Image by Ted Nasmith
Alias: Mighty eagle, the Great Eagles, King of all Birds; [expanded to include] Gwaihir the Windlord and Thorondor the Lord of Eagles in the First Age, King of Eagles, Eagles of the Misty Mountains.
Date of Birth: Unknown, but possibly in the First Age
Race: Eagles of the Northern Mountains
Height: Very large
Date of Death: Unknown
Parents: Unknown (possibly a descendant of Thorondor)
Children: Unknown (possible forefather of Gwaihir)
Description: Much larger than the common eagle with keen eyesight. They can speak, are proud and noble-hearted, and are generally unconcerned with other races of Middle-earth.
Lord of the Eagles
The Lord of the Eagles and his kindred/colony/vassals of the Northern Mountains keep to themselves, but the activities of wolves or goblins in the forest always made them curious enough to investigate. The Eagles took every opportunity to thwart any mischief they were up to by swooping on the creatures and sending them running. The Great Eagle will, on occasion, intervene and help those under attack by orcs, goblins or wolves. However, they avoid the realms of Men who shoot at them with bow and arrow.
The Lord of the Eagles owed Gandalf a debt after the wizard healed him from an arrow injury years before. Along with several of his vassals, the Eagle-lord carried Gandalf, the Dwarves and Bilbo to safety from their near-fiery death by wolves and goblins, and then on to the Great River at the edge of Beorn’s land.
It was the discovery of wolf and goblin activity that brought the Lord of the Eagles and his vassals to the Battle of Five Armies. Their attack on the enemy turned the tide of the battle and brought defeat to the deadly horde. After the war, he was named “King of All Birds” and wore a golden crown.
The Lord of the Eagles is sometimes identified with Gwaihir the Windlord, the Eagle in The Lord of the Rings, whose repeated aid during the War of the Ring overthrew what would have been devastating events for the Fellowship. He rescued Gandalf from Orthanc, his colony spied out the mountains for enemy movement, he hunted for and rescued Gandalf from Zirak-zigil, his vassals joined in the Battle of the Black Gate, and he, along with his brother Landroval and Meneldor young and swift, carried Gandalf to rescue Frodo and Sam on Mount Doom.
Analysis: Prominent in Tolkien’s “Silmarillion” mythology, set thousands of years before The Hobbit and LOTR, is Thorondor, the was the greatest of the Eagles, with a wingspan of 30 fathoms (180 ft.) and a beak of gold. In LOTR, Gwaihir and Landroval are described as “descendants” of Thorondor, and on that basis, Christopher Tolkien removed from the published Silmarillion a reference in its source texts to Gwaihir and Landroval as Thorondor’s “vassals” in the First Age. However, reanalyzing the source texts in The Lost Road (volume five of “The History of Middle-earth” series), Christopher Tolkien concludes that his father meant for Gwaihir and Landroval to be both Thorondor’s descendants and his servants living in the First Age.
Because Gandalf specifically mentions Gwaihir carrying him only twice before at the Black Gate, Douglas Anderson argues in The Annotated Hobbit that Gwaihir cannot be the same bird as the Lord of the Eagles. However, The Hobbit films might refer to the Lord of the Eagles as Gwaihir to suppress any confusion for the non-reading audience.
- “”I hear wolves’ voices! Are the goblins at mischief in the woods?” (to his fellow eagles)
- “You need not be frightened like a rabbit, even if you look rather like one. It is a fair morning with little wind. What is finer than flying?” (another eagle to Bilbo)