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Eagles

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The '''Eagles''' were immense flying birds that who were sentient and capable of speech, and often helped [[Men]], [[Elves]] and [[Wizards]] in the quests to defeat evil. They were "devised" by [[Manwë]] Súlimo, leader of the [[Valar]], and were often called the '''Eagles of Manwë'''.  
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The '''Eagles''' were birds that served as messengers of [[Manwë]]. Among those were the '''Great Eagles''', immense birds who were sentient and capable of speech, and often helped [[Men]], [[Elves]] and [[Wizards]] in the quests to defeat evil. They were "devised" by [[Manwë]] Súlimo, King of the [[Valar]], and were often called the '''Eagles of Manwë'''.  
  
 
They were sent from [[Valinor]] to [[Middle-earth]] to keep an eye on the exiled [[Noldor|Ñoldor]], and on their foe the evil Vala [[Morgoth]].  
 
They were sent from [[Valinor]] to [[Middle-earth]] to keep an eye on the exiled [[Noldor|Ñoldor]], and on their foe the evil Vala [[Morgoth]].  
  
 
==History==
 
==History==
The Eagles were messengers of [[Manwë]], the ruler of the sky and Lord of the [[Valar]], being perhaps "spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles" that brought news from [[Middle-earth]] to his halls upon [[Taniquetil]]<ref>{{S|Days}}</ref>  
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The Great Eagles were messengers of [[Manwë]], the ruler of the sky and Lord of the [[Valar]], being perhaps "spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles" that brought news from [[Middle-earth]] to his halls upon [[Taniquetil]].<ref>{{S|Days}}</ref>  
 +
 
 
===First Age===
 
===First Age===
[[Image:Ted Nasmith - Beren and Lúthien are Flown to Safety.jpg|thumb|Thorontor flies [[Beren|Beren Erchamion]] and [[Lúthien|Lúthien Tinúviel]] over [[Gondolin]].]]
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[[Image:Ted Nasmith - Beren and Lúthien are Flown to Safety.jpg|thumb|[[Ted Nasmith]] - ''Beren and Lúthien are Flown to Safety'']]
At a command of [[Manwë]], for a time the Lord of the Eagles, [[Thorondor]], kept his eyries at the top of [[Thangorodrim]], the volcano above [[Angband]] itself<ref>{{S|Noldor}}</ref><ref>{{S|Fingolfin}}</ref>. While they lived there, Thorondor helped [[Fingon]] rescue [[Maedhros]]. Thorondor's folk later removed their eyries to the [[Crissaegrim]], part of the [[Echoriad]] about [[Gondolin]]. There they were friends of [[Turgon]], keeping spies off the mountains, bringing him news and keeping spies off the borders. Because of their guardianship, the [[Orcs]] were unable to approach either the nearby mountains,<ref name="Silm-TFG">{{S|Gondolin}}</ref> or the important ford of [[Brithiach]] to the south;<ref name="Tuor">{{UT|Tuor}}</ref> their watch had been redoubled after the coming of [[Tuor]],<ref>{{S|Doriath}}</ref> enabling Gondolin to remain undiscovered the longest of all Elven realms. When the city [[fall of Gondolin|fell]] at last, the eagles of Thorondor protected the fugitives, driving away the orcs that ambushed them at [[Cirith Thoronath]], the Eagles' Cleft north of Gondolin.<ref name="Silm-TFG"/>
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At a command of [[Manwë]], for a time the Lord of the Eagles, [[Thorondor]] kept his eyries at the top of [[Thangorodrim]], the volcano above [[Angband]] itself<ref>{{S|Noldor}}</ref><ref>{{S|Fingolfin}}</ref>. While they lived there, Thorondor helped [[Fingon]] rescue [[Maedhros]]. Thorondor's folk later removed their eyries to the [[Crissaegrim]], part of the [[Echoriad]] about [[Gondolin]]. There they were friends of [[Turgon]], keeping spies off the mountains, bringing him news and keeping spies off the borders. Because of their guardianship, the [[Orcs]] were unable to approach either the nearby mountains,<ref name="Silm-TFG">{{S|Gondolin}}</ref> or the important ford of [[Brithiach]] to the south;<ref name="Tuor">{{UT|Tuor}}</ref> their watch had been redoubled after the coming of [[Tuor]],<ref>{{S|Doriath}}</ref> enabling Gondolin to remain undiscovered the longest of all Elven realms. When the city [[fall of Gondolin|fell]] at last, the eagles of Thorondor protected the fugitives, driving away the orcs that ambushed them at [[Cirith Thoronath]], the Eagles' Cleft north of Gondolin.<ref name="Silm-TFG"/>
  
Thorondor wounded Morgoth in the face after Morgoth's battle with [[Fingolfin]], and he carried Fingolfin's corpse to the Echoriath, where he was buried by Fingon.
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Thorondor wounded Morgoth in the face after Morgoth's battle with [[Fingolfin]], and he carried Fingolfin's body to the Echoriath, where he was buried by Fingon.
  
 
The Eagles fought alongside the army of the Valar, [[Elves]] and Edain during the [[War of Wrath]] at the end of the [[First Age]]. After the appearance of winged [[dragons]], all the great birds gathered under Thorondor to [[Eärendil]], and destroyed the majority of the dragons.<ref>{{S|Earendil}}</ref>
 
The Eagles fought alongside the army of the Valar, [[Elves]] and Edain during the [[War of Wrath]] at the end of the [[First Age]]. After the appearance of winged [[dragons]], all the great birds gathered under Thorondor to [[Eärendil]], and destroyed the majority of the dragons.<ref>{{S|Earendil}}</ref>
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===Númenor===
 
===Númenor===
 
In the [[Second Age]], a pair of Eagles had an eyrie in the King's House in [[Armenelos]], the capital of Númenor until the time of [[Tar-Ancalimon]], when the [[Kings of Númenor]] became hostile to the Valar.  
 
In the [[Second Age]], a pair of Eagles had an eyrie in the King's House in [[Armenelos]], the capital of Númenor until the time of [[Tar-Ancalimon]], when the [[Kings of Númenor]] became hostile to the Valar.  
  
The [[Númenóreans]] believed that three eagles, "the Witnesses of Manwë", were sent by Manwe to guard the summit of [[Meneltarma]]; these appeared whenever one approached the hallow and staying in the sky during the [[Three Prayers]].
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The [[Númenóreans]] believed that three eagles, "the Witnesses of Manwë", were sent by Manwë to guard the summit of [[Meneltarma]]; these appeared whenever one approached the hallow and staying in the sky during the [[Three Prayers]].
  
 
Many eagles lived upon the hills around [[Sorontil]] in the north of the island.<ref>{{UT|Numenor}}</ref>
 
Many eagles lived upon the hills around [[Sorontil]] in the north of the island.<ref>{{UT|Numenor}}</ref>
[[File:The-eagles-of-Manwë.jpg|thumb|left|''The Eagles of Manwë'' by [[Ted Nasmith]].]]
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[[File:Ted Nasmith - The Eagles of Manwë.jpg|thumb|left|[[Ted Nasmith]] - ''The Eagles of Manwë'']]
 
Eagle-shaped storm clouds, called the "Eagles of the Lords of the West", were sent by Manwë when he tried to reason or threaten them.<ref>{{S|Akallabeth}}</ref>
 
Eagle-shaped storm clouds, called the "Eagles of the Lords of the West", were sent by Manwë when he tried to reason or threaten them.<ref>{{S|Akallabeth}}</ref>
  
 
===Third Age===
 
===Third Age===
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{{quote|- Farewell! wherever you fare, till your eyries receive you at the journey's end!<br>- May the wind under your wings bear you where the [[sun]] sails and the [[moon]] walks.|Polite way to exchange good-bye with an Eagle|[[Queer Lodgings]]}}
 
By the end of the [[Third Age]], a colony under the [[Great Eagle]] lived in the northern parts of the [[Misty Mountains]] who mostly nested upon the eastward slopes not far from the [[High Pass]] leading from [[Rivendell]], and thus in the direct vicinity of the [[Goblin-town]] beneath; they often afflicted the goblins and disrupted their plans.
 
By the end of the [[Third Age]], a colony under the [[Great Eagle]] lived in the northern parts of the [[Misty Mountains]] who mostly nested upon the eastward slopes not far from the [[High Pass]] leading from [[Rivendell]], and thus in the direct vicinity of the [[Goblin-town]] beneath; they often afflicted the goblins and disrupted their plans.
  
 
These Eagles helped the Elves of [[Rivendell]] and [[Radagast]] in watching the land and in gathering news about the Orcs.<ref>{{FR|Council}}</ref><ref>{{FR|South}}</ref>. As a result of feeding on the sheep of the local [[Woodmen]] of [[Mirkwood]], their relationship was not good and the Eagles were afraid of their bows.
 
These Eagles helped the Elves of [[Rivendell]] and [[Radagast]] in watching the land and in gathering news about the Orcs.<ref>{{FR|Council}}</ref><ref>{{FR|South}}</ref>. As a result of feeding on the sheep of the local [[Woodmen]] of [[Mirkwood]], their relationship was not good and the Eagles were afraid of their bows.
  
Those rescued [[Thorin II Oakenshield|Thorin]]'s company from a band of goblins and [[warg]]s and carried them to the [[Carrock]]<ref>{{H|Queer}}</ref> and some days later they espied the mustering of goblins all over the Mountains, to be gathered under the Great Eagle in the [[Battle of Five Armies]] near [[Erebor]]. It was only with their help that the Dwarves, Men and Elves managed to defeat the goblins.<ref>{{H|Return}}</ref> The Great Eagle became [[King of All Birds]].
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Those rescued [[Thorin|Thorin]]'s company from a band of [[Orocs|Goblins]] and [[Wargs]] and carried them to the [[Carrock]]<ref>{{H|Queer}}</ref> and some days later they espied the mustering of goblins all over the Mountains, to be gathered under the Great Eagle in the [[Battle of Five Armies]] near [[Lonely Mountain|Erebor]]. It was only with their help that the Dwarves, Men and Elves managed to defeat the goblins.<ref>{{H|Return}}</ref> The Great Eagle became [[King of All Birds]].
  
The Eagles appeared in great numbers at the [[Battle of the Morannon]], helping the [[Host of the West]] against the [[Nazgûl]]. Several of them rescued [[Frodo Baggins]] and [[Samwise Gamgee]] from [[Mount Doom]] after the [[One Ring]] had been destroyed.<ref>{{RK|Cormallen}}</ref>
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The Eagles appeared in great numbers at the [[Battle of the Morannon]], helping the [[Host of the West]] against the [[Nazgûl]]. Several of them rescued [[Frodo Baggins]] and [[Samwise Gamgee]] from [[Mount Doom]] after [[the One Ring]] had been destroyed.<ref>{{RK|Cormallen}}</ref>
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==Names==
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In [[Gnomish]], one of [[J.R.R. Tolkien|Tolkien]]'s early conceptions of an [[Elvish|Elven]] language, a word for "eagle" is ''ioroth'' (poetic form ''ior''). A cognate of the same meaning in [[Qenya]] is the poetic ''ea(r)'' or ''earen''. Another Gnomish word for "an eagle" is ''thorn''.<ref>{{PE|11}}, pp. 51, 73</ref>
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In the later languages, the [[Quenya]] word for eagle is ''soron'' and in [[Noldorin]]/[[Sindarin]] ''thoron/thorn''<ref>{{LR|Etymologies}}</ref>
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The ''Thornhoth'' was the name for the eagle-folk in the earliest legends.<ref name="Fall">{{LT2|III}}, p. 103</ref>
  
 
==Inspiration==
 
==Inspiration==
 
Tolkien's painting of an eagle on a crag appears in some editions of ''The Hobbit''.  According to [[Christopher Tolkien]], the author based this picture on a painting by Archibald Thorburn of an immature Golden Eagle, which Christopher found for him in ''The Birds of the British Isles'' by T.A. Coward. However, Tolkien's use of this model does not necessarily mean that his birds were ordinary Golden Eagles.   
 
Tolkien's painting of an eagle on a crag appears in some editions of ''The Hobbit''.  According to [[Christopher Tolkien]], the author based this picture on a painting by Archibald Thorburn of an immature Golden Eagle, which Christopher found for him in ''The Birds of the British Isles'' by T.A. Coward. However, Tolkien's use of this model does not necessarily mean that his birds were ordinary Golden Eagles.   
==Other versions==
 
For some time Tolkien considered the Eagles as bird-shaped Maiar<ref>{{MR|Annals}} p. 138</ref> as he felt it unlikely [[Ilúvatar]] would grant [[Fëa and hröa|feär]] to animals; this contradicted the notion of a "Maia" like Thorondor having descendants<ref name="MR409-11">{{MR|Myths}} p. 409-11</ref> and Tolkien decided that the Great Eagles were common animals that had been "taught language by the Valar, and raised to a higher level — but without ''[[fëar]]''."<ref name="MR409-11"/>
 
  
[[Roäc]] and the [[Thrush]] of ''The Hobbit'', must be Maiar or other spirits in animal form (and possibly even [[Beorn]], who sometimes takes the form of a bear).
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==Other versions of the legendarium==
 +
In the earliest version of the fall of Gondolin, the king of the eagles, Thorndor (later Thorondor), had no love for Melko (later Melkor) because he had caught many eagles and tortured them for the magic words that would enable him to fly (in order to challenge Manwë for command of the air).  When the eagles refused to reveal the magic words Melko cut off their wings in order to fashion a pair form himself, "but it availed not".<ref name="Fall"/>
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 +
For some time Tolkien considered the Eagles as bird-shaped [[Maiar]],<ref>{{MR|Annals}} p. 138</ref> as he felt it unlikely [[Ilúvatar]] would grant ''[[Fëa and hröa|fëar]]'' to animals. However, the notion of a "Maia" like Thorondor having descendants contradicted later concepts and Tolkien later decided that the Great Eagles (like [[Roäc]] and the [[Thrushes|Thrush]] of ''[[The Hobbit]]'') were common animals that had been "taught language by the Valar, and raised to a higher level — but without ''[[fëar]]''."<ref name="MR409-11">{{MR|Myths}} pp. 409-11</ref> In later texts, eagles were first envisioned by Manwë during the Music of the Ainur, and appeared shortly before the awakening of the Elves. Their origin is thus similar to that of ents.<ref>{{S|Aule}}</ref><ref>{{WJ|Ents}}</ref>
  
 
==Flying the Ring to Mount Doom==
 
==Flying the Ring to Mount Doom==
 
{{quote|The Eagles are a dangerous 'machine'. I have used them sparingly, and that is the absolute limit of their credibility or usefulness. |[[Letter 210]], [[J.R.R. Tolkien]]}}
 
{{quote|The Eagles are a dangerous 'machine'. I have used them sparingly, and that is the absolute limit of their credibility or usefulness. |[[Letter 210]], [[J.R.R. Tolkien]]}}
 
[[File:Steve Notley - Bob the Angry Flower's Lord of the Ringz.gif|thumb|Parody comic strip by Steve Notley which shows [http://angryflower.com Bob the Angry Flower] flying the Ring to Mordor on an Eagle.]]
 
[[File:Steve Notley - Bob the Angry Flower's Lord of the Ringz.gif|thumb|Parody comic strip by Steve Notley which shows [http://angryflower.com Bob the Angry Flower] flying the Ring to Mordor on an Eagle.]]
Many skeptical readers have wondered why the Eagles simply didn't carry Frodo and the [[One Ring]] into Mordor and drop the Ring in Mount Doom. At first glance this seems incredibly easy compared to the alternative (and it would have made a boring book).
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Many skeptical readers have wondered why the Eagles simply didn't carry Frodo and [[the One Ring]] into Mordor and drop the Ring in Mount Doom, or at least aid the Fellowship at some part of the journey, such as helping them avoiding the [[Redhorn Gate]] and [[Moria]].
  
Concerning [[Peter Jackson]]'s [[The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy|adaptation]] of ''The Lord of the Rings'', many cast and crewmembers have casually joked about how "the Eagles don't take the Ring to Mordor because that would have ended the story quickly!". Particularly, on the writer-director DVD commentary track, Peter Jackson and [[Fran Walsh]] repeat this statement and begin joking around about it; writing partner [[Philippa Boyens]] then bursts out and angrily declares "Why does everyone always say that?! The flying Nazgul on their Fell Beasts would have stopped them! How more obvious does that need to be?! Mordor has flying creatures too!" As a consequence, Jackson and Walsh fall silent, then quietly admit that her explanation entirely makes sense.
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At first glance this seems incredibly easy compared to what actually happened (and it would have made a boring book).
  
Several explanations have been given as internal story-wise reasons; some of them are:
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The party of Tolkienists that accepts this as a [[wikipedia:plot hole|plot hole]] usually respond that in any book there are usually plot holes. In a larger, far more detailed and realistic book we expect fewer (if any) plot holes, when in reality there is a far greater chance.
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===Considering the Eagles===
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Strangely, the possibility of using the Eagles has not been mentioned at all during the [[Council of Elrond]]. Although many flawed proposals are made during it (destroy the Ring, guard it, send it to the West, give it to [[Tom Bombadil]]), none of the participants thought to propose this seemingly obvious solution, especially after Gandalf described his escape with Gwaihir; even if the Eagle plan was to be countered or dismissed implausible later for some reason (like the ones above), it would be only logical to be mentioned.
  
*The Eagles coming from the air would have been fairly obvious and defensless to Sauron; the [[Fell beasts]] and/or archers would most likely have stopped the attempt. The Eagles expressed fear in ''[[The Hobbit]]'' about going into the Lands of Men because of their bows. However this danger perhaps could possibly have been countered with a parallel divertive battle plan, more or less like the [[Battle of Morannon]] begun to help Frodo (see External links for such a discussion).
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On the other hand, the Council was seen deciding the fate of the Ring, not the manner; this was left to the discretion of the Fellowship. Indeed, during its existence, the Fellowship had not even decided whether they should go directly to Mordor or to seek aid from Gondor, let alone the manner to do so, before decisively been [[Breaking of the Fellowship|broken]] at [[Amon Hen]]. If Gandalf ever considered requesting the help of the Eagles after some point (eg. after passing the Misty Mountains) it's not mentioned in the narrative.<ref>{{HM|FR}}, Book II</ref>
  
*The Eagles would most likely have become corrupted by the power of the Ring and would have most likely attempted to prevent the destruction of the Ring.  Gandalf already knew that ''anyone'' might and would refuse to throw in the Ring but the Eagles, as Maiar, could have been more dangerous.
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===Official explanation to the problem===
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It seems that nobody noticed this alleged plot-hole during Tolkien's lifetime, as there is no surviving letter where Tolkien is inquired so. It is unknown whether Tolkien ever was aware of the issue while writing the book or later.
  
*The Eagles would have refused to aid the Fellowship because they, being emissaries of the Valar like Gandalf, were not allowed to go on the offensive against evil. Flying the Ring to Mordor could have been the Fellowship's first priority but maybe they were unable to contact the Eagles in time.
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Tolkien's only relevant mention is concerning a possible adaptation of the ''Lord of the Rings'' into a movie, where he simply mentions that the Eagles should be used carefully as a plot device and was self-aware whenever he used them.<ref>{{L|210}}</ref>
  
The Eagles not being mentioned at all during the [[Council of Elrond]] is considered a logical plot hole by itself. Although many flawed proposals are made during it (destroy the Ring, sending it to the West, giving it to Tom Bombadil), none of the participants thought to propose this quite obvious solution, especially since it was not long after Gandalf described his escape with Gwaihir; even if the Eagle plan was to be countered or dismissed implausible later for some reason (such the ones above), it would be only logical to be mentioned.
+
Peter Jackson and [[Fran Walsh]] joke around the issue on the writer-director DVD commentary track; writing partner [[Philippa Boyens]] then bursts out and angrily declares one of the common explanations: "Why does everyone always say that?! The flying Nazgûl on their Fell Beasts would have stopped them! How more obvious does that need to be?! Mordor has flying creatures too!"
  
If the Eagles could not have flown the Ring to Mordor, Gandalf might still have arranged with Gwaihir for them to fly the Fellowship across the [[Misty Mountains]], avoiding the [[Redhorn Gate]] and [[Moria]].
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===Other explanations===
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[[File:Ted Nasmith - At the Foot of Mount Doom.jpg|thumb|According to ''[[The Field of Cormallen]]'', some Eagles flew to Mount Doom, rescued Frodo and Sam and carried them back. Critics say that they could as well had carried them there in the first place.]]
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As Tolkien's writings on the Eagles do not allow for an explanation, several speculative theories have been proposed by critics, although they are not definitive and can be countered.<ref>[[Tolkien FAQ]]</ref><ref>[http://www.sean-crist.com/personal/pages/eagles/index.html Could the eagles have flown Frodo into Mordor?]</ref>
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*The Eagles coming from the air would have been fairly obvious and defensless to Sauron; the [[Fell beasts]] and/or archers would most likely have stopped the attempt. The Eagles expressed fear in ''[[The Hobbit]]'' about going into the Lands of Men because of their bows. After the Ring is destroyed (along with all of Sauron's forces), the Eagles met no resistance from evil forces; thus, they were able to rescue Frodo and Sam.
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:This often cited argument could possibly have been countered with a parallel divertive battle plan, more or less like the [[Battle of the Morannon]] begun to help Frodo.
  
The party of Tolkienists that accepts this as a [[wikipedia:plot hole|plot hole]] usually respond that in any book there are usually plot holes. In a larger, far more detailed and realistic book we expect fewer (if any) plot holes, when in reality there is a far greater chance.
+
*The Eagles could have possibly become corrupted by the power of the Ring and would have most likely attempted to prevent the destruction. Gandalf himself not only knew that ''anyone'' might and would refuse to throw in the Ring, but he was also afraid of it; the Eagles, as Maiar, could have been corruptive and dangerous.
  
{{references}}
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*Although Tolkien does not mention anything about it, it's possible that the Eagles were somehow limited in how they acted and participated, similar to how the [[Wizards]] were prohibited to directly fight Sauron by physical or supernatural force. The Eagles are seen to aid the [[free peoples]] and even [[Battle of Five Armies|participate]] in battles, but it's possible that for affairs of greater scope (such as Sauron and the Ring) they were either afraid, unwilling, incapable, or not allowed to take any part.
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*The Eagles's availability and power must have been limited. Gwaihir only arrives at Isengard because he is sent by Radagast. Once he rescues Gandalf, the Wizard asks him how far he can bear him, to which the Eagle replies "...not to the ends of the earth. I was sent to bear tidings not burdens." He took Gandalf just to Edoras, so he could find a horse to ride, and then departed.
  
 
==External links==
 
==External links==
 
*[http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/History.html#Eagles Tolkien FAQ] question and possible answer
 
*[http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/History.html#Eagles Tolkien FAQ] question and possible answer
*[http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/eagles.html Could the eagles have flown Frodo into Mordor?] a discussion investigating a possible battle plan that would help the eagles.
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*[http://www.sean-crist.com/personal/pages/eagles/index.html Could the eagles have flown Frodo into Mordor?] a discussion investigating a possible battle plan that would help the eagles.
  
{{ainur}}
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{{references}}
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{{Ainur}}
 
[[Category:Characters in The Hobbit]]
 
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[[Category:Eagles| ]]
 
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[[Category:Races]]
 
[[Category:Races]]
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[[de:Adler]]
 
[[de:Adler]]
 
[[fr:encyclo/biologie/faune/aigles]]
 
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[[fi:Kotkat]]
 
[[fi:Kotkat]]

Revision as of 12:18, 5 May 2014

"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
This article or section needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of article quality.
Darrell Sweet - The Lord of the Eagles.jpg
Eagles
Race
DominionsTaniquetil
Crissaegrim
Eagles' Eyrie
LanguagesAt least Westron, Sindarin and Valarin
Feather colorBrown
MembersThorondor, Great Eagle, Gwaihir, Landroval, Meneldor

The Eagles were birds that served as messengers of Manwë. Among those were the Great Eagles, immense birds who were sentient and capable of speech, and often helped Men, Elves and Wizards in the quests to defeat evil. They were "devised" by Manwë Súlimo, King of the Valar, and were often called the Eagles of Manwë.

They were sent from Valinor to Middle-earth to keep an eye on the exiled Ñoldor, and on their foe the evil Vala Morgoth.

Contents

History

The Great Eagles were messengers of Manwë, the ruler of the sky and Lord of the Valar, being perhaps "spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles" that brought news from Middle-earth to his halls upon Taniquetil.[1]

First Age

Ted Nasmith - Beren and Lúthien are Flown to Safety

At a command of Manwë, for a time the Lord of the Eagles, Thorondor kept his eyries at the top of Thangorodrim, the volcano above Angband itself[2][3]. While they lived there, Thorondor helped Fingon rescue Maedhros. Thorondor's folk later removed their eyries to the Crissaegrim, part of the Echoriad about Gondolin. There they were friends of Turgon, keeping spies off the mountains, bringing him news and keeping spies off the borders. Because of their guardianship, the Orcs were unable to approach either the nearby mountains,[4] or the important ford of Brithiach to the south;[5] their watch had been redoubled after the coming of Tuor,[6] enabling Gondolin to remain undiscovered the longest of all Elven realms. When the city fell at last, the eagles of Thorondor protected the fugitives, driving away the orcs that ambushed them at Cirith Thoronath, the Eagles' Cleft north of Gondolin.[4]

Thorondor wounded Morgoth in the face after Morgoth's battle with Fingolfin, and he carried Fingolfin's body to the Echoriath, where he was buried by Fingon.

The Eagles fought alongside the army of the Valar, Elves and Edain during the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age. After the appearance of winged dragons, all the great birds gathered under Thorondor to Eärendil, and destroyed the majority of the dragons.[7]

Númenor

In the Second Age, a pair of Eagles had an eyrie in the King's House in Armenelos, the capital of Númenor until the time of Tar-Ancalimon, when the Kings of Númenor became hostile to the Valar.

The Númenóreans believed that three eagles, "the Witnesses of Manwë", were sent by Manwë to guard the summit of Meneltarma; these appeared whenever one approached the hallow and staying in the sky during the Three Prayers.

Many eagles lived upon the hills around Sorontil in the north of the island.[8]

Ted Nasmith - The Eagles of Manwë

Eagle-shaped storm clouds, called the "Eagles of the Lords of the West", were sent by Manwë when he tried to reason or threaten them.[9]

Third Age

"- Farewell! wherever you fare, till your eyries receive you at the journey's end!
- May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.
"
― Polite way to exchange good-bye with an Eagle

By the end of the Third Age, a colony under the Great Eagle lived in the northern parts of the Misty Mountains who mostly nested upon the eastward slopes not far from the High Pass leading from Rivendell, and thus in the direct vicinity of the Goblin-town beneath; they often afflicted the goblins and disrupted their plans.

These Eagles helped the Elves of Rivendell and Radagast in watching the land and in gathering news about the Orcs.[10][11]. As a result of feeding on the sheep of the local Woodmen of Mirkwood, their relationship was not good and the Eagles were afraid of their bows.

Those rescued Thorin's company from a band of Goblins and Wargs and carried them to the Carrock[12] and some days later they espied the mustering of goblins all over the Mountains, to be gathered under the Great Eagle in the Battle of Five Armies near Erebor. It was only with their help that the Dwarves, Men and Elves managed to defeat the goblins.[13] The Great Eagle became King of All Birds.

The Eagles appeared in great numbers at the Battle of the Morannon, helping the Host of the West against the Nazgûl. Several of them rescued Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee from Mount Doom after the One Ring had been destroyed.[14]

Names

In Gnomish, one of Tolkien's early conceptions of an Elven language, a word for "eagle" is ioroth (poetic form ior). A cognate of the same meaning in Qenya is the poetic ea(r) or earen. Another Gnomish word for "an eagle" is thorn.[15]

In the later languages, the Quenya word for eagle is soron and in Noldorin/Sindarin thoron/thorn[16]

The Thornhoth was the name for the eagle-folk in the earliest legends.[17]

Inspiration

Tolkien's painting of an eagle on a crag appears in some editions of The Hobbit. According to Christopher Tolkien, the author based this picture on a painting by Archibald Thorburn of an immature Golden Eagle, which Christopher found for him in The Birds of the British Isles by T.A. Coward. However, Tolkien's use of this model does not necessarily mean that his birds were ordinary Golden Eagles.

Other versions of the legendarium

In the earliest version of the fall of Gondolin, the king of the eagles, Thorndor (later Thorondor), had no love for Melko (later Melkor) because he had caught many eagles and tortured them for the magic words that would enable him to fly (in order to challenge Manwë for command of the air). When the eagles refused to reveal the magic words Melko cut off their wings in order to fashion a pair form himself, "but it availed not".[17]

For some time Tolkien considered the Eagles as bird-shaped Maiar,[18] as he felt it unlikely Ilúvatar would grant fëar to animals. However, the notion of a "Maia" like Thorondor having descendants contradicted later concepts and Tolkien later decided that the Great Eagles (like Roäc and the Thrush of The Hobbit) were common animals that had been "taught language by the Valar, and raised to a higher level — but without fëar."[19] In later texts, eagles were first envisioned by Manwë during the Music of the Ainur, and appeared shortly before the awakening of the Elves. Their origin is thus similar to that of ents.[20][21]

Flying the Ring to Mount Doom

"The Eagles are a dangerous 'machine'. I have used them sparingly, and that is the absolute limit of their credibility or usefulness. "
Letter 210, J.R.R. Tolkien
File:Steve Notley - Bob the Angry Flower's Lord of the Ringz.gif
Parody comic strip by Steve Notley which shows Bob the Angry Flower flying the Ring to Mordor on an Eagle.

Many skeptical readers have wondered why the Eagles simply didn't carry Frodo and the One Ring into Mordor and drop the Ring in Mount Doom, or at least aid the Fellowship at some part of the journey, such as helping them avoiding the Redhorn Gate and Moria.

At first glance this seems incredibly easy compared to what actually happened (and it would have made a boring book).

The party of Tolkienists that accepts this as a plot hole usually respond that in any book there are usually plot holes. In a larger, far more detailed and realistic book we expect fewer (if any) plot holes, when in reality there is a far greater chance.

Considering the Eagles

Strangely, the possibility of using the Eagles has not been mentioned at all during the Council of Elrond. Although many flawed proposals are made during it (destroy the Ring, guard it, send it to the West, give it to Tom Bombadil), none of the participants thought to propose this seemingly obvious solution, especially after Gandalf described his escape with Gwaihir; even if the Eagle plan was to be countered or dismissed implausible later for some reason (like the ones above), it would be only logical to be mentioned.

On the other hand, the Council was seen deciding the fate of the Ring, not the manner; this was left to the discretion of the Fellowship. Indeed, during its existence, the Fellowship had not even decided whether they should go directly to Mordor or to seek aid from Gondor, let alone the manner to do so, before decisively been broken at Amon Hen. If Gandalf ever considered requesting the help of the Eagles after some point (eg. after passing the Misty Mountains) it's not mentioned in the narrative.[22]

Official explanation to the problem

It seems that nobody noticed this alleged plot-hole during Tolkien's lifetime, as there is no surviving letter where Tolkien is inquired so. It is unknown whether Tolkien ever was aware of the issue while writing the book or later.

Tolkien's only relevant mention is concerning a possible adaptation of the Lord of the Rings into a movie, where he simply mentions that the Eagles should be used carefully as a plot device and was self-aware whenever he used them.[23]

Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh joke around the issue on the writer-director DVD commentary track; writing partner Philippa Boyens then bursts out and angrily declares one of the common explanations: "Why does everyone always say that?! The flying Nazgûl on their Fell Beasts would have stopped them! How more obvious does that need to be?! Mordor has flying creatures too!"

Other explanations

According to The Field of Cormallen, some Eagles flew to Mount Doom, rescued Frodo and Sam and carried them back. Critics say that they could as well had carried them there in the first place.

As Tolkien's writings on the Eagles do not allow for an explanation, several speculative theories have been proposed by critics, although they are not definitive and can be countered.[24][25]

  • The Eagles coming from the air would have been fairly obvious and defensless to Sauron; the Fell beasts and/or archers would most likely have stopped the attempt. The Eagles expressed fear in The Hobbit about going into the Lands of Men because of their bows. After the Ring is destroyed (along with all of Sauron's forces), the Eagles met no resistance from evil forces; thus, they were able to rescue Frodo and Sam.
This often cited argument could possibly have been countered with a parallel divertive battle plan, more or less like the Battle of the Morannon begun to help Frodo.
  • The Eagles could have possibly become corrupted by the power of the Ring and would have most likely attempted to prevent the destruction. Gandalf himself not only knew that anyone might and would refuse to throw in the Ring, but he was also afraid of it; the Eagles, as Maiar, could have been corruptive and dangerous.
  • Although Tolkien does not mention anything about it, it's possible that the Eagles were somehow limited in how they acted and participated, similar to how the Wizards were prohibited to directly fight Sauron by physical or supernatural force. The Eagles are seen to aid the free peoples and even participate in battles, but it's possible that for affairs of greater scope (such as Sauron and the Ring) they were either afraid, unwilling, incapable, or not allowed to take any part.
  • The Eagles's availability and power must have been limited. Gwaihir only arrives at Isengard because he is sent by Radagast. Once he rescues Gandalf, the Wizard asks him how far he can bear him, to which the Eagle replies "...not to the ends of the earth. I was sent to bear tidings not burdens." He took Gandalf just to Edoras, so he could find a horse to ride, and then departed.

External links

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Beginning of Days"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Noldor in Beleriand"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "A Description of the Island of Númenor"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Field of Cormallen"
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, "I-Lam na-Ngoldathon: The Grammar and Lexicon of the Gnomish Tongue", in Parma Eldalamberon XI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), pp. 51, 73
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies"
  17. 17.0 17.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "The Fall of Gondolin" , p. 103
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Two. The Annals of Aman" p. 138
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Five. Myths Transformed" pp. 409-11
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Aulë and Yavanna"
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Three. The Wanderings of Húrin and Other Writings not forming part of the Quenta Silmarillion: IV. Of the Ents and the Eagles"
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 210, (undated, written June 1958)
  24. Tolkien FAQ
  25. Could the eagles have flown Frodo into Mordor?


Ainur
Valar
Lords:  Manwë · Ulmo · Aulë · Oromë · Mandos · Irmo · Tulkas
Queens:  Varda · Yavanna · Nienna · Estë · Vairë · Vána · Nessa
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Associated Maiar
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Aulë Mairon · Curumo Estë Melian
Oromë Tilion · Alatar · Pallando Vána
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Music · Valarin · Almaren · Valinor · Valmar · Second Music