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Gwaihir

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Gwaihir

Gwaihir

Biographical information

Other names
The Windlord, Gwaihir the Windlord
Titles
Date of birth
Possibly First Age
Year ascended to the throne
Date of death
Realms ruled
Spouse
Weapon
Claws, beak

Physical description

Culture
Eagles of Valinor
Gender
Male
Height
Hair color
Eye color
Gold
Actor
Voice
Character

Gwaihir, also known as Gwaihir the Windlord, was the greatest of the Great Eagles during the the Third Age. He is best known for his deeds during the events of The Hobbit and the War of the Ring.

BiographyEdit

Gwaihir was descended from Thorondor, the greatest Eagle who ever lived. It was said that he and his brother Landroval aided Thorondor in rescuing Beren and Luthien from Angband.[1]

At some point in his life Gandalf the Grey saved him from a poisoned arrow, probably Orcish.

War of the RingEdit

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.

LOTR mega-eagle

Gwaihir rescues Gandalf from Orthanc

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.

012408fellbeastveagle

Gwaihir against a fell beast

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.

EtymologyEdit

The name Gwaihir comes from the Sindarin terms gwaew ("storm, wind") and hîr ("lord, master"), translating his name to "Windlord".

The earlier form of his name was Gwaewar.

AbilitiesEdit

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.

Other versions of the legendariumEdit

In TA 2941, a character called "Lord of the Eagles" saved Thorin and Company from Wargs and Orcs. He later arrived in the Lonely Mountain and fought in the Battle of Five Armies.[2]

However, it is up for debate if Gwaihir was one of the eagles that saved Thorin and Company. In the whole Lord of the Rings Gwaihir carries Gandalf twice, and by the end of the book Gandalf says that Gwaihir had carried him twice;[3] this implies that Gwaihir never carried him before the timeframe of the book.

Appearances in the Books and FilmsEdit

Gwaihir appears in all books and films listed below:

Portrayal in adaptationsEdit

The Lord of the Rings film trilogyEdit

In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gwaihir arrives at Isengard to rescue Gandalf. Later in The Return of the King, Gwaihir, Landroval, and the other Great Eagles arrive at the Battle of Morannon and attack the Nazgûl and their fell beasts. After the destruction of the One Ring, Gwaihir bears Gandalf and rescues Frodo and Sam from the rocks of Mount Doom.

Video gamesEdit

ControversyEdit

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. This is not a reasonable possibility. Mordor was extremely well guarded and Sauron had many spies. Attempting this would have resulted in the eagles being shot down with arrows (They are known to be unable to fly higher then the men of dale could shoot them with their bows of yew) and Sauron recovering the one ring.

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.

ReferencesEdit

  1. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 11: The War of the Jewels, Part One. The Grey Annals
  2. The Hobbit, Chapter XVII: "The Clouds Burst"
  3. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter IV: "The Field of Cormallen"

External linkEdit

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