Gwaihir was descended from Thorondor, the greatest Eagle who ever lived. He was the brother of Landroval. They lived in the northern Misty Mountains probably in the Eagles Eyrie and had many other Eagles as their vassals.
At some point in his life Gandalf the Grey saved him from a poisoned arrow (probably Orcish). Years later, Gwaihir saved Thorin and Company from Wargs and Orcs. He also fought in The Battle of the Five Armies.
However it is up for debate if Gwaihir was one of the eagles that saved Thorin and Company, as it is said by Gandalf in Return of the King that Gwaihir has carried him twice, while the proper counting would be three if Gwaihir was Lord of the Eagles.
In the summer of TA 3018, Gandalf the Grey asked Radagast the Brown to send word among his friends the birds to learn what they could of the Enemy's plans. The Great Eagles flew far and wide and gathered news of the Nazgûl and the mustering of Orcs and Wargs and the escape of Gollum from Mirkwood.
Gwaihir went to Isengard to bring this news to Gandalf. In the early hours of September 18, he found Gandalf imprisoned by Saruman on the pinnacle of Orthanc. Gwaihir bore Gandalf away, and when the Wizard said that he needed a horse, Gwaihir set him down in the land of Rohan.
On February 17, 3019, Gwaihir was searching for Gandalf at the request of Galadriel when he found the Wizard atop the Silvertine. Gandalf had vanquished the Balrog in the Battle of the Peak, but the entrance to the Endless Stair had been blocked and he had been unable to escape from the mountaintop. Gwaihir once again bore Gandalf and he found his burden to be as light as a feather, for Gandalf's old life had been burned away and he had been reborn as Gandalf the White.
The Eagle brought Gandalf to Lothlórien and then at the Wizard's request he flew to seek news of the Fellowship. Aragorn and Legolas both saw him circling above the Emyn Muil. Gwaihir returned to Gandalf with the news that Merry and Pippin had been captured by Saruman's Uruk-hai.
Gwaihir and his brother Landroval led a great company of Eagles to the Battle of the Morannon on March 25, 3019. They swooped in to attack the Winged Nazgûl, but the Nazgul fled when Sauron summoned them to fly to Mount Doom where Frodo Baggins stood at the Cracks of Doom with the Ring. After the Ring was destroyed, Mount Doom erupted and Frodo and Sam were stranded on a hill amid flowing lava and falling ash. Gandalf asked Gwaihir to bear him a final time. Accompanied by Landroval and Meneldor, Gwaihir raced swiftly to Mount Doom and with his keen sight, he spotted the Hobbits through the fumes. The Eagles lifted Frodo and Sam and bore them away to safety.
Gwaihir had keen eyesight and was the swiftest of the Great Eagles. He was large and strong enough to carry a grown man. Gwaihir was intelligent and was capable of speech.
- It has been pointed out by several observers that the entire War of the Ring could have been over almost as quickly as it began if only Gandalf had requested that Gwaihir simply take the ring himself and delivered it to Mount Doom to have it destroyed. Whether or not this is a reasonable possibility is debatable, however, using logic, you can conclude that Sauron would have seen the ring and sent armies and the Nazgûl after him, thus eventually overpowering Gwaihir and ultimately giving Sauron the ring. This also is debatable because it is unknown how the wearing of the Ring on a claw or other appendage would affect an animal and Sauron's ability to see it with his Eye. It should also be understood that the mission to bring the One Ring to Mordor was appointed to Frodo by the Council of Elrond. Only Frodo alone should risk holding the Ring, thus it was not Gwaihir's mission, nor was it his burden, to carry either the Ring or the Ring Bearer. This is addressed in the video game Lord of the Rings: War In The North, when this is suggested by the party to Gandalf. Also, since a single poison arrow had nearly brought him down in the past, it would be reasonable to assume Gwaihir and the other eagles would be reluctant to fly over orc archers.
- Gwaihir makes a brief appearance in the video game The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age as a special power available to Berethor's Company.
- Gwaihir also makes an unnamed appearance in The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth as a power to use when playing as either Gondor or Rohan. Although he is unnamed - just called an eagle - it is possible that one of the eagles would be Gwaihir
- The Lord of the Rings (in all 3 books)
Appearances in adaptationsEdit
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- The Hobbit: There and Back Again
- The Fellowship of the Ring (film)
- The Return of the King (film)
- The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth
- LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game