Why you don't just summon the giant eagles


57 Responses to “Why you don't just summon the giant eagles”

  1. I really hope my ex is reading this…that is precisely the question I asked all along, just call an eagle and have him drop the damn ring into the volcano….how hard could that have been!?!?

    • Marja Erwin says:

      The aerial combat against the fell beasts and Nazgul would be hard.

      The dying would be easy.

      Maybe the whole thing could have been made clearer by showing more fell beasts and other creatures flying overhead all the time; there’s a fair amount of hiding from them in the books, but this was one of the missed opportunities of the movies.

      • Brainspore says:

        Sorry, not buying it. Even if the Fellowship had to schlep the last part of the trek on foot those eagles could have saved, like, at least two movies worth of walking.

        Also, obligatory WKUK sketch.

      • JohnQPublic says:

        ok, there’s resistance in the air… but there was a lot of resistance on the ground too in the form of Orcs and other baddies… so my thought is that those eagles were able to successfully penetrate the air defenses in order to rescue the hobbits at the end and fly them out of there quickly…  that trip could just as easily have been a “drop the ring in the volcano” trip instead of an evacuation trip… no?

        • Brainspore says:

          Plus, that final battle sequence in LOTR proved that the eagles were more than up to the challenge of said air defenses.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            You don’t just need the eagles; you need the chorus of boy sopranos or they can’t fly.

        • plisanti says:

          There were no air defenses at the end to penetrate. Ring go poof, Sauron go boom, armies all swallered up – I assume the Nazgul and fell beasties high-tailed it out of there.

          • Brainspore says:


            There were no air defenses at the end to penetrate.

            I can’t recall if the book unfolded this way, but the film clearly showed there were several Nazgul mounts in that final battle which some of the eagles handily disposed of while others flew over to pick up the little Hobbitses.

          • plisanti says:

            That scene is pre-ring-go-poof, no?

          • Brainspore says:


            That scene is pre-ring-go-poof, no?

            Doesn’t matter: point is that eagles were willing and able to engage Mordor’s air defenses to help save Middle-Earth. Send in a wing of eagles to fight the Nazgul, then one eagle with a Hobbit (and a couple of escorts for good measure) to drop off the ring.

            Same end result for the eagles, except that thousands of other lives are saved on the ground.

          • AnthonyC says:

            Even if the Nazgul were still there, they would have gotten a lot weaker once the ring was destroyed. Just saying.

          • Cola Johnson says:

            Peter Jackson makes it look like the Eagles are always ready to swoop in but in the books they’re a lot harder to get a hold of.  For instance, in the Hobbit, they just happen to notice all the commotion and swoop in the save the Hobbits, but Jackson makes it looks like Gandalf called them.  In the book, Gandalf was getting ready to jump to his fiery death right before he was plucked from the tree. 

            This whole conversation is complicated because people are confusing the source materials.  Tolkien knew what he was doing, and Jackson didn’t convey that very well.  :/

      • chenille says:

        Agreed. It seems the problem is the book doesn’t explicitly say why they couldn’t use eagles. All the other options concerning the ring are carefully dismissed in the council chapter, but this one was skipped.

        Reasons why a foreign airforce would not be a good choice for a stealth mission concerning a corrupting artifact are easy to invent in a fantasy world. But you do have to invent them, and other people can always interpret the canon differently.

        We need someone with a time machine to tell Tolkien to add a few sentences about this, so we can go back to more important things, like whether balrogs have wings.

  2. SporkFishGod says:

    I believe this is missing a NSFW tag, for the archive on that site alone.

  3. Scott Rubin says:

    I’m surprised OGLAF isn’t posted on BoingBoing more often. 

  4. dasanjos says:

    After watching The Hobbit© I kept wondering the same… :)

  5. Narmitaj says:

    To be dull for a minute, eagles flying about in the sky over Mordor would have been a simple target for Sauron and the Nazgul most of the time. The strategy of Gandalf and indeed one point of Tolkien’s whole story was that a couple of insignificant bods low down on the social scale would sneak in under the radar while Sauron’s eye was on armies and princes and the sky. After the ring was destroyed the fighter-defence Nazgul flamed out and the fat transport eagles could lumber in.

    • Sean Murphy says:

      I’ve thought about this quite a bit as well (very possibly much more than is healthy or warranted) and another reason that has occurred to me is that the Great Eagles are servants of Manwe, and it was made clear that the Powers of Valinor would not help in the conflict of the Ring. It’s very likely Gandalf knew the Eagles would just say “No, you’re on your own on this one…”.

    • ocker3 says:

      The Eye of Sauron was focused on the battle at the gates, that’s why that whole army had to show up, so the hobbits could sneak into the forges. The Eye also had a powerful effect if focused on a person, “Tolkien writes in The Silmarillion that “the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure” even before his body was lost in the War of the Last Alliance.[56]” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauron#Eye_of_Sauron

      So, it was all about evading the direct gaze and attention of Sauron, which was probably powerful enough to stop most people in their tracks, or at very least make mostly useless.

  6. awjt says:

    “Because the plot was not of the correct consistency that early in the game.”

  7. Halloween_Jack says:

    Man, I love Oglaf. 

  8. Boomer says:

    “No! Show me your other honor!”

  9. NelC says:

    “Victory at sea!”

  10. Philbert says:

    Not “I want to walk!” but “It’s fucking walk o’clock!” That’s why he is the artist.

  11. Philbert says:

    Still, the other big question I have on LotR is : where are all the other Dwarves? All fighting is almost exclusively left to humans except for 1 Elf, 1 Dwarf and 2 Hobbits.
    I know that the Elves were all ‘F* this sh*, I’m going back to Valinor’ but the Dwarves were going nowhere and they had a pretty big interest in Sauron not winning.

  12. franko says:

    was disappointed that Gandalf didn’t say, “because Eru doesn’t work that way.”

  13. Preston Sturges says:

    And as someone else said, why was the Matrix’s virtual reality set in the 1990s where people were aware of computers and hacking?  Why not have everyone live in a virtual 14th century?

    • Keith Melton says:

       Or why use humans with advance brain needs? Why not just use cows? VR unending fields to graze upon. What more do you need?

    • Cornan says:

       Because that was the farthest back the Matrix could go and create a believable simulation since they would have no concept of a pre-computer era outside of historical records. They say in the movies that they attempted a paradise but humans kept rejecting it. No reason that couldn’t have been a hunter/gatherer paradise but people kept feeling it was “wrong”.

      Not that there aren’t bigger plot holes in that movie but I don’t think the era of the simulation is one.

    • EeyoreX says:

      Um, that was because the machines actually needed to have computer-literate humans around to write new code for them to use. It was a more prominent plot point in earlier versions of the script, and the scrapped sequel that’s been floating around on the web is almost entirely focused around it.

      • Preston Sturges says:

        OK, then It would only take one tiny electrode inserted into the right spot of the brain to make them endlessly content with that task.

  14. TWKUK addressed this very question – and the response from the shirefolk.


  15. Gerald Mander says:

    Been saying this for 30 years.  Corroboration is much welcome.

    • rocketpjs says:

      Well, in the actual novel they ask the eagles to fly them further but they refuse because it isn’t their problem.  Their rescue of Gandalf and the dwarves was repayment of a favour owed, nothing more.

      Sure, the eagles are ‘good’, but they routinely had conflict with humans (stealing livestock) and were not necessarily friends – though they had no love for orcs.  Gandalf was the point of contact.

  16. PhasmaFelis says:

    “Why didn’t they just get the eagles to carry them” TL;DR version:

    1. You are not the boss of eagles.
    2. Sauron knows eagles exist + Sauron knows how to make fell beasts = Mordor certainly has air defense.
    3. The eagles: proud and mighty beings. The Ring: Infallibly corrupts the proud and the mighty. See the problem?

    • miguel q says:

      i agree. i think this whole notion of an eagle “airline” is largely due to how they were portrayed in the movies. yes, the eagles did play very important parts in turning the tide in favor of the good guys in more than  one time in tolkien’s books but it was always stressed that they had wills of their own and did not particularly care for the troubles of other beings. In one occasion in the Hobbit, they rescued the protagonists primarily because they wanted to foil the plans of the orcs and not really because of goodwill or a sense of duty.

  17. Purplecat says:

    Okay, okay. I get why we can’t use an eagle.

    But what about a catapult?

  18. JIMWICh says:

    /e is not your private army.

  19. Larry Dixon says:

    My mind has been on this quite a lot—I was the Great Eagles specialist for the LOTR & Hobbit films.
    We have had a very cool discussion over here that you all might enjoy, about the biology shown in the films, and the “why didn’t they use the eagles….” question comes up in the discussions.  http://thorinoakenshield.net/2013/01/04/middle-earths-biology-as-shown-in-the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey/

  20. The ‘proud and majestic’ are just lazy bums with great publicity is all. 

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