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Variag by John Howe

The Variags were Men from the land of Khand, of whom little is known about apart from the fact that they fought for Sauron in the War of the Ring. They first appeared in the year 1944 of the Third Age in the north-east of Middle-earth, fighting alongside the Easterling tribe known as the Wainriders. On March 14 - 15 (Third Age: 3019) the Variags fought in Sauron's army at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Tolkien never described the Variags, and most information about them is speculative. It has been speculated that they were axe-wielding berserkers, based on the real world Varangians.

Portrayal in adaptationsEdit

Variags Art


No Variags appear anytime in the film in the War of the Ring, not at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields or the Battle of the Morannon, probably because Peter Jackson had so little to go on due to a lack of description in the novels.

Variags have however featured in The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, which was based mostly on Jackson's films. In this the Variags, also called the Khandish, have an oriental theme with an Eastern Asian look, much like the Easterlings, who were constant close allies with them. This interpretation is taken from Tolkien's work alone due to the absence of Variags in the trilogy. The Variags of Khand have since been discontinued, however.

They were portrayed as axe-wielders as well as using bows. They were also noted as skilled horsemen as well as using chariots in combat as well. The Khandish warriors also had banners attached to their backs in a similar fashion to Japanese samurai of the medieval period.3

Appearances in the BooksEdit

Behind the ScenesEdit

  • In the real world, Variags is another name for the Scandinavian Varangians.
The People of Middle-earth

Edain | Dúnedain | Númenóreans | Haradrim | Easterlings | Variags | Northmen | Dunlendings | Drúedain

Vanyar | Ñoldor | Teleri | Sindar | Eldar | Avari

Durin's Folk | Firebeards | Broadbeams | Ironfists | Blacklocks | Stonefoots | Stiffbeards


  • 1:Matthew Ward, A Shadow in the East, 2005, ISBN 1 84154 695 X, p 48
  • 2:Ibid p 18
  • 3:Ibid pp 4–5

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