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The Powers of the Istari (Wizards) | Tolkien Explained

  • Published on Oct 21, 2022 veröffentlicht
  • We’ll highlight not only how the wizards were bound to their physical bodies, but also the instances where we get glimpses of their power.
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    Gandalf - JG Jones
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    gandalf_and_theoden - tolmancotton
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    Saruman - Catherine Karina Chmiel
    Gandalf - skullbastard
    Cirdan - alystraea
    GandalfTheGrey - John Howe
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    Gandalf and the Balrog - Matthew Stewart
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    Saruman Meets His Fate - Elrodimus Flash
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    Gandalf - John Howe
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    Gandalf_Rides_to_Minas_Tirith - Ted Nasmith
    The_Stranger_in_the_Forest - Ted Nasmith
    Radagast - Steve Airola
    Gandalf in Archives Minas Tirith - Matthew Stewart
    3 wizards - Felix Englund
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Comments • 0

  • Patrick B
    Patrick B 11 months ago +1051

    Lol Gandalf was played so well in the movies that 95% of his art is drawn as Ian McKellen.

    • RickPlayzYT6
      RickPlayzYT6 11 months ago +140

      Yep, and to be honest. I couldn't see Gandalf any other way

    • tayluv
      tayluv 11 months ago +83

      I can't even imagine Gandalf without Sir Ian McKellen.🤷😂

    • freibier
      freibier 11 months ago +76

      Ian McKellen was PERFECT as Gandalf. Exactly as I imagined him when reading the books in the 80s.

    • T3G
      T3G 11 months ago +70

      Both Gandalf and Saruman, in my opinion

    • Adam
      Adam 10 months ago +20

      There is ONLY Gandalf McKellen. Any other iteration of Gandalf is heresy.

  • jough
    jough 11 months ago +925

    I think the real question we're all wondering about is this: Could Gandalf actually have turned Sam into a toad?

    • Hannibal B
      Hannibal B 11 months ago +53

      The Grey, or the White?

    • nobodysToast89
      nobodysToast89 11 months ago +37

      I should think yes him being either grey or white lol

    • Christrulesall2
      Christrulesall2 11 months ago +5

      No. He's good.

    • Jaymz Carter
      Jaymz Carter 11 months ago +82

      He did, but sam got better

    • Keith Torgersen
      Keith Torgersen 10 months ago +13

      I don’t think so. It’s not just about Gandalf’s power but the strength of Sam’s will.

  • Valentin Kambushev
    Valentin Kambushev 11 months ago +1949

    I think that Valar should forbid Aulë from having servants. The guy is such a poor judge of character that he almost caused the end of Middle Earth.

    • Toni Atchison
      Toni Atchison 11 months ago +274

      Or, on the other hand, he brought about what was supposed to happen....

    • Nerd of the Rings
      Nerd of the Rings  11 months ago +229


    • Graywolf
      Graywolf 11 months ago +291

      Oy oy oy, easy, Aulë gave us the Dwarves hahaha

    • xXJonnyJamboXx
      xXJonnyJamboXx 11 months ago +157

      but without Aule there would be no Gimli. And Gimli is sooo cuteee

    • HardBros2021
      HardBros2021 11 months ago +47

      And he try to become like Eru himself by creating lifeless golem that eventually become the dwarves.

  • Dan T
    Dan T 11 months ago +482

    I always loved that Olorin/Gandalf was considered the wisest of the Maiar, and he was the one who didn't want to go. He was afraid of Sauron, and unsure of his abilities. In the end though, it was his wisdom and tempered nature that allowed him to reject the allure of power, and allowed him to guide the forces of Good to victory. He was the one Istari who completed the quest that they were sent forth to perform. I don't think there will ever be another writer quite like Tolkien.

    • Chance
      Chance 10 months ago +20

      Nobody knows what the Blue Wizards accomplished in secret. I feel they held a great part in stirring forces from the east.

    • Matheus Saraiva
      Matheus Saraiva 9 months ago +3

      @Fingolfin8888 Glorfindel wasn’t sleeping, he briefly passed through the Halls of Mandos and was then “recasted” again, living first for some time in Valinor and then coming back to Middle Earth.

    • Matheus Saraiva
      Matheus Saraiva 9 months ago +14

      @Chance It is said that the Blue Wizards did achieve important things in the East, probably weakening the Enemy’s forces that came from there.
      As we know, it was but for some details that the good side managed to defeat Sauron’s armies in the Pellenor, so it seems that the works of the Blue Wizards were decisive indeed.

    • Matheus Saraiva
      Matheus Saraiva 9 months ago

      @Fingolfin8888 oh yes, I was just pointing that there would be no problem for Glorfindel to come back to Middle Earth earlier than the Third Age.

    • Naz-ghul
      Naz-ghul 9 months ago +8

      Yeah, exatly. We dont know aloz about theyer work in the east. Imaginr way bigger army coming to palenor fields from there, might be game over. Palenor fields was close victory for gandalf and the crew. Also, i dont see reason why everyone thinks radegast failed his duty. Imo he did what he was suposted to do, so zhe theory "gandalf is the only istari who stays true to his duty" is one i realy dont like

  • Rubus Calculum
    Rubus Calculum 11 months ago +669

    one interesting thing Ive always loved is when Saruman is killed it says a mist like a man rises from his body and looks west then a wind from the west blows it away. Which represents Saruman’s spirit being rejected by the valar

    • Gerad Kavanagh
      Gerad Kavanagh 11 months ago +38

      It finalised the evil for the Shire and gave the hobbits back their own land.

    • Larry West
      Larry West 11 months ago +60

      So that's why Saruman retired to Florida!

    • AroTheHawk
      AroTheHawk 11 months ago +16

      Absolutely didn't notice that! Need to revisit the book again...

  • Valentin Kambushev
    Valentin Kambushev 11 months ago +580

    I love the moments in the movies when Gandalf uses his deep and scary voice. I often refer to it as his "Maiar voice".

    • 12Monkeysable
      12Monkeysable 11 months ago +36

      I use this voice, whenever my students are not listening.

    • Kristine Milostan
      Kristine Milostan 11 months ago +15

      I usually call it his "daddy voice" but maybe that's just me

    • Paul T.
      Paul T. 11 months ago +19

      Yo, the way he says "krimpatul" during The Council of Elrond is buttered toast.

    • Ryan 135
      Ryan 135 11 months ago +3

      @Paul T. Ive replayed that part many times

    • Erik Dayne
      Erik Dayne 11 months ago +34


  • Ryan Walker
    Ryan Walker 9 months ago +39

    There is and interview with Mckellen and Lee, where they talk about how they played their characters, and what's the approach to playing a character who isn't human. They both show excellent understanding of the differences between Gandalf and Saurman. Ian says he plays Gandalf as mostly human. He accepts his human like form that gets weary and has many of the limitations of a physical body. Lee theorized that Saruman resents his physical form, that such a powerful entity should have to endure mortal limitations and interact with lesser beings. So he decided to play him with a more inhuman air. It was truly perfect casting for Ian to get Gandalf and Christopher (who wanted Gandalf) to be told you'd make a better Saruman. Plus with what we know about the power of the 'Voice of Saruman' I can't think of a better voice for pulling that off.

    • Kit
      Kit 3 months ago +5

      When it was mentioned that Saruman had special abilities in his voice, I thought, "It was a great choice to cast Christopher Lee in the movies then." Haha

    • Casimir
      Casimir Month ago +3

      Christopher Lee would've made a great Gandalf, but he absolutely kills it as Saruman. That production must have been blessed because they got the casting so incredibly perfect

  • leonardo ramos
    leonardo ramos 5 months ago +30

    I imagine that Sauron might have taken a while to realize what the Wizards were, but after the did he probably wondered who they were specifically. When he got ahold of Saruman I imagine he was like "Ah Curumo! It's been a while. You work for me now". He never bothered with Radagast so much, but when Gandalf battled him with his mind, I wonder if he was "OLORIN? REALLY? You dare to face me student of Nienna?" and 10 seconds later he figured out that it was precisely Olorin who had been thwarting his plans all along.

  • Bree Arbor
    Bree Arbor 7 months ago +60

    the fire metaphors in the legendarium are so interesting. on the one hand, fire is associated with light, warmth, and creation. on the other it's associated with terror and destruction. it's associated with Eru (the "secret fire") but also with Sauron. the ring is created and destroyed by fire. the balrog and Gandalf use the opposing sides of fire magic against each other. fire lights the beacons between Gondor and Rohan; but fire also nearly kills Faramir. the great eye is wrapped in flame--but the stars Sam sees in the sky that bring him hope are also great balls of flame. fire is power itself, and it can be good or bad based on who wields it and how they treat it.

  • Sword Monkey
    Sword Monkey 11 months ago +603

    I always enjoy when new or casual fans realize that Gandalf, The Balrog and Sauron are of the same kind: Maiar.

    • Adrian Valerio
      Adrian Valerio 11 months ago +37

      ITS CRAZY! 😂

    • martin kerr
      martin kerr 11 months ago +4

      so glad you did not say random fan , don't why word has crept into near every sentence

    • Allison Kreutzberg
      Allison Kreutzberg 11 months ago +18

      This was my husband. Had to pause the movie while he processed 😂

    • Sword Monkey
      Sword Monkey 11 months ago +13

      @martin kerr People probably don't appreciate what the word "random" means in a statistical sense and use it as a flippant statement.

    • Brian Bonofiglio
      Brian Bonofiglio 11 months ago +21

      Nerds will be nerds I guess... Passive aggressive. Condescending. As witnessed by these replies. You're such brilliant Tolkein lore specialists. And apparently Tolkein level linguists as well. Is that random?

  • Seth Leoric
    Seth Leoric 7 months ago +27

    Love how in most fantasy settings, wizards are beings or people who took an interest in magic and stuff, but in Lotr they are straight up basically angels.

    • letsomethingshine
      letsomethingshine 3 months ago +1

      Not true, both men and angels/lower-gods/Maiar can get addicted to wisdom. Like a drunkard is addicted to drinking, a wizard is addicted to wisdom. Isn't it Radagast himself mentions that no human wizard can be as special as Mithrandir/Istari are, when they are talking about the rumors of the Necromancer. I think Gandalf the Great even mentions that there are plenty of human and inhuman "conjurors of cheap tricks" out there, not "fakers of cheap tricks" but actual conjurors of weak powers that one must know the trick to doing them.

  • For Frodo
    For Frodo 11 months ago +387

    Tolkien Wizards in one line :
    " Do not take me for some conjurer of cheap tricks. I am not trying to rob you. I'm trying to help you. "

    • Valentin Kambushev
      Valentin Kambushev 11 months ago +19

      Expect Saruman.

    • For Frodo
      For Frodo 11 months ago +7

      @Valentin Kambushev He had the same purpose, same destiny...To Help. But went against it and paid the price.

    • Danilo Krdžavac
      Danilo Krdžavac 11 months ago +31

      Tolkien's Wizards in one line: "It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”

    • Moldylocks
      Moldylocks 11 months ago +8

      Amazon wizards in one line :
      "spare some change?"

  • Another human
    Another human 11 months ago +43

    One of my favorite things about LotR is how when Tolkien reaches his creative limits (wide limits indeed), he blends them so cleanly with the limits of the reader's own knowledge. The Wizards' abilities are a perfect example of this. They're a shadowy mix of conventional "magic" and spell systems, chemistry, technology, and other "secret crafts" that our world just doesn't have parallels for. What I'm saying is, even though Tolkien can't really go into detail on things like that, which are just beyond our real-world understanding, he blends it so well with a tantalizing air of mystery that it's almost satisfying in itself.

    • xyhmo
      xyhmo 10 months ago +4

      Good point. More mundanely, many writers do something similar when characterizing high-end geniuses, like seeing them through the eyes of more ordinary (but still often smart) characters. That way they don't have to go into detail about the inner workings of those people, which is indeed very hard if you're not a high-end genius yourself.

  • Tazkar
    Tazkar 10 months ago +13

    While I do love the hard rules of magics that other fantasy worlds have. I also really love how magic is in Tolkien's world. It is very flexible and feels like a projection of one's emotional state combined with their intent to an extent. Least that's just my casual reader perspective.

  • carmen johnson
    carmen johnson 7 months ago +8

    I love how Gandolf is written. Clearly he’s powerful, but they don’t go into such extreme detail that you literally know exactly how powerful he is.

  • Augustus077
    Augustus077 11 months ago +15

    It is quite curious that for all modern high fantasy and D&D owe to Tolkien and his work, his style of magic is so very different from what we are used to now. Specially with D&D we see magic as a science of sorts, a thing to study, to classify, spells to be researched and then applied through formulas, artifacts developed with the precision of machines, schools of magic not unlike our colleges. And yet Tolkien would have none of that and might have even found the idea of it rather comical or even senseless… his magic is a thing of wonder and mystery, a thing of mind and soul. It would seem that for the Istari and the Eldar, the work of their arts and lore (which they emphatically do not refer to as magic), is as an act of the will upon the world, to manifest the ethereal into the physical through a mastery of the spirit, and knowledge of the world seen and unseen, well beyond the understanding of the younger races (readers included). That is why there can be no hard and clear rules, mechanisms and limitations, for such are the ways of the material plane, while their powers exist in another, and to try to understand it in terms more familiar to us is folly, instead one ought to just marvel at it and bask in the beauty of Tolkien’s work, a magic of its own.

  • Lord Of The Lore
    Lord Of The Lore 11 months ago +597

    One is never late to a Nerd of the Rings video.. Nor is he early! He arrives precisely when he needs to!

  • Warp DriveBy
    Warp DriveBy 11 months ago +43

    We are told explicitly in the first two chapters of the Silmarilion, that all the Ainur (no distinction other than "power level" actually sets Valar apart from Maiar) can clothe themselves in forms of their choosing. More importantly to this discussion, they can walk Arda UNCLAD. In this form, even the mightiest of the Noldor can't detect their presence. I think it's likely that Tolkien considered this in creating Radagast, and Iwendil was a master at moving about while remaining almost impossible to detect. Most people infer that Saruman killed Radagast, or had him killed, but I can't find a passage that is even close to definitive on that subject. I think it possible that Radagast decided to do his best to protect his favourite ecosystems and members of them, and he just pieced out and tended to Mirkwood and or Fangorn. He may be visiting Bombadil, they'd probably find it easy to get along, but as fun an image as it is, there isn't a hint of suggestion that he is off with Tom and Goldberry. However, the familiarity that Gandalf, Elrond, and (I think) Glorfindel speak of Bombadil with suggests that Radagast is very likely to know and be known by old Tom.

    • Chris Cuda
      Chris Cuda 10 months ago +4

      I think that's what JRR meant by "hue." In one sense (I think) it means appearance as opposed to physical form but I think it also refers to "appearance" (or lack thereof) in the unseen world. Having seen the light of the Trees is what allows the Noldor to perceive the unseen world, but the Einor are native to it and have power over its substance as well as over the material.

  • Venkelos
    Venkelos 11 months ago +50

    I do wish there had been more of a showing of a "good" Saruman, to make his eventual fall actually feel more tragic, but then sources tell us he was bitter, and angry, practically from the beginning, when Cirdan gave Gandalf his ring, and Galadriel sought to give Gandalf leadership of the White Council. He might've been bad even in the east, before we knew anything of his actions, and we don't really get scenes odmf his decency, even if marred by pride. It almost makes me wonder if Aule and Yavanna were actually a happy couple? He created Dwarves, and Yavanna, panicking for what these beings might do with axes, to stoke fires of hearth and forge, asked for Eru to create the Ents to protect her forests. Ayle chose Saruman, and even as he was then, Yavanna feared, and begged they take her Radagast with them. Granted, the Smith had a poor track record; he taught Sauron, and Sauron fell. He taught Feanor (alleged), and Feanor created the Silmarils, which then caused several conflicts, and he refused to part with to literally change the world. His knowledge went to Celebimbor, through Sauron, and we get the Rings of Power, which cause more conflicts. Had he not also made chains to bijd Morgoth, I might question everything he had a hand in, though I know he, at least, is not malevolent. I wonder why such a skilled craftsman couldn't see the obvious flaws in his tool (Saruman), while even his own loving wife seemed concerned every time he made another new thing.

    • Marshall
      Marshall 8 months ago +12

      Late to your comment but I like to think of Aule as a toddler with legos. He's impatient, just wants to build but is also innocent of malevolent intent.
      He was so excited for the coming of the elves and men but couldn't stomach waiting any longer so created the dwarves because he wanted someone to share in his love of crafting. It's not stated, but I think that is part of the reason Eru spared the dwarves.
      He has a poor track record for sure, but we don't get mad at our kids when their lego tower falls over and hits the cat. His lack of foresight can be summed up like this: Aule loves legos and just wants you to love legos too!!

  • Toni Atchison
    Toni Atchison 11 months ago +123

    I'm a new subscriber, and have spent the last couple of weeks catching up on your previous videos. While I've been reading LOTR for most of my life, you've kinda opened new points of view for me. So thanks for that!

    • Nogalo Grancigul
      Nogalo Grancigul 8 months ago +1

      Would also recommend In Deep Geek, he has great content on lotr as well as other fantasy stories, he has a beautiful and soothing voice even more so than NoTR

    • Toni Atchison
      Toni Atchison 8 months ago

      @Nogalo Grancigul I have listened to a couple of his uploads and he seems enjoyable. But dang it, I already spend hours on Clip-Share, lol.

  • Zack Vin
    Zack Vin 11 months ago +9

    I would really like to see you do one of these on Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth. He was always one of my favorite minor characters of the story and I've always felt Jackson's decision to omit him and his Swan Knights from ROTK was a mistake.

  • James Labbe
    James Labbe Month ago +1

    I remember from reading the books that there're no formalized spells cast by the istari. When gandalf lights the pinecones on fire to throw at the wargs, he does cry out in Sindarin (edit) but translated is 'Fire be for saving us'. The movie depicts gandalf perform some kind of healing similarly on Frodo. In Tolkien's system, magic is more like exertions of will or prayer.

  • DistendedPerinium
    DistendedPerinium 8 months ago +4

    A note on telepathy; it's strongly implied that Elrond and Galadriel also have this ability. There are at least two passages I can remember directly referencing this ability. Each has their own talents in this regard, but there is a common thread in their abilities which ties to an interesting coincidence.
    It is interesting to note that the only references (as far as I recall) of such extensive telepathic abilities are only in regard to Elrond, Galadriel and Gandalf, the bearers of The Three. It does stand to reason that, given the nature of the Ring of Power, this is an ability the three rings focus and amplify in these three individuals as opposed to them simply possessing telepathy at this level of proficiency. I personally believe this to be the case.
    Of course, there are a couple of potential issues with this. One specific mentioned instance comes after the One Ring is destroyed. However, it is mentioned that The Three more faded than lost their power all at once. Plus, when the trio are engaging in their "mind speech" at this point, they are all in close proximity. The other potential issue is with Olorin being mentioned as inspiring the dreams and thoughts of the elves in the early days. While this is a form of telepathy, it's not as refined or focused as what is mentioned the trio possessing. So it is possible that there is some innate ability among them that the rings are able to amplify and focus.

    • Chris Budesa
      Chris Budesa 2 months ago

      Near the end of ROTK the three elven ring bearers were said to glow and it was implied that they were talking without speaking.

  • Ato
    Ato 11 months ago +16

    Having not read the book before watching the film, Gandalf's conversation with Bilbo in Bag End, set my imagination on fire. Having studied systems of magic, Gandalf's magic felt so wildly adept. Such masterful character building by Tolkien.

  • Laughing Man Revolution
    Laughing Man Revolution 7 months ago +2

    As always, these videos are great not just because of the information Nerd of The Rings gives us, but the art that is used to help convey the Information .

  • Integrity Matters
    Integrity Matters 11 months ago +8

    I remember reading somewhere Olorin went often among the elves, often inspiring them in their dreams. Seams consistent with knowing frodos dreams.

  • Javrixx
    Javrixx 10 months ago +6

    This video is incredible. Well done, the narration, the art, the music. Every nerd's dream. (wipes tear)

  • Aaron Warren's DIY Garage
    Aaron Warren's DIY Garage 11 months ago +6

    i absolutely love that this video have 400k+ views in 9 days. fantastic content and a ton of fellow Tolkien fans out there! keep up the great work.

  • James Whig
    James Whig 11 months ago +52

    Saruman, Gandalf and Radagast all have amazing actors portraying them.
    [i do hope that the two blue wizards will eventually get great theatrical performers one day]

    • Lodrik18
      Lodrik18 11 months ago

      They fight right in Rings of Power >.

    • bobo577
      bobo577 10 months ago +3

      I imagine Patrick Stewart and Mark Hamill as the Blue Wizards.

    • Rod Nabors
      Rod Nabors 10 months ago

      I was pretty disappointed with Radagasts depiction in the movies.

    • Chance
      Chance 10 months ago

      @bobo577 I agree. One stern focused, The other loud yet quiet in his steps unless the other wakes. I could certainly see this cast, Hamill being the loud voice yet not the actor.. not until when his force is used to showcase the powers of the light and through it, Sauron noticing his lack in providing an foresight of it till that point. And by the time he can infiltrate to find the blue wizards again but to only find empty air.

    • Jay I
      Jay I 8 months ago +2

      @bobo577 Unsure about Mark Hamill being a great actor. Love the guy tho

  • Shehan Senanayaka
    Shehan Senanayaka Month ago

    Brilliant video. We always appreciate your hard work and dedication towards these videos. So we love your channel and your videos.

  • ToppolTheCat
    ToppolTheCat 11 months ago +30

    3:54 man I am awed by how respectfully Grima killed Saruman. Brings tears to my eyes.

    • William Lake
      William Lake 11 months ago +2

      I'm glad I'm not the only one that caught that.

    • xyhmo
      xyhmo 10 months ago +2

      Two old friends having one last cordial moment together, in love and goodness.

  • Naurfae
    Naurfae 5 months ago +1

    I think another ability (that wasn't mentioned I think) that can be safely counted among Gandalf's powers is the ability to inspire hope and courage. Of course that's not necessarily a supernatural ability, but those things are hard to nail down in the diffuse and ambiguous magic of middle earth.
    Also I really love that you didn't try and force hard rules on Tolkien's magic, I can't stand it when people try to apply some hard framework to a soft magic system.

  • celter.45acp
    celter.45acp 4 months ago

    I've always wondered about this in the books and movies the wizards and magic don't seem to do all that much, at least not in the way we usually think of magic like large scale destruction, transfiguration and and such things it's alot more subtle

  • kmallory100
    kmallory100 9 months ago +4

    It's worth noting that Gandalf chose to appear as an old man of the shores of middle earth. In Valinor he was younger with beautiful long silver hair.

  • Josh Mccarter
    Josh Mccarter 11 months ago +12

    Wow 13:00-14:50 in this context about the power of the wizards you can really get a feel for the gravity of that moment and appreciate the skill of Tolkien’s writing. Very very cool. Thank you for producing it 👌🏼

    xINF4MOUS 11 months ago +3

    After watching the TV series, it made me want to watch both the cinematic trilogies. From The Hobbit : An unexpected Journey all the way to Lord of the rings : The Return of the King. And tbh at the end of it all I found myself wanting more and not satisfied enough. It just couldn't end there, so I'm glad to say I have decided to engulf myself in the world of Tolkien. And have purchased the Four book set on Amazon. 😁 Can't wait for the 31st of OCTOBER 🎉. Also want to thank channels like this, for making the decision that much easier and exciting.
    If there's one positive the loyal fans of Tolkien can take away from this Amazon series, it's that it is convincing people like me to read and enjoy the books. To further advance our knowledge of the world of Tolkien.

  • Harold Feld
    Harold Feld 11 months ago +7

    You left out one of Gandalf's powers, although it may be more attributable to his ring. The power to give courage and heal the spirit. He not only does this with Theoden, but in Gondor during the siege. As Gandalf passes among the men of Gondor, he is able to counter (at least briefly) the effects of Sauron's cloud of blackness.

  • Jayjay
    Jayjay 11 months ago +6

    In Gnomish, one of Tolkien's early conceptions of an Elven language, the word for "wizard" is curug (and "witch" is curus). An alternative word is thothweg, also translated as "wizard".
    In The Hobbit, while no mention is made of an Order of Wizards, Gandalf tells Beorn that Radagast is his "cousin". In the Unfinished Tales it is said that the wizards appeared in Middle-earth about 1000, but in The Peoples of Middle-earth a rough note by J.R.R. Tolkien said that the Blue Wizards (Alatar and Pallando, or Morinehtar and Rómestámo) came much earlier in the Second Age. Christopher Tolkien stated that much of the writings about the Istari are rapid jottings and often illegible.

  • James Blake
    James Blake 3 months ago

    Could you do a video explaining the importance/power behind a wizards staff? Is it a tool to channel power, a symbol of rank, crucial to their form of magic?

  • Nicht Im Chor
    Nicht Im Chor 10 months ago +2

    I would love to understand more about the wizards staffs. It seems as they are very important, yet they still are just... there

  • Tolkien Answers
    Tolkien Answers 11 months ago +39

    Another time Gandalf uses his fire magic is in The Hobbit when they are stuck in the trees. He lights pinecones in different colors and throws them on the wargs. I wish they did the different colors in the movie, and I also wonder if each color means anything.

    • Valentin Kambushev
      Valentin Kambushev 11 months ago +10

      He probably just wanted to show off.

    • Nicholas Painek
      Nicholas Painek 11 months ago +8

      @Valentin Kambushev "Let me test this cool new trick I've learned"

  • Evan Rodman
    Evan Rodman 11 months ago +3

    What I'm curious about is this: do the colors of the wizards have an meaning for their powers/strength. To me it seams that Saruman though becoming "many colored" would enhance his power but backfired and Gandalf becoming " the white" did increase his powers imensly. Along with his line "I am Saurman, rather Saruman as he should have been, to me implies the names they took as Istari were tied to their power as much as their identity and he had the company refer to him as Gandalf for their comprehension not because he was still Gandalf, if that makes sense.

  • G33k Culture
    G33k Culture 7 months ago +3

    Ive always been hesitant in watching videos on Tolkien's work. I feel like these kinds of videos are usually opinion based and people tend to interpret his work in all manners of ways. You have changed my mind. Your voice work, the dedication to detail, while actually pulling from the source material, and your disarming tone make these videos easy to digest. Subbed! Time to binge.

  • Jeff  Again
    Jeff Again 5 months ago

    Yet another wonderful vid my friend, thanks much!
    Like most fans, I've always been enamoured by the Istari and am blessed enough to have all of Tolkien's literature (available) on them to peruse.
    I was disappointed by the childish treatment PJ provided Radagast however, I think he provided astounding depictions of Gandalf and Saruman, courtesy of the trust instilled in the two actors that no others could have bested in such iconic roles.
    The circumstance and fate of the two "Blue Wizards" is a tantalizing thought. We of course hope to think that in their own way, they prevented Sauron from converting many more of the East to his cause. Whether or not it cost them their 'human' lives, we'll never know but I personally trust they stayed allied to the cause of the just and righteous. :)

  • Rod Nabors
    Rod Nabors 10 months ago +1

    08:00 I just re-read the trilogy after about a 15 year break. Reminded me that as good as the movies were, they books were still so much better. Gandalfs depiction is one example, he describes himself as more powerful than any being unless he was in front of Sauron himself, fought off 5 of the Nazgul single handedly, and fearlessly faced down the Witch King (opposed to the movie!). Really embodies what you described as hiding power in order to guide people vs taking control through force.

  • C SH
    C SH 5 months ago +1

    What you failed to mention was that when Gandalf broke the bridge, he broke his staff.
    To me, that is the breaking of his power, but also the freeing of it. His oath seemed bound in his staff, and he was bound to not fight Sauron power for power. He was not so compelled against the Balrog.

  • Debba
    Debba 8 months ago +1

    What I never understood was how Gandalf was able to hide his ring of power from Saruman. Better yet, how Saruman, who was supposed to have such expertise in ring lore, failed to detect it?

  • Andrew Main
    Andrew Main 10 months ago +2

    Tolkien is more well known for his linguistics rather than his diction, and many readers find his writing dry. Then you read this. "Saruman, your staff is broken.". That, to me, demonstrates the ability for straightforward prose to inspire and evoke fantasy. In a single line, Tolkien indelibly demarcated the wizard archetype: learned ones in tall towers possessed of secret knowledge, with staves to show both their office and their strength, who speak words of power. How absolutely magnificent of an ending for one of the top chapters of the whole six books.

  • Mike
    Mike 8 months ago +1

    I am new to the channel, dunno what you do but I can say you are an amazing story teller, and all quotes you read from the books are so well told that gives me goosebumps. very gj

  • Lawfist24
    Lawfist24 3 months ago

    I love how token loved using Phoenician Lore in his books. To be honest I named my daughter Astrid from these wizards.

  • Dr. Restitution
    Dr. Restitution 7 months ago +1

    So in The Two Towers we see Gandalf turn Glamdring into a lightning blade for a moment. Any instances in the books where he does that? He seems to have control over fire but maybe doesn’t use it like dumbledore, he seems to imagine fire and it appears while dumbledore manipulates fire from a spark. I just want someone to explain his powers to me as if he were an Elden Ring build lol

  • Burf901
    Burf901 Month ago

    I always thought that when Gandalf said he could read Frodos mind and memory he meant that Frodo talked so in depth about what happened Gandalf could guess what he was thinking

  • Vey
    Vey 11 months ago +9

    Love your videos man! I used to watch the movies with my grandma before she passed, she loves tolkiens world & watching these videos almost makes me feel closer to her!

  • J-D Machado
    J-D Machado 11 months ago +7

    This was an awesome round up! I love hearing about the Istari collectively. I’m definitely one of those for whom they’re some of Tolkien’s most interesting characters; Gandalf has to be my all time favorite of Tolkien’s figures!! He was always (and is) my goal for what I wanna be as a grandad 😝

  • Fahrenheit
    Fahrenheit 11 months ago +59

    I've always wondered were they simply forbidden to use the full powers of the Maiar, or were their powers actually reduced and unavailable to them even if they wanted to use them? And in the same vein, was Gandalf the White simply allowed to use more powers, or was he actually stronger?

    • Istari
      Istari 11 months ago +33

      Their powers were limited and those they had were intended to be used as part of their role in supporting and encouraging the Free Peoples to resist Sauron. But there are always exceptions, such as when Gandalf faced the balrog. It's never made entirely clear but I believe Eru Ilúvatar restored to Gandalf his full abilities as a Maia but still had him retain the form of an elderly man to remind him what his mission was.

    • David Andrews
      David Andrews 11 months ago +28

      They were limited, in part to keep them on mission (to encourage the Free Peoples, rather than to take on Sauron themselves). Gandalf sacrificed himself to mortal death to save the Quest but was sent back with his power and wisdom enhanced by Eru, in part to offset the harm done by Saruman going astray. Tolkien covers it off in Letter 156.

    • popularmisconception
      popularmisconception 11 months ago +6

      Their powers were limited by their bodily form and they had to use them with caution and wisdom, you can't just waste all of your mana right away. There were other Maiar, such as the Balrogs, whom you could ask the same question about. After all, Sauron's powers were also limited, otherwise he would not need an army of orcs and trolls. In addition, staying in secrecy was important to fulfill their mission so they couldn't just leave too many clues to the enemy.

    • Johan Öhgren
      Johan Öhgren 11 months ago +4

      They were forbidden to use their powers so they wouldn't become a new Sauron. They were there to undermine Saurons ambitions, not to take his place.

    • Joshemyn Sanchez
      Joshemyn Sanchez 11 months ago +4

      @popularmisconception i dont know man, i think maiar powers weregreat, but not as great to hold dominion over the whole continent without an army, not even the greatest of the valar was able to hold dominion over a continent without the greatest army of orcs and dragons and werewolves ever known, and even there, he had to resort to underganded techniques to win, besides, there is also melian, her powers were not veiled, and even if she had great power, she was not really strong enough to protect little more than a single country

  • The Red Queen
    The Red Queen 10 months ago +2

    The voice of Saruman was one of my favorite chapters in LOTR, you can see how gifted saruman is in speech but uses it to manipulate, its good Gandalf was there to rebuke him

  • Voice of the Rings
    Voice of the Rings 11 months ago +3

    That Was such an Amazing Video Matt! I Really enjoyed that! Good to have all the Lore put In a way to Follow it so well and enjoy learning about it! Thanks so much!

  • Josh Sibley
    Josh Sibley 10 months ago +1

    In the DnD campaign my friend set up for us, the 2 blue wizards turned.... Became the black, and the red... Built a massive army, swept across Rohan, and captured Minas Tirith... Their goal with the power they had built up.... To open the Doors of Night, releasing Morgoth upon Middle Earth...
    It was an amazing campaign, and I'm almost sad we were successful, cuz seeing the results of Morgoth being unleashed sounds pretty insane...

  • pongop
    pongop 11 months ago +11

    Very interesting and awesome video! The Istari are amazing! I saw another intriguing video on the subject which describes the powers/magic of the Istari being not about casting spells, but about speaking reality into existence through their connection to Eru. For example, when Gandalf says, "Saruman, your staff is broken," he is not breaking Saruman's staff, but revealing a truth/law of the universe, that the staff is now broken. This is similar to his statement of "you shall not/cannot pass" to the Balrog. The video explains it better, but it's very interesting conception of magic to consider. Ah, I found it: clip-share.net/video/O8c79z7tMg8/video.html

    • Daniel Wilson
      Daniel Wilson 11 months ago +3

      Yup. Magic in Arda is big on authority - Aragorn wrests the palantir from Sauron's control in part because he and his sword were the two last things Sauron wanted to see in that moment, throwing him off his game, _and_ because the palantir was indeed Aragorn's by right, with him having greater claim to control and use it than Sauron did. Likewise as a maia of Manwe, Gandalf had authority to make certain things so with effort and will. And after being promoted to the White, he was literally Saruman's boss, and could compel him to not walk away from him, cast him out of the order, and overwrite the physical condition of his staff.

    • pongop
      pongop 11 months ago +1

      @Daniel Wilson Very interesting points! I think you're right that much of the magic is based around authority.

    • Julian Dacosta
      Julian Dacosta 10 months ago +1

      @Daniel Wilson denethor also had authority over the palantir, but sauron had a long time to mess with him

  • nnmmnmmnmnnm
    nnmmnmmnmnnm 9 months ago +1

    I have not heard the names of the blue wizards Alatar and Pallando since I was a teenager (c35 yrs ago) but I have continually used these two names when describing what the two missing Istari were to friends etc. They would give me that 'wtf are you talking about fool', look and I had started to think this was just something I had read in the many Rolemaster/MERP game modules I played with friends and that it was not original lore but something dreamt up to flesh out the world by ICE (Iron Crown Enterprises wrote/published the rolemaster game modules). Delighted to hear the full detail after so many years - all that is forgotten is not lost.

  • Anuj Gupta
    Anuj Gupta 3 months ago

    A lot of credit should be given to Nienna. Olorin may have been Manwe's maiar, like Sauron was of Aule's, but they both went away to and followed a different valar for the rest of eternity - Nienna and Melkor. So the fact that Gandalf was incorruptible was because of Nienna's humility, kindness, piety and purity. Makes you wonder that what if it was she who the direct counter to Melkor.

  • Valentin Kambushev
    Valentin Kambushev 11 months ago +6

    My favorites will always be Gandalf and Radagast. One protects the weak, the other one shows the weak their inner strength. I also like the Blue wizards and their quest to help those who had fallen rise again. And Saruman.... the less said the best.

  • Mike Mason
    Mike Mason 11 months ago +2

    New listener to your channel, this is good stuff, thanks man!
    I’m sure it’s come up on this channel before, but the BBC radio drama does a great job of Gandalf and Saruman’s final interaction. You can get the audio book for the entire LOtR BBC radio drama on audible. Ian Holm plays Frodo, Bill Nighy plays Sam, Michael Horderns command presence as Gandalf is incredible.

  • Shok Music
    Shok Music 11 months ago +4

    Saraman must have possessed the ability to shape-shift or, more than likely, cast illusions. At the edge of Fangorn Forest, Gimli sees an old bent man leaning on his staff and wrapped in a great cloak. The old man vanished when Gimli roused Legolas & Aragorn. Later, when the three meet Gandalf the White, Gimli asks if the old man was Gandalf. Gandalf denies it was him. Gandalf also tells Gimli that "Saraman could look like me in your eyes, if it suited his purpose with you."
    Eomer also mentions "phantoms of Saraman" when meeting the three hunters, but this could simply be colorful speech.

  • Everything Interesting
    Everything Interesting 11 months ago +2

    Such a phenomenal channel. Been binging your content for the last week or two. Your writing and narration are excellent, the editing flows very smoothly, and the art selection really brings it all to life. I read The Hobbit and LOTR when I was young, but never got into Tolkien's other works, and learning all this expository information, it's just really cool. Makes me wanna read The Silmarillion, which I almost tried years ago. Thanks for all your work.

  • J-Dubb
    J-Dubb 8 months ago +1

    That passage where Gandalf commands Saruman to come back and finish the conversation always makes me think of the South Park episode with Chris Hansen where he tells Cartman to have a seat and Cartman magically walks back and takes a seat.

  • mookiestix
    mookiestix 11 months ago +6

    Your videos are an absolute treasure! Thank you for creating this high quality, easy to follow content.

  • Jimoxi
    Jimoxi 11 months ago +88

    The video on Wizards arrived exactly when it needed to. 🧙

  • Matthew Carlton
    Matthew Carlton 10 months ago

    This is so good. The one thing that has always confused me re: Middle Earth is the concept of magic. We know the voice of Sauron was a sorcerer and that Sauron was a Necromancer, but how would a regular mortal actually cast spells, etc.

  • Allison Kreutzberg
    Allison Kreutzberg 11 months ago

    Great summary! I always enjoy your readings from the text 😊. Love the videos on the individual wizards as well ❤

  • AlwaysAsk
    AlwaysAsk 11 months ago +1

    Beautiful video. Movies and series come and go, but Tolkien is forever.

  • Matt Lewandowski
    Matt Lewandowski 10 months ago

    I do not know about the blue wizards, but Radagast I suspect was sent by what was essentially the goddess of nature to protect nature as the war of the ring unfolded. You showed a picture of Radagast as you commented that some wizards may have forgot why they where on middle earth, and I think you may have done him a disservice. Over wall an excellent video.

  • Jopeymess Music
    Jopeymess Music 11 months ago +2

    I think it's assumed that they were for want of a better word "Hamstrung" when they initially arrived but when Gandalf defeated the Balrog and came back I'm of the opinion that Eru kinda allowed him to be at full strength if he wanted. Another thing I've often wondered about, as Balrogs are corrupted Maiar I wonder if they were unshackled by Morgoth and had access to their full capabilities at all times? Always loved that scene with Gandalf and Saruman at Orthanc.

    • Marko Vidakovic
      Marko Vidakovic 11 months ago +2

      I think they could, but much of their intelligence and ability is diminished in service to Morgoth.

    • Chris Cuda
      Chris Cuda 10 months ago +1

      I think you're right. Maybe because Eru knows the time of the Istari is almost done and only Gandalf is still on mission. It seems like there's an unspoken rule that openly welding that kind of power means your time in Arda is limited... Part of protecting free will maybe.

  • Mike Foster
    Mike Foster 15 days ago

    I love the gentle ebb and flow of beings' lives and mistakes. Aule creating dwarfs to be incorruptible but also his Maiar being Sauron and Saruman. The gentle way that Radagast is sent to mind Saruman, because people are right to be wary of new things etc.

  • japtman
    japtman 11 months ago +1

    I always imagined that Tolkien would have eventually used the 2 blue wizards in his unfinished The New Shadow.. imagine one of them set against a corrupted other.. or against the honest Radagast.

  • Anon Ymous
    Anon Ymous Month ago

    McKellan is also, to date, the only live action portrayer of the character (to my knowledge.) But yes, his brilliant portrayal surely does have something to do with it.

  • HeWhoExists
    HeWhoExists 11 months ago +3

    I recently re-watched the cartoon Lord of the Rings classic and thought it would be fun to see how the War of the Ring played out if the role of Gandalf was swapped with a travelling blue wizard who heard news of one of their kind becoming corrupt (Saruman). Or how Saruman of Many Colours would appear in the live-action movies, haha!

  • alanguages
    alanguages 10 months ago

    Saruman was able to communicate and use the Crebains, due to learning how to communicate with those particular birds from Radagast.
    Presumably Saruman used Radagast for that specific knowledge, as a way to spy on others, hence viewed Radagast as a pawn.

  • Paul Smith
    Paul Smith 11 months ago

    Your channel is amazing. Love the fan art, bravo.

  • ADN
    ADN 10 months ago +3

    After reading all this, about how the Istari were confused at first and so on, the Rings of Power adaptation now feels faithfull and actually makes a lot more sense!

  • JDB2552
    JDB2552 14 days ago

    I’m glad you describe hunger as a human emotion. My wife complains that I won’t tell her what I’m feeling. I tell her that I feel hungry all the time.

  • MST3Killa
    MST3Killa 2 months ago

    I don't know if in the books, especially the deeper lore books like unfinished tales or what have you, that they speak of it, but it definitely feels as though Gandalf at a minimum, but maybe all the wizards and those few who know them and their ways, like the elves, have an ability to see into the future or as if destiny and fate were pre-ordained and would slowly become revealed to them.
    Like if one were to travel in the dark and some object stood in their way. So long as you had better vision in the dark (not perfect vision, but simply better than normal) that they'd know of it coming before another who might bump right into it before they knew of its existence.
    The entire time the magic folk all seem to know that all hinges on some key moments they aren't able to exactly foresee, but that they know exist, so they try to 'manipulate' for lack of a better word, things to the outcome they hope to see.

  • Michael
    Michael 4 months ago

    Did Sarumans voice actually hoodwink Treebeard? That appears to be a more impressive display of his slimy ability. Now if he could hoodwink Tom Bombadil that would be on another level altogether.
    The passage of Gandalf saying he would most like to talk with Tom after the ring is destroyed; that would be an intriguing dialogue.

  • Alexander Scott
    Alexander Scott 11 months ago +1

    7:51 Was a little disappointed you only went over what powers Gandalf wields in *The Lord of the Rings* and not *The Hobbit.* Gandalf is able to wield fire and flame in impressive ways in that book, particularly in Goblin Town. Since the films mute his powers so much, this is not known by a lot of casual fans.

  • The_Parson
    The_Parson 11 months ago +22

    Gandalf being able to read Frodo's "mind and memory" clearly means he simply listened to sleep-talking and put the pieces together, no magic needed.

    • Lodrik18
      Lodrik18 11 months ago +1

      Or the others told him about the journey?!?

    • The_Parson
      The_Parson 11 months ago +1

      @Lodrik18 Not for Frodo's personal experiences

    • Robert Hicks
      Robert Hicks 10 months ago +2

      I believe he actually did read Frodo's "mind and memory".

  • Marty Henderson, DVM
    Marty Henderson, DVM 11 months ago

    You should do LotR and the Hobbit as audiobooks!

  • Chris de With
    Chris de With 11 months ago +2

    Would you ever considering recording lotr audio books? I love the way you impersonate the characters in your videos!

  • Phoenixesper1
    Phoenixesper1 6 months ago

    I like to believe the blue wizards were sent to middle earth with nothing but the power of hindsight, a book of knock-knock jokes, and a zippolighter with the flint missing.

  • Lodrik18
    Lodrik18 11 months ago

    You ignore something important, Gandalf almost never works magic. He tells others that he did/tried to but you can count the number of times he used magic in the books with your fingers. Moria is a good example, he tells the others that he tried to spell the door and thats it. He is basically the wizard of Oz...

  • Eönwë
    Eönwë 11 months ago +1

    I've always wondered how the five wizards would assist the elves in the first age.

  • Cardboard
    Cardboard 11 months ago +8

    Adding to the list:
    - Lightning spells. In The Hobbit Gandalf is awakened from his sleep by Bilbo and a flash of light and a loud bang later several of them drop dead. Perhaps more lightning magic like he uses against the Nazgul and Balrog? Those battles are described as flashes of lightning and the hobbits find burn marks at the battle side (Weathertop) later.
    - Fortitude and stamina. Gandalfs battle with the Balrog lasted several days and nights. That includes non-stop fighting and climbing the mountaintop all the way from the lake they fell in (from a great height which would kill a normal person).
    - Some kind of magic armor? Gandalf never wears armor despite being on several war battlefields. In the Hobbit an arrow gets stuck in his hat, yet he never feels the need to protect his body from stray arrows and is never hit.
    - Different disarming spells. In addition to Denethor, when Gimli, Aragorn and Legolas mistakenly attack Gandalf in Fangorn, Gimli's axe becomes too heavy, Aragorns sword becomes to hot and Legolas arrow misses and bursts into flame.
    - Superhuman reflexes. Continuing on the above point, Legolas is capable of drawing his arrow faster than Eomer can blink. Yet Gandalf can protect himself against Legolas.
    - Whatever that light thing was he did against the Nazgul to rescue Faramir.
    - Presumabily all Maiar know Counterspell as was done by Durin's Bane.
    People often talk about how Gandalf uses little magic. However he seems fairly consistent in choice of magic use to me: lightning spells against supernatural enemies (or if startled) and using his will to empower others during war (which we see Saruman and Sauron do as well). Other spells he uses mostly as utility when the needs arrises. PJ cut back on his use of magic which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing (though the magic duel between Gandalf and Saruman definately was).

  • Margaret Albrecht
    Margaret Albrecht 9 months ago +2

    Forgot to mention Gandalf melting the butter in Butterbur. And Butterbur fell down and began to melt. But when Gandalf learned the hobbits had gone with Strider, he blessed Butterbur's beer.
    Gandalf also blessed Bill the pony. How else can you explain Bill making it all the way from Moria to Bree in safety.
    Saruman could also see into the future as he told Frodo's future. "'You have grown, Halfling,' he said. 'Yes, you have grown very much. You are wise, and cruel. You have robbed my revenge of sweetness, and now I must go hence in bitterness, in debt to your mercy. I hate it and you! Well, I go and I will trouble you no more. But do not expect me to wish you health and long life. You will have neither. But that is not my doing. I merely foretell.'"

  • Cloo Viewer
    Cloo Viewer 2 months ago

    Its interesting how Gandalf's fear of sauron, that would be the reason why he should go. This would be used as a reason for Atreus/Loki from GoW to venture on his own quest, his own fear of venturing on his own that would be the reason to go.

  • Quentin Ducerf
    Quentin Ducerf 11 months ago

    Hi ! Like always, I love your videos full of very helpufull informations.
    Little technical comment however : I've never been bothered by music until now. I always found the choices of them great like the pictures, but in this video, I can't focus correctly on your purpose (bad isn't it ? ahah) . Maybe there's a change in the audio mixage ?
    Thanks by advance if you read the comment and take note of it and once again thanks for your wonderful work !

  • John
    John 9 months ago

    The Maiar are deity who really have no bounds if they true to Eru Iluvatar as with time they become more powerful and develop more godly skills. Gandalf literally has no bounds as it appears that Eru personally brought him back to life and gave him a personal education. Bombadil on the other hand is already at full strength, probably Eru's best buddy.

  • levis76
    levis76 11 months ago +1

    Radagast, more Druid than wizard, may his messages always be heeded, for the forests, fauna, and lands always foretell of evil coming as they are the most innocent and therefore most susceptible to its corruption.

  • Technoscapes
    Technoscapes 11 months ago +1

    I know soft-magic systems don't fully define abilities, but if we had to I'd say the Istari abilities are:
    1. Command: (ability to speak statements that immediately materialize as facts "your staff is broken")
    2. Telekinesis: (move objects with their minds (Saruman swinging Gandalf around))
    3. Telepathy: (Gandalf speaking to Frodo) (swerves into mind-control with Saruman, perhaps in conjunction with Command.)
    4. Transformation: (Radagast, but Valar and Maiar generally have this ability)
    5. Nature Control: (ability to break/manipulate rocks, expand fire, make lights, wind/storms, control animals) (I'd place Saruman's snow avalanche here + Command speech)
    6. Protective Barriers: (the spell in Moria, but also Gandalf's shield when battling Durin's Bane)
    7. Premonitions: (having a connection to the future, knowing what will happen, at least in a vague sense.) (a bit like Galadriel but not as powerful)
    I think these 7 powers covers most things? What did I miss?

  • Martin Dye
    Martin Dye 11 months ago +1

    One cardinal rule was that these Maiar would not personally confront Sauron, however in the hobbit movie Gandalf takes on Sauron in Dul Guldor. Don’t get me wrong, the scene was awesome!

    • Julian Dacosta
      Julian Dacosta 10 months ago

      The council force him out of there in the lore. Add all the times gandalf uses magic to get his groups out of tough situations and them being restricted to advising and inspiring doesn't make much sense

  • Travis Cummings
    Travis Cummings 11 months ago

    I remember commenting on one of your vids about this, and you certainly didn't disappoint! Glad to see your work!

  • Tomás Carvalho
    Tomás Carvalho 11 months ago

    The power of speech is the greatest of all, since the songs of power have a basis of speech in them, even if it's just sounds, though it was unaffective against others of the Heren Istarion. Olorin was also a powerful user of speech.