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Old 12-15-2008, 03:42 PM   #1
Alfirin
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Greetings,

As I was re-reading the ROTK, it struck me that Sauron having the winged beasts at his disposal, seemed to make very poor use of them, both in the sense of keeping them hidden till so late in the war, and more importantly in pretty much reserving thier use for the Nazgul only. The first is barely understandable, as Sauron may have wanted to keep them as a trump card until necessary. so as to aviod giving the West a chance to devise a retaliation. (while not likely is is just possible that, if the West had known Sauron had flying troops, they might have been able to convince Gwahir and the Eagles to join with the west implicitly, by making it clear to him that his territory, the skies, would not be spared by Sauron any more than the lands were.) The second point however just seems like pure folly. Granted there are proably not many in saurons forces outside of the wraith with sufficent strength of will to master a winged beast, but there must have been a few with the strenght either inherent in themselves or gifted by Sauron, who can (and on ocassion does) give power without giving rings. For example it would not suprise me to find that the Mouth of Sauron would have enough strengh. Granted wingled beast may not be readily avalible, but there is some evidence that there are at least a few extras (Legolas shoots one down, but all of the nazgul are with beasts in the battle at Pellenor and afterwards, so it seems that there would have had to be at least one spare in Sauron's stables).

Even with the situation as it was, the Nazgul seem to make little effective use of their beasts. Indeed except for the WK they seem to use them only for either 1. carrying messages to and from Mordor and 2. flying around over the battlefields making demoralyzing screeches. Not that there arent both prefectly useful things, but the beast could be used for so much more. For example (assuming that each wraith has some comapanies of troops under his own command, with all of course ultimately under the WK command). each Wraith could use his position in the sky to survey the battle and relay commands to his troops (say through a signal flag code) In a battle like pellenor, being able to see the whole field when your opponent can't (okay so someone standing at the very top of Minas Tirirth might be able to see, but a winged beast would give you a movable "eye in the sky" also (this would be more in the case of the first argumetn where there were "winged beast troops" rather than just wraith officers a person in the air would be in an excellent position to rain arrows or throwing spears down on the enemy. They wouldn even have to be all that powerful a shot since gravity would be working for them if they were above. Now onto the WK himself

The WK in my opinion is one of the few charcters who does make effective use of his winged beast. The moment he hears the horns of the Rohirrim he turns from the Gate and Gandalf and goes to the battlefield. Not that he does not go into the battle directly, on the horse that he is riding at the time but go and mount up his beast, This in my opion is a very smart move as it allows him to take Theoden out in what amount to a "surgical strike". Had he stayed on his horse (as in the heat of battle he might have contemplated in the interest of getting to Theoden as quickly as possible, before the Rohirrin turned the battle. The WK migh have had a hard fight to get near Theoden, a fight that while the WK would still suceed in (he is after all unhinderable by any man) would have taken a lot of time and would have involved theoden actually being ready for him. As is he is able to get straight at Theoden and, had Eowyn and Merry not happen to be exactly next to the king would have be able to slaw him with no resitiance whatsoever (it's unclear whether the WK knew Snowmane would rear the moment he saw the WK, but I tend to think that this was a happy (for the WK) accident as even if the WK did know, he could not have know that the horse would be guarteed to land on the king. Once again had Eowyn not been there. I think the WK plants after this would have been as follows, he would have stuck a killing blow on the now crushed Theoden (who is still tecnically alive, if crippled and pinned at this point) possibly taking his head to show the troops of the west to further demoralize them ("See how easily I have slain your King, Men of Rohan! I and my forces cannot be overcome!") The WK words seem to imply that he plans to let his winged beast eat the king and his horse, but it is unclear to me whether the WK would want to actually allow the beast enough time to do this, in the middle of a battle. After this the WK proably planned to either fly back into the sky and command from there (as suggested previosly) or even better signal to the other wraiths (the ones that are there, at least and simply fly OVER Gondors battlements, land and attack the citys troops from the inside crushing them between the two forces. The city would likey have fallen almost instantly and the battle would have been won. (yes the over the wall would only have had the WK and maybe five or so wraiths doing the inside fighting, but all of them are unkillable or unwoundable by any of the weapons held within the city (except for maybe Gandalf's (assuming that, somehow he manage to hold onto Glamdrig until he got to Lothlorien) and they would all know not to try and attack Gandalf one on one (execpt maybe the WK himself, who migh have been sufficently matched) Yes I know this is all specuation but this is how I see it might have gone down.

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Old 12-15-2008, 04:46 PM   #2
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Maybe this isn't pertinent to the events within the story itself, but Tolkien's own feelings on airborne warfare are certainly interesting when considering what he writes of it in his books. He was not comfortable at all with it, and I believe he was actually unhappy with his sons' choice to enter the RAF during WWII.

There's quite a bit of interesting material on this in various essays and in the letters - I would find some right now but it's a bit late

I did rummage out this from the letters though (it was a quote already online ):

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Originally Posted by Tolkien
...it is the aeroplane of war that is the real villain. And nothing can really amend my grief that you [Christopher], my best beloved, have any connexion with it. My sentiments are more or less those that Frodo would have had if he discovered some Hobbits learning to ride Nazgûl-birds, 'for the liberation of the Shire'.
I agree with you, there wasn't much strategic use made of the winged beasts, but Tolkien's own feelings, I suspect, had a lot to do with this.
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Old 12-15-2008, 05:18 PM   #3
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Hi Alfirin,

good points indeed!

It is unclear how many fell beasts Sauron owned, 10 at least and perhaps a few more 'spares' but I don't think it likely that he had hundreds of them stabled out the back of Barad-Dur (the Dark Tower's pigeon loft perhaps), though of course this is just my opinion!

They do appear to be the perfect command and scouting platforms for the Witchking's army, and the great value of fast aerial communication is nothing to be sniffed at either. As you say they provide the 'god-like-overview' that would be invaluable for the management of the siege of Minas Tirith, though possibly the Nazguls' vision could be obscured by the 'foul brown reek' or the smoke from the firepits, but its difficult to say with Nazgul.

I don't think its ever been convincingly established how many of the nine were at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. In a thread long ago there was much discussion and I worked it out as far as I could (in recompense for silly joking -fool of a Took), see here

Nazgul Spotting

Obviously 'number one' was there but Gothmog is at least a possibility, and perhaps (if he was a Nazgul) he employed his winged beast to assess the situation and throw in the reserves. I think the Winged beasts were too valuable for use in 'airborne assault' of Minas Tirith, as we know they are vulnerable to bows and arrows, and Gondor had various catapults etc (although they'd have to be very lucky to hit a maneuverable flying beast) - Gondorian ack-ack if you like. The Witchking used his steed to attack only a very high value target, ie Theoden, and could have swung the Battle had it not been for Eowyn and Merry.

Also I'm not so sure that the other Nazgul were so invulnerable, they were forced back by Aragorn with flaming brands etc and, unlike WK, they weren't prophesied to die 'not by the hands of man'. So it could have been risky both for the wraiths and their mounts.

Just seen Lal's post too, quite right! I have a feeling that the winged beasts were in some part inspired by the Stukas that JRRT must have seen in newsreels wreaking havoc on allied forces and civilians (naturally emphasized for propaganda purposes) during the blitzkrieg .
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Old 12-15-2008, 08:17 PM   #4
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I for the most part agree that there would be some inherent dangers in use of the winged beasts as an attack force (most of that, as I said was predicated on a situation where Sauron did, though pre planning have hundreds or thousands of winged beasts at his disposal (i.e. he had though ahead and spend a good potion of his time in effor in his "hidden years" breeding winged beasts and incresing thier numbers.) but that theere would be advatages too, and that many of the difficulties, could be elminated, or at least minimized with careful planning. Winged beasts are indeed rather vulnerable to arrow fire, but that could be taken care of in two ways, you could keep the force high enough to be out of range of ground bowshot and still be able to shoot yourself as anything that falls from the sky eventually hits the ground (it might be hard to shoot accurately from that high up but in a piched meele you shoud still hit something (plus of course the Nazgul have the advatage of not really having a person to person care for thier troops and would likey be unconcerned with heavy losses due to "friendly fire"). With a little bit of pre planning you could also possibly get around the problem with the experident of equpping the winged beasts with light armor of thier own, as is understand was sometimes done to horses in the middle ages. It wouldn't neccarily have to be particularly heavy armor just something to block arrow and spear shots (this being pretty much the only weapon that could reach, unless the wraith in question was flying very low) fine chain mail (i.e. with rings small enough not to let an arrow through) around the belly region (maybe with a leather pad) might be enough. An no I don't know how easy it would be to get armor onto a winged beast, we dont see enough of them to really know how they behave to thier masters. (hey, for all we know, when not in battle a wraith may treat his winged beast as a man would treat his prized horse, giving it an affeconite rub on the beak, feeding it choice chunks of orc flesh as a treat, recieveing an affectionate lick from it long tounge.)

Oh, and not to be pedentic but isn't Gothmog the name of the Cheif Balrog? Do you maybe mean Khamul?
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Old 12-15-2008, 08:24 PM   #5
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Oh, and not to be pedentic but isn't Gothmog the name of the Cheif Balrog? Do you maybe mean Khamul?
There was a second Gothmog, who marshaled Sauron's forces on the fields of Pelennor after the WitchKing's demise. This second Gothmog's race remains a mystery, as there is no back-history or further documentation from Tolkien as to what or who he was.
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Old 12-15-2008, 10:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Alfirin View Post
most of that, as I said was predicated on a situation where Sauron did, though pre planning have hundreds or thousands of winged beasts at his disposal (i.e. he had though ahead and spend a good potion of his time in effor in his "hidden years" breeding winged beasts and incresing thier numbers.
But that's the problem, Alfirin: there's absolutely no reason to think that was the case... in fact all we are told of the beasties points the other way:

Quote:
A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, lingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed.
–RotK, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

So–

1. The winged beasts are very rare– in fact they're now extinct in the wild.
2. The Ringwraiths' mounts seem to be the first generation to be domesticated.
3. They probably all come from a single clutch/litter/whatever you call a family of adorwable widdle cuddly baby winged beasties.

So– why didn't Sauron use "hundreds or thousands" of winged beasts? He didn't have them. It's that simple.

A more interesting question is: why didn't he start his breeding program earlier, so that he would have hundreds by the time of the War?

Well, the passage suggests these things are "living fossils", something that had supposedly vanished long ago. If we assume that even the Dark Lord didn't know of them– or at least didn't realise they were still around– they must have been a chance discovery (by some evil minion, I suppose).

By the way– I hope I'm not being rude, but would you mind breaking up your paragraphs? They're hard to read.
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Old 12-16-2008, 02:21 AM   #7
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1. The winged beasts are very rare– in fact they're now extinct in the wild.
2. The Ringwraiths' mounts seem to be the first generation to be domesticated.
3. They probably all come from a single clutch/litter/whatever you call a family of adorwable widdle cuddly baby winged beasties.

So– why didn't Sauron use "hundreds or thousands" of winged beasts? He didn't have them. It's that simple..
Quite right. Likely the FB had originally been some small bird-like reptiles. Sauron fed them growth hormones , to make them reach such monstrous size.
And there is a passage in the Hunt for the Ring about the timing.
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It was no doubt at the end of 1418 that Sauron (S. likely aided by Angmar) bethought him of the winged mounts; and yet withheld them, until things became almost desperate and he was forced to launch his war in haste. - RC, p. 262-3
That means that the Fell Beast project was quite recent indeed. Actually, the nazgul had only 2-3 months to train! The FB project was under-developed, unfinished, because Sauron had to start the war and release the beasts in haste, earlier than planned. That's why, perhaps, nothing was yet devised to protect the beasts: especially their long thin necks. No wonder the nazgul tried to fly out of arrow range, having such rare and highly vulnerable mounts.

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If we assume that even the Dark Lord didn't know of them– or at least didn't realise they were still around– they must have been a chance discovery (by some evil minion, I suppose).
It reminds me of this funny story about Fluffy the Fell Beast.
Fluffy-I and Fluffy-II
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Old 12-16-2008, 04:19 AM   #8
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Thanks for the link, Gordis.
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Old 12-16-2008, 06:43 AM   #9
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There was a second Gothmog, who marshaled Sauron's forces on the fields of Pelennor after the WitchKing's demise. This second Gothmog's race remains a mystery, as there is no back-history or further documentation from Tolkien as to what or who he was.
Oh I get it now, Like Grond the battering Ram is named after the same as Grond the mace. Sorry for the mistake .

Nerwen we actually seem to be on the same wavelength. I am aware that the Dark Lord did not have "hundreds of thousands" at his disposal in the real world, all thouse presumption were a "might have been" had Sauron done just what we both said, started the breeding scheme years if not centuries earlier. But you covered this too and ultimately the question of why it went bad. Sauron though of the beasts late, and had no time to truly use them well and work out all the wrinkes. Bad timing that's ultimatley the answer to the whole mess I asked, the beast were not used well becuse the was no time for them to be used well. Still, we can dream "what if"
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:28 AM   #10
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It makes you wonder if Sauron (or his agents) were searching out the last brood of FBs or if they just found them by accident. I should imagine Sauron was delighted as they must have been fairly pliable in terms of training, to get them ready so quickly for flight. And you simply cannot imagine any Dragon allowing you to ride on his back. So they were probably the only creatures capable of flight available for his use.

I still feel sorry for creatures like this, the last of their kind, wiped out in warfare, like the Mumakil.

Though those 'fell meats' still intrigue me, as there must have been a Hilary Briss operating in Middle-earth
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:43 AM   #11
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Well, we know there must have been more than nine, because Legolas shot one down:

"This is Nazgul Two to Ground Control
I'm feeling very still,
And I think my Fell Beast knows which way to go.
Tell Khamul I love him very much..."

"He knows!"

"Ground Control to Nazgul Two your circuit's dead, there's something wrong.
Can you hear me Nazgul Two?
Can you hear me Nazgul Two?
Can you hear me Nazgul Two?"

"Can you...here am I sitting on my Fell Beast
Far above the world.
Middle-earth, I seek the Ring
On my pterodactyl thing."

Ummm...sorry, David Bowie moment.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:00 AM   #12
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Morthoron Anytime someone mentions David Bowie I think of Labyrinth, can't really describe whether it's a good feeling or bad though.

Also, it's not like these fell beasts were some huge dragon-sized/like creatures as the movies portray. I believe they're even smaller than eagles (or at most roughly the size of eagles)...I mean they were just really large vultures and they stank. Afterall, Legolas shoots one down with a shot and Eowyn decapitates another.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:22 AM   #13
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Morthoron Anytime someone mentions David Bowie I think of Labyrinth, can't really describe whether it's a good feeling or bad though.
I really liked Bowie up until 1976's 'Station to Station', but I have been indifferent to his career afterwards.

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Also, it's not like these fell beasts were some huge dragon-sized/like creatures as the movies portray. I believe they're even smaller than eagles (or at most roughly the size of eagles)...I mean they were just really large vultures and they stank. Afterall, Legolas shoots one down with a shot and Eowyn decapitates another.
You know, I thought that also, until someone pointed out Tolkien letter#211, in which a correspondent named Rhona Beare asked Tolkien if the WitchKing rode a pterodactyl. Like any Elf, Tolkien answers both yes and no:

Quote:
Pterodactyl. Yes and no. I did not intend the steed of the WitchKing to be what is now called a 'pterodactyl', and often is drawn (with rather less shadowy evidence than lies behind many monsters of the new and fascinating semi-scientific mythology of the 'Prehistoric'). But obviously it is pterodactylic and owes much to the new mythology, and in description even provides a sort of way in which it could be a last survivor of older geological eras.
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Old 12-16-2008, 09:41 AM   #14
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Like any Elf, Tolkien answers both yes and no
Of course.
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Old 12-16-2008, 12:42 PM   #15
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I wonder, though: do we have any information as to where the so-called fell beasts came from? Could they possibly have been something Sauron was working on relatively recently, breeding in Mordor? Perhaps they were his attempt to bring back the strength of the dragons of old, but being of lesser craft and power than Morgoth, this was the best he could do, and they simply hadn't been sufficiently mature to carry a rider until that point in the Third Age. That's one thought.

Another might be that the Nazgul at first were out trying to ascertain the location of the Ring, and if they'd been swooping about on these hideous winged mounts, they might not have received even as pleasant a reception as they got from Farmer Maggot and the Dwarves of Erebor. A creepy black rider on a black horse might give one pause, but the same creepy black rider flying in on a critter disturbingly reminiscent of a dragon (especially to the Dwarves) would inspire doors to be locked and barred even before the thing landed, methinks.
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Old 12-16-2008, 01:03 PM   #16
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I wonder, though: do we have any information as to where the so-called fell beasts came from?~Ibrin
I don't think so, or at least nothing new that hasn't already been brought up in the thread.

The difficulty also is exactly what type of creature they were. Tolkien, in some form, compared them to pterodactyls, also I'm pretty sure there is some mention of them having feathers, but there's not much else.

The term "fell beast" is not a specific ID, in the way that a certain race is - like say Elf, Dwarf, Ent...etc. Those words all refer to a specific race, when you see "Dwarf" a specific image pops to mind. "Fell beast" is far more vague, as all it really means is some evil, or deadly, animal or creature and just the descriptive words Tolkien chose to refer to the flying-things the Nazgul rode.
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Old 12-16-2008, 02:49 PM   #17
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In the real world the only 'fell beasts' you find are sheep and the occasional hiker in a cagoule, so in that respect the term makes me laugh.

Bringing back up the quote Nerwen posted:

Quote:
A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, lingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed.
Tolkien makes it clear their origins are unknown, but that they had been around in more ancient times, and had gradually died out apart from in isolated areas. They sound as though they could be nocturnal creatures (a little like bats?) and they are carnivores. They can also grow to a huge size if they are bigger than any other flying creature - presumably including both Eagles and Dragons?!
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Old 12-16-2008, 03:41 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
I'm pretty sure there is some mention of them having feathers, but there's not much else.
It had no feathers:
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And behold! it was a winged creature: if bird, then greater than all other birds, and it was naked, and neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers; and it stank.-LOTR
Now wings as "webs of hide between horned FINGERS" is a feature of mammals, for instance bats.
See this comparative anatomy illustration comparing wing structure in pterodactyls (upper picture) in bats (the picture in the middle) and birds (bottom picture)
Wings

Edit: Here a better drawing: Wing Bones
with explanations here
The question is whether Tolkien himself was aware of these facts. Probably he wasn't.

The absence of feathers speaks against the FB being a bird. All the rest, (except the wing structure) indicates a reptile.

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Old 12-16-2008, 03:55 PM   #19
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The wingspan of Quetzalcoatlus northropi (the largest pterosaur) was from 33-36 feet in length:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Quetzscale1.png

The length of the creature's neck would give a shield-maid like Eowyn plenty to chop at. At an estimated top weight of perhaps 550 pounds (or 260 pounds, depending on the expert conjecturing), it would seem to be able to carry the physical manifestation of a Ringwraith (who, I assume, are not as weighty as your average flesh and blood mortal).

The wings are indeed batlike, but it is toothless, as it was a later Cretaceous version of a pterosaur. Earlier incarnations, like pterodactyls did indeed have teeth.

I think I prefer this version of a Fell Beast, as opposed to the stinky, plucked chicken variety.
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Old 12-16-2008, 04:16 PM   #20
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I agree that Fell beast are remakably pterosaurian in general apperaance (I am using pterosaurian instead of pterodatylyin to incude those mebers of the the pterosaur family who are not pterodactlys) with one marke difference of corse, namely that most if not all known pterosaurs have very short necks. the bat wings do not really precude a reptilian or saurian origin, "Pterodactyl means "finger winged". but there is no hard an fast rule that says that a bat like structure could not evolve as well. Come to think of it most images of dragons, including Tolkein's use a bat wing structure, and dragon's (if they existed are generall assume to be reptiles/saurians. I tend to imagine something vaugely wyvren (two legged dragon) shaped but with a long neck ending in a beaky head (I honest dont know if fell beats have teeth or not) possibly with a casque (horny crest). They proably have one un-reptile like trait though; fell beast are likey warm blooded (like some dinosaurs were supposed to be). Flying takes a lot of energy (remeber fell beast are actual fliers, not simply gliders) and a fully cold blooded animal, especially one as big as fell beasts were would likey not posess a suffciently efficent metabolism. There also would be little use in buliding a messenger servie around animals that would (given thier size) need to bask in the sun most of the day to get thier body heat up enough that they could be usable.

Speaking of dragons I seem to recall an earier thread in which someone asked why Sauron did not try and convince the remaining dragons of ME into joing with him, . While I have no proof of this there is a theory I would like to propose namely that none of the remaing dragons would have been of use. It is said that Smaug was the last of the great dragons, I propse he may also have been the last of the winged dragons as well as possibly the last of the Uruloki (Gandalf does say that there are no dragons hot enough to melt a ring anymore, but whether that means the those left have no fire, or simply not enough is unclear) That's enough deviation back to fell beasts

As for thier orgins I seem to recall general cosensus being that there were another of Morgoth's creations, just one he never got around to using. We know that Orc are sometimes beieved to be the result of Morgoth's twisting of elves; maybe fell beast are the resut of a similar twisting of eagles, or an unholy hybidization of dragon and vampire (bat). Certainly unlike dragons, fell beast appear to be non sentient, or at least non verbal on the order of an itlellegent animal (like a horse) but no more.
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Old 12-16-2008, 05:00 PM   #21
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Hmmm....

Going out on a limb here (while waiting for the Christmas fudge to cool): The thought comes to mind that whatever the creature's real name might be, the original critter that eventually became the Winged Nazgul Mount™ could have been Melkor's attempt to parody his brother Manwe's Eagles. I don't recall ever reading that in any of Tolkien's various writings and drafts, but it would go along with him making parodies of Elves and Ents (it also keeps with the nice alliterative pattern). That it looks nothing at all like an eagle, save for having wings and claws, would not be amiss, since orcs and trolls about as similar to Elves and Ents.

And I still tend to think that we didn't see them used sooner because either the few that were around weren't yet capable of being effective mounts, or because Sauron was holding them back to increase the fear factor when he needed it.
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Old 12-16-2008, 06:01 PM   #22
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Hi all,

Good points!

Alfirin, I'm sure they could have used the Fell Beasts for aerial bombardment to some extent, remember the attacks on Faramir and his men? FB armour might be tricky due to weight constraints perhaps. btw thanks for the paragraphs!

Gordis, like the GH scenario! The quote regarding 1418 says to me that this was the first time they were released on the unsuspecting world, probably the Nazgul had trained them in secret for a long while previously.

Morth, I'm liking Quetzalcoatlus northropi a lot, and Ibril's 'mockery' idea!

Meanwhile,
Quote:
whose kind, lingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon
has me tantalised, which mountains? Cold implies North, or very high, Ered Mithrin, the Grey Mountains, work on both counts, and also are close to the Withered Heath, the last-known dragon-hangout, possibly relations of the Fell Beasts? Alternatively some Eastern range, the Northern Yellow Mts perhaps? Why 'beneath the moon'? This makes no sense unless to emphasise that they are nocturnal.

Morth- Nazgul no. 2 :, Lal - Hillary Briss , Gordis- Fluffy 1&2 :... LOLs

Henceforth I shall know the FBs as 'Fluffy' just as the littlest-Nazgul is forever Skippy ;-)
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Old 12-16-2008, 06:03 PM   #23
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... I don't recall ever reading that in any of Tolkien's various writings and drafts, but it would go along with him making parodies of Elves and Ents (it also keeps with the nice alliterative pattern). That it looks nothing at all like an eagle, save for having wings and claws, would not be amiss, since orcs and trolls about as similar to Elves and Ents..
Yes, nice alliterative analogy...elves and eagles and ents...oh my! It is very plausible, considering the eagles and fell beasts ended up battling above the Morannon, just as the eagles and dragons battled in the 1st Age.

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And I still tend to think that we didn't see them used sooner because either the few that were around weren't yet capable of being effective mounts, or because Sauron was holding them back to increase the fear factor when he needed it.
Well, the Olog-hai arrived late on the scene, as did the Uruk-hai, both creative output from Lithui Labs Ltd., Mr. Sauron Gorthaur, CEO (Chief Evil Omnipotentate).
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:15 AM   #24
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When Merry and Pippin were captured by Uruk-hai at Amon Hen on February 27, Grishnakh said the prisoners should be taken across the Anduin where a winged Nazgul waited. Ugluk taunted Grishnakh about the mount that had been shot out from under the Nazgul, and Grishnakh said that the winged Nazgul were not yet ready to show themselves on the west side of the Anduin. They were to be used for the War and other purposes.

I'll edit in the quote when I get home and have the books available for that purpose.

Idea is however, that Sauron somehow found these creatures somewhere, maybe the remains of some experiments made by Morgoth in the First Age, maybe found during his exile in the far east. He then proceededto feed them and to corrupt the race further in order to create the steeds. Finally, the Nazgul received them as steeds, but only once Sauron no longer saw reason for any secrecy. Horses were at first better because, as pointed above, they inspired less fear. But still, we know what by February 27 they still were not allowed to openly show themselves to the enemy.
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Old 12-18-2008, 05:28 AM   #25
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Quote:
Going out on a limb here (while waiting for the Christmas fudge to cool): The thought comes to mind that whatever the creature's real name might be, the original critter that eventually became the Winged Nazgul Mount™ could have been Melkor's attempt to parody his brother Manwe's Eagles
I don't think so. I believe Morgoth's response to Manwe's Eagles were definitely the Dragons: Morgoth had indeed put a lot of work in Glaurung, Ancalagon and the rest of them and got impressive results.

Undoubtedly originally (before Sauron's intervention) the FB were much smaller than the Nazgul Mounts™: although maybe related to cold Drakes, they were some small flying carnivorous critters living under the Shadow of Morgoth.

When somwhere a shadow lies, the local fauna tends to become creepy (i.e. Mirkwood). I don't think Morgoth paid the FellBeasties any special attention, like Sauron hardly specifically bred black squirrels of Mirkwood: they were too insignificant.

As for how the original FellBeasties looked like, I am tempted to post a small excerpt of a fanfic Mountain guardswhere a nest of wild FellBeasties is described. I think the author was very close to the target in this description:
Quote:
From a fanfic by Malicean: A hiss like a live coal hitting water. A very angry coal – and it brought friends. The Uruk is lucky to loose merely the tip of an ear and a handful of stringy hairs when a score of greedy jaws shoot from the rock face on skinny necks. Pu-sha-skoirs. Winged-Maws. Fellbeasties. Perfect stock for breeding a grisly airborne steed – if you’re a Ringwraith with a couple of millennia on your hands and nothing better to do.
If you know where the colony is, you simply stay out of reach, and they’ll do nothing but hiss and spit. They prefer dead meat to those who might fight back – but if opportunity marches straight into their jaws… Unlike their giant cousins, fellbeasties can’t bite you in halves, but they can take off a hand, a foot or half of your face, whatever they get hold of. And perched at the entrances of their rocky nests, necks writhing snakelike and wings spread for full display, they look more than ready to attack.
The original Fellbeasties (little creatures prone to evil) likely lived somewhere near Utumno and Angband. When this region had sunk, they probably didn't fly far, but continued to live in the nearest "forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon"
Now which mountains would that be? - If we believe the maps of the First and the Second Age by K.W. Fonstad, Utumno must have sunk in the place where later there was the Ice-bay of Forochel. Just have a look at the site of Utumno on these two maps:First Age Second Age
In the Third Age the nearby cold mountains were known as the Mountains of Angmar, where the Witch-King's fortress of Carn-Dum once stood. Very likely the small fellbeasties felt quite comfortable under the Shadow of Angmar and maybe they were indirectly referred to in the description of Angmar in App. A:
Quote:
the realm of Angmar arose in the North beyond the Ettenmoors. Its lands lay on both sides of the Mountains, and there were gathered many evil men, and Orcs, and other fell creatures.
Anyway, it is quite probable, that although this component of Angmarian fauna originally had been of little use to the Witch-King, later he told Sauron about the critters and advised to bring a few of them to Mordor for experiments. (The Witch-King's involvement in the FB project is specially noted in "the Hunt for the Ring , RC). Sauron, after his failure to enlist Smaug to his side and the dragon's destruction, likely sought other flying creatures to work with.
I guess it was not easy to find the remaining fellbeasties in the mountains of Angmar, but eventually, the search parties returned and brought to Mordor the last remaining brood, maybe 30-40 years before the War of the Ring.
By 3018, Sauron managed to make them grow "beyond the measure of all other things that fly", but I think the brilliant idea to give them as steeds to the Nazgul came at the last moment, after the Nazgul lost all their horses but one at the Ford of Bruinen.
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Old 12-18-2008, 06:57 AM   #26
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whose kind, lingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon
means they are probably not reptilian creatures. I can't think of any reptiles which thrive on cold and moonlight. Even British snakes need to bask, and they hibernate in winter, as do Toads and Frogs, so I doubt it's Amphibian either.

If it's a mammal then it's one which doesn't need to be nursed on milk, or else has been weaned early. Being able to fly doesn't rule out it being a mammal of course.

Also, they were "lingering in forgotten mountains". Does that literally mean 'in' the mountain, as in a cave? Or does the use of 'eyrie' exclude that?
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Old 12-18-2008, 07:45 AM   #27
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I don't think so. I believe Morgoth's response to Manwe's Eagles were definitely the Dragons: Morgoth had indeed put a lot of work in Glaurung, Ancalagon and the rest of them and got impressive results.
I'm not saying that the beasties were the intended final product of an attempt to parody the Eagles, but rather that they were a step along the way toward that eventual development, set aside if not entirely discarded because they were not sufficiently the result Melkor had in mind. I rather tend to think of Melkor like some mad scientist breeding things in a genetics lab -- a strange sort of Dr. Frankenstein, obsessed with the idea of creating life on his own, but lacking that ability, content to corrupt and twist what life exists into monsters who will wreak havoc on the world he hates. These critters are his "children," and like any bad narcissitic parent, he will keep them all about him, some to be praised, others to be punished, but all to serve. In LotR, they are the evil parallel to the Eagles, since the dragons and other more impressive flying nasties appear to have died out with Smaug.

Well, it's another thought.
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:03 AM   #28
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With that I readily agree, Ibrin.
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:33 AM   #29
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This:

Quote:
whose kind, lingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon
means they are probably not reptilian creatures. I can't think of any reptiles which thrive on cold and moonlight. Even British snakes need to bask, and they hibernate in winter, as do Toads and Frogs, so I doubt it's Amphibian either.

If it's a mammal then it's one which doesn't need to be nursed on milk, or else has been weaned early. Being able to fly doesn't rule out it being a mammal of course.
Well, Tolkien was never one for the proper placement of biospheres or ecosystems. If the 'Withered Heath' can best be described as the hatchery or nursery of dragons, then its northern proximity indicates that in Middle-earth reptiles of the draconis order were adaptable to rather frigid climes, or at least wild fluctuations of temperature. With their innate intelligence, they could have been precursors to mammals!

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Also, they were "lingering in forgotten mountains". Does that literally mean 'in' the mountain, as in a cave? Or does the use of 'eyrie' exclude that?
I think it's yet another example of archaic Tolkienisms. Tolkien says 'in' when he means 'on' or 'atop', and uses 'under' when he means 'in' or 'below'. So lingering 'in' forgotten mountains means existing 'atop' or 'along' the mountain. Or at least, that's my understanding, without getting in too deep.
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:54 AM   #30
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I think it's yet another example of archaic Tolkienisms. Tolkien says 'in' when he means 'on' or 'atop', and uses 'under' when he means 'in' or 'below'.
I took it be "in" as in "we went hiking in the mountains". In fact it never occurred to me that there was a another way of reading it.
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Old 12-18-2008, 09:00 AM   #31
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I took it be "in" as in "we went hiking in the mountains". In fact it never occurred to me that there was a another way of reading it.
Yes, 'in' as 'on', like hiking 'in' or 'among' or 'along' the mountains, not necessarily 'within' or 'under'. Bah! I'm getting a prepositional headache.
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Old 12-18-2008, 01:49 PM   #32
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also since "mountains" is plural, In could me within the area encopassed by the mountains that is within the gerographic are in which the mountains are found. If "mountain" was singular, then "in" would mean "inside the mountain" but since it is plural, "in also covers on. It like saying "wildcats are found in the Scottish Highlands" doesnt literally mean that they live underground (though I think they do, in fact live in burrowed dens) it just means that if you are looking for Scottish wildcats, you should go to the Highlands area to find them. Thats enough of being pedantic.

On the warm blooded issue, as I said before somthing as big as a fell beast would pretty much have to be homeothermic which while not a trait of modern reptiles supposedly was found in some dinosaurs which seems to be closer to what fell best were anyway (dinosaur as far as I know are not tecnically cosidered to be reptiles, reptiles thier ancestral line had already diverged before dinosaurs ever evolved.) Dragons fit the dinosaurian form too so they are also likey homeothermic, especially the fire brething types (it would be a fine thin to have a dragon who could breathe fire and not be able to use this internal fire to keep its body temperature up (Tolkein, as I reacll says sepcifcally that fire brething dragons make thier fire inside of them not outside, so we ca leave aside all of the methane/hydrogen bioelectric spark ignition scenrios, which would get around this)
A bigger point in favor of homethermy; according to most evelutionary theories. homeothermic metabloison is more or less a neccessary prerequesite for the sucessful development of certain evoultionary traits, they just take up too much metabolic energy for poikilotherms. What are the two structures that lead this list? Wings and large brains, the possesion of which, given the fact that Dragons are sentient, intellegent creatures, capable of speech, seems more or less a given. Fell beasts are probably fairy large brained too given the fact that they are trainable as mounts (which requires a fairly complex set of commands to be learned.)
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Old 12-18-2008, 04:19 PM   #33
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Yes, 'in' as 'on', like hiking 'in' or 'among' or 'along' the mountains, not necessarily 'within' or 'under'. Bah! I'm getting a prepositional headache.
I suppose it's rather like the way a lot of Yorkshire folk will say "I live on..." rather than "I live in..." when saying which part of a town they live in.
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Old 12-19-2008, 05:45 AM   #34
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I was trying to find some data on the wing structure of Tolkien dragons, found nothing convincing in "the Hobbit", then tried the web and found this article: http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Dragons

The author states: "Tolkien designed his own taxonomic system for dragons." I am curious, what is the source? Does anyone know?
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Old 12-19-2008, 05:54 AM   #35
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From internal evidence, it looks as if the writer just meant winged vs wingless, and cold-drakes vs firedrakes... and was just using the word "taxomonic" to show off.
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Old 12-19-2008, 03:40 PM   #36
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also interestingly it looks like based on his descriptions of named dragons that, if Scatha indeed did have only two legs (I don't remember Tolkein saying this explicity, but it is certainly possible that I simply missed that) he would tecnically match up to the dragon subspecies referred to as a Lindworm or possibly a Taezelwurm, at least under some definitions (both terms have been used for so many types over the centuries, rightly or wrongly that a precise defintion is hard to pin down) Maybe this should be obvios by the fact that Scatha is referred to as a "long worm" (my early scandanavian isn't good so I have no idea if "lind" can mean "long" (my translator transaltes it as "gentle".) but it was new to me.
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Old 12-20-2008, 03:58 PM   #37
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Honestly I don't believe a word in this article - and won't believe unless I see the source.

Take Scatha. I believe the following quote is the only one about this dragon.
Quote:
Of his son, Fram, they tell that he slew Scatha, the great dragon of Ered Mithrin, and the land had peace from the long-worms afterwards. Thus Fram won great wealth, but was at feud with the Dwarves, who claimed the hoard of Scatha. Fram would not yield them a penny, and sent to them instead the teeth of Scatha made into a necklace, saying: "Jewels such as these you will not match in your treasuries, for they are hard to come by." Some say that the Dwarves slew Fram for this insult.
So where is the mention of the two legs?

There is no mention of Scatha in the Silm, or UT, or Tolkien's Letters, or in Home 12, as far as I can see..

Can someone fine another source speaking of Scatha?


Yet in the L # 19 there is a mention of the lecture on dragons Tolkien had to prepare for Natural History Museum (!)
( Note: On 1 January 1938 Tolkien lectured on 'Dragons' as part of a series of lectures for children at the University Museum, Oxford.)

I wonder is there more info about this lecture?

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Old 12-20-2008, 06:40 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Gordis View Post
Can someone fine another source speaking of Scatha?
I don't think there is one... and it wouldn't be the first time that a wiki editor has been, let us say, a trifle over-imaginative.
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Old 12-20-2008, 07:43 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Nerwen View Post
I don't think there is one... and it wouldn't be the first time that a wiki editor has been, let us say, a trifle over-imaginative.
I think the encyclopedia of Arda hit it on the head:

Quote:
Though Tolkien gives almost no clues about long-worms in the text of The Lord of the Rings, his illustrations of dragons give us some further hints. Tolkien's dragons tend to be sinuous, serpentine creatures, having the appearance almost of a winged snake rather than the more traditional dragon-form. This would explain the term 'long-worm' easily. It's interesting to note that Tolkien gave this form to another northern dragon, Smaug, which strongly suggests that he, too, was one of the long-worms.
There is absolutely no indication that Scatha, or any Tolkien dragon, had two legs (as a 'long-worm' would be rather ungainly with two legs). I think some pseudo-scholars naturally link Tolkien to 'wyverns' based on the Anglo-saxon etymology of the word (A-S 'wivere', which means 'serpent', related to the French 'vouivre', both linked to the term 'viper'). Wyverns are supposedly two-legged and winged. The wyvern was a symbol of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, and is the symbol of the Dragon School in Oxford. So the wyvern is linked to Tolkien by incidental association, although Tolkien never showed any affinity for that type of dragon. At least, not that I can recall.
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Last edited by Morthoron; 12-21-2008 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 12-21-2008, 02:03 PM   #40
Gordis
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Have a look at this drawing by Tolkien - "Mordor Special Mission Flying Corps" emblem for the Nazgûl:

Emblems

"The Mordor Special Mission Flying Corps Emblem apparently was a badge that applied to Sauron's air-borne troops, probably including the later incarnations of the Nazgûl and, perhaps, any remaining dragons under Sauron's command. The "wings" at the side of the emblem are given a feather-like texture, which might indicate that they were originally real wings. A mystifying scribble, saying "Seen from below", actually hints that the emblem portrays one of Sauron's flying creatures, and the small "horns" indicated between the wings and the body of the creature could then be the feet of someone riding the beast. But it is clear that if so, the portrait must be extremely stylized. On the wings can be seen the image of Sauron's eye, multiplied like the eyes on peacock's wings.
(Reference: 1. Hammond and Scull. J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator. Patterns and Devices )

Cute, isn't it? Bright like a butterfly...
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