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"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
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Gandalf and Shadowfax by Ted Nasmith.

Shadowfax was a mighty horse of Rohan, the chief of the Mearas, tamed by Gandalf and reluctantly granted as a gift to him by King Théoden of Rohan.

Shadowfax had extraordinary speed and stamina. He was able to run from Edoras to Minas Tirith almost without stopping, and his ground speed rivalled the flying speed of the fell beasts of the Nazgûl.

"[Gandalf on Shadowfax] moved with the speed of an arrow and grew as it came, converging swiftly with the flight of the four men towards the Gate [of Gondor]."
The Return of the King, The Siege of Gondor

Shadowfax also possessed extraordinary courage. He was the only free horse in the world capable of standing before the Lord of the Nazgûl instead of fleeing.

"[...] all fled before his face. All save one. There waiting, silent and still in the space before the Gate, sat Gandalf upon Shadowfax: Shadowfax who alone among the free horses of the earth endured the terror, unmoving, steadfast as a graven image in Rath Dínen."
The Return of the King, The Siege of Gondor

The phrasing "free horses" excludes horses enslaved by Sauron, like the horses ridden by the Nazgûl in the guise of Black Riders.

Shadowfax was at the Grey Havens with Gandalf when he sailed on the White Ship. Shadowfax, as one of the line of Nahar presumably was with him when sailing for the West.[1]


It is an anglicized form of Rohirric Sceadu-faex 'having shadow-grey mane (and coat)'. It does not actually occur in Old English. Fax is an obsolete English word.[2]

See also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 268, (dated 19 January 1965)
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 762-3