questions.

And by the way, I thought my post stupid really, and some of the questions I've posted right now might seem stupid too. But anyways, I'm not afraid to ask question, even if they're stupid, because, I ask them to clear my own doubts.

I hope I'll get as fantastic answers to this post as I got to the original thread. Umm, but if I still have doubts after, well and if, someone answers these questions, I WILL ask more questions. Sorry and thank you.
You ask some interesting questions........ I am learning as I look for answers myself. I only have time at the moment to address one of your questions but no doubt someone else will help out and add what I hope will be an interesting discussion.

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So, this means, (let's keep aside the Witch King) that at any given time, Galdalf was more powerful than the 8 of the Nazgul. So, when Gandalf carried Pippin to Minas Tirith, before starting the journey, I remember him saying, "Three days, as the Nazgul flies and you better hope we don't have one of those on our backs." Why would this be. That was of course the answer when Pippin asked him how long Minas Tirith was. Technically speaking (well, I'm an Electronics Engineer!!!) Gandalf should have no problems with the Nazgul at all. What about that???


Gandalf was originally a Maia but was sent to Middle-earth in the form of a man. He had, in his possession, The Ring of Fire (Narya) given to him by Cirdan of the Havens for safekeeping which gave him power to rekindle hearts to the valour of old in a world that grows chill.

From The Silmarillion - Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age....

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In the likeness of men they appeared, old but vigorous, and they changed little with the years, but aged slowly, though great care lay on them; great wisdom they hand, and many powers of mind and hand.


I think somehere it is also indicated that the Istari (wizards) did not remember fully their time in Aman. So they did not have the full powers that a Maia would have. When Gandalf was returned after falling in Moria, he had more power probably because it was needed. Also the Istari were not able to speak openly about who or what they were and their reasons for being there. They were taken on trust by the people of Middle-earth and some, like Denethor, did not appreciate them.

I think Balrogs are also Maiar spirits but gone bad so I think their strength was equal to Gandalf's at that time.

There is a lot more to add to this..... and answers to your other questions.

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Am I asking too many questions? Well, please forgive me, but I DO have a habit of asking too many questions.

And by the way, I thought my post stupid really, and some of the questions I've posted right now might seem stupid too. But anyways, I'm not afraid to ask question, even if they're stupid, because, I ask them to clear my own doubts.

I hope I'll get as fantastic answers to this post as I got to the original thread. Umm, but if I still have doubts after, well and if, someone answers these questions, I WILL ask more questions. Sorry and thank you.


You cannot ask too many questions. This website thrives on questions! Keep asking. They are not stupid! Please keep asking.
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Three days, as the Nazgul flies and you better hope we don't have one of those on our backs
This is just a way of saying: Three days as the bird flies, or three days if you travel in a straight line from A to B. The Nazguls had at that time gotten their flying beasts to ride on. Of course flying is quicker than riding, and if a Nazgul had been on their back (following them), well that wouldn't be fun for them, would it? Wink Smilie

A maia in human form, it limits his powers and we alredy know that Gandalf can die. One Gandalf against nine wraights on huge flying beasts.. well how do you kill a spirit? The only way is to get rid of Sauron since it is he and the Ring that keeps them alive. A balrog also has a body or shape that can die.

Of all the istari/wizards, Gandalf is the one who loves Erus children the most. He is sendt there to help and guide them, if he dies (again) then he has failed. And what would the others do without him? He is powerful, but he isn't a abracadabra wizard who can command the the earth to open up and things like that. His magic is to kindle the fire within people and encourage them to do the right things without them knowing it is him. The battle wasn't faught with the hope to win, but in the hope of distracting Sauron long enough for Frodo and Sam to go unnoticed and be able to destroy the Ring. A fools hope as Gandalf puts it, but still a hope.
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This is just a way of saying: Three days as the bird flies, or three days if you travel in a straight line from A to B. The Nazguls had at that time gotten their flying beasts to ride on. Of course flying is quicker than riding, and if a Nazgul had been on their back (following them), well that wouldn't be fun for them, would it?


Hey, I knew that too. I was just using the words used in the movie. Anyways, thanks for the reply again.

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well how do you kill a spirit?


You hit the nail on it's head you know. That would have been my next question. So, then, how do you exactly kill a Nazgul? Well, I read the thread on who exactly killed the Witch-King. I found it interesting. The thing is, if the Nazgul were spirits, why should blade peirce them and hurt them as it did when Merry struck. Maybe, it was because the blade was from Barrow-Downs, which was able to break the curse. But, then again, I have another question arising from this "spirit" thing.

When the ring was destroyed and when Sauron fell with it, what exactly caused the Nazgul to, umm, should I say, die? And when Sauron was defeated by Isildur, what happened to the wraiths. Well, since I've read nothing about the History of LOTR or the ME, I do not know when exactly they became the wraiths from men. Before Sauron returned to Barad-Dur, where were the wraiths? Were they always in Minas Morgul? Even when Sauron existed as the Nacromancer in Dol Guldur?

Now, a basic question. As I've said already, I don't know about the history of these things. I read some of the information given on lotrlibrary.com. But I still don't understand what a maia is. Can anybody explain to me??

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There is a lot more to add to this..... and answers to your other questions.


Hey, I appreciate it. But, I'd love it even more if someone does come up with all these answers, you know. Anyways, thank you again.
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But I still don't understand what a maia is. Can anybody explain to me??


Whe Eru created Middle earth, he sent powerful spirits (who took physical form) into the world to give order to it and keep the evil of Morgoth at bay. These were known as the Valar. Also sent at the time of creation were the Maiar, who were similar to the Valar, though less in power. They were more likely to assist the Valar. Both the wizards and Sauron were Maiar spirits in physical form.

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When the ring was destroyed and when Sauron fell with it, what exactly caused the Nazgul to, umm, should I say, die? And when Sauron was defeated by Isildur, what happened to the wraiths. Well, since I've read nothing about the History of LOTR or the ME, I do not know when exactly they became the wraiths from men. Before Sauron returned to Barad-Dur, where were the wraiths? Were they always in Minas Morgul? Even when Sauron existed as the Nacromancer in Dol Guldur?


The Nazgul were deathless servants of Sauron's ring. When Sauron was defeated by Isildur, his spirit fled and did not return to middle earth again until the third age. In the meantime, the Nazgul remained in waiting until Sauron was ready to make thier presence known with the founding of Angmar. So to answer your question, I don't think the Nazgul were in Minas Morgul until Sauron returned to Barad-dur, I think they were somewhere in the shadow world until the founding of Angmar.

When the ring was destroyed once and for all, I would assume that because their spirits were bound to the ring that its destruction was in turn their destruction.
People!! I have some more questions in the waiting. But, I'd really like it if someone can answer all the ones that i've asked so far.
I'm just dying to jump in and answer some, but I'm all out of time at the moment. Must find more time.... I'll be back in the next few days hopefully.