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Old 07-19-2016, 04:23 PM   #1
KamexKoopa
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Do you think there should have been a contrivance to pre-empt the Eagles question?

So virtually everyone ever who has seen the films without reading the books enjoys pointing out the "plot hole" that they could have used the Eagles all along, and should have just flown to Mordor.

The movies don't include any detailed information about who or what the Eagles are, so they could almost appear to be Gandalf's pets or something. I think I read somewhere that Peej didn't bother to include an explanation as to why they didn't fly, as it was obvious. But apparently, not obvious enough!

Maybe there could have been a quick shot of one of the watcher towers shooting down anything that flies past, or perhaps an Orc shooting down a regular bird and saying to its friend "better safe than sorry!"

Once the Ring was destroyed, perhaps then the relevant tower could burst, and then we could see the Eagles swoop in?
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Old 07-20-2016, 12:59 AM   #2
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Honestly, there would be no point in explaining the Eagles, because the "Eagles could just drop the ring in Mount Doom in five minutes" idea is nothing but an attempt to trivialise and demean Tolkien's work. Likely from those small minded and profoundly ignorant people who claim they just don't "get" fantasy, or somehow expect complete realism from a story with Dragons, wraiths, barrow-wights and Bombadils.
It's not a plot hole, so I don't think they should have addressed it.
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Old 07-20-2016, 02:27 AM   #3
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Pipe Celebrating FIFTEEN YEARS of "Why didn't the Eagles..?"

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Originally Posted by KamexKoopa View Post
So virtually everyone ever who has seen the films without reading the books enjoys pointing out the "plot hole" that they could have used the Eagles all along, and should have just flown to Mordor.

The movies don't include any detailed information about who or what the Eagles are, so they could almost appear to be Gandalf's pets or something. I think I read somewhere that Peej didn't bother to include an explanation as to why they didn't fly, as it was obvious. But apparently, not obvious enough!
Nothing is obvious enough for some people. Really, the fact that a movie doesn't spell out something explicitly does not automatically make it a "plot-hole". It's a "plot-hole" if it can't be explained without dazzling mental gymnastics on the part of the audience.

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Maybe there could have been a quick shot of one of the watcher towers shooting down anything that flies past, or perhaps an Orc shooting down a regular bird and saying to its friend "better safe than sorry!"

Once the Ring was destroyed, perhaps then the relevant tower could burst, and then we could see the Eagles swoop in?
Well, that would have been hilariously corny, I'll grant you that.

Maybe Boromir should have said, "One does not simply walk or fly into Mordor"?
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Old 07-20-2016, 02:55 AM   #4
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Uhm!

Did not the One Ring need to be dropped specifically into the Sammath Naur, which was INSIDE Orodruin?

Tolkien seems to have been pretty specific that it had to be the "Fires that Forged the Ruling Ring..." into which it needed to be dropped.

And not the "Fires NEXT to the Fires that Forged the Ruling Ring..."

OK... That is just the first thing wrong with the problem of the Eagles.

The Second is that Sauron could have seen them coming. and from quite a ways off.

As I have an ornithologist a few feet from me, I can ask about how fast an Eagle can fly in level flight...

Which is about 35mph for short bursts, and about 15mph for long-distance (Using the Golden Eagle as the basis, which is the largest Eagle on Earth).

And that is only when they are at a pretty decent altitude, as flying closer to the ground requires more flapping of the wings, as cross-winds, currents, and thermals are not present at lower altitudes in such a way that they do not disturb straight flight.

Even if we triple the Speed of the Great Eagles (Simply making them bigger actually makes them slower, and not faster, without also making them commensurately lighter - unless they also have some other properties that offset the purely physical), it is still going to take the Eagles about a day and a half to Fly from Rivendell to Mordor (we can make estimates based upon how long it took Gwaihir to Fly Gandalf from Orthanc to Edoras (which took roughly from the middle of the night to the sunrise-isn of the next day - basically about 6 to 8 hours).

Sauron already has Gorgoroth filled to overflowing with Orcs, Haradrim, and Easterlings when the story begins (many not chock-full like he did later in the Winter, or Early Spring, as the War wound to its height).

But if he saw some Eagles flying toward Mordor, he would probably send a Nazgûl up to check if they "felt" the One Ring (there did seem to be some sort of mechanism where they could "smell" it, as Tolkien hints, when they were near it, and especially within visual distance of it).

And the second that they got any wind that the One Ring was on an Eagle flying toward Mordor, he would have had the Sammath Naur sealed up (just for good measure), and an army of half a million Orcs, Easterlings, and Southrons waiting on the slopes of Orodruin for the Eagles to land. Not to mention having had the Nazgûl harrying them the whole way (And if the Eagles had put up a fight, that would just have been proof that what the Eagles were up to was that much more important).

And then Sauron walks up and says "Thanks for bringing me my Ring."

Gandalf and Elrond would likely have known that all they needed to do was Ask the Eagles for help, and they would have provided it (There is a quote to that effect in Gandalf's telling of the coming of the Great Eagles to the Dagorlad before the Morannon, when he asks Gwaihir for a lift to save Frodo, and Gwaihir responds with a reply that is pretty much "Sure, anytime, anyplace; just ask." - The quote earlier in book to which people often refer to say that Gwaihir has "other things to do" is probably a lexicographical error. Gwaihir says he "came to bear tidings and not burdens" means that he has other messages to deliver as well, and not just to Gandalf; Gwahir has an errand to Lórien he needs to perform as well).

But Gandalf and Elrond did not say "Hey! Let's fly to Mordor on the Eagles!" because they knew that it wasn't the brightest idea.

At the Council of Elrond, they make quite the point that the whole mission to destroy the One Ring needs to be one of "Secrecy and Stealth."

Flying on huge Eagles would be neither "Secret" nor "Stealthy."

And there was more than just Sauron to content with.

You also had Saruman, and his crebain out to spy on things, and if Saruman's crows saw Gandalf, or any Hobbits on Eagles, he would have moved heaven and earth to stop the Eagles before they even got close to Mordor (and thus allow the One Ring to go anywhere but to Saruman). And he might even have called Sauron to tell him, in last resort, knowing that Gandalf would turn back rather than confront all Nine of the Nazgûl, in the Air, and where Frodo could be plucked from the back of an Eagle by a Fell-beast.

AND YES... As Aaron has pointed out, this trivializes Tolkien's work, not least of all because of everything I have written above, but for the countless litany of other possible and/or not yet known reasons I haven't listed that would/could also explain why the idea is vacuous.

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Old 07-20-2016, 07:08 AM   #5
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Well, the way the movies work, the question really begs itself in both trilogies - perhaps the Eagles couldn't carry the landing operations all the way to their respective mountains, but they could bring them much closer to their destinations. As for "safety first", the Eagles still show up for the final battle and go near those same mountains. Why can't they do it in the first place? Stealth? Well, if that's the issue, they still could have brought their passengers to a more convenient destination. Heck, if the Eagles got involved earlier in LOTR, the whole first volume and part of the second volume would have been unnecessary. In my opinion, the movies don't explain this, and this is a fair question to ask and could be considered a plot-hole. Even in the books, there is no explicit answer.

It's a legitimate question, and not at all obvious in terms of plot explanations. You can, of course, say that the Eagles aren't really involved at all, and we should all be grateful that they condescended (literally) to help even a little bit, or that they have certain boundaries they will not cross for various reasons, etc - but none of this is actually stated in either book or movie.

I think that to find a satisfactory answer, you just have to begin with an assumption that one exists. If you start out with the intention of proving a plot hole, no speculation will satisfy you. However, if you begin by assuming there must have been some valid reason for the Eagles to do what they did - why, then you don't even need a specific explanation, other than for curiosity's sake. And book readers would know more about the nature and character of the Eagles, which do a great deal to explain their actions.

If the movies wanted to avoid this question, I think the easiest thing to do would be to drop one sentence about the Eagles not meddling in the affairs of two-legged creatures, and then another sentence to show the amazement that they made an exception.
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Old 07-20-2016, 07:48 AM   #6
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Tolkien refers to the eagles as a 'machine' in his Letters.

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The Eagles are a dangerous 'machine'. I have used them sparingly, and that is the absolute limit of their credibility or usefulness.~Letter 210
Referring to the latin phrase "deus ex machina," a device authors/story tellers will use to help their heroes out of a sticky situation, or to solve a plot by using the supernatural. Along the lines of Aaron's post, Tolkien understood writing fantasy and the Eagles are used to their "absolute limit."

There is a powerful, up-lifting emotion in The Hobbit when Bilbo sees the Eagles "The Eagles! The Eagles! The Eagles are coming!" And this is echoed by Pippin in The Lord of the Rings.

I actually think it's not the way the Eagles are presented in the movies which leaves fans with the question "why couldn't they fly the Ring into Mordor?" It's the way the Army of the Dead is presented in the movies, as some indestructible, unstoppable wave of neon green snot. I was wondering why couldn't they just clear the path to Mordor as they did for Aragorn to Minas Tirith? They are the deus ex machina that created a plot-hole in the movies.

I don't think any explanation for the Eagles is needed in the movies, if anyone asks, I would just point them to this fan video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZrJPiq9QGM
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Old 07-20-2016, 07:55 AM   #7
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There is a powerful, up-lifting emotion in The Hobbit when Bilbo sees the Eagles "The Eagles! The Eagles! The Eagles are coming!" And this is echoed by Pippin in The Lord of the Rings.
This echoing I have always found to be one of the most inexplicably powerful moments in The Lord of the Rings: there is something I can't define about that symbol of hope appearing, and that reconnection to the beloved and comfortable narrative of The Hobbit in this point at which all hopes seem to have failed at last.

Of course, by adapting The Lord of the Rings before The Hobbit, this, like so many other things, is lost...
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Old 07-20-2016, 08:19 AM   #8
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The Lord of the Rings: Book 6; Chapter 4: The Field of Cormallen (I do not have a page number, because it is a Kindle Edition from which I am getting the reference)

" Then Gandlaf, leaving all such matters of battle and command to Aragorn and the other lords, stood upon the hill-top and called; and down to him came the great eagle, Gwaihir the Windward, and stood before him.

'Twice you have born me, Gwaihir my friend,' said Gandalf. 'Thrice shall pay for all, if you are willing. You will not find me a burden much greater than when you bore me from Zirakzigil, where my old life burned away.'

'I would bear you.' answered Gwahir, 'whither you will, even were you made of stone.'"

This implies that not only was their absolutely no reluctance by the Eagles to act on Gandalf's request, but that Gwaihir seems to be in some sort of debt to Gandalf (else what is he "paying for" in 'thrice shall pay for all'?).

In the films.... I can see how some "Contrivance" to eliminate this question might be needed, since it is something that people aren't going to catch on to very easily just how bad an idea it is, nor of the deeper relationship between the Eagles and Gandalf, Galadriel, and Elrond that is likely to exist.

So... As for whether The Films 'should' have had some contrivance.... Probably.

But then doing so runs counter to pretty much everything that Tolkien was about.

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Old 07-20-2016, 10:28 AM   #9
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'Twice you have born me, Gwaihir my friend,' said Gandalf. 'Thrice shall pay for all, if you are willing. You will not find me a burden much greater than when you bore me from Zirakzigil, where my old life burned away.'

'I would bear you.' answered Gwahir, 'whither you will, even were you made of stone.'"

This implies that not only was their absolutely no reluctance by the Eagles to act on Gandalf's request, but that Gwaihir seems to be in some sort of debt to Gandalf (else what is he "paying for" in 'thrice shall pay for all'?).
I wouldn't read too much into that line of Gandalf's. It's used other times, by other characters. There's Bilbo:

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But 'third time pays for all' as my father used to say, and somehow I don't think I shall refuse.
The Hobbit Inside Information

And Sam:

Quote:
'Gollum!' he called softly, 'Third time pays for all. I want some herbs.'
TTT Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit

I think it likely Gandalf had just picked up that saying from his long-time association with hobbits.
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Old 07-20-2016, 11:29 AM   #10
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I don't think any explanation for the Eagles is needed in the movies, if anyone asks, I would just point them to this fan video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZrJPiq9QGM
Heeehee, the orcs are a lot like Ewoks. But this video goes with the idea of the shooting tower, or that there is a physical/military reason why Eagles can't fly into Mordor (which still doesn't explain why they couldn't have carried the Fellowship from Rivendell until near the borders of Mordor in a single day).
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Old 07-20-2016, 12:33 PM   #11
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Gandalf does have a history with these particular eagles and their lord:

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It seemed that Bilbo was not going to be eaten after all. The wizard and the eagle-lord appeared to know one another slightly, and even be on friendly terms. As a matter of fact Gandalf, who had often been in the mountains, had once rendered a service to the eagles and healed their lord from an arrow-wound.~Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire
I'm not sure if it's ever cleared up that Gwaihir, in Lord of the Rings, is the 'eagle-lord' in The Hobbit. If we take "thrice pays for all" literally, then Gandalf is forgetting about being rescued by the eagles in The Hobbit. So, it could just be a common saying Gandalf picks up as Inziladun says.

But it is clear from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Gandalf has a friendly bond to these particular eagles who helped him out of some sticky situations. I also think it takes reading the book to understand the mutual respect between Gandalf and Gwaihir, and why the eagles aren't a Middle-earth taxi service.

Whether the movies need to explain this as an answer to the question "why didn't the eagles just fly Frodo to Mordor?" It's probably not necessary. But I do think they confuse the friendship between Gandalf and the eagles, by adding the "moth." It makes it seem like Gandalf can just summon eagle allies, whenever he wants, as long as there's a moth around. And that gives an impression, the eagles are Gandalf's taxis.

When being rescued off Orthanc, Gwaihir made clear that he was coming to bring news from Radagast, not "to bear a burden.":

Quote:
"How far can you bear me?" I said to Gwaihir.
"Many leagues," said he, "but not to the ends of the earth. I was sent to bear tidings not burdens."~The Council of Elrond
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Heeehee, the orcs are a lot like Ewoks. But this video goes with the idea of the shooting tower, or that there is a physical/military reason why Eagles can't fly into Mordor (which still doesn't explain why they couldn't have carried the Fellowship from Rivendell until near the borders of Mordor in a single day).~Galadriel55
I shared that in hopes that others thought it was funny too, not as an serious rebuttal to the eagle question.

But I suspect Boromir had the right of it...one does not simply walk into Mordor. And don't forget, that was the plan. They were going to try to sneak through the front gate. It took Frodo sparing Gollum, and Gollum to show them a secret path that Sauron didn't watch as closely. There would have been no meeting Gollum, and no one in the Fellowship would have known about that path, had the eagles dropped them off near Mordor.
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Old 07-20-2016, 07:03 PM   #12
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Heeehee, the orcs are a lot like Ewoks. But this video goes with the idea of the shooting tower, or that there is a physical/military reason why Eagles can't fly into Mordor (which still doesn't explain why they couldn't have carried the Fellowship from Rivendell until near the borders of Mordor in a single day).
Eagles don't fly long distances by flapping their wings. They actually can't fly long distances by flapping their wings.

To fly any distance, a Raptor of any kind needs to gain a pretty great altitude and then soar for a long distance.

The distance traveled (roughly 900 miles) would have taken about five days for Eagles to cross that distance, as they are not migratory birds who have large pectoral and wing muscles to utilized powered flight over long distances (i.e. they fly slow over long distances).

So it would not allow them to make the Trip in a single day. To give an idea of a trip the Eagles can make in a single day: Orthanc to Edoras. Or Lórien to Fangorn. They might be able to get a bit further in a big rush.

But a flock of Giant Eagles rushing about the sky is going to send up more than a few red flags from the "Bad Guys."

I went over this in my post above.

To use the Eagles would have immediately exposed the One Ring to both Saruman and Sauron, even if it was just bringing them closer to Mordor. It would not have been "in Secret" at all, but rather a giant Advertising Sign: "Here we are!!!"

Eagles can't "Sneak."

All it would do would be to reveal the plan.

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Old 07-21-2016, 03:00 AM   #13
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It makes it seem like Gandalf can just summon eagle allies, whenever he wants, as long as there's a moth around. And that gives an impression, the eagles are Gandalf's taxis.

When being rescued off Orthanc, Gwaihir made clear that he was coming to bring news from Radagast, not "to bear a burden.":
I think that in Unexpected Journey, we should have seen Radagast espy the fire from afar, and then send the Eagles to rescue Gandalf and co.
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Old 07-21-2016, 05:09 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88
But I suspect Boromir had the right of it...one does not simply walk into Mordor. And don't forget, that was the plan. They were going to try to sneak through the front gate. It took Frodo sparing Gollum, and Gollum to show them a secret path that Sauron didn't watch as closely. There would have been no meeting Gollum, and no one in the Fellowship would have known about that path, had the eagles dropped them off near Mordor.
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But a flock of Giant Eagles rushing about the sky is going to send up more than a few red flags from the "Bad Guys."

I went over this in my post above.

To use the Eagles would have immediately exposed the One Ring to both Saruman and Sauron, even if it was just bringing them closer to Mordor. It would not have been "in Secret" at all, but rather a giant Advertising Sign: "Here we are!!!"

Eagles can't "Sneak."

All it would do would be to reveal the plan.

MB
Indeed- note that the Fellowship would have also travelled faster on horseback- but instead they were the "Nine Walkers". Speed wasn't the priority.
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Old 07-21-2016, 04:42 PM   #15
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It really surprises me how often this question crops up, because to me it makes absolutely no sense. As the others have already mentioned using the eagles isn't exactly subtle. Although eagles are able to fly very high, Sauron would still be able to spot them miles away, long before they would even reach the black gate, and take the appropriate counter-measures. And how would the Eagles "land" the ring? I mean they can't just drop it, what if they miss? So they have to either land or at least come very close to the mountain. Sauron will then be able to shoot them down, if he hasn't already brought them down with his fell beasts. And another thing: who's to say that the Eagles would even be able to mentally complete the task? It could very well be that the group of eagles tears itself apart well before reaching mount doom, fighting over the ring. And even if the Eagles reach the mountain, the ring-bearing eagle would at this point probably refuse to drop the ring, just like frodo and isildur were not able to harm the ring (and isildur was only in possession for several minutes, the eagle would be exposed to the ring for at least several days)!
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Old 07-21-2016, 07:21 PM   #16
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Although eagles are able to fly very high, Sauron would still be able to spot them miles away, long before they would even reach the black gate, and take the appropriate counter-measures. And how would the Eagles "land" the ring? I mean they can't just drop it, what if they miss? So they have to either land or at least come very close to the mountain. Sauron will then be able to shoot them down, if he hasn't already brought them down with his fell beasts. And another thing: who's to say that the Eagles would even be able to mentally complete the task? It could very well be that the group of eagles tears itself apart well before reaching mount doom, fighting over the ring. And even if the Eagles reach the mountain, the ring-bearing eagle would at this point probably refuse to drop the ring, just like frodo and isildur were not able to harm the ring (and isildur was only in possession for several minutes, the eagle would be exposed to the ring for at least several days)!
Good points. And the way I see it, having the Eagles, who were basically Manwë's 'eyes' in Middle-earth take such an active part in the War of the Ring would have been pretty much the same as sending the Ring over Sea. Elrond discounted that as an option, and I think the Eagles were off-limits for that kind of task as well. The Valar (Eru) had devised the means of accomplishing Sauron's fall with the sending of the Istari. The Eagles were on hand to aid those fighting Sauron, particularly, I think, the Istari, but sending them into Mordor to do the dirty work just wouldn't fly.
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Old 07-22-2016, 05:40 AM   #17
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Boots Gandalf was accurate

There has been some discussion about Gandalf's use of the phrase 'Thrice shall pay for all, if you are willing' to Gwaihir at the Battle of the Black Gate, in terms of the latter taking him and then going with other eagles to rescue Frodo and Sam at his request. The other two times were, I believe, when Gwaihir personally rescued Gandalf, when his life was at serious risk.

In terms of the previous two events, the first would be when the eagles rescued Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves, bringing them to their eyrie, and then taking them some distance to Beorn, to get ahead of the goblins and wargs. It's clearly stated that Gwaihir was the eagle who personally rescued Gandalf, when the latter was about to attack the goblins and wolves, but who would have died as a result. The second would be when Gwaihir rescued Gandalf from Celebdil, after the Battle of the Peak with the Balrog, when he had died and come back from the dead, but was obviously in a bad way. One could argue that Gandalf's life was not immediately at risk when he was rescued from Orthanc, although his ultimate fate would have been unpleasant, particularly if he had been handed over to Sauron. Also, the interventions of the eagles in the Battle of Five Armies and the Battle of the Black Gate were not intended to save Gandalf personally, or a small group of which he was a member.

What do people think?

Last edited by Faramir Jones; 07-22-2016 at 06:09 AM.
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Old 07-22-2016, 09:40 AM   #18
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What do people think?~Faramir Jones
I think Gandalf's rescued/carried by Gwaihir three times are all referring to the 3 times in The Lord of the Rings. There is a progression in their friendship each time Gwaihir has to carry Gandalf.

First, Orthanc, Gwaihir says "I was sent to bear tidings, not burdens."

Second, from Zirakzigil. Gwaihir (if I recall correctly, was sent by Galadriel) and remarks that Gandalf is light:

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"Ever am I fated to be your burden, friend at need." I said.
"A burden you have been," he answered "but not so now. Light as a swan's feather in my claw you are. The sun shines through you..."~The White Rider
Then in the Field of Cormallen, Gandalf tells Gwaihir:

Quote:
"You will not find me a burden much greated than when you bore me from Zirakzigil, where my old life burned away."
"I would bear you," answered Gwaihir, "whither you will, even were you made of stone."
So I think the "thrice pays for all" is just the three times in LOTR, because each rescue shows a progression in their friendship. Gandalf is first "a burden" that Gwaihir will carry for many leagues "but not to the ends of the earth." Second time, Gandalf is still a burden, but he's "as light as a swan's feather." Then the last time, Gwaihir says he will bear Gandalf wherever, even were he "made of stone." So, I guess that means Gwaihir in the Fellowship of the Ring would not have accepted carrying the ring-bearer to the borders/into Mordor. But ROTK Gwaihir would have...figures you even have to play the dance with eagles, when you want to get them to do anything for you.
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Old 07-23-2016, 01:58 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by denethorthefirst View Post
It really surprises me how often this question crops up, because to me it makes absolutely no sense. As the others have already mentioned using the eagles isn't exactly subtle. Although eagles are able to fly very high, Sauron would still be able to spot them miles away, long before they would even reach the black gate, and take the appropriate counter-measures. And how would the Eagles "land" the ring? I mean they can't just drop it, what if they miss? So they have to either land or at least come very close to the mountain. Sauron will then be able to shoot them down, if he hasn't already brought them down with his fell beasts. And another thing: who's to say that the Eagles would even be able to mentally complete the task? It could very well be that the group of eagles tears itself apart well before reaching mount doom, fighting over the ring. And even if the Eagles reach the mountain, the ring-bearing eagle would at this point probably refuse to drop the ring, just like frodo and isildur were not able to harm the ring (and isildur was only in possession for several minutes, the eagle would be exposed to the ring for at least several days)!
It isn't just a case of "landing."

The Sammath Naur is INSIDE Orodruin.

They have to land, and then squeeze into a hole where they would have to then drop the ring into the lava at the bottom of the Sammath Naur.

All Sauron would need to do would be to put a gate on it, or wall it up.

Why he didn't already is a question that needs to be answered. Arrogance? That seems to be the go-to for Sauron, but I think it likely another reason that isn't so simple of reductive.

But your point remains, only more complicated and worse than even you have described.

Although it is likely they would have send Frodo atop one of the Eagles, carrying the One Ring. That doesn't change the situation a great deal.

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Old 07-23-2016, 05:21 PM   #20
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Thumbs up A very good response!

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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
So I think the "thrice pays for all" is just the three times in LOTR, because each rescue shows a progression in their friendship. Gandalf is first "a burden" that Gwaihir will carry for many leagues "but not to the ends of the earth." Second time, Gandalf is still a burden, but he's "as light as a swan's feather." Then the last time, Gwaihir says he will bear Gandalf wherever, even were he "made of stone." So, I guess that means Gwaihir in the Fellowship of the Ring would not have accepted carrying the ring-bearer to the borders/into Mordor. But ROTK Gwaihir would have...figures you even have to play the dance with eagles, when you want to get them to do anything for you.
That's a very good response, Boromir88! Certainly, things seem to get friendlier between Gwaihir and Gandalf as the book goes on.
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