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Old 03-20-2020, 09:20 AM
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Another LOTR Question


I'm sure this has been asked already, so if you have a link, please direct me.

How was Strider so easily able to dispatch 5 Black Riders (including the Witch King) on Weathertop? Basically, all he had was a sword and a torch.
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Old 03-20-2020, 09:43 AM
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Book states that they are mortally (ha!) afraid of fire and that they withdrew following piercing Frodo's shoulder. They elected to simply wait until he succumbed and would fall under their power.
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Old 03-20-2020, 09:51 AM
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Aragorn is also of noble heritage, the heir of the great Numenorean king Elendil. To the Nazgul, he appears as a powerful and imposing figure, not just a humble ranger, and he is immune to the fear they evoke in most other beings. And he's even a bigger badass than you think -- in the book, he carries the broken sword Narsil, which he never draws when facing the Nazgul, dispatching them with only torches and sheer nerve.
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:08 AM
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Before he got Narsil reforged into Andúril, he remarked a bit sadly, "Not much use, is it, Sam?"
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:10 AM
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Thank you, very helpful. I still seems a little strange. The Witch King thought himself to be as powerful as Gandalf whom I suspect was much more powerful than Aragorn. Is it possible the Nazguls were not as powerful as they would be in the future. Though they were pretty badass in The Hobbit.
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:30 AM
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Book states that they are mortally (ha!) afraid of fire and that they withdrew following piercing Frodo's shoulder. They elected to simply wait until he succumbed and would fall under their power.
Yeah, from their point of view, they'd already gotten the job done - Frodo was doomed and all they had to do was wait. Why bother sticking around the scary big guy who acts like they're nothing to be afraid of.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:27 AM
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Thank you, very helpful. I still seems a little strange. The Witch King thought himself to be as powerful as Gandalf whom I suspect was much more powerful than Aragorn. Is it possible the Nazguls were not as powerful as they would be in the future. Though they were pretty badass in The Hobbit.
I agree it's a little strange. We can make up some in-universe explanations, but IMHO they are a little strained (though doesn't impact the overall work very much).
Best fanwank/retcons:
The Nazgul felt that the knife was going to do the work, so didn't need to press things
Aragorn, being particularly immune to the fear-based magic of the Nazgul, was an enemy the Nazgul weren't really ready for (and a badass regardless)
At that point, far from Mordor and relatively early in Sauron's war, the Nazgul weren't as strong as they became by the time of the siege of Minas Tirith
A page of a bad Frankenstein movie script got mixed into the MS of LOTR and the Nazgul accidentally had an extreme fear of fire.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:29 AM
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There is mention that the further from Mordor the weaker the Nazgul at that time. Additionally it was believed they were trying not to reveal themselves yet to the powers of the West.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:43 AM
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Thank you, very helpful. I still seems a little strange. The Witch King thought himself to be as powerful as Gandalf whom I suspect was much more powerful than Aragorn. Is it possible the Nazguls were not as powerful as they would be in the future. Though they were pretty badass in The Hobbit.
The Hobbit?? Or do you mean they put in a cameo in the movies?

Last edited by Lumpy; 03-20-2020 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:45 AM
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I think it's also part of Tolkien's cosmology that evil, in addition to being unable to create (only imitate or distort), is fundamentally cowardly. The Nazgul were not at full strength at Weathertop and were very likely not expecting these halflings to be guarded by an exiled Numenorean king with no fear of them.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:53 AM
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The Hobbit?? Or do you mean they put in a cameo in the movies?
In the movies - not a cameo - it was in the third movie.
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Old 03-20-2020, 09:00 PM
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IMO, their great power is fear. They can cause fear in nearly every creature within xxxx yards. Prolonged Nazgul exposure would cause loss of will to live. This is a great military power.
On the other hand, we have no evidence from the books that they can handle themselves well in personal physical combat. Quite the contrary. Their leader is scared off by Glorfindel at the battle of Fornost. As mentioned, on Weathertop they’re intimidated by one man wielding a torch. Several of them attack Gandalf the Grey on Weathertop and are driven off. At the Battle of Pelennor, Gandalf runs them off, twice. The Witch King, with an army behind him, helps break the gate, but is stopped by Gandalf. After telling Gandalf, “Dang, I can’t fight you now, I hear some horns blowing”, he then takes to the air, throwing darts from a safe altitude, only landing when it looks safe to do so. He then is defeated by a woman and a hobbit.
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Old 03-20-2020, 09:21 PM
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IMO, their great power is fear.
Their great power is fear. Fear and surprise. Surprise and fear...
Their two great powers are fear and surprise... and the Morgul-knife....
Their three powers are fear, surprise, and the Morgul-knife... and an almost fanatical devotion to Sauron....
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Old 03-20-2020, 09:26 PM
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IMO, their great power is fear. They can cause fear in nearly every creature within xxxx yards. Prolonged Nazgul exposure would cause loss of will to live. This is a great military power.
On the other hand, we have no evidence from the books that they can handle themselves well in personal physical combat. Quite the contrary. Their leader is scared off by Glorfindel at the battle of Fornost. As mentioned, on Weathertop they’re intimidated by one man wielding a torch. Several of them attack Gandalf the Grey on Weathertop and are driven off. At the Battle of Pelennor, Gandalf runs them off, twice. The Witch King, with an army behind him, helps break the gate, but is stopped by Gandalf. After telling Gandalf, “Dang, I can’t fight you now, I hear some horns blowing”, he then takes to the air, throwing darts from a safe altitude, only landing when it looks safe to do so. He then is defeated by a woman and a hobbit.
A woman protecting (or avenging) her father. Do not mess with Momma Bear nor any of her kind. Further, to the Witch King's worse luck, the hobbit was deceptively overlookable and armed with The Weapon capable of at least leaving the Witch King limping, or worse.
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:04 PM
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I also thought there was something about their physical bodies not yet being fully formed, and thus not as powerful. The bodies were wiped out in the flood and their spirits went back to Mordor where they retook physical form; since Sauron's power was growing their new forms were likewise more powerful.

But I think the main thing has already been stated: their true power lie in spreading fear, not wielding a sword, and Aragorn didn't fear them.
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:19 PM
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The Witch King thought himself to be as powerful as Gandalf whom I suspect was much more powerful than Aragorn.
Powerful in different ways. Aragorn was the greatest living man at that time, able to command an army of the undead, and rend control of a pilantir away from Sauron himself, something even Gandalf feared to try.
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:47 PM
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Aragon was the direct descendant of the man who cut the Ring off Sauron's finger. In a world where heritage and descent is important, that's pretty significant for the servants of the Ring.
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Old 03-21-2020, 06:38 AM
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A woman protecting (or avenging) her father. Do not mess with Momma Bear nor any of her kind. Further, to the Witch King's worse luck, the hobbit was deceptively overlookable and armed with The Weapon capable of at least leaving the Witch King limping, or worse.
Agreed, and it’s among the best parts of the books.
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Old 03-22-2020, 09:03 PM
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Their great power is fear. Fear and surprise. Surprise and fear...
Their two great powers are fear and surprise... and the Morgul-knife....
Their three powers are fear, surprise, and the Morgul-knife... and an almost fanatical devotion to Sauron....
Just saw this, well commented - made my day!
Thanks
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:44 AM
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It makes sense to fear Aragorn. No matter what he's armed with, he's the single greatest badass alive in Middle-Earth. The better question is, why did they fear Farmer Maggot and his dogs?

It gets back to what Capn Carl said. Their main weapon is fear. And it's a very potent weapon indeed: They can singlehandedly turn battles with that weapon. But what's the response of a sensible tactician, on finding that your main weapon is ineffective? They should, rationally, be wary of anyone who can withstand their fear.

But it goes beyond that, because it's not rational. Fear is such a fundamental part of their nature that, where they should be feeling wariness, they instead feel terror, the sheer, unreasoning terror that they (usually) instill in their victims.

Aragorn is, of course, brave, as well a badass like him should be. It ain't boasting if you can back it up. But Farmer Maggot is likewise brave, in his own way, at least when defending his home, his family, his guests, and his neighbors. And the Nazgul can't withstand that courage.
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Old 03-23-2020, 01:57 PM
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Their great power is fear. Fear and surprise. Surprise and fear...
Their two great powers are fear and surprise... and the Morgul-knife....
Their three powers are fear, surprise, and the Morgul-knife... and an almost fanatical devotion to Sauron....
They'll come in again.

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A woman protecting (or avenging) her father....
Uncle.

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It makes sense to fear Aragorn. No matter what he's armed with, he's the single greatest badass alive in Middle-Earth....
Among Men, perhaps, even probably. But Sauron, Gandalf, Elladan, Elrohir, Legolas etc. might beg to differ if you're talking about everyone alive at that time.
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Old 03-24-2020, 08:33 AM
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Well, Gandalf is powerful, but he's not exactly a "badass". His power manifests in different ways.

As for the elves, well, it's not the years, it's the mileage. Sure, they're a lot older than him, but they've spent most of that time sitting around and being emo, while Aragorn has been struggling to survive every day for like 70 years.

Think back to The Hobbit, when Gandalf is considering ways to deal with Smaug. Slaying him was one option, but that would take a Hero, and he wasn't even sure if there were any of those left in the world. This, despite visiting all three of the elves you mention en route to the Lonely Mountain. And then, the dragonslayer still turns out to be a human.
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Old 03-24-2020, 02:06 PM
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It makes sense to fear Aragorn. No matter what he's armed with, he's the single greatest badass alive in Middle-Earth. The better question is, why did they fear Farmer Maggot and his dogs?

It gets back to what Capn Carl said. Their main weapon is fear. And it's a very potent weapon indeed: They can singlehandedly turn battles with that weapon. But what's the response of a sensible tactician, on finding that your main weapon is ineffective? They should, rationally, be wary of anyone who can withstand their fear.

But it goes beyond that, because it's not rational. Fear is such a fundamental part of their nature that, where they should be feeling wariness, they instead feel terror, the sheer, unreasoning terror that they (usually) instill in their victims.

Aragorn is, of course, brave, as well a badass like him should be. It ain't boasting if you can back it up. But Farmer Maggot is likewise brave, in his own way, at least when defending his home, his family, his guests, and his neighbors. And the Nazgul can't withstand that courage.
I think this is a compelling argument but it still feels like a bit of a crutch. Some extra exposition in the books would have been helpful on this point. At least if the Nazgul had more noticeably flinched or something it wouldn't raise so may questions. I certainly don't buy the "deathly afraid of fire" line and the heir of Isuldur thing while meaningful isn't a shield.
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Old 03-24-2020, 02:20 PM
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Oh, yeah, I agree that they're not deathly afraid of fire. It's something that can be used against them, but then, it's something that can be used against ordinary mortals, too. Aragorn used a torch because that's what he had.
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:23 AM
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Tolkien was very consciously writing in a mytho-poetic mode. The foundations of Reality in Middle-Earth are literally Myth and Poetry (it was sung into existence).

Aragorn, Son of Arathorn, Heir of Isildur, and the True King of the Numenoreans, Stood atop Weathertop, in Defiance of Fear and Despair, in Defense of the Innocent and in Defense of Hope, in a Place That Was of Old a Stronghold of His People.

In Middle-Earth, those are Truths that have Power.
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Old 03-25-2020, 12:45 PM
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That said, the Nazgul weren't invulnerable either. Either enough injury or possibly just damaging their robes could rob them of their form in some fashion, hence why they had to creep back to Mordor like shadows after getting (literally) stomped by a raging river. They were ambushed and wounded and quite possibly didn't even entirely realize it was just one guy. Withdrawal probably seemed like the best option, given that they now had a very accurate bead on the ring-bearer. They might not be killable, but that didn't make them unstoppable.

Plus, one small element about Tolkein is that evil is cowardly. Though it might not seem so at first because so many evil characters love violence, they're also bullies and unable to risk anything in a real battle. the only reason they fight except when circumstances favor them heavily is when good forces the matter, or they realize that they drastically underestimate their opponent. It's unclear when, or if, the Balrog realized he had bitten off a lot more than he could chew, but he spent a three day battle with Gandalf running for his miserable life. Gollum, while under the influence of the Ring, was only capable of treachery and strikes from hiding. Orcs on multiple occasions proved unable to stand up the moment they were intimidated. Ungoliant never tried anything except to ambush isolated orcs in a thousand years. Even Sauron spent the whole story hiding in his tower, when his presence might well have turned the tide of battle - and in the first place lost the ring because the Last Alliance marched into Mordor and gave him no choice.
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Old 03-25-2020, 02:11 PM
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I have a question about a scene out of "Five Armies" I recently watched. Gandalf is sick/dying being held prisoner in a cage. Then a woman elf shows up to help him. They are surrounded by ghosts who are trying to kill them. Something about 7 and 3 and more about rings (I think). Then another elf and wizard to the rescue. How many goddamn rings were there? I thought the last one was destroyed in previous books/movies. Or is 5 armies supposed to be a prequel?
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Old 03-25-2020, 02:23 PM
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I have a question about a scene out of "Five Armies" I recently watched. Gandalf is sick/dying being held prisoner in a cage. Then a woman elf shows up to help him. They are surrounded by ghosts who are trying to kill them. Something about 7 and 3 and more about rings (I think). Then another elf and wizard to the rescue. How many goddamn rings were there? I thought the last one was destroyed in previous books/movies. Or is 5 armies supposed to be a prequel?
The 3 Hobbit movies (were an atrocity) were prequels. There were

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.


There were also lesser rings, but those were the 20 major rings. Sauron helps with the making of the 9 for men & 7 for Dwarves but the Elven Ring were untouched by him and Sauron alone forged the one ring.

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Old 03-25-2020, 02:56 PM
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I have a question about a scene out of "Five Armies" I recently watched. Gandalf is sick/dying being held prisoner in a cage. Then a woman elf shows up to help him. They are surrounded by ghosts who are trying to kill them. Something about 7 and 3 and more about rings (I think). Then another elf and wizard to the rescue. How many goddamn rings were there? I thought the last one was destroyed in previous books/movies. Or is 5 armies supposed to be a prequel?
The Female Elf was Galadriel, who had one of the Elf Rings and possibly the most powerful person on Middle earth, short of Sauron himself.

Also assisting was Saruman the White, before he got turned, and Elrond- who had one of the other Elf rings, as did Gandalf.

Aka The White Council, if you add in Radagast and maybe Glorfindel.
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:06 PM
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The Female Elf was Galadriel, who had one of the Elf Rings and possibly the most powerful person on Middle earth, short of Sauron himself.

Also assisting was Saruman the White, before he got turned, and Elrond- who had one of the other Elf rings, as did Gandalf.

Aka The White Council, if you add in Radagast and maybe Glorfindel.
Almost surely Glorfindel and probably Cirdan the Shipwright who was a member of the White Council.
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:13 PM
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My question is- what happened to the Nine Rings? Between the second fall of Sauron at Dagorlad - and the destruction of the One?

In one part of LotR is it intimated that they wear them, in another that Sauron does. Ok, if Sauron does- how did he get them? He was formless as The Necromancer after Ilisdur cut the One off his hand.

But in the Hobbit film the Nine were apparently imprisoned. Ok, but why lock them in with their rings? Sauron certainly didnt have them.

And since two of the Seven were destroyed, why not just destroy the Nine? And yes, the Nine Rings were necessary to make the Nazgul and keep them around, otherwise other greedy for power human would have picked up and worn one of the nine and beca=ome a Ringwraith, but no- there are exactly Nine.
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:15 PM
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Almost surely Glorfindel and probably Cirdan the Shipwright who was a member of the White Council.

Yes, Glorfindel- but Cirdan gave up his Ring to Gandalf as Cirdan want to concentrate on his duties to send Elves to the West.
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:17 PM
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The Female Elf was Galadriel, who had one of the Elf Rings and possibly the most powerful person on Middle earth, short of Sauron himself.
I don't know if I would quite go that far. She was strong, yes, but there were stronger and older beings. Her power lay more in sight, or concealment from it, of present and future.

I'm not entirely certain she had the same power as Cirdan or even Celeborn if it came down to it, who had been actively and personally defending their homes for several eons. Of course, she was more than just clever - she was 100% Grade-A Accept-No-Substitutes Wise. She survived basically all of history, and had many mystical gifts of sight at her hand.
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:22 PM
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[QUOTE=What Exit?;22210299]The 3 Hobbit movies (were an atrocity) were prequels./QUOTE]

I agree 1 and 2 weren't real good, but I thought the third one was a lot of fun.
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:25 PM
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I don't know if I would quite go that far. She was strong, yes, but there were stronger and older beings. Her power lay more in sight, or concealment from it, of present and future.

I'm not entirely certain she had the same power as Cirdan or even Celeborn if it came down to it, who had been actively and personally defending their homes for several eons. Of course, she was more than just clever - she was 100% Grade-A Accept-No-Substitutes Wise. She survived basically all of history, and had many mystical gifts of sight at her hand.
Like whom?

Oh yeah, we forget Celeborn (Hard C, remember) he'd be on the White Council also.
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:36 PM
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I don't know if I would quite go that far. She was strong, yes, but there were stronger and older beings. Her power lay more in sight, or concealment from it, of present and future.

I'm not entirely certain she had the same power as Cirdan or even Celeborn if it came down to it, who had been actively and personally defending their homes for several eons. Of course, she was more than just clever - she was 100% Grade-A Accept-No-Substitutes Wise. She survived basically all of history, and had many mystical gifts of sight at her hand.
At the end, Galadriel had the power to throw down the walls of Dol Guldur through her "Sorceries". With the Ring of Air she kept Lothlórien nearly timeless or at least somewhat out of time. Her pool rivaled the powers of the Palantir. She was an Elf of the Light, Granddaughter of Finwë and a student of Melian. she was more powerful than Celeborn or Elrond. But Cirdan is tricky, he was possibly among the very first Elves to be born. Glorfindel is also tricky, another Elf of the Light, a Captain of Gondolin that died killing a Balrog but was sent back to help by the Valar themselves.

However, Galadriel was not as powerful as the Wizards or Sauron. These were all Maiar.
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Old 03-25-2020, 05:51 PM
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Galadriel wasn't as powerful as Sauron, but I wouldn't be certain comparing her to the Wizards, who, remember, were all limited to far below their natural levels of power. Of course, both she and Gandalf were wise enough not to settle the question conclusively.
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Old 03-25-2020, 05:54 PM
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However, Galadriel was not as powerful as the Wizards or Sauron. These were all Maiar.
It seems to me that Galadriel was not as hampered in the power she dare use or display in Middle Earth as the Istari were. Even though technically most of the elves' power was so to speak "soft" power; but she was someone whom nature itself would happily do a favor or three if she asked.
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Old 03-26-2020, 07:04 AM
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Galadriel wasn't as powerful as Sauron, but I wouldn't be certain comparing her to the Wizards, who, remember, were all limited to far below their natural levels of power. Of course, both she and Gandalf were wise enough not to settle the question conclusively.
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It seems to me that Galadriel was not as hampered in the power she dare use or display in Middle Earth as the Istari were. Even though technically most of the elves' power was so to speak "soft" power; but she was someone whom nature itself would happily do a favor or three if she asked.
That's fair, as the Wizards, Galadriel was probably more powerful but back in their true nature, the Wizards would be.
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Old 03-26-2020, 04:15 PM
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The 3 Hobbit movies (were an atrocity) were prequels. There were

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.


There were also lesser rings, but those were the 20 major rings. Sauron helps with the making of the 9 for men & 7 for Dwarves but the Elven Ring were untouched by him and Sauron alone forged the one ring.
At the Council of Elrond (IIRC), Elrond accounts for all the major rings. The 9 are held by the Nazgul, the 3 he knows about (but doesn't go into detail). He says the 7 dwarf rings are all either returned to Sauron or consumed by dragons. Ergo, Frodo's must be The Ash Nazg.
It took me a long time to realize that dragons probably didn't just eat the ring, but the dwarf that was wearing it at the time.

Last edited by jsc1953; 03-26-2020 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 03-26-2020, 05:28 PM
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Presumably, though, Sauron could re-gift the dwarf-rings he's reclaimed to other humans, and produce more Nazgul. The rings weren't originally dwarvish or mannish, and in fact all of them were probably originally intended to be worn by elves.
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:22 PM
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Presumably, though, Sauron could re-gift the dwarf-rings he's reclaimed to other humans, and produce more Nazgul. The rings weren't originally dwarvish or mannish, and in fact all of them were probably originally intended to be worn by elves.
I thought the Nine just made Nazgul. The Seven made greedy little bearded fuckers.
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:41 PM
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Presumably, though, Sauron could re-gift the dwarf-rings he's reclaimed to other humans, and produce more Nazgul. The rings weren't originally dwarvish or mannish, and in fact all of them were probably originally intended to be worn by elves.
Well, altho that sounds good, apparently not, as Sauron didnt try, and in fact offered the Dwarves their rings back.

So, where did Sauron get ahold of the Nine?
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:07 PM
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I thought the Nine just made Nazgul. The Seven made greedy little bearded fuckers.
No. The Rings Sauron made affected beings according to their nature. Of humans, rings made Nazgul and of Dwarves they made greedier little fellows (the three Rings were made by the Elves, and so did not have the same effects) - but that's the nature of humans and dwarves, not the nature of the rings, I think.
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:38 PM
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Well, altho that sounds good, apparently not, as Sauron didnt try, and in fact offered the Dwarves their rings back.

So, where did Sauron get ahold of the Nine?
The nine came willingly to the call of the one.
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:43 PM
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No. The Rings Sauron made affected beings according to their nature. Of humans, rings made Nazgul and of Dwarves they made greedier little fellows (the three Rings were made by the Elves, and so did not have the same effects) - but that's the nature of humans and dwarves, not the nature of the rings, I think.
Oops. I shouldn't have said "Sauron made" - Sauron only made the One Ring; the Elves made all the others - but Sauron was involved in the design of all of them and he made the One Ring using his knowledge of the others, so that the One Ring would rule the others.
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:50 PM
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It's even in the poem!
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Old 03-26-2020, 10:24 PM
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But in the Hobbit film the Nine were apparently imprisoned. Ok, but why lock them in with their rings? Sauron certainly didnt have them.
Your mistake is trying to make sense of The Hobbit films.
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Old 03-26-2020, 10:26 PM
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The nine came willingly to the call of the one.
Sure, wearing their rings. But then Sauron got his ring chopped off and fell, lost his physical body. Ilisdur picked up the One. Where did the Nine rings go?
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Old 03-26-2020, 10:34 PM
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Sure, wearing their rings. But then Sauron got his ring chopped off and fell, lost his physical body. Ilisdur picked up the One. Where did the Nine rings go?
Ignoring any nonsense from the Hobbit movies (and I don't recall what you are talking about, since I've tried to expunge them from my mind), why couldn't the Nazgul have continued to wear them (presuming they were wearing them at the time)? They would have fled and hidden, but since the One Ring still existed they wouldn't have discorporated as they did when it was destroyed.
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