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My Theory on the Eagles in The Lord of the Rings

I don’t see what the big deal is with the eagles in The Lord of the Rings. Everybody’s always cracking jokes about the eagles or scratching their heads. They ask why the Fellowship of the Ring didn’t just fly giant eagles to Mordor to destroy the One Ring? But these people are ignoring the most obvious answer! I saw yet another fan theory the other day proclaiming that the eagles were Gandalf’s plan all along, hence shouting, “Fly, you fools!” when he died at the Bridge of Khazad Dum. It’s a neat theory, but it’s wrong. The answer is obvious:

The Fellowship of the Ring didn’t fly to Mount Doom because they were trying to stay under the radar.

This sorry lot

If you’ve seen The Lord of the Rings movies, then you know that Gandalf was pals with a bunch of giant eagles, who came to his aid every now and then. And the question is: why didn’t Gandalf just fly a giant eagle to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring? Seems pretty obvious, right?

Of course it’s obvious. And it would have been just as obvious to their enemies, Saruman and Sauron. The bad guys were actively looking for the One Ring. You don’t think they would have noticed Gandalf riding a giant eagle into Mordor?

Not only that, but evil had an Air Force of their own. As we saw in the climactic battle in Return of the King, the flying Nazgul were the natural enemy of the eagles. The Nazgul were perfectly designed to combat those eagles.

So picture Gandalf and the Fellowship flying up to the edge of Mordor and having a flock of evil lizard dragons pouncing. The eagles would have put up a fight, and I’m sure it would have been glorious, but do you really want to bring the One Ring into that kind of scuffle? How easy would it be to lose the darn thing? Imagine dropping the ring from that height? Not to mention giving the whole game away. Nothing says, ‘We have the One Ring’, like a flock of enormous eagles making a beeline for Mount Doom.

Sauron had no idea who had the ring or where to find it. The One Ring wasn’t with the Middle Earth Air Force, and it wasn’t on the finger of a king sieging the Black Gate with an army of oliphaunts.

It was in the pocket of a hobbit, a curious and unnoticed creature, wandering through the woods. Frodo was a walking hiding place.

And it worked.

Sauron didn’t know about Frodo until it was far too late for him. That was the entire plan. Frodo, with Sam’s help, walked from Hobbiton to Mount Doom without once being found out by Sauron. He stayed so far under the radar that Sauron didn’t have any idea that he was going to lose the One Ring.

The eagles would have been too big. They would have caused a scene, and Sauron would have quickly figured out what was going on. The walking hobbit may have taken longer, but it was clearly a good idea.

But the eagles have no excuse for the ending of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The Lonely Mountain was right there in front of them. That would have been another 20 minutes in the air, tops.

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About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on March 15, 2016, in Movies and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Jeremy Kampman

    I like to think the Eagles were just jerks and decided to help at the last minute so they could get some credit (sort of like America in ww2).

  2. Yeah that’s pretty obvious. The eagles rescued the hobbits only after Sauron fell and his army was destroyed. You go flying into Mordor with Sauron on alert, with his big eye roving about, and an incomprehensible sized army camped out on the plains, that’s way too big a risk. If Frodo and/or the Ring drops before Mt. Doom, it’s game over.

  3. i remind you that the lonely mountain was VERY far away and VERY large.

    • Not at the end of the movie. They could see it at the end of the movie, so surely the eagles could fly them there. To make matters worse, the eagles dropped them off at the top of a weird, dangerous mountain, and they had to climb down off of that.

      • they could see it because it was very large, despite being far away. if you look at a map of middle earth, you see that there is still a great distance from where the eagles put them to the lonely mountain. it would have taken at least a day, keeping the eagles from their own livelihoods. in addition, we don’t even really know how long the eagles did carry them. it might have been half a day. I do realize that the movie shows evening being saved and evening dropped off, but this is certainly a conflation for the sake of film.
        you may say “well, didnt an eagle come all the way to Isengard in LOTR, then a bunch to Mordor?”
        yes, but that was ONE eagle saving a personal friend, then a bunch to save the world, not taxi some homeless dwarves they didnt know.

      • after doing some research, i believe i stand corrected. not about the size or distance of the mountain, but the capabilities of the eagles. according to the encyclopedia of Arda, the distance from the misty mountains to erebor was about 400 miles. existing golden eagles can fly around 100 miles per hour, so giant eagles could certainly do it. (just not in “20 minutes tops”)

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