Lord of the Rings - Why not fly to Mt. Doom?

So why didn;t they just hop on those giant eagles and fly to Mt. Doom? Would it have been too far? I have only seen the movies so I don;t know how far it would be (I would assume the books do a better job of giving the distance they traveled).

Would the nazgul have gotten them first?


I’m sure Sauron’s big eye would’ve noticed. :wink:

The Eye of Sauron would have easily spotted them, then they would have faced battle with the Nazgul in the sky. Advantage: Nazgul. The distance traveled wouldn’t have been a problem flying on the eagles since they were kind of the Boeing 747s of their day. It’s been awhile since I read the books, so I’ll guess the distance would have been 873 5/8 aeronautical miles.

Why are the nazgul more likely to catch flying people than they are to catch walking people?

But when swooping down on their fell beasts on hobbits walking instead of flying, it’s Advantage: Hobbits?

Being on an eagle is better than being on foot when nine dark riders riding dragons catch you.

The Great Eagles were servants of Manwë, chief of the Valor. Sauron would be keeping sharp eye out for them. Sauron would not have suspected the Eagles of flying the Ring to Mt Doom but would be vigilant against them spying on him.

Most likely the best reason for not sending Glorfindel along. Glorfindel was like a beacon of light to the servants of Sauron and if he approached Mordor Sauron would have been worried and worked hard to stop him from approaching. Gandalf the Grey was able to cloak who he really was, the Lord of the Nazguls was ignorant enough of what Gandalf was to think he could beat him even when he was Gandalf the White.

This has been done to death on these boards and others.

Yes, they would probably have been spotted. At this stage Sauron was looking for the ring actively, and form the time they left the Shire to the time Frodo and Sam split form the rest of the party, Sauron always knew approximately where they were. A couple of giant eagles entering the search area might just have been noticed.

The eagles are not pets. They did favours for Gandalf because he helped them, but they weren’t servants, they had their own business to attend to. They were put on Middle Earth as protectors of other animals, so they disliked Orcs, but they weren’t actually allied with the other races. They weren’t even included in the list of Free Peoples by the Ents, which suggests that they were under strict orders from the Valar. Basically, even if they wanted to help, they weren’t allowed to.

The Eagles were also powerful entities in their own right, they weren’t animals. Gandalf feared ever having the ring in his control, even briefly. It took all of Galdriel’s willpower to refuse the ring. Sam Struggled to carry Frodo because carrying the ringbearer also incurred the weight of the ring. But you are suggesting putting the ringbearer literally in the clutches of an extremely powerful creature with its own goal, a thousand feet above the ground. There’s no way that would have worked out well.

The Eagle would have taken the and used it for its won purposes. The Eagles were on par with the Ents, so they could certainly have claimed the ring. Whether they had the ability to master it was anybody’s guess. They probably couldn’t have at this stage and would have become a slave of Sauron. So Sauron now has the ring, and at least one enslaved less ring-wraith eagle. If they could have mastered it things would probably have been even worse. All people would have been expelled from the region of their control at the very least. So we end up with a situation where Sauron and the Eagles form two competing camps, with one half of the world deserted wilderness and one half a barren wasteland.

So basically, the eagles didn’t want to help, and even if they had wanted to they weren’t allowed to, and even if they were allowed to the plan couldn’t work and even if they tried it, the eagle would seize the ring and prevent its destruction.

Because it’s easier to see something in the sky than on the ground. There’s less interference from other detail, and the higher you are, the further beyond the horizon you can be and still be in line-of-sight.

Plus, big, brown birds are naturally going to be easier to see than half-sized humanoids wearing camo cloaks.

  1. A flying object sticks out like dog’s balls in rice pudding. Remember, Sauron, Saruman and Gollum knew approximately where the Hobbits were from the time they arrived at Bree. They were constantly being chased Orcs and Nazgul and Crebain and storms sent to find/stop them. The only reason they survived was by being insignificant. The Enemy knew approximately where they were right up to the point that Frodo and Sam left the party, then he got distracted and lost track of them. By walking the party managed to evade detection. But when the Enemy is scouring an area, say, 20km on a side looking for you using both ground and air units, you do not call in a helicopter evac. That’s just going to bring everything down on your position.

  2. In addition to being physically able to see the Eagles, as What Exit? mentions, they were powerful being in their own right and more than enough to attract attention even if they were just casually spotted. Once Sauron knew to focus on a specific area. he could detect the ringbearer instantly.

They never did swoop down on the Hobbits because they never found them. They flew low over them on numerous occasions, but they never knew exactly where they were because they were hiding in ruins, under bushes and so forth. Kinda hard to hide in the air.

Nope. If they actually catch you, you are fucked no matter what mode of transportation you are using. This is emphasised in the books: the only way that the Fellowship can survive is through stealth and secrecy. They have no hope at all of fighting it out. You have to avoid being found. Once you are found you are dead. Bilbo survived a very brief encounter with Nazgul on horseback by the skin of his teeth and with great assistance from four of the five most powerful being in Middle Earth and because he was within a stone’s throw of Rivendell. In the open, against flying Nazgul, with at best two of them to help, he had no chance.

Gandalf says outright that he could never win in a fight against the Lord of the Nazgul. The prophecy dictated that he could not be defeated by a man, and Gandalf was a man, albeit only wearing the skin, so he could never win. The second problem was that Gandalf was expressly forbidden from confronting Sauron. Gandlaf’s role was strictly to help others to do so. Trying to kill down Sauron’s Number Two man was never going to be allowed.

Not being allowed to destroy the Witch King is not the same as being beaten by the Witch King. Gandalf the White was unlikely to lose to this foe. A Balrog was a greater creature then even the Witch King. Besides the Witch King could have been disincorporated again without the prophesy sufferinging in the least.

Also the Witch King was his #1 man, not #2.

Additionally the Eagles may have consented to try if asked as they willingly acted as messenger at Radagast’s request to the Orthanc. We can only assume that if asked they would have advised against it as Sauron would be worried about Eagles spying on Mordor.

I don’t buy it. Eagles - fast, in and out, drop the ring from a height. Seems less risk than trekking through wilderness and hiding in bushes from nazgul, sneaking through armies of orcs, and fighting giant man-eating spiders.

I guess it depends how fast an eagle flies and how far it is. If we’re talking hours, then I think it’s the way to go. If it’s days, then I can see your point.

As for the nazgul being super-tough. Everyone bigged 'em up, but when it came down to it they were defeated by a man with a stick with fire; and their king was defeated by an untrained girl. They ain’t all that. They just have some serious rep going on.

Can’t we just link to the 400 threads we’ve had on this before and be done with it?

One problem with your plan: the Cracks of Doom are inside a cave.

Well, for one thing it would have made for a much shorter story:

***“The Eagles are a dangerous ‘machine’. I have used them sparingly, and that is the absolute limit of their credibility or usefulness.” ***– Letter 210, J.R.R. Tolkien

The standard answer (already covered) is that the good guys wanted to maximize their chances of success through stealth and a giant bird flying into Mordor would be somewhat conspicuous and likely to draw the attention of Sauron, his minions and/or the Nazgul. That the Eagles weren’t even discussed at the council of Elrond probably means that the idea didn’t even clear the subcommittee level. :smiley:

Another problem, Eagles being emissaries of the Valar (like Gandalf) were forbidden from direct action against the evil. Gandalf obviously pushed this injunction to its limits but perhaps the Eagles were more literally minded when it came to following the rules laid down by the Valar.

It’s debatable that the Balrog was worse. Yes, the Balrog was Maiar, but it was also not prepared for battle, it was falling and it was frozen by a lake of water. Not exactly optimal conditions. In contrast the Witch King was fully kitted out for battle and expecting it and it was being propped up by the entire will of Sauron.

To put this in perspective, Sauron feared Aragorn, and Aragorn feared the Witch King, who had fought his ancestors to a standstill, and that was before he gained mot of his power.

Maybe the Balrog was more powerful, maybe it wasn’t, but you can’t simply declare that the Witch King was so much less powerful that he could be casually dismissed.

In that case Gandalf in the book is a liar, because he says outright that he can not hope to defeat the Witch King because of the prophecy.

And what do you mean by “disincorporated again”. The Witch King had been non-corporeal since his death.

No, he was his #2 man. He may have been his #1 subordinate.

It’s certainly possible, but we can’t know. The point is that the eagles weren’t allies. much less subordinates. They had their own charter that they had to fulfill. They may have undertaken other activities that didn’t directly conflict with that, but they weren’t in the business of being a courier service for Elves.

I thought it was Gandalf’s plan to face the Witch King at the gate, but he was pulled away by Denethor’s BBQ?

If I’m not misremembering that bit, why would he have planned to face him if he knew he would lose?

  1. The target is inside a freakin’ mountain.

  2. An experienced bombing crew in WWII was lucky to hit a large warehouse one out of 3 under ideal conditions. And you are going to try to drop a ring, which will be blown around by wind currents, into a crack in the ground? And if you don;t succeed you don;t get to try again. If you miss it is literally the end of the word. And this seems like a good plan to you?

  3. Fast is relative. It took laden eagles until lunchtime to fly from the Misty Mountains to the Carrock. From Rivendell to Mordor, figure at least a week.

Ahh, no.

They *volountarily *withdrew from combat after being ambushed by the single most powerful man in the world when they stood to gain nothing at all from continuing the fight.

No… just, no. There’s nothing else to say to that. No such event ever occurs. I have no idea where you are getting this from.

What does “powerful” mean? He waved a stick at them. Said they were afraid of fire, IIRC.

Now you’re confusing me. No idea? Eowyn? Killed the Witch King? Chopped off his dragon’s head (they’re not so scary), and then stuck him with a sword?

Blake knew what you were talking about; he was just making the point that the way you put it is a ridiculous misinterpretation.

First, Eowyn was not an “untrained girl”: she was an accomplished shieldmaiden from one of the most badass warrior families among mortal kind, and possessed extraordinary personal bravery. Most mortals couldn’t even face the Nazgul, much less deliberately take one on in combat.

Second, near the end of the fight the Witch King was momentarily psyched out by perceiving the weak spot in the prophecy when he discovered Eowyn was female. “No mortal man?..ooooopsie.”

Third, even the skilled and valiant Eowyn would have ended up toast in that combat if it hadn’t been for the unexpected nick-of-time heroism of Merry attacking the Nazgul leader from behind.

Moreover, hideous carrion dragon-mounts “not so scary”? Sez who?

I presume you’re counting Gandalf, Elrond, Glorfindel, and Aragorn? But Galadriel and Cirdan were both far more powerful than Aragorn, and neither of them were there. Heck, Radagast and Fangorn were probably more powerful than Aragorn, too, as well as a number of other elves still present in Middle-Earth (Thranduil, Celeborn, Elodan and Elohir, Arwen, etc.). Plus, of course, plenty of evil creatures also more powerful than him. Yes, Aragorn is undoubtedly a badass, but I think “one of the five most powerful beings in the world” is an overstatement and a half.

The word Tolkien used was “unclad”, which in this context means a bit more than just washing away their robes. The flooding at the fords forced them to (temporarily) abandon their forms, and the same could have been done again.