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Thread: Where are the missing wizards?

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Bonnie began this thread with the following post.

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I first read the Trilogy in 1967; there hasn't been a year since when I haven't re-read it at least once. So you might say I know this work. Given the amount of backstory and plot tie-ins, it's astonishing to me that Tolkien seems to almost never slip up in his details. But one anomaly has always puzzled me. In The Two Towers, during his confrontation with Theoden, Gandalf et al., Saruman refers to the rods of the Five Wizards. Saruman, Gandalf,and Radagast total three -- what ever happened to the other two? Gandalf himself hints at a greater number than three when he refers to Saruman as "the Chief of my order." The appendix doesn't say much about any of them except that Gandalf was sent to Middle Earth to rally the troops, as it were. It's not clear what Saruman's mandate was, and Radagast seems to have been sent mostly to commune with nature. Does anyone know, or care to conjecture, why the details on the Istari are so maddeningly incomplete?


Rednell replied

Welcome Bonnie,
I hope you enjoy your visits to Planet-Tolkien If you can make it Sunday, 4pm ET or 9pm UK time, you would love to have you join our Tolkien discussions in Bilbos-Study.

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Rednell gave an excellant lesson about them in Bilbo's-Study last week.

Well, we really didn't cover much about the blue wizards, but the discussion we did have was very interesting. Wink Smilie

The Istari are dealt with in Unfinished Tales. Where you can learn of the Blue Wizards Allatar and Pallandoi, who went into the east, and that's really about all we know of them.
Hi Bonnie, by the way. I think we have a topic on teh Blue Wizards somewhere, but I wouldn't swear to it.
Hi Bonnie, welcome to Planet Tolkien.

There are five Istari named by Tolkien, although nowhere does he limit that number to just five. There might be more.

The Istari were Maiar spirits chosen by the Valar to go into middle earth in the guises of old men to help the Free Peoples combat Sauron. Their mandate, however, was that they could not use their power to combat Sauron, nor could they rule the Free People. They were there essentially to guide and assist.

The first Maiar to volunteer was Curumo, who was chosen by Aule. He took the name Saruman.

The second to come forward was Alatar, chosen by Orome. He was one of the Blue wizards who went into the East.

Yavanna, wife of Aule, then begged Curumo to take Aiwendil as a companion for she feared the lesser creatures would be overlooked. Begrudgingly Curumo took Aiwendil with him, and he entered Middle Earth as Radagast the Brown. The fact that Radagast had effectively been placed upon him always upset Saruman, however, and he always held Radagast in scorn because of this.

It suggests that Alatar took with him Pallando, the other blue wizard, as a friend. Pallando in some places is said to be another servant of Orome, where in others it suggests he was a servant of Mandos and Nienna.

Manwe then asked where Olorin was for he wished him to go too. Olorin at first did not wish to take upon the task because he was afraid of Sauron and felt he was not strong enough for the task. Manwe then commanded him to go as the Third wizard, but Varda looked up and said, "but not as the third."(meaning although he was the third to be chosen, he was not the third in the Order) Olorin arrived in Middle Earth as Gandalf, and did not take a companion. As Olorin he had been chosen by Manwe and Varda but had spent a lot of time with Irmo the Dreamer.

From the dialogue you get the impression there were three main wizards, Saruman, Alatar and Gandalf, and two lesser wizard companions, Radagast and Pallando.

Hopefully this is of some interest to you, Bonnie. Like Plastic says, there is a section dedicated to them in UT. In addition, Rednell gave an excellant lesson about them in Bilbo's-Study last week. The transcript from the discussion is posted on this board in, Misc>Tolkien Weekly Courses> The Istari.
I'm sorry to bother, but there is something I don't understand about the Blue Wizards, why did they go to the East when they were sent to Middle Earth to help men in there fight against Sauron, what good could they do in the East?
There is much more to Middle Earth than the part where LotR is concentrated, Namo. Nothing much is said about the lands south of Harad or the lands to the East of Rhun and Mordor. It did stretch a conciderable direction in both of these directions though, and these lands were populated by Men.

Gondor was attacked in TA 1851 by an Easterling wainrider army, and Sauron had Easterlings in his army, so there was a threat from the Easterlings. Sending two wizards into the east was possibly seen as a prudent move at the time, if only to keep the West informed of what was happening over there.
I would really like a new lesson on the Blue Wizards!!! Very Sad Smilie
Just my own two cents...alternative names for the Blue Wizards are Morieanhtar and Rommeostamo (forgive horrible spelling). Translation East-Helper and Darkness Slayer. Having been Maia under Orome, a Vala who had the most knowledge of the lands far east, It's clear that the Ithryn Luin were chosen for this task. To conjure up discord and inner fighting amongst the Easterling tribes. I remember reading this is a UT footnote. There fates are not mentioned, but it is said they "may" have succeeded a "little." Had they not caused a little inner pandemonium amongst the tribes, the hosts of Haradrim and Easterlings in the War of the Ring would have been way too overwhelming when they swelled Sauron's ranks. It's also said they may have gotten a little power hungry and may have started there own "cults" with the new found followers they managed to convert.
Wow...where did you find out about this stuff?
Unfinished Tales, under "Istari". Somewhere in the footnotes. really small print. There is also a passage from HOME, can't remember the volume, that hints that the Ithryn Luin had a run in with Herumor, the Black Numenorean that later became a king of the Haradrim. Smoke Smilie
Well..I read unfinished tales...but I didn't know about their task in the east...all I know was that they went to the east together waith Saruman. Whatever happened to them? I figured they "died" if Maiar could die...or Saruman just absorbed their powers or something like it... Big Smile Smilie
Mad...Those questions you bring up have already been addressed on this thread. If you haven't already you should give the Essay on the Istari another read. Or just read Valed's post as it's pretty much the whole chapter summarized. lol.
Well, it seems that the answers that Valedhelgwath gave was not exactly what I was looking for and there were mainly his speculation if you don't mind me saying and I don't remember reading it anywhere. And I did read the posts and the Istari under Unfinished Tales, Komosot... Sad Smilie

[Edited on 21/2/2003 by MadWannabe]
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and there were mainly his speculation if you don't mind me saying and I don't remember reading it anywhere.
Sorry MadWannabe, which bits. The information in my first post was lifted almost entirely from the chapter about the Istari in UT.

Unfortunately there seems to be very little written about how they fared once they got into the East.

[Edited on 21/2/2003 by Valedhelgwath]
My opinion on this is that Alatar and Pallando tried to raise the people of Harad to fight alongside Gondor and the free people of M-E but they failed and perhaps were killed and came back to Valinor.....I believe that only Gandalf and they kept true to their missions but that Gandalf was the only one to succede Smoke Smilie

Wouldn´t you think so?
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. As Olorin he had been chosen by Manwe and Varda but had spent a lot of time with Irmo the Dreamer

You mean that Olórin was a maia of Irmo and not Manwë Valedhelgwath?
I always thought that he was a maia of Manwë but learned alot from Irmo....hence the name Olórin= "dreams"(can not be explained in english because we don´t have the same opinion as the elves)
So that means my answer in your quiz was right Aulë..?
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. As Olorin he had been chosen by Manwe and Varda but had spent a lot of time with Irmo the Dreamer
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You mean that Olórin was a maia of Irmo and not Manwë Valedhelgwath?
I always thought that he was a maia of Manwë but learned alot from Irmo....hence the name Olórin
That's not actually what I was imlying at all, Aule. I was just repeating a passage from UT. Manwe chose Olorin as one of the Istari, but it says he had spent a lot of time with Irmo.

Tolkien wrote and rewrote many of his passages, and many things he wrote, he changed over time. At one point he drew out a table in which he seemed to link certain Valar with each of the Istari. In these it clearly says Olorin to Manwe and Varda, Curumo to Aule, Aiwendil to Yavanna, Alatar to Orome and Pallando to Orome (this later one had been changed within the table from Mandos and Nienna). At this time Tolkien seems to be implying that Olorin was a Maiar of Manwe and Varda.

In the Valaquenta, however it says...
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Wisest of the Maiar was Olorin. He too dwelt in Lorien, but his ways took him often to the house of Nienna, and of her he learned pity and patience.
An earlier version of this same passage actually refers to Olorin as being the "counsellor of Irmo".

It seems to me that Olorin travelled Valinor just as he did as Gandalf in Middle Earth. Maybe he did not have a master as such, but learned his wisdom from several sources. I don't think it says anywhere that the maiar had to be servants to any particular Valar.
Damn Val....You´re freaking insightful...I never thought about it like that! So you mean he was a maia who didn´t stay with one Vala like other maiar might have done....they might have chosen one Vala to serve but Olórin might not hav wished for that....that might be the reason why is counted as the wisest Istarí....
I cannot say for sure whether Olorin did or did not have a specific Valar whom he served, Aule, but he certainly seems to have spent a good bit of time learning from several of them. When you then look at how Gandalf was when he entered Middle Earth, he behaved in a similar manner, although now he was assuming the role of teacher and guide rather than student.

And UT goes further than naming him the wisest of the Istari. Olorin was said to be the wisest of the Maiar.

As a thought, his friendship with the eagles could point at him having close links with Manwe possibly, although their fortuitous appearence several times could just be down to the fact that Manwe sent the eagles to help the peoples of Middle Earth in general.
Komosot posted

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Just my own two cents...alternative names for the Blue Wizards are Morieanhtar and Rommeostamo (forgive horrible spelling). Translation East-Helper and Darkness Slayer. Having been Maia under Orome, a Vala who had the most knowledge of the lands far east, It's clear that the Ithryn Luin were chosen for this task. To conjure up discord and inner fighting amongst the Easterling tribes. I remember reading this is a UT footnote. There fates are not mentioned, but it is said they "may" have succeeded a "little." Had they not caused a little inner pandemonium amongst the tribes, the hosts of Haradrim and Easterlings in the War of the Ring would have been way too overwhelming when they swelled Sauron's ranks. It's also said they may have gotten a little power hungry and may have started there own "cults" with the new found followers they managed to convert.


I was flicking through HOME (as you do) and found a passage which reinforces the above.

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No names are recorded for the two wizards. They were never seen or known in lands west of Mordor. The wizards did not come at the same time. Possibly Saruman, Gandalf, Radagast did, but more likely Saruman the chief (and already over mindful of this) came first and alone. Probably Gandalf and Radagast came together, though this has not yet been said.... The other two are only known to (have) exist(ed) [sic] by Saruman, Gandalf and Radagast, and Saruman in his wrath mentioning five was letting out a piece of private information
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Another note:

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The 'other two' came much earlier, at the same time probably as Glorfindel, when matters became very dangerous in the Second Age. Glorfindel was sent to aid Elrond an was (though not yet said) pre-eminent in the war in Eriador. But the other two Istari were sent for a different purpose. Morinehtar and Romestamo. Darkness-slayer and East-helper. Their task was to circumvent Sauron: to bring help to the few tribes of Men that had rebelled from Melkor-worship, to stir up rebellion... and after his first fall to search out his hiding (in which they failed) and to cause [?dissention and disarray] among the dark East... who would both in the Second Age and Third Age otherwise have .... outnumbered the West.


And a note by Christopher Tolkien :

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... Conceivably he was thinking of the sketched-our narrative of the choosing of the Istari at a council of the Valar (UT) in which the Two Wizards (or the Blue Wizards, Ithryn Luin) were named Alatar and Pallando.


Even reading through again I get confused. The 5 Istaria we know of were the 'chiefs' of the Order and there may have been more wizards sent to ME. The blue wizards did have names but did they come before Saruman?

And apparently Saruman found out about the Ring that Cirdan gave to Gandalf. And he was not pleased about it and this was the beginning of his ill-will towards Gandalf.
The Blue Wizards came after Saruman :

from UT

"Of this Order the number is unknown; but of those that came to the North of Middle-earth, where there was most hope (because of the remnant of the Dunedain and of the Eldar that abode there), the chiefs was five. The first to come was one of noble mien and bearing, with raven hair, and a fair voice, and he was clad in white; great skill he had in works of hand, and he was regarded by well-nigh all, even by the Eldar, as the head of the Order. 1 Others there were also: two clad in sea-blue, and one in earthen brown; and the last came one who seemed the least, less tall than the others, and in looks more aged, grey-haired and grey-clad, and leaning on a staff. But Círdan from their first meeting at the Grey Havens divined in him reverence, and he gave to his keeping the Third Ring, Narya the Red."

I have very often wondered, especially after reading The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, what had happened to the missing Istari. I believe that two of them were sent into the east and/or the south of ME; the evidence stated by both Valedhelgwath and Virumor is quite conclusive in this respect. But I wonder if this is a possibility: Do you think perhaps Eru sent the others sporadically as he did with the five, and that they, too assumed human or even Elvish (maybe even plant or animal)forms to guide and protect throughout the ages of ME? Maybe the Blue Wizards named are more familiar than we think. Whoever brought up Glorfindel also hints at an interesting possibilty, though I'm not sure that was their intent: what if the mysterious figures like Glorfindel, Tom Bombadil, Goldberry and even some of the older heroes like Turin Turambar, etc. and so forth, were really just Istari(Maiar, though lesser) spirits in another package? Even the Ents, being somehow powerful in a manner relative to Radagast's, could have been lesser Maiar, sent for one purpose under an assumed identity-like a prophet? They themselves wouldn't even have necessarily known it. It's just a theory I have...but can we tell if it might hold some weight, judging by all literary evidence we have?
As far as i know, there were only 5 Istari sent to Middle-Earth, no more and no less, and only in the First Age. And Eru didn't send them, the Valar did.

I doubt whether Turin or any other human hero who appeared in the first age was a Maia. Turin was born out of a mortal woman like any human before and after him, and i doubt whether a mortal woman can give birth to Maiar...

Furthermore, in the first age Valinor was sealed off from Beleriand and no one was allowed by the Valar to help the Noldor, let alone go to Beleriand to give assistance. The only Ainu who was helping was Ulmo, and to a lesser extent : Melian.

Anyway, any accomplishments of human heroes in the First Age shouldn't be explained away by attributing their heroism due to the fact that they're Maiar, as such powerful spirits indeed have the power to do the extraordinary deeds those heroes did. I think that takes away the greatness of those deeds. It were mortals who did it, and mortals alone.

I've always stated that Goldberry was a Maia, but i doubt whether she was sent to Middle-Earth to fight against Sauron; it seems that she only came to Middle-Earth out of her free will and to live with Tom Bombadil.

Tom Bombadil is an Ainu imo, but as he himself stated that he was in Arda even before Melkor entered the confines of Arda, he must've been sent by Eru, IF he was sent. He doesn't seem to fight against Sauron or help fighting against Sauron or any malign force himself - he's as neutral as Switzerland.

As far as i know, Ents are Maiar, sent by Eru as shepherds of the Trees, on Yavanna's bidding. I don't think they had any other task, safe protecting the trees, as is mentioned in the Sil.

Anyway, i disagree with your theory, because if JRRT had intended this, he would've written about it. He only wrote about the Istari being Maiar in human form, and Melian who took an Elvish body. The Glorfindel of LOTR and the Glorfindel of the Sil is just an oversight by JRRT, who accidentally used the same name twice, but was later explained away by him in his short story "Return of the Elvenking".
Not to bring religion into this, but were not the major prophets of the major religions born of a mortal woman, making their existence even more incredible, i.e. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, etc.? I do agree that for a human alone to have accomplished those feats is quite a bit more heroic than a Maia to flex their varitable muscle, but if Tolkien didn't really clearly write out this idea in truth, couldn't it have possibly been an oversight, like many others he unintentionally made(such as the final whereabouts of Radagast)? Not even the greatest author Of All Time could go entirely without mistakes and oversights. I don't expect to be correct in my assumptions, I am merely presenting an idea, for I get the strong feeling when reading UT or the Sil that there was more going on with certain key characters than what Tolkien left notes on. But this is only an impression.
You already brought religion/mythology into this. I don't accept that those "prophets" you were referring to were in any ways godlike, no matter what other ppl wrote about them.

Your idea is worth considering, but i don't really accept it. To me, there is nothing that points in the direction of JRRT ever considering his major heroes being Maiar in disguise.
I think JRRT would not have given any maiar heroes the background that they had. It was clear that Gandalf and Saruman were mysterious - we were meant to know that they were. not human/elvish. So I agree with Virumor on that one.

However........... it is said somewhere that the 5 named Istari were the 'chiefs of their order'. Which indicates there were others of a lesser level possible sent to ME, maybe to other parts but they are not mentioned other than that.

From UT - The Istari

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Of this Order the number is unknown; but of those that came to the North of Middle-earth, where thre was most hope (because of the remnant of the Dunedain and of the Eldar that abode there), the chiefs were five.
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However........... it is said somewhere that the 5 named Istari were the 'chiefs of their order'. Which indicates there were others of a lesser level possible sent to ME, maybe to other parts but they are not mentioned other than that.

But the Istari were only sent around the year 1000 of the Third Age. When it comes to the First Age, there was only one benevolent Maia in Beleriand, being Melian. As the Noldor were banished by the Valar and completely sealed off from Aman, the Valar would never sent a Maia to Beleriand to help the Noldor, as those were punished. So the idea of human heroes like Turin, Hurin, Beren, etc. being Maiar in human disguise in the first age is highly doubtful, imo.

But it is perhaps not unlikely that Faramir is a Maia in disguise....
After some careful consideration, I have drawn the conclusion that it may not have been very possible in the first age for any of those human heroes to be Maiar, Virumor, but it is a possibility that in later ages Maias were sent to assist the peoples of ME. Your theory on Faramir is quite interesting.

Vee, I am with you on this one: more than a few times, in the UT and some of Tolkien's letters, was it vaguely mentioned that the exact number of the Istari was unknown, in his own words. I am wondering, Virumor, why you believe that the arrival of the five was a simultaneous event and had an exact date, just out of curiousity. For I believe that somewhere in UT it is told that they were sent at different intervals, but I could be wrong.
What Alatar and Pallando in the east can be found in The letters of Tolkien 211;
really do not know anything clearly about the other two. I think they went as emissaries to distant regions, East and South, far out of Númenorian range. What success they had I do not know ; but I fear that they failed, as Saruman did, though doubtless in different ways; and I suspect they were founders of or beginners of secret cults and "magic" traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron.
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I am wondering, Virumor, why you believe that the arrival of the five was a simultaneous event and had an exact date, just out of curiousity. For I believe that somewhere in UT it is told that they were sent at different intervals, but I could be wrong.

Don't put words into my mouth, i didn't say their arrival was simultaneous : i said they all arrived around the year 1000 of the Third Age. They all came after thousand years had passed in the Third Age, but of course not on the same moment, as Saruman came as first and Gandalf came as last.

The moment of the arrival of the Wizards is mentioned in the Appendices of LOTR (Appendix B - Third Age) : that's primarily the reason i mentioned it. I never give erroneous information when it comes to LOTR.

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but it is a possibility that in later ages Maias were sent to assist the peoples of ME. Your theory on Faramir is quite interesting.

It is a fact : the Istari were Maiar. I think the Istari were the only Maiar who were sent to help the free ppls of Middle-Earth against Sauron.

But it is perhaps not unlikely that Faramir is a Maia in disguise....

I think it highly unlikely. As I said before the 'heroes' all had family, ancestors, lineage, history.... whereas the Istari didn't. They just appeared. If Faramir was intended to be a maia there would have been no mention of his mother or birth. He would have appeared. And if he were intended to be a member of the Istari then he would have been an old man in appearance, as were they all.

Virumor - you have ignored my quote from UT indicating that there may have been more than the 5 named Istari. Of course, the Istari having assumed the bodies of Men were also vulnerable to the same corruptions. It is more than likely that any lesser Istari sent failed and disappeared.
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But it is perhaps not unlikely that Faramir is a Maia in disguise....

That was irony by my hand. I knew you were going to reply to protect your idol. Wink Smilie

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Virumor - you have ignored my quote from UT indicating that there may have been more than the 5 named Istari. Of course, the Istari having assumed the bodies of Men were also vulnerable to the same corruptions. It is more than likely that any lesser Istari sent failed and disappeared.

There may have been more than 5 sent indeed. But those are unknown and irrelevant to what happened in the north-western part of Endor, where the story of LOTR took place. That's what i didn't care.
Good. Glad you agreed because this thread isn't limited to LotR and others may be interested even you aren't.
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But it is perhaps not unlikely that Faramir is a Maia in disguise....


Hold on to that thought V! Yum Smile Smilie
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I'm sorry to bother, but there is something I don't understand about the Blue Wizards, why did they go to the East when they were sent to Middle Earth to help men in there fight against Sauron, what good could they do in the East?


Middle Earth isn't just Gondor and all that. There's loads more to it. It's REALLY BIIIIG!!!!! Bigger than NZ, anyway.
Virumor, I completely understand that the Istari were in fact Maias of course, I meant besides the Istari that we know of. Sorry for the mix up. And I do not imply that you have given out "erroneous information", I merely had gotten the impression that you had named the Five's arrival at a single time. My mistake. In reality, I hold the opinion that you are one of the most learned lore-masters here at PT and do not doubt your information. I, like a scientist and a lawyer, like to explore all possibilities and present all sides, regardless of whether or not I myself believe in the case I am presenting. No harm meant! Smile Smilie
Me thinks Virumor was pulling our leg with his Faramir = Maia conjecture. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie

Tolkien's Letter 211, which I just arrived at in my nightly reading last night and was bringing here today, but now see Rhapsody beat me to the punch, does speak of the two Istari, though in 1958 when it was written, he hadn't yet colors or names for them. That info was later provided in the UT.
What was the fate of the failed wizards. Like Saruman...When he died did he go back to Valinor or the Halls of Mandos. my memory on all of that is sketchy, but where did evil Maiar go?
No, Saruman went to Zihuatanejo to see his old friend Gríma Dufresne again.
Seriously, Saruman's spirit was dissipated to the three winds, probably never to be seen anywhere again, for my interpretation of the following from 'The Scouring of the Shire', the penultimate chapter of The Lord of the Rings, is that he was utterly rejected by Valinor and only Eru might ever put Humpty Dumpty together again.
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...about the body of Saruman a gray mist gathered, and rising slowly to a great height like smoke from a fire, as a pale shrouded figure it loomed over the Hill. For a moment it wavered, looking to the West; but out of the West came a cold wind, and it bent away, and with a sigh dissolved into nothing.
Wiggle Smilie

It is said that they journeyed to the East , their names were Alatar and Pallando  they were both of blue , being called the blue wizards The Valar sent them. Originally  Alatar was to be  sent , although Pallando was not originally intended to go he did , as Alatar's helper of some sort . It is unknown wether they succumbed to Sauron or they were tempted by the riches of middle-earth and used there power for personal gain , or they may have even died( in their human bodies) and were not sent back, it is altogether something of an anomaly.