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Old 08-30-2009, 02:43 PM   #1
The Mouth of Sauron
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How was Gwaihir so well informed ?

Gwaihir the Windlord, the great eagle that rescued Gandalf from Orthanc, seemed to be exceptionally well informed about goings-on in Middle Earth.

Right after he rescued Gandalf, it was obvious he'd had contact with Radagast and the Elves in Mirkwood. He knew about Gollum's escape. He was aware of Saruman. He knew the geography of Rohan and had heard of the (false) rumour that Rohan paid a tribute of horses to Sauron.

After Gandalf slew the Balrog, Gwaihir obviously had contact with Galadriel who sent him on a rescue mission again. Gwaihir then spied out the land for Gandalf, tracking the Company as it travelled down Anduin.

Then in the final showdown, Gwaihir and his eagles arrived at the Black Gate and rescued Frodo and Sam.

How did Gwaihir get such a steady stream of information to enable him to participate like this ?
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Old 08-30-2009, 03:38 PM   #2
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Well, firstly, in the summer of 3018, Gandalf asked Radagast to send word among his friends the birds to learn what they could of the Enemy's plans. The Great Eagles flew far and wide and gathered news of the Nazgul and the mustering of Orcs and Wargs and the escape of Gollum from Mirkwood.

Gwaihir was on his way to Isengard - unaware of Saruman's treachery - to bring these news to Gandalf. It was Gandalf's good fortune that this happened.

And as you say he then searched for Gandalf at Galadriel's request and after rescuing him was sent off to look after the Fellowship and returned with the news of Merry and Pippin's capture.


Now to your question - the first important things he learned he had found out due to Radagast's request to find out more about the Enemy's plans. Again, he was not aware of Saruman, but knew where Isengard was, perhaps from earlier errands involving Radagast or maybe just because he liked flying around.

Once he was involved in the War he of course was sent on errands by members of the White Council and perhaps also flew around to find out more out of his own curiosity. After all, he was on the good side and had interest in helping out.

And last but not least, Gwaihir was the lord of the eagles at the time of the War and as such had hundreds of birds as vassals. Imagine how much information would be gathered by such a number.
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Old 08-30-2009, 06:15 PM   #3
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Actually, the eagles were Tolkien's primary deus ex machina, conveniently placed to always be at the right place just in the nick of time. And besides Shadowfax, they were Gandalf's secondary mode of transportation. Howard Hughes had the Spruce Goose, Gandalf had the Regal Eagles.
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Old 08-30-2009, 07:34 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
Actually, the eagles were Tolkien's primary deus ex machina, conveniently placed to always be at the right place just in the nick of time. And besides Shadowfax, they were Gandalf's secondary mode of transportation. Howard Hughes had the Spruce Goose, Gandalf had the Regal Eagles.
I like Morth's point about deus ex machina. However, neither goose nor turkey would do it.

Those who read LotR with some gleanings drawn from the Bible might might be forgiven for recalling a few passages from that epic:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Exodus 19:4
"Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare
you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isaiah 40:31
"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their
strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they
shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not
faint."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ezekiel 17:7
"There was also another great eagle with great wings and many
feathers: and, behold, this vine did bend her roots toward
him, and shot forth her branches toward him, that he might
water it by the furrows of her plantation."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Revelation 12:14
"And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that
she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she
is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from
the face of the serpent."

As a good Tolkien fan I ought to be quoting from the Jerusalem Bible, but I don't have one at hand, only the King James. And my Cruden's Concordance is for the 1611 edition anyway, which reminds its readers that eagles are a symbol for deliverance. Poe, after all, did not have an eagle repeating, "never more."
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Old 08-31-2009, 07:58 AM   #5
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However, Tolkien recognized the limitations of using the Eagles.
In his critique of a suggested film synopsis by Morton Grady Zimmerman.
Quote:
Here we meet the first intrusion of the Eagles. I think they
are a major mistake of Z., and without warrant.
The Eagles are a dangerous 'machine'. I have used them
sparingly, and that bis the absolute limit of their credibility or
usefulness. The alighting of a Great Eagle in the Shire is absurd;
it also makes the later capture of G. by Saruman incredible, and
spoils the account of his escape......[when leaving Rivendell] the
Eagles are again introduced. I feel this to be an altogether
unacceptable tampering with the tale
. 'Nine Walkers' and they
immediately go into the air! The intrusion achieves nothing but
incredibility, and the staling of the device of the Eagles when at
last they are really needed.
And, of course, it can (and has in this forum) been argued that the
Great Eagles may be descendants of maia, among other possibilities
of their origin, and so have their own agenda and interests. (Think
of Treebeard's observation about being on someone's side).
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Old 08-31-2009, 12:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuor in Gondolin View Post
And, of course, it can (and has in this forum) been argued that the
Great Eagles may be descendants of maia, among other possibilities
of their origin, and so have their own agenda and interests. (Think
of Treebeard's observation about being on someone's side).
I think they were the offspring of a curious Dragon and an unfortunate chicken...
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Old 08-31-2009, 12:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keyan View Post
I think they were the offspring of a curious Dragon and an unfortunate chicken...
Really? I thought those were the Fell Beasts. Observe:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
The great shadow descended like a falling cloud. 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.
Giant.

Featherless.

Chicken.

Probably bred in response to the Eagles themselves...
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Old 08-31-2009, 12:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mnemosyne View Post
Giant.

Featherless.

Chicken.

Probably bred in response to the Eagles themselves...
Or bred and corrupted from captured Eagles, perhaps, as the Orcs supposedly were from Elves?
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Old 08-31-2009, 12:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
Or bred and corrupted from captured Eagles, perhaps, as the Orcs supposedly were from Elves?
The less facetious part of me was thinking that as well...

But chickens are inherently funnier.
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Old 08-31-2009, 01:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mnemosyne View Post
The less facetious part of me was thinking that as well...

But chickens are inherently funnier.
wakka wakka wakka!!
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Old 09-01-2009, 06:18 AM   #11
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Chat skwerlz perhaps?
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Old 09-01-2009, 08:41 AM   #12
Tuor in Gondolin
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Well, this thread has certainly blossomed with insights.
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