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"Radagast the Brown! ... Radagast the Bird-tamer! Radagast the Simple! Radagast the Fool! Yet he had just the wit to play the part that I set him."
Saruman, The Council of Elrond

Radagast the Brown was one of the Wizards, a good friend of Gandalf, and had a strong affinity for animals. He lived at Rhosgobel, on the western eaves of Mirkwood, near the Gladden Fields on the Great River.



Radagast, like the other Wizards, came from Valinor around the year 1000 of the Third Age and was one of the Maiar of the Valië Yavanna. His original name was Aiwendil (pron. [aɪˈwendil]). Yavanna forced Curumo to accept Radagast as a companion, which may have been one of the reasons Saruman was contemptuous of him.

The wizard's home was in Rhosgobel on the western borders of Mirkwood. He was a friend of Beorn as well as a friend to the forest's many creatures, especially birds whom he communicated with. He spent most of his time with the wildlife instead of Men and Elves, whom he found more difficult to deal with. Radagast grew neglectful and easygoing, and he lacked courage, however he remained of good will.

In the summer of 3018 Radagast was unwittingly used by Saruman to lure Gandalf to Orthanc, sending him to Bree with a message for Gandalf. In this message Saruman asked Gandalf to come to Orthanc, where Saruman trapped and captured him. Luckily, Radagast didn't mean any harm to Gandalf, and wasn't aware of Saruman's plan. So Radagast also helped rescue the grey wizard by alerting the Eagles of Gandalf's journey there.

Radagast is without a doubt a mysterious character. While there is little doubt that his heart was in the right place, he did not possess that same selflessness that allowed Gandalf to fulfil the task set to him by the Valar, to aid the free people. Deigning to leave his wooded home, Radagast remained in Northern Mirkwood with the birds and the beasts and the trees.

When Elven scouts were sent to find Radagast after the Council of Elrond, he was not at his home in Rhosgobel: he plays no further role in events and is not mentioned again by Tolkien. There are several theories to his disappearance. He may have gone to spend time among the wildlife, or his friends among the Beornings, or he may have visited Thranduil's folk in Mirkwood. He may have also been forced to abandon his home, and it is quite possible that he was removed by the nearby fortress of Dol Guldur. However, Tolkien once stated that Radagast's failure was not as great as Saruman's, and that he may have eventually been able to return to Valinor, implying that he survived The War of the Ring.

The assumption that Radagast failed in his task may not be entirely accurate, as he was sent specifically by Yavanna, and he may have been charged with the protection of the flora and fauna of Middle-Earth, a task that would not end with the defeat of Sauron.

Behind the scenes, Radagast may have been very active during The War of the Ring, using his bird-friends to send messages quickly to the Free Peoples.


Radagast by Angelo Montanini

Names mockingly given to Radagast by Saruman:[1]



In a manuscript written by Tolkien in 1954, the name Radagast is said to mean "tender of beasts" in Adûnaic, the language of Númenor.[2] However, in a later note Tolkien said that the name is in the language of the Men of the Vales of Anduin, and that its meaning is not interpretable.[3]

As stated by Hammond and Scull, several theories have appeared concerning the inspiration of the name Radagast.[4] One such theory has been proposed by Douglas A. Anderson, who notes the name Redigast in Slavic mythology.[5]


The name Aiwendil is likely Quenya, perhaps derived from aiwe ("(small) bird") and ndil ("devoted to").[4][6]

Portrayal in adaptations

1981: BBC Radio's The Lord of the Ring:

Donald Gee provided the voice of Radagast. He is however not the person who sends the Eagle to save Gandalf from Orthanc.

1987-: Mithril Miniatures:

Radagast has been issued in a couple of different versions: figure LR3 "Radagast the Brown" is seen with a cat and an owl;[7] an older version of the figure portrays Radagast without beard and with a different bird.[8] There is also a "Radagast Mounted" (MS539), where Radagast (again without beard) is portrayed mounted on a horse.[9]

1988: J.R.R. Tolkien's War in Middle Earth:

Radagast is a non-playable character in this game.

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

The character Radagast and virtually all references to him were removed. He was originally to appear in a background scene, but this was removed because it was thought it would only confuse people.[source?] He later appeared on a Decipher Card, played by Weta's John Harding.

2001-: The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game:

The hero figure Radagast the Brown, is a user of subtle magics,in contrast to the more overt kinds used by Gandalf and Saruman. However, he has some unique powers nonetheless.[10]

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Radagast can be found encamped in the Lone-lands, north along the Great Road. He is friendly to the local people, the Eglain, and helps the to combat the rise of evil in the swamps of Agamaur.[11]

2011: The Lord of the Rings: War in the North:

The characters Eradan, Farin and Andriel travel to Mirkwood and search of Radagast and arrive just in time to rescue him from a giant spider. He thanks them for the rescue and provides them with information about the Dragon Urgost.[12]

2012-13: The Hobbit films:

Radagast will be played by Sylvester McCoy. Although the character is only alluded to in The Hobbit, he may have been involved with The White Council's confrontation with the Necromancer around this time period. Sylvester McCoy has stated that Radagast will have more than just a brief cameo, and Sir Christopher Lee (who plays Saruman) stated that Radagast "has a considerably important part" in the upcoming films.[13]

See also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Istari"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Istari", note 4
  4. 4.0 4.1 Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 240-1
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien; Douglas A. Anderson, (ed.), (2002) The Annotated Hobbit: Revised and Expanded Edition, p. 167
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", pp. 348, 378 (entries AIWĒ- and NIL-, NDIL-)
  7. Mithril Wizards Miniatures at (accessed 8 October 2011)
  8. Lord of the Rings (Mithril) at (accessed 8 October 2011; cf. Radgast (image))
  9. 32mm Fellowship Figures - MS539 Radagast Mounted at (accessed 8 October 2011)
  10. Radagast the Brown at Games-Workshop-com (accessed 8 October 2011)
  11. NPC: Radagast the Brown at (accessed 8 October 2011)
  12. Allies at (accessed 8 October 2011)
  13. Ian McKellen, "2 Elves and another Wizard" dated 10 May 2011, Ian McKellen's website (accessed 23 December 2011)