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Old 08-15-2004, 03:56 PM   #1
luthien-elvenprincess
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Shield Why did the Black Captain switch rides?

Opinions please...based on Tolkein fact, of course!

Upon leaving Minas Morgul and at the gate of Minas Tirith, the Lord of the Nazgul is riding upon a black horse. But, he switches to the winged beast after meeting Gandalf on Shadowfax at the gate of Minas Tirith. Why?

Because the winged beast was faster? Because Shadowfax was a greater horse than his, even though his withstood the onslaught at the Ford of Rivendell?

The Nazgul Black Captain would have had to leave the gate, switch beasts, gotten to the battle field to kill Theoden, and then be defeated by Merry and Eowyn in a matter of probably 3 hours. Gandalf and company heard the dying cry of the Black Captain while arriving at the Houses of Healing with Faramir. I figured 3 hours because Gandalf and Pippen first arrived at Minas Tirith at sunrise (6 AM) and was up in the Citidal prior to 8 AM. I suppose that Gandalf was hurrying even faster up the levels of minas Tirith to help Faramir than when he first arrived. Another hour to rescue Faramir, deal with Deneathor, and then carry Faramir to the Houses of Healing make up the 3 hours I figured between the Black Captain leaving the gate and dying.
AGain, my question: why did the Black Captain switch beasts?
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Old 08-15-2004, 04:27 PM   #2
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First of all, I don't think he had the same horse as he had in the beginning. It probably drowned in the flood.

Now, to the question. I think he needed to control his armies against the new threat that the rohirrim composed, instead of fighting Gandalf. I think he knew that Gandalf was stronger, and that he couldn't scare him off. He didn't want to risk a confrontation, at least not without his entire army behind him to invade if he would fail. And being out in the field, fighting against mortal foes, the Fell Beast would be a mighty weapon. A black horse is fine, but it's still just a steed. A huge, stinking, dragon-like creature would be a nice addition to his own terrible power.

I don't think he had any time problems. I can't remember really, and I don't have the books with me, but the Fell Beast probably lurked around somewhere, waiting for its master's call. The Witch-King would only have needed to ride out a bit on the field, maybe to Osgiliath before he could call for it. And I imagine he went pretty straight for king Theoden.
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Old 08-15-2004, 07:20 PM   #3
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Sting

The fell beast was possibly in the air circling above just in case it was needed, in which case it could come down for the WK to jump on and fly away.
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Old 08-15-2004, 08:04 PM   #4
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Actually, it could have been the very same horse that he or one of the other riders rode in the beginning. Only 8 horse bodies were found; three were found at once drowned in the water, five more found on the rocks of the rapids below. THis information is in the chapter titled The Ring Goes South. So, one horse could have survived.
I agree that the winged beast would be more formidable to the opponents, so why didn't he use that to begin with? (Apparently PJ thought this also, since he had the Lord of the Nazgul start off from Minas Morgul on the dragon instead of the horse!)
Yes, I imagined that he had his winged beast housed at Osgiliath so he could have pretty quick access to it when he wanted it. I just can't come up with a good enough reason (to convince myself ) why he choose the horse first instead of the dragon!
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Old 08-16-2004, 03:22 AM   #5
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It may have survived, sure, but I think it's more likely that it died, and that he got a new horse.
I think he rode the horse from Minas Morgul because it would have been easier to command his army that way. Just ride in the front and, later, send forth the troops. With the big dragon-thingy he would have to land every time he would give a new order, not to mention that the other horses in the army wouldn't have liked it.
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Old 08-16-2004, 05:14 AM   #6
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I'm sure you're right, Nightknight.
The Nazgul's flying thing would be much more terriffying but it would be impractical to command the seige from the air.
In the confusion of open battle outside the city, giving futher orders would have been useless, so the change to a swifter, more scary transport made sense.
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Old 08-16-2004, 11:48 PM   #7
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Since the Witch-King was the first of the nazgul to enter the river, I think it is quite unlikely that his original horse survived. Anyway, if it did it would have had to find its own way back to mordor since the WK was damaged (I can't think of the right word) in the flood.
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Old 09-02-2004, 07:51 AM   #8
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Sting

But I think it would have been easier to command the siege of Minas Arnor from air,I suppose you all have played Ages Of empire and know that its easier to command armies when you have got thw whole picture of the enemy in your head.
And I have another question was the Witch King really afraid of Gandalf???
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Old 09-03-2004, 11:13 AM   #9
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I think that if he was not afraid of Gandalf, he was close. Because Gandalf was now a White Wizard, that meant he was much more powerful than he had been before and that may have been niggling in the back of his mind.

I was thinking that maybe he rode the horse at the beginning just to see how much of a challenge the enemy presented to him. When he met Gandalf, maybe he decided that he needed a more formidable steed to face the White Wizard and switched to the Fell Beast.
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