books I read
Radagast the Brown is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium. He is one of the Istari, also known as “Wizards”, who were sent by the angelic Valar to aid the Elves and Men of Middle-earth in their struggle against the Dark Lord Sauron. Radagast appears in The Lord of the Rings and Unfinished Tales, and is mentioned in The Hobbit and The Silmarillion.
Unfinished Tales explains that Radagast, like the other Wizards, came from Valinor around the year 1000 of the Third Age of Middle-earth and was one of the Maiar. His original name was Aiwendil, meaning bird-friend in Tolkien’s invented language of Quenya. The Vala Yavanna forced the wizard Saruman to accept Radagast as a companion, which, Tolkien says, may have been one of the reasons Saruman was contemptuous of him, to the point of scornfully calling him “simple” and “a fool”. However, he was an ally and confidant of Gandalf, who describes him in The Hobbit as his “cousin”. He was also friends with the skin-changer Beorn, who deemed him to be “not a bad fellow as wizards go” and also said to Gandalf that he “used to see him [Radagast] now and again”.
Radagast lived for much of his time in Middle-earth at Rhosgobel in the Vales of Anduin, on the western eaves of Mirkwood, between Carrock and the Old Forest Road, near the Gladden Fields, its name deriving from Sindarin rhosc gobel meaning “brown village”. Radagast had a strong affinity for – and relationship with – wild animals, and it seemed his greatest concern was with the olvar and kelvar (flora and fauna) of Middle-earth. He was wiser than any Man in all things concerning herbs and beasts. It is said he spoke the many tongues of birds, and was a “master of shapes and changes of hue”. Radagast is also described by Gandalf as “never a traveller, unless driven by great need”, “a worthy Wizard”, and “honest”.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Radagast was unwittingly used by Saruman to lure Gandalf to his tower of Orthanc, where Gandalf was captured. Fortuitously, Radagast also helped rescue him by sending Gwaihir the Eagle to Orthanc with news of the movements of Sauron’s forces. When Gwaihir saw that Gandalf was imprisoned on the top of the tower he carried him off to safety before Saruman realized he was gone.
The only other reference to Radagast in The Lord of the Rings is after the Council of Elrond when it is decided to summon all the allies against Sauron together. Scouts are sent to look for help, and it is reported that Radagast is not at his home at Rhosgobel and cannot be found. Tolkien makes no mention of what has happened to Radagast, and he plays no further role in events.
Tolkien wrote that Radagast gave up his mission as one of the Wizards by becoming too obsessed with animals and plants. He also wrote that he did not believe that Radagast’s failure was as great as Saruman’s. However, Christopher Tolkien notes in Unfinished Tales that the assumption Radagast failed in his task may not be entirely accurate considering that he was specifically chosen by Yavanna, and he may have been assigned to protect the flora and fauna of Middle-earth, a task that would not end with the defeat of Sauron and the end of the War of the Ring.
Treebeard (Sindarin: Fangorn) is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth fantasy writings. The eldest of the species of Ents, he is said to live in the ancient Forest of Fangorn and stands fourteen feet in height and is tree-like in appearance, with leafy hair and a rigid structure. His motto is, “Don’t be hasty.”
Fangorn Forest lies next to Isengard where Saruman the White resides. In the The Two Towers he meets with Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, two Hobbits of the Shire known also as Merry and Pippin. Treebeard is known to have a strong hatred of Orcs, and, after Saruman’s betrayal of the Ents, of Saruman as well.
Spirits were sent by Eru Ilúvatar to inhabit the trees, which the Vala Yavanna had created along with other plants or olvar. The Vala longed for their protection since Morgoth or Melkor was destroying the trees and olvars, which could not defend themselves from him. The Ents were created by Ilúvatar at the behest of Yavanna as the Shepherds of the Forest or Tree-herders. Entwives were also created for the Ents, but, in the Second Age, were driven out by Sauron.
Treebeard is the oldest of three remaining original Ents. He is said to have once roamed all of the forests in Middle-earth, which included the Misty Mountains, Mirkwood, and the Blue Mountains. After the loss of the Entwives by the end of the Third Age, he and the remaining Ents dwelt in the Forest of Fangorn. This led the remaining Ents into isolation and all information from the outside world was cut off. The arrival of Merry and Pippin shifted Treebeard’s attention to take action against Saruman for hacking down his trees. He led the Ents to war against Saruman and his Orcs. Treebeard later realised that while Saruman had learned much from him, the Wizard had shared no useful information of his own.
“One felt as if there was an enormous well behind them, filled up with ages of memory and long, slow, steady thinking; but their surface was sparkling with the present: like sun shimmering on the outer leaves of a vast tree, or on the ripples of a very deep lake. I don’t know but it felt as if something that grew in the ground — asleep, you might say, or just feeling itself as something between root-tip and leaf-tip, between deep earth and sky had suddenly waked up, and was considering you with the same slow care that it had given to its own inside affairs for endless years.”
Treebeard had been friends with Saruman. It is described in The Two Towers that Saruman travelled with Treebeard and had talked with him on various subjects of concern. Saruman gathered information from Treebeard about the Forest of Fangorn; its inter-twinning paths were of particular concern to him. Saruman later abandoned Treebeard, choosing to stay in Isengard and build an army for Sauron.
After Merry and Pippin’s meeting with Treebeard, Treebeard called a meeting of the Entmoot — which lasted three days — who then decided to call an attack on Isengard and Saruman. Since Leaflock and Skinbark were the oldest of the Ents along with Treebeard, they refused to fight, however, Treebeard thought he was going to his doom during “the last march of the Ents.” Treebeard hoped that some of the younger Ents would come instead of just the two, and, during the night he spread the word. They later launched an assault on Isengard.
After Treebeard ordered the Ents to march to Isengard, the Ents felled Saruman’s walls and destroyed every object in and around Isengard; the Tower of Orthanc could not be breached, but Saruman was trapped within. Treebeard stopped the attack on the tower when he realised their efforts were in vain: the tower was too strong. The Ents were ordered to unleash the waters of the River Isen, which flooded Isengard. When Merry and Pippin departed Treebeard he requested them to watch for the Entwives. At one point in the book, Tolkien gives hints on the whereabouts of the Entwives. It is speculated that they were spotted by Samwise Gamgee’s cousin Hal in the North Farthing. However, this may or may not be conjecture:
“But what about these Tree-men, these giants, as you might call them? They do say that one bigger than a tree was seen up away beyond the North Moors not long back……But this one was as big as an elm tree, and walking — walking seven yards to a stride, if it was an inch.”
In the Years of the Trees where the Ents were thriving in 1495 Morgoth had re-established his realm in Middle-earth. With this the Entwives had moved across to the east where Anduin lay. Treebeard’s Entwife Fimbrethil was driven from her land and the two were separated forever. This may have been the dominant cause of the loss of the Entwives and the loss of the Entings.
The Elven-realm Lothlórien was situated near the North of Fangorn Forest and Treebeard had met the Lord and Lady of the Galadhrim of Lothlórien, who refer to him as “Eldest”. This marked the time the Ents and the Elves would be separate. Treebeard had in addition met Galadriel and Celeborn. Over time the Ents and the Elves separated and the Elves had nothing more to do with the business of Ents.
There has been so much going on with me since Jan 1st that I think it might take 4 or 5 blog posts just to get it all said! I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with The Lord of the Rings – because this is the background for the stuff I’ve been excited about and doing since the New Year began.
I absolutely love that story! I first read it in 1969. And I can remember that my family was huddled around the TV or the Radio, I’m not sure which. They were all excited because this was the day that Neil Armstrong, aboard the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander, along with Buzz Aldrin, touched down on the surface of the moon. What was I doing? I was reading The Lord of the Rings. Frodo and Sam were just begining the treck through the swamp with Gollum leading the way. My dad was really aggravated with me because I was not the least bit excited that the “Eagle had Landed”.
I did pull myself away from the book long enough to hear those famous words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” And then I was back in Middle Earth. We were doing a lot of traveling at the time, driving from Florida to Michigan and back again, and when we drove through wooded areas, I was convinced that I could see the places where hobbits and elves still lived. The secret magical places in forests and near streams called to me.
When I finished the last book, I turned right around and started reading them again. And then, I read it again.
Years later, when the Fellowship of the Ring came out, I went to see it at the theater with a friend of mine. It was terribly disconcerting having it just stop in the middle of the story. And on the way home, I found myself falling into a terrible funk because my life seemed so ordinary and so boring and so NOT adventurous or interesting in any way, shape, or form. I decided it might even be better for me to NEVER see another fantasy movie ever again – since none of it was real anyway and that was just going to upset me. I didn’t watch another fantasy movie for more than a year. I didn’t go and see the rest of the Trilogy when it came out. I didn’t read the book, or even think about it for quite a long time.
And then, during one of my darkest moments, when I was going through what could really be described as a journey through Mordor, the most amazing thing happened. Gandalf stepped in and changed my life.
By the way: This post was migrated from my blogger blog (shirleytwofeathers.blogspot.com) and was first published almost exactly 9 years ago, on 1/08/08.