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They were larger, even more fearsome versions of the Uruk-hai, standing about seven feet tall and weighing an estimated three hundred pounds. Before they were sent into battle, it is said; the bowl of their small, tight-fitting helmet was filled with the blood of their enemy, and then pushed onto their heads. The intoxicating smell awakened a bloodlust that drove them to a battle-frenzy and made them immune to pain. Berserkers had no regard for personal safety, wore no armor except their helmets, and were expected to fight to the death. Their sole object was to establish a bridgehead. One Berserker was given the task to set off the explosive mines planted by the Uruk-hai.
The Battle of Helm's DeepEdit
For Helm's Deep they almost certainly would have been trained to climb onto the siege ladders as they were raised up against the Deeping Wall, then to buy enough time for their comrades, who were swarming up the ladders and in behind the Berserkers. It proved very difficult to get close enough to wound the Berserkers, so although they only numbered about thirty, they were able to inflict heavy losses on the defenders before they were finally all killed. Gimli himself accounted for three or more, hitting one in the chest and two in their nether regions.
The Uruk Beserker's main purpose at this battle was to:
- Scale the ladders the Uruk Sappers had brought from Isengard.
- Kill as many of the enemy as they possibly could when they reached the top of the ladders so there was room for the Uruk-hai swordsmen coming behind them.
- Ignite the blasting powder that Saruman had created for destroying the Deeping Wall, with their torches.
Berserkers used only one weapon, a huge sword with a five-foot blade and a foot-long double spike at the end; it was a cumbersome sword, requiring an enormous amount of strength to wield, but the eighteen-inch-long handgrip allowed the Berserker to apply leverage in the swing by placing his hands wide apart, and had two spikes protruding from the tip of the weapon. Each side of the four-inch-wide blade was hammered to a sharp edge, and one blow from it could cut a man in a half. It was not an elegant or particularly efficient sword --- for example, the spikes could be caught in the victim --- but the level of intimidation generated by such a nasty weapon was huge. They wore no armor, except a thin groin covering and a small bowl-shaped helmet; This allowed them complete freedom of movement, and being such fanatical soldiers, they were unphased by pain, making this lack of armor viable.
In the film and some of the game adaptations, there are also a few Berserkers that rather than devastating the enemy front ranks with their powerful swords, handle and use Saruman's Fire of Orthanc bombs. In the Battle of Helm's Deep, they first placed many bombs in a small culvert in the Deeping Wall, the one weak spot in the impenetrable outer fortress. After the bombs are piled, one of the Sappers runs forward with a lit torch, ready to light the bombs. Legolas attempts to shoot the Sapper with two arrows, but fails to bring the Uruk down before it lights the bombs, creating a huge breach in the Deeping Wall. The army of Isengard is then given a huge opening into the Deeping wall, which they exploit immediately.
In the game adaptation, there are Uruk-hai that have Fire of Orthanc bombs strapped to their backs. These Uruk-hai attack by self-destructing themselves in a devastating explosion that damages all units around them, either friend or foe. This occurs whether the Uruk-hai are killed, or they set off the detonation themselves. Though they can easily be taken down by arrows before they reach their target, if they do reach it, then the effect of the explosion is quite devastating indeed.
In Aragorn's Quest, two are faced. The first is in Helm's Deep, where he is defeated by Aragorn. He seems to be the leader of the army, and is called an Uruk-hai' Champion. The second is in Pelennor Fields, near the docks. He doesn't have the White Hand markings and is blacker in color, but otherwise almost identical. It is unlikely that Sauron had Uruk Berserkers in his army.
The Berserkers are characters in The Two Towers (film) and are not in the book and thus are non-canonical.
- The Lord of the Rings: Weapons and Warfare
- The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth
- The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II
- The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king