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Old 03-14-2006, 08:39 PM   #1
littlemanpoet
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Relative Powers

A certain rpg has got me thinking about this (not the first time).

I'd like to get it situated somewhat "officially" and systematically the hierarchy of Powers in Middle Earth/Arda, all the way from the top to the bottom; that is, from Eru to spiders and goblins.

Tolkien is the source for this.

I'll start with a list, which I'm hoping is more or less in order by greater power. ... I'll follow it with a "for instance" or two. I'm sure my list is incomplete. Feel free to add to it. At the top of the list will be individual entities, but lower down it will be groups.

Eru
Morgoth
Manwë
Varda
Tulkas
Aulë
Lorien
-
-
-
Ancalagon
Ungoliant
Glaurung
Smaug
-
Sauron
-
Witch King of Angmar
-
Gandalf the White
Saruman
Gandalf the Grey
Balrog
Blue Istari
Radagast
-
-
Fëanor
Glorfindel
Finrod Felagund
-
-
Ent
Troll
-
Shelob
-
Beleg
Turin
-
Elf
Uruk hai
Warg
Human
Dwarf
Orc
Gollum
Goblin
Hobbit
Spider

*******************
For instances:

*We know that one Dragon would burn one Dwarf to a crisp; but 20 Dwarves were able to take out one Dragon.

*Gandalf the Grey defeated a Balrog

*Glorfindel died at the hands of a Balrog

What other "for instances" are there? I'm sure there have to be plenty. And surely I'm wrong on some of this. Tell me where, and show me how.

*******************

EDIT: [u]For those of you who are new to this thread that has already spanned 6 pages, here is a link to the Updated List, which reflects my thoughts after observing many great minds work through a lot of the issues raised by this topic. Enjoy!

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Old 03-14-2006, 08:46 PM   #2
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Silmaril

I think Witch King should be somewhere lower. Or Feanor and some of the other elves a bit higher.
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Old 03-14-2006, 08:48 PM   #3
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Interesting list you're making up there...

'twould be a bit much for me to get into everything listed here, so I'll deal with two positionings that I find somewhat incongruous...

The first is the positioning of Finrod Felagund below Glorfindel.

Finrod was an exceptional Elda. He was able to contest Sauron himself in a battle of music, and though he lost, it was not until after a great battle. Glorfindel, though valiantly fighting a Balrog, was still easily slain. It was not until after his reincarnation (and by reason of his reincarnation) that he began one of the "Great". And, for what it's worth, Finrod was also reincarnated.

The second is the positioning of Beleg at a higher point than Túrin Turambar, and I'll admit here to relying completely on a possibly faulty memory, but I seem to recall a line or two in either the Silmarillion or Unfinished Tales stating how Túrin, at the height of the prowess was a greater warrior than virtually any Elf (I may be thinking specifically of the Saeros situation here...). All the same, I would personally like to have Túrin on my side in a battle rather than Beleg, if it came down to overall prowess.
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Old 03-14-2006, 09:08 PM   #4
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Formendacil, I acceed to your well made points until they are proven false by yet greater efforts at erudition. I must say that I find it hard to countenance Túrin and individual Elves as above Ents, but, well, these were singular Elves, now, weren't they?

Eonwe, I appreciate your opinion, but I need some evidence before I'll make an alteration.

Eru
Morgoth
Manwë
Varda
Tulkas
Aulë
Lorien
-
-
-
Ancalagon
Ungoliant
Glaurung
Smaug
-
Sauron
-
Witch King of Angmar
-
Gandalf the White
Saruman
Gandalf the Grey
Balrog
Blue Istari
Radagast
-
Túrin Turambar
-
Fëanor
-
Finrod Felagund
-
Glorfindel
-
-
Ent
Troll
-
Shelob
-
Beleg

-
Elf
Uruk hai
Warg
Human
Dwarf
Orc
Gollum
Goblin
Hobbit
Spider
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Old 03-14-2006, 10:44 PM   #5
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Tolkien

I suppose you assume Tolkien is extraneous to Middle-earth, otherwise you would have started your list with him?

And the eagles would be placed where?
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Old 03-14-2006, 10:59 PM   #6
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Just got a question. What about the other Vala?? Where's Mandos and Yavanna?? Because they are of greater power then Lorien. If I'm correct, Yavanna is the second highest Valier, is she not? And Aulë, Ulmo and Mandos were of all greater power then Tulkas.

As for Hobbit, I think they deserve a place higher then Goblin's. After all, Bullroarer did invent a game after knocking off the head of a goblin. I also think that they should be in between Orc and Dwarf because of their feats, even if they were few.

I believe that Ungoliant deserves a place higher up. After all, she did almost kill Morgoth.

I can't think of anything else other than the remianig Valar (Vana, Nessa, etc.) and they all do deserve a high place. They are Valar.

Oh, wait!! I've just remembered a few Maiar. Eonwe, Osse and Uinen all deserve a place in there for being a few of the Maiar named.

Wow, that's a lot!! Well, take what you want. After all, it is your list.
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Old 03-14-2006, 11:57 PM   #7
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Earendil slew Ancalagon the black, Thorondor marred Melkor's face, Echtelion killed the lord of the balrongs, Eonwe was the mightiest in arms in all Arda, Hurin was the "mightiest of the warriors of mortal Men". In the second prophecy of Mandos, Turin is said to kill Melkor, so let's give him some more credit .
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Old 03-15-2006, 01:31 AM   #8
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Oh, this is a real sweetshop of a thread. You know it's bad for you, but you have to indulge in it nonetheless...

Putting Turin above Feanor is nothing short of preposterous! I'd put him back where he was, on about Beleg's level. Some reference to him being Adanedhel and Elf-like in prowess wouldn't justify him being cabable of beating Feanor in his wrath, who faced battalions of Balrogs. And bringing up the Dagor Dagorath is just eschatological and odd. Our description of it is vague and mucked up.

I'd also put Maedhros and Fingolfin, in that order, above Feanor (though admitting Fingolfin's place hurts); though a genius and a great artist, I don't think Feanor was necessarily the best warrior of the Eldar-except with words and will-are we factoring that in?

Hurin I would put...above Glorfindel but below Finrod. Actually, Beleg should be above Glorfindel too. Glorfindel had pretty hair and was brave and nice, but Beleg was the best tracker in the world, could find his way around the Girdle, turned up to the Nirnaeth and survived, and could definitely have beaten the majority of Elves. Remember he was a swordsman as well as an archer...
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Old 03-15-2006, 03:37 AM   #9
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And where is Tom Bombadil on the list?
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Old 03-15-2006, 03:38 AM   #10
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Let me crack open a can of worms. I wonder where and indeed why Ungoliant should be on this list at all. I would argue that she is incredibly difficult to place as she is possibly 'outside' any kind of hierarchy.

Quote:
there in Avathar, secret and unknown, Un- goliant had made her abode. The Eldar knew not whence she came; but some have said that in ages long before she descended from the darkness that lies about Arda, when Melkor first looked down in envy upon the Kingdom of Manwe, and that in the beginning she was one of those that he corrupted to his service. But she had disowned her Master, desiring to be mistress of her own lust, taking all things to herself to feed her emptiness; and she fled to the south, escaping the assaults of the Valar and the hunters of Orome, for their vigilance had ever been to the north, and the south was long unheeded. Thence she had crept towards the light of the Blessed Realm; for she hungered for light and hated it.

In a ravine she lived, and took shape as a spider of monstrous form, weaving her black webs in a cleft of the mountains. There she sucked up all light that she could find, and spun it forth again in dark nets of strangling gloom, until no light more could come to her abode; and she was famished.

Now Melkor came to Avathar and sought her out; and he put on again the form that he had worn as the tyrant of Utumno: a dark Lord, tall and terrible. In that form he remained ever after. There in the black shadows, beyond the sight even of Manwe in his highest halls, Melkor with Un-goliant plotted his revenge. But when Ungoliant understood the purpose of Melkor, she was torn between lust and great fear; for she was loath to dare the perils of Aman and the power of the dreadful Lords, and she would not stir from her hiding. Therefore Melkor said to her: 'Do as I bid; and if thou hunger still when all is done, then I will give thee whatsoever thy lust may demand. Yea, with both hands.' Lightly he made this vow, as he ever did; and he laughed in his heart. Thus did the great thief set his lure for the lesser.
The Eldar knew not whence she came; but some have said that in ages long before she descended from the darkness that lies about Arda, when Melkor first looked down in envy upon the Kingdom of Manwe - this suggests that she was not 'created' and so was outside Eru's creation, but entered his world where she attracted Melkor's attention.

But she had disowned her Master, desiring to be mistress of her own lust, taking all things to herself to feed her emptiness - she is the servant of Melkor which obviously means he has been able to enlist her, but note, he was unable to control her, as she was able to leave his service. He must then win her back with a lie.

she was loath to dare the perils of Aman and the power of the dreadful Lords, and she would not stir from her hiding. Therefore Melkor said to her: 'Do as I bid; and if thou hunger still when all is done, then I will give thee whatsoever thy lust may demand. Yea, with both hands.' - This suggests that Ungoliant was afraid of the Valar and the Elves, but does this mean they were more powerful than her? Perhaps she feared what they could do en masse? Or maybe she even feared to upset them, knowing she was an 'outsider'? Or was this just fear as she wished to be left alone to live as she needed, feeding off Light?

Ungoliant also clearly thinks that Melkor has the potential to defeat the rest of the Valar; maybe she was convinced by him as she wished rather to be on the winning than losing side if he was to defeat them? Anyway, in terms of power hierarchies, it suggests some fluidity and ambiguity, certainly at that point in the history of Ea.

I think Ungoliant is too difficult to place in such a structure; there is much evidence that she was from outside Ea, and as such was (is?) an independent being. If we take her as a natural complement to Eru, the Darkness or Void to his Light, then we could even see her as comparable in power.

Well, I've finished my main course of worm pie, now for some pudding. I think I'll open another can of nice, sweet, juicy worms...

Where does Tom Bombadil sit on this list? Not to mention Goldberry...



Nice thread, much potential for fisticuffs and duelling. And worms.
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Old 03-15-2006, 03:59 AM   #11
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Tolkien

Some thoughts:

* Melkor/Morgoth is a difficult one. If you view the original Melkor, he's on the right place in your hierarchy; but would you view Morgoth at the end of the FA, he would have to end up far lower.
* Ungoliant should be far higher (she ensnared Morgoth!)
* the WiKi between Saruman and Gandalf the Grey
* Túrin below Fëanor
* Ents above named Elves
* Shelob

Where would we put Tom B.?
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Old 03-15-2006, 04:18 AM   #12
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Tolkien

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
The Eldar knew not whence she came; but some have said that in ages long before she descended from the darkness that lies about Arda, when Melkor first looked down in envy upon the Kingdom of Manwe - this suggests that she was not 'created' and so was outside Eru's creation, but entered his world where she attracted Melkor's attention.

.....

I think Ungoliant is too difficult to place in such a structure; there is much evidence that she was from outside Ea, and as such was (is?) an independent being. If we take her as a natural complement to Eru, the Darkness or Void to his Light, then we could even see her as comparable in power.
I think she was created [Eru is, like God in RL, in Tolkien's world the Creator of all] and was one of the Ainur who stayed (initially in her case, of course) with Eru. Like Tulkas she probably entered Eä later from the Void, where she wandered from the Timeless Halls (much like Melkor). But that's another discussion alltogether, of course
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Old 03-15-2006, 06:23 AM   #13
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* I'm not sure if all the dragons should be above Sauron. At least I would put Smaug below him.
* The Witch King is placed far too high. If Gandalf could cope with all the nine the same time, he's definitely too high up. Besides he was killed by a human, who wasn't even a great war hero. Thirdly, the rangers were able to drive away the single nazguls. Fourthly he and his 8 fellow buddies were not a match for Aragorn and Glorfindel.

I'm rather interested where Aragorn should be placed on that list.

*I would drop Túrin far lower. He doesn't deserve to be so high up. Wasn't it said that Fëanor was the most powerful of the children of Ilúvatar?
*Shelob should be higher up. It is said about her that no war hero of ancient times could have vanquished her. Or wait... Something like that. I should probably check but I'm too lazy. At least she should be above trolls. I think you overvaluate trolls. Pippin slew one. Tom, Bert and William are surely dangerous, but not more dangerous than Shelob!
*Ang, I disagree about Fingolfin and Maedhros. I'm a fan of Maedhros, but I would put him below Fingolfin and them both below Fëanor. He was maybe a stupid guy, but he was a powerful genious.
*And I would place Gollum above an orc and spider over hobbit. Bilbo was an exceptional hobbit and he had an exceptional ring. An average hobbit is a plump farmer. I don't doubt that a spider is more powerful.

Where would you people place the Ring? That's an interesting question.
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Old 03-15-2006, 06:50 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinlómien

Where would you people place the Ring? That's an interesting question.
The Ring could go either near the top or at the bottom.

Top because it has incredible inherent powers and even those as 'strong' as Gandalf and Galadriel would not use it. It also has a lure, and a reputation which may be even stronger than its actual power in terms of 'enslaving' or enrapturing people.

Bottom because all that power could be riding on the reputation of the object - we have seen how it had different effects on different people; perhaps some were more able to disregard the 'hype'? And most importantly, bottom because after all, it was destroyed when a weakened Hobbit lost his footing while prancing about. It's almost a comedy ending (though dark comedy) that this object which meant so much to Sauron was destroyed by a cosmic banana skin!
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Old 03-15-2006, 08:03 AM   #15
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I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for lmp, interesting thread you got going here. But to back up what Eonwe said about the WK being lower. I would agree.

Tolkien tells us that the Nazgul's primary weapon is fear, they have no great physical power over the fearless (like Gandalf, Glorfindel, Aragorn...etc) They thrive off of fear, and that's why they can be so powerful, but those who are fearless the Nazgul don't have too much power over. Even when the W-K is granted extra demonic force from Sauron during the Siege of Gondor I still think the WK fled from the gate because Gandalf stood strong at the gate and showed no fear.

So for the W-K, I'm not sure how you worked out the list, but I would put at least Gandalf the White above the Witch-King. So I would put at the least Gandalf the White above the WK. Maybe even Gandalf the Grey, who fought several of the Nazgul on Weathertop.

I don't know if there is a clear hierarchy to this, it may just be getting more confusing. Because I also think Glorfindel can take the W-K anyday, as he drives them into the fords. Being Glorfindel of Gondolin slaying a balrog, and reincarnated as Glorfindel of Rivendell, I think he should also above the WK. Which means do we drop the WK below?
Quote:
Witch King of Angmar
-
Gandalf the White
Saruman
Gandalf the Grey
Balrog
Blue Istari
Radagast
-
-
Fëanor
Glorfindel
Finrod Felagund
You may want to re-order that to:

Gandalf the White
Saruman
Gandalf the Grey
Feanor
Glorfindel
Finrod
Witch-King
Balrog
Blue Istari
Radagast

It's hard to compare the Istari to the Elves, but if you are going to put a Balrog above the Istari, then I think that group of 3 powerful elves needs to be put above them. Because Glorfindel defeated a Balrog, and I do agree that Feanor in hte hierarchy of things is tougher than Glorfindel.

LMP, I don't think there is a clear cut hierarchy, as I think you can see by now. It's not like there's destinct levels, there are certainly those like the valar who are more powerful than everyone. But for Elves, and Istari, and Maia...etc there's a bunch of tangles if you get what I mean.

Eowyn defeats the WK but I would not put her above a Balrog or any of the Istari, or any human. A lot of factors must be considered. One would be I definitely think the WK needs to be dropped down. Even with Demonic powers granted by Sauron and being the Ruler of the Nazgul he was still once a human and doesn't have much power over the fearless. So, I think he needs to be dropped down, maybe even below a Balrog in the list I made above.

I dropped the WK down so far, because again the "fear factor" and if Glorfindel isn't afraid of the WK then I doubt Feanor or Finrod would be. Especially not Feanor. I hope you can make some sense of this mindless pile of jumbo.
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Old 03-15-2006, 08:32 AM   #16
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many tangles, but interesting to consider.


Quote:
Tolkien tells us that the Nazgul's primary weapon is fear
especially for us mortal readers. I would lower the WK even further down than Boro. To the undying, the fear would be from the various poisonous weaponry the WK wielded, and the flying creature that gave an obvious advantage. Also, perhaps, the legions that were usually at his command.

So that leads me to think about something that is not a single person, but an "entity" of one: the Army of the Dead. would that be considered on the list? Big fear factor on that one (at least for mortals).

Also what about my favorite critter: Huan?

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Old 03-15-2006, 09:21 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88
Tolkien tells us that the Nazgul's primary weapon is fear, they have no great physical power over the fearless (like Gandalf, Glorfindel, Aragorn...etc) They thrive off of fear, and that's why they can be so powerful, but those who are fearless the Nazgul don't have too much power over. Even when the W-K is granted extra demonic force from Sauron during the Siege of Gondor I still think the WK fled from the gate because Gandalf stood strong at the gate and showed no fear.
Quote:
Originally Posted by drigel
especially for us mortal readers. I would lower the WK even further down than Boro. To the undying, the fear would be from the various poisonous weaponry the WK wielded, and the flying creature that gave an obvious advantage. Also, perhaps, the legions that were usually at his command.

So that leads me to think about something that is not a single person, but an "entity" of one: the Army of the Dead. would that be considered on the list? Big fear factor on that one (at least for mortals).
Both great points. I've thought for a long time now that some if not most of the power of the Nazgul resides in their ability to foster fear - especially considering the 'death of the WK prophecy' which helped ensure his scary, untouchable 'power' went before him. And thinking about it, many of the powers of Sauron, from Nazgul to Ruling Rings, are based upon sheer fear.

But if we think about it, fear should actually place the Nazgul and the Ring and other such entities high on a list of 'power', instead of low. Power isn't just about the ability to wield a sword or cast a spell, it's also about the ability to control, and fear is a major weapon in achieving this end - otherwise how could a man who is allegedly hiding in a primitive cave somewhere be causing so many things to happen in the world right now?
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Old 03-15-2006, 09:29 AM   #18
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like the thread says - it's all relative. It depends on whose perspective you are taking.

Mabye LMP should construct a grid, instead of working in a linear fashion.

Personally, I would place Huan in between Sauron and G the White



edit:
Quote:
and fear is a major weapon in achieving this end
well, then you would (by the end of the 3rd age at the least) have to put Galadriel on that list, because she was much feared by many non-elvish folk, right? She should at least be up there with the Feanor/Glorfindel group

or perhaps you would have to multiple lines - say for elves, the top would be:
Morgoth
Balrog
Sauron

for humans it would be:
Sauron
WK
Ancalagon

etc

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Old 03-15-2006, 01:11 PM   #19
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But if we think about it, fear should actually place the Nazgul and the Ring and other such entities high on a list of 'power', instead of low. Power isn't just about the ability to wield a sword or cast a spell, it's also about the ability to control, and fear is a major weapon in achieving this end -
And of course I would agree, fear can be a powerful weapon. Saruman also uses it sometimes, his manipulating abilities help him out a bunch. But, I would put those who don't show fear, and are fearless (like Gandalf and Glorfindel seem to be) above the WK. That's what makes the WK so strong, and there are very few who don't show any fear for the WK, but for those few who would qualify in the "not fearing" category I would put above him.
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Old 03-15-2006, 02:45 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by LMP
Eonwe, I appreciate your opinion, but I need some evidence before I'll make an alteration.
Will do, mi'lord!

Actually, are you looking for hard and fast evidences, or are you looking for interpretations of data?

An interpretation of data is as follows:

Finrod Felegund, as per your list already, is below both Feanor and Glorfindel. Finrod strove with Sauron on Tol-in-Gauthrol and matched him fairly well. Fairly well, though Sauron obviously had the mastery. We can assume, by common sense, that Sauron is quite a ways above the Witch King. And if Finrod is near Sauron, then he is above the Witch King. And so are Feanor and Glorfindel.

Also, Glorfindel was said to have slain a Balrog in the sack of Gondolin. Balrogs being what they are, corrupted Maia, no less, I would say that is a considerable feat. I would think Balrog would be above Witch King as well, considering they were the primary servents of Morgoth.

Not to mention Gandalf. I think he is a bit of an enigma, considering that he is expressly forbidden to match himself power-for-power against the enemy. I think he would end up quite a bit farther up then you would expect, in a duel. (Remember, Gandalf the Grey is matched against the Balrog after performing the shutting spell, which seems to have weakened him quite a bit.)
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Old 03-15-2006, 04:20 PM   #21
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Running Tally #3

Thanks one and all for a very interesting and robust response to my humble thread. Now for answers to the replies (through Eonwe) so far:

Just a few points. Bullroarer Took was an exceptional Hobbit. So I can place him individually above Goblins, but not your typical Hobbit. Humans apparently have a greater potential than Elves, which is foreshadowed in Ilúvatar's words in the Ainúlindalë; however, the typical Human is far below the typical Elf in relative power. Therefore, Húrin and Túrin can conceivably considered to have attained a higher degree of power than Fëanor. Sorry, Ang. We are factoring in all the primary modes of power, not merely swordsmanship or magic, but will, word of power (closely related to magic, I suppose), and all other such that have an effect upon reality within the confines of Arda.

Ang, I need a reason to put Maedhros and Fingolfin above Fëanor.

Lalwendë, there is enough in the quoted text to include Ungoliant in the list. The "it is said" bit is a classic Tolkienism that is used to suggest legend and folklore rather than feigned history. Therefore, I'm going to go with the feigned history. One of the presuppositions for this thread is that there is no being that is independent of the creation of Eru.

I'm all for worms, fisticuffs, well made points, and corrections backed by evidence to this list. But it being my list, I will make decisions now and then to end certain points of debate, as I did above regarding Ungoliant. It was a very good effort, Lal, but doomed, as it butted its head up against an immutabilty.

Earendilyon: WiKi?

Thinlomien: Why put Smaug below Sauron? Does it say that Fëanor was the most powerful? If so, that is good evidence, but let's be sure. Where did Gandalf cope with all 9 Nazgúl at the same time? The Witchking was killed by means of a word of prophecy as much as by a woman and a Hobbit by whom the prophecy was fulfilled. Do you really think you can place Merry and Eowyn above Maiar? I can't agree on Gollum being more powerful than a typical Orc. He was, after all, just a Hobbit addicted to the Ring. The Ring itself, being a part of Sauron's power, would have to go below Sauron, but above Saruman and Gandalf, who admitted that it was too much for him. And no, Tom Bombadil does not become more powerful than Sauron on that account, because the Ring was of a nature by which it wouldn't affect him.

Boromir, even though the primary weapon is fear, it's not the only weapon. The Witch King and the other Nazgúl were negative spiritual forces. I think the Witch King left the Gate because of Rohan; he was ready to take on Gandalf right then and there, which suggests to me the WK at least thought he could win. Also, the power of the Nazgúl seems to have become greater later in the War. Which suggests to me that at one point Glorfindel is greater, but not later on. I'm not sure I can prove that. Any takers?

Eonwe, I'm looking for both hard and fast, and reasonable interpretations of data; if we don't allow the latter, there's no hope for getting anywhere with this (as if there ever were ha ha!). Slaying a creature does not make someone more powerful than that creature. Fate can come into play, and so can luck and skill. It helps, but does not create a one to one correlation.

Eru
Morgoth
Manwë
Varda
Yavanna
Ulmo
Aulë
Mandos
Tulkas
Lorien
Vana
Nessa
Earendil
Ancalagon
Ungoliant
Glaurung
Smaug
Sauron
Eonwë
Osse
Uinen
The Ring
Witch King of Angmar
Gandalf the White
Saruman
Gandalf the Grey
Balrogs
Thorondor
Eagles
Fëanor
Finrod Felagund
Húrin
Túrin Turambar (Morgoth slaying is eschatological)
Blue Istari
Radagast
Glorfindel
Tom Bombadil
Ents
Trolls
Shelob
Beleg
Goldberry
Elves
Uruk hai
Wargs
Humans
Dwarves
Orcs
Bullroarer Took
Gollum
Goblins
Spiders
Hobbits

Thanks much, the response has been very helpful so far. There's a long way to go, too.
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Old 03-15-2006, 04:28 PM   #22
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Re: Smaug below Sauron

In Unfinished Tales, "The Quest for Erebor", Gandalf goes on for some time about what the effects on Middle-Earth would have been without the events of The Hobbit. Bearing particularly on this situation, he refers to the devastating effect on Rivendell had Smaug not been killed, and from the passage, one gains a direct feeling that although Sauron might not have had direct control over the dragon's actions, he would definitely have been able to use him, and would have been the senior partner in any partnership they might have formed.

So I agree with Thinlómien, Smaug ought to be placed below Sauron.

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Old 03-15-2006, 06:07 PM   #23
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I can see the Smaug/Sauron pseudo-alliance working much like the Sauron/Shelob one. However, I am put in my (by way of example) of historic wars, during which one nation, quite powerful, does the work for another just as powerful country such that the third, attacked, nation, is attacked from both sides; this doesn't necessarily indicate that one power is greater or lesser than another, just useful to the initiator.
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Old 03-15-2006, 08:37 PM   #24
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Silmaril Query

I take it you have regected my analysis of data? Thou stick in the mud!

LMP, are you dealing with these entities as people, or people groups? Are 'Ents', 'Goblins', 'Hobbits', and 'Elves', waiting to be fleshed out, or are you planing to keep them that way?

Because I don't think you really can. Balrogs come in all different shapes and sizes. Same for pretty much ever other race. I realize that will make your job allot harder. Or are you shooting for a more general overview of a certain race?
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Old 03-15-2006, 09:05 PM   #25
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Good point Eonwe. I think if an Ent and an orc each had on free hit on each other, we know who would win. But, a group of orcs in there natural state (with weapons) and Ents in their natural state (themselves), the battle would be more even, no matter what Flotasm and Jetseam says.

There are other thing too. Like, Isildur i think would be way below Sauron no matter what; even though he "defeated" him, it was more chance, he did not best him. Perhaps there should be a seperate list for individuals that is somewhat based on their grouping; a list of only species would be a lot easir in different ways I think. Some things however, might be so small in entity they might be mixed with groups. (like Ungilont, even though there would be a spider gruop, and then spiders could be broken down into spiders of Mirkwood, of Ered Gogoroth, etc)
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Old 03-15-2006, 09:24 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eonwe
I take it you have regected my analysis of data? Thou stick in the mud!
No. I'm holding on to it for more consideration.

Quote:
LMP, are you dealing with these entities as people, or people groups? Are 'Ents', 'Goblins', 'Hobbits', and 'Elves', waiting to be fleshed out, or are you planing to keep them that way?
Individuals may be extracted from people groups.

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Because I don't think you really can. Balrogs come in all different shapes and sizes. Same for pretty much ever other race. I realize that will make your job allot harder. Or are you shooting for a more general overview of a certain race?
More general, but specified as much as is not unwieldy. I'm wondering about pulling apart the Eldar into their various people groups?

Please do recall, Elu, that this is not just "battles". This is the physical, psychic, and spiritual aspects of each individual & people group, as described by Tolkien.
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Old 03-15-2006, 09:34 PM   #27
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Ah, right. Powers implied in my head made me thing of turnbased RPG.
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Old 03-16-2006, 01:58 AM   #28
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I've always thought this sort of "power" hierarchy is a red herring. Put rock, scissors, and paper in a hierarchy... see what I mean? Sauron's will beats Orcs, Orcish muscle beats hobbits, hobbit fortitude beats Sauron. If you need a snappy rhyme in a hurry, a Spider is a better bet than an Ent, but if you need to roust a wizard, talk to Treebeard.

What do you measure? Denethor has the power to set armies in motion with a command, but Legolas could put an arrow through his eye. Which is more "powerful"? If it's a good home-cooked meal you want, forget them both and see Sam. Which is a more accurate measure of power: the sheer magical force that Gandalf could project, or the wisdom which guided his decisions?

The problem with this sort of list is that it does seem to evoke a videogame mentality -- you start comparing Gandalf and Saruman's mana points, or Aragorn's armor class vs. Boromir's armor class.

If you're talking Middle-earth Fight Club, there are still a few kinks to be worked out. Sauron pre-Ring, Sauron with Ring, and Sauron the giant flaming eyeball are all different animals. Same with Sauron on the battlefield vs. Sauron the insidious court advisor vs. Sauron the commander-in-chief.

Anyway. I've lodged my complaint. Carry on with the list-making.
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Old 03-16-2006, 02:38 AM   #29
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Littlemanpoet

Stop!

I know what RPG you are talking about, but Mr. Underhill is right. You can't do this. Well, of course, you can, but I mean the whole idea of making such a list runs counter to the message and spirit of Tolkien. Everything in LotR makes me realize that, at any given instant in time, the tables can be turned and someone from the bottom of the list can defeat someone higher up. What that means is that the list has no real meaning.

If Hobbits are listed number 167 (or whatever they are), then how come Frodo managed to outwit Sauron and destroy the Ring? How could Samwise possibly have defeated a gigantic spider, which should have had him for lunch? There are dozens of examples like this, involving races other than hobbits, but I am too lazy to list them all out.

P.S. f you really want to continue with this enterprise, I believe you've left Galadriel off your list....
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Old 03-16-2006, 03:25 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lmp
Lalwendë, there is enough in the quoted text to include Ungoliant in the list. The "it is said" bit is a classic Tolkienism that is used to suggest legend and folklore rather than feigned history. Therefore, I'm going to go with the feigned history. One of the presuppositions for this thread is that there is no being that is independent of the creation of Eru.

I'm all for worms, fisticuffs, well made points, and corrections backed by evidence to this list. But it being my list, I will make decisions now and then to end certain points of debate, as I did above regarding Ungoliant. It was a very good effort, Lal, but doomed, as it butted its head up against an immutabilty.
Hey, is this a democracy or a dictatorship?

I still say that there are elements in Tolkien's work that defy all attempts to be 'classified', and I think Tolkien intended it that way. One of the essential aspects of Faerie is that it is enigmatic and we cannot fully grasp what it means or how it works, and Tolkien's world works in the same way. Characters such as Ungoliant, Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are outside the logical world order, even that of Ea.

In fact, the layering of older drafts upon later drafts and the use of characters and situations which defy even religious (in terms of Eruist) logic help create the very essence of magic and faerie which is conveyed by Tolkien's work. Of course, the human urge (and even more so in the case of the Tolkienists' urge) is to classify and order everything, but sometimes we can't and we might have to accept some things that don't make us feel comfortable that this whole world is ordered by Eru.

The early version of Ungoliant from the Big Ungoliant Thread .
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Old 03-16-2006, 03:30 AM   #31
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I do agree the list is a bit weird thing to do. But I thnk the power should be measured in how much did/could the individual affect the world. Or that at least has been my unofficial guideline. That can be used for all my reasoning.
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Old 03-16-2006, 04:05 AM   #32
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Tolkien

lmp,

the Wiki is the WitchKing.

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I can't agree on Gollum being more powerful than a typical Orc.
IIRC, The Hobbit tells us, that Gollum once and a while ate some stray Orcs.
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Old 03-16-2006, 04:52 AM   #33
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Mr Underhill's paper/scissor/stone analogy also occurred to me.
And Child is right too - where *is* Galadriel?
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Old 03-16-2006, 07:52 AM   #34
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And Child is right too - where *is* Galadriel?
and Melian, and Huan, and....
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Old 03-16-2006, 08:05 AM   #35
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And Child is right too - where *is* Galadriel?
and Melian, and Huan, and....
Back to Valinor, back to Valinor, dead, and ....
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Old 03-16-2006, 08:13 AM   #36
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Silmaril

I seem to recall there being an earlier thread which tried to do the same thing. Couldn't find it though.

I am with Mister U and Child on this issue. It is impossible to come up with a neat and logical heirarchy of power when we are dealing with such a range of characters with varying types of power in a world such as Middle-earth.

Elempi, you say that you are looking at all aspects of power within each individual and each group. But different types of power will prove the most decisive in different situations. It was said that there was power, of a kind, within the Shire. Hobbits excel, more than most other characters, at hiding themselves away when they do not wish to be seen and in feats of great endurance. It was these abilities that enabled Frodo and Sam to destroy the Ring and save Middle-earth. So they were very powerful in that situation, moreso than Sauron since they defeated him, yet they would not fare well in a one-on-one with him. Saruman had great powers of persuasion and could corrupt nations and control vast armies, yet he was felled by the lowly Wormtongue. The power of Men was in their ability to resist the inevitability of the Music of the Ainur and embrace change, making them more powerful in may ways than Elves, yet Elves were, in general terms, their superiors in physical prowess and spiritual fortitude. The Witch King, particularly at the Siege of Minas Tirith, was one of the most powerful beings of his Age in many ways, and yet he had a fatal weakness which was exploited (unwittingly) to great effect by a mere Hobbit and a shieldmaiden. Turin was a powerful warrior and yet, in consequence of Morgoth's curse, everything that he tried to achieve turned to ruin. His powers were restricted by his circumstances.

And I just don't think that you can measure these varying types and degrees of power against each other in order to give each character a "power" rating. Whether they are more powerful, in absoute terms, than another character depends upon the circumstances of any given situation.

And then there is the problem of the nature of the information that we have to work from. You place the Dragons above Sauron. Sauron was, however, a Maia, whereas we have no conclusive indication as to the nature of Dragons. They may have been Maiar spirits trapped within the bodies of great beasts, but they may also have been great beasts raised to a higher level. Either way, it is impossible to say whether they are of a higher order than a "senior" Maia like Sauron. Instinctively, I would say not. Balrogs are another example. Depending upon the source, they were either incredibly powerful Maiar, limited in number, or they were lesser Maiar, great in number and little more powerful than the greatest Orc captains. You place them below the Witch-King. On one analysis, I would agree with you. On another, I would not.

Similarly, the relative power of a being depends upon the point in time that we are considering and the circumstances then prevailing. As others have pointed out, the powers of both Morgoth and Sauron waned over time. Saruman and Gandalf (and indeed all of the Istari) were greater Maiar and so incredibly powerful in their "natural" state. And yet, as the Istari, their powers were limited and they could be vulnerable to the lowliest of blows, as Saruman's death shows.

But, ultimately, I think that Child has it right, when she says:

Quote:
... the whole idea of making such a list runs counter to the message and spirit of Tolkien.
It is in the nature of Middle-earth that an individual's natural power is of less importance than the circumtances in which that character finds himself and, more significantly, his ability and strength of will to achieve his aims. In that regard, Frodo was infinately more powerful than, say, Boromir. And Turin, too. One of Tolkien's central themes, and one which runs through his writings, most particularly The Hobbit and LotR, is the ennoblement of the humble or, in other words, the fortitude of the least powerful to overcome the vast "powers" arrayed against them, and to prevail.
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Old 03-16-2006, 08:26 AM   #37
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Its interesting to make an order of sorts, but since we of the physical dimension can never make sense, or quantify (or understand really what the authors conception of - ) the powers of the unseen world of ME, the list could never get into detailed definitiveness - if thats a word.

other than yea - Manwe trumps Sauron, etc - the rest is like having a blind man pick a favorite color...

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Old 03-16-2006, 09:25 AM   #38
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I dont know much in the ways of the upper spectrum but the lower i more grasp...

Dwarves should be above humans for this simple reason they have about equal strength but dwarves are smaller sooo proportionally they have greater strength
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Old 03-16-2006, 09:59 AM   #39
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Where on the list would The Half-orcs come, lower or higher than the orcs, and what about Troll-men?
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Old 03-16-2006, 09:25 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eonwe
Finrod Felegund, as per your list already, is below both Feanor and Glorfindel. Finrod strove with Sauron on Tol-in-Gauthrol and matched him fairly well. Fairly well, though Sauron obviously had the mastery. We can assume, by common sense, that Sauron is quite a ways above the Witch King. And if Finrod is near Sauron, then he is above the Witch King. And so are Feanor and Glorfindel.
The Witch King's power comes from the ring he wears, the power of which is derived from the One Ring. Otherwise, he is a Black Numenorean Man; as such, he is less than many Elves. But the 'otherwise' is not the case we are dealing with. The nub of the issue is that Gandalf the White and the Witch King seem to be more or less evenly matched (Jackson was stupid for having WK break Gandalf's staff), but the WK the more dire of the two. If so, then the WK is greater than Balrogs. Which I find troublesome, because I'm not sure he is. So let's say that the Witch King actually is lesser than Gandalf the White. I think it's still safe to say that WK is greater than Saruman.

Now as to Finrod and Fëanor. So if it's true that Fëanor strove with a host of Balrogs and held his own, well, that's pretty incredible! That puts Fëanor above Gandalf the White but under the Ring, but that just doesn't seem right to me. At best Fëanor and Finrod go between Saruman and Gandalf the Grey.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eonwe
Also, Glorfindel was said to have slain a Balrog in the sack of Gondolin. Balrogs being what they are, corrupted Maia, no less, I would say that is a considerable feat. I would think Balrog would be above Witch King as well, considering they were the primary servents of Morgoth.
Although a considerable feat, to slay a creature in pitched battle is a different thing than to slay a creature in one to one combat. All kinds of extraneous factors come into pitched battles. Still, it is an incredible feat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eonwe
Not to mention Gandalf. I think he is a bit of an enigma, considering that he is expressly forbidden to match himself power-for-power against the enemy. I think he would end up quite a bit farther up then you would expect, in a duel. (Remember, Gandalf the Grey is matched against the Balrog after performing the shutting spell, which seems to have weakened him quite a bit.)
I still see the Maiar of Valinor as above Gandalf the White, until someone can show me otherwise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. U.
I've always thought this sort of "power" hierarchy is a red herring. Put rock, scissors, and paper in a hierarchy... see what I mean? Sauron's will beats Orcs, Orcish muscle beats hobbits, hobbit fortitude beats Sauron.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Child
I mean the whole idea of making such a list runs counter to the message and spirit of Tolkien. Everything in LotR makes me realize that, at any given instant in time, the tables can be turned and someone from the bottom of the list can defeat someone higher up. What that means is that the list has no real meaning.
For example...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sauce
Saruman had great powers of persuasion and could corrupt nations and control vast armies, yet he was felled by the lowly Wormtongue.
Hobbit fortitude was not enough to defeat Sauron. Galadriel's Phial played an important role when they faced Shelob. Sting held Sam in good stead in the Tower of Cirith Ungol. My point is that we have here the power of Elves combined with the power of Hobbits, strength married to strength. I strongly disagree that this runs counter to the message and spirit of Tolkien. I would guess that among his notes such lists may very well be found. I have created such comparative lists in my own writing (not to say mine is on a par with Tolkien, far from it); such questions naturally arise from the writing process, and for me, in the appreciation process as well.

And your own point, Child, reinforces my efforts here: the tables can be turned because a certain Hobbit speaks a prayer to one of the highest ranking Valar in a time of need, while wielding and Elven sword and Phial of light. So in the Shelob instance alone, we have an evil spider spirit (who is clearly more than just a spider) facing a Hobbit fortified with the strength of Elves and a Vala.

Saruman's case is quite interesting. As I have already distinguished between Gandalf the Grey and White, it would be well to distinguish between Saruman of Orthanc and Saruman divested, or whatever adjective you wish to apply. The point is, Wormtongue wouldn't have had a prayer against Saruman before Gandalf the White broke Saruman's staff. Saruman divested was a crushed wizard, a broken but eloquent man.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
Hey, is this a democracy or a dictatorship?
This thread is a democracy and my list is a dictatorship. If you wish to be a dictator too, start a rival list. My list will continue to be Eru-centric, even to the extent of Ungoliant, Tom Bombadil, and Goldberry. I acknowledge the layering of which you speak; still, I believe there to be principles of spirit written into the texts that adhere to a hierarchical approach to "powers".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinlómien
I do agree the list is a bit weird thing to do. But I thnk the power should be measured in how much did/could the individual affect the world.
Precisely. I could not have said it better. I would include groups as well. I bolded 'weird' because the word also has connotations of power of spirit; so I agree too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earendilyon
the Wiki is the WitchKing.
Okay. Thanks.
Quote:
IIRC, The Hobbit tells us, that Gollum once and a while ate some stray Orcs.
But Gollum is wearing the Ring when he kills these orcs (or Goblins, I like to differentiate between the two); he could never have done so without the Ring.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morsul the Dark
Dwarves should be above humans for this simple reason they have about equal strength but dwarves are smaller sooo proportionally they have greater strength.
You make a good case. Yet there is the potential in Humanity that goes far beyond Dwarvish potential. On the other hand, that potential is found in individuals, not groups; so as groups, I think that I am persuaded to put Dwarves above Humans .... in general.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A narfforc
Where on the list would The Half-orcs come, lower or higher than the orcs, and what about Troll-men?
Uruk Hai are half-orcs. Hmm... maybe the belong between Humans and Orcs? Troll-men? Where are they found in Tolkien?

Eru
Morgoth
Manwë
Varda
Yavanna
Ulmo
Aulë
Mandos
Tulkas
Lorien
Vana
Nessa
Earendil
Ancalagon
Ungoliant
Glaurung
Smaug
Sauron
Eonwë
Osse
Uinen
The Ring
Gandalf the White
Witch King of Angmar
Saruman
Fëanor
Finrod Felagund
Melian
Galadriel
Thingol
Elrond
Gandalf the Grey
Glorfindel
Balrogs
Húrin
Túrin Turambar (Morgoth slaying is eschatological)
Círdan
Blue Istari
Thorondor
Eagles
Huan
Radagast
Tom Bombadil
Ents
Trolls
Shelob
Beleg
Goldberry
Elves
Wargs
Dwarves
Humans
Uruk hai
Orcs
Bullroarer Took
Gollum
Goblins
Spiders
Hobbits

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 03-16-2006 at 09:29 PM.
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