Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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The Eagles of Middle-Earth

I like this post at tor.com about the giant eagles. As Jeff LaSala says, giant eagles, what’s not to like?

Anyway, LaSala says:

I will concede that, of course, it would have been nice if Tolkien had added—among other things—a couple of helpful lines to make it clearer that the Eagles were simply not an option for this task and that the characters in The Lord of the Rings understood this. But maybe he didn’t need to, since any attentive reading will reveal certain truths.

Sure, plenty of arguments can be made against the Eagles’ involvement, but none can really be substantiated. One theory is simply that such a gambit probably wouldn’t succeed. The Eagles, while mighty, aren’t necessarily powerful enough to storm Mordor even in great numbers—Sauron’s power has grown strong again and it’s pretty likely he could handle them if they entered his land. He’s nothing if not studied; he knows of the Eagles. Plus, the great birds are physically vulnerable to the bows of Men (as mentioned in The Hobbit), to say nothing of the darts of Orcs or the sorcery of Sauron’s other servants. And do you think the Eagles themselves would immune to the One Ring’s evil?

I think that last point is decisive. There wouldn’t be much joy trading a Dark Lord stuck in Mordor for one with wings, probably.

LaSala has a good deal more to say about the eagles and their basic indifference to the other races of Middle-Earth. Click through if you’re interested and read the whole thing.

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4 Comments The Eagles of Middle-Earth

  1. Robert

    Jeff’s ongoing Silmarillion Primer is also a great read. I bounced off The Silmarillion many years ago (apparently I need hobbits in my Middle-earth). The Primer has almost convinced me to give it another shot.

  2. Elaine T

    I’ve been drawn back to the Silmarillion AND the full HoME volumes by a fanfiction the Teen recommended –

    I was dubious, as the whole idea struck me as graffiti on a masterpiece, but I looked over the Teen’s shoulder than gave it a shot –

    which is a lively retelling of Beren and Luthien in script form. Starts rather undignified with Beren meeting the parents

    (Example: Melian: [mindspeech]
    That he isn’t a brainwashed slave sent here by our Enemy to assassinate you, kidnap Luthien or corrupt Doriath.
    Thingol:
    !?. . . !?
    Melian: [mindspeech]
    He’s just a boy who’s fallen in love with a stranger he met in the woods.
    [longish pause]
    Thingol: [mindspeech]
    –It was different for us…
    Melian: [mindspeech, sighing]
    It’s always different…))

    But what draws me back is Act 4 in the Halls of Mandos where all the dead from the adventures to date – mainly Finrod and his ten, Beren, Luthien assorted relatives, friends and enemies, meet, catch up, meet some living who have been sent by the Valar to try to talk sense into Luthien who is being very stubborn and a ton of stuff from Tolkien’s notes and fragments gets woven in and it’s all very engrossing, if you are me, or the Teen.

    Anyway I bring it up because Eagles are dealt with in it. Huan definitely has influence with them and one of Finrod’s Ten, a native to ME, not a Valinorean Elf adds that as far as they know Those Eagles act on their own. Manwe doesn’t send them. And yes the notes upon which this sort of thing is based back up that take.

    They don’t do major interventions. They do backup and rescue. Taking the Ring to MOrder would be a major intervention.
    I keep finding more to poke at in HoME from here and it’s distracting me from my intent to reread WINTER so I can post a decent review (besides Wow!, that is). OTOH, since WINTER is holding up against pure Tolkien quite well, the comparisons may help the review in the end.

  3. Rachel

    Yeah, I don’t think anything could induce me to re-read the Silmarillion. Nope. Fanfiction of the Silmarillion . . . maybe.

    Good to know WINTER is standing up well in comparision with Tolkien!

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