GREAT EAGLES (THE LORD OF THE RINGS)
Lord of the Rings
The Great Eagles were beings of Arda said to have been “devised” by Manwë Súlimo, the leader of the Valar, and were often called the Eagles of Manwë. They were sent from Valinor to Middle-earthto keep an eye on the exiled Ñoldor, and also upon their foe the evil Valar Morgoth, and later yet upon Morgoth’s lieutenant and future Dark Lord, Sauron.
The Great Eagles were the messengers and spies of the King of Arda, and possessed the ability to see through all physical matter except for the blackness of Morgoth’s evil pits. Morgoth first discovered the limits of their sight prior to the fall of the great stronghold of Utumno.
For a time the King of the Eagles, Thorondor, kept his eyries at the top of Thangorodrim, the three mighty peaks that Morgoth raised from the Iron Mountains above the gates of Angband. While they lived there, Thorondor helped Fingon rescue Maedhros. Thorondor’s folk later removed their eyries to the Crissaegrim, part of the Echoriath about Gondolin. There they were friends of Turgon, and kept spies off the mountains.
Thorondor wounded Morgoth in the face after Morgoth’s battle with Fingolfin, and carried Fingolfin’s corpse to the Echoriath, where Turgon buried him.
The Great Eagles fought alongside the army of the Valar, Elves and Edain during the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age.
In the Second Age, a pair of Eagles had an eyrie in the King’s House in Armenelos, the capital of Númenor, until the Kings became hostile to the Valar. The Eagles also watched the peak of Mount Meneltarma, and three Eagles would always appear when someone climbed to the summit.
Towards the end of Númenor, the Valar sent storm clouds in the shape of Great Eagles in an attempt to warn them of their folly and impending doom.
In the Third Age, Thorondor’s descendants Gwaihir and Landroval lived in an eyrie to the east of the Misty Mountains in Wilderland.
These Eagles helped the Elves of Rivendell and Radagast in watching the land and in gathering news about the Orcs.
In The Hobbit, no eagles were identified by name. Only the title Lord of the Eagles distinguished the eagle leader from other eagles in this story. Many readers assume that it was Gwaihir and Landroval who rescued Thorin Oakenshield and Company from a band of Wargs and Goblins, flying them to the river Anduin, and later assisting in the Battle of the Five Armies fought near Lonely Mountain. However, in Return of the King Gandalf says that Gwaihir has carried him twice before, while the proper count would be three times if Gwaihir and the Lord of the Eagles were the same individual.
Before and during the War of the Ring, Gwaihir rescued Gandalf the Grey from the top of Isengard—having been dispatched by Radagast—and again from Zirak-Zigil. The Eagles aided troops of King Elessar at the Battle of the Morannon at the Black Gate. The Eagles arrived in time to overthrow some Nazgûl, including Khamûl. Gwaihir, with others of his people, rescued Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee from Mount Doom in Mordor after the One Ring had been destroyed.