The Black Breath, also known as the Black Shadow, was a serious and often fatal medical condition, resulting from contact with a Nazgûl. Rather than actually being the breath of the unseen wraiths, it is more of an aura they can produce at will to incapacitate their foes. This power was used extensively in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, though not during their confrontations with Frodo and his companions in Eriador. A condition named similarly was also known during the First Age, but it is not known what was spreading it during that age.

Effects and TreatmentEdit

In a mild form, the Black Breath may cause a brief period of unconsciousness, accompanied by bad dreams, and a state of agitation upon being woken.

A severe case of the Black Breath, by contrast, is fatal if not treated. It may initially manifest as deep despair and extreme drowsiness, with the victim gradually losing consciousness. In other cases, loss of consciousness occurs immediately. A period of hallucination-like nightmares progresses to deep unconsciousness and hypothermia, and the victim dies after a few days. These cases can, however, be treated using the healing herb athelas.


The most well-known victims to the Black Breath were Faramir, Éowyn, Frodo and Merry, who were soon healed by Aragorn during the War of the Ring.

Other victims were:

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