URUK-HAI (THE LORD OF THE RINGS)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
“Uruk-hai” appears to be the full Black Speech term for Uruks, the great soldier-orcs of Mordor and Isengard. (Christopher Tolkien identified “uruks” as an “anglicisation” of “Uruk-hai”.) In The Lord of the Rings, Saruman’s orcs identify themselves as the “fighting Uruk-hai”, that name is the common term used to refer to them. Later in one instance, a tracker-orc in Mordor makes reference to a “pack of rebel Uruk-hai”, apparently in reference towards Gorbag’s troop of orcs who were Uruks of Mordor.
Tolkien described the Uruk-hai of Isengard as large, smart orcs with slanted eyes, thick legs, and large hands. They were armed with bows made of yew and short, broad-bladed swords. The Isengarders’ equipment was noted as quite different from normal orcish gear.
Uruk-hai were first created by Sauron late in the Third Age. In the War of the Ring, the Uruk-hai made up a large part of Saruman’s Army, together with the Dunlendings, man-enemies of Rohan. There are suggestions that the Uruk-hai were the result of crossbreeding orcs and men. Certainly, there were other creatures in Saruman’s armies, and under his command in the Shire, that appear to have been hybrids. “Half-orcs” were as tall as Men and are never described simply as orcs, as the Uruk-hai frequently are. Saruman’s army of Uruk-hai fought against King Théoden of Rohan and his people at Helm’s Deep.
The Uruks first appeared about the year TA 2475, when they conquered Ithilien and destroyed the city of Osgiliath. The Uruks in the service of Barad-dûr, the folk of Mordor, used the symbol of the red Eye of Sauron. The Red Eye was also painted on their shields. The Uruks of Saruman the White used an ‘S’ Elf-rune wrought in white metal on the front of their iron helms. It was clear this ‘S’ stood for Saruman, because their shields had a small white hand (the symbol of Saruman) centered on a black field. Aragorn commented that their gear was not in the manner of other orcs at all. Instead of the curved scimitar, they used short, broad-bladed swords. Their great bows were made of yew wood, of the same length and shape as those of men. Unlike the smaller orcs of the Misty Mountains, the Isengarders appeared indifferent to the Sun.
Saruman appeared to aid his orcs with his wizardry as well: when Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas followed the party of Uruks who kidnapped Merry and Pippin, Saruman’s will caused weariness of the heart for the pursuers and lent speed to the orcs. This was the group that slew Boromir, and was annihilated by Éomer and the Riders of Rohan.