Radagast was sent, along with Gandalf and after Saruman to Middle-earth to oppose the rising evil that was later discovered to be Sauron. They were given the bodies of aged men. Radagast was greatly occupied with plants, birds and animals and so was on the fringes of the history of the War of the Ring as written by Men, Elves and Hobbits. He lived on the edge of Mirkwood in his home called Rhosgobel, close to Beorn and the Old Forest Road and not far from the Eagles’ Eyrie. He may have aided Saruman in the search for the One Ring but texts suggest he thought his winged spies were simply keeping an eye on things, not realizing the head of his order was looking for the ancient ring of power.
He unwittingly helped Saruman trap Gandalf by acting as a messenger and sending the Grey Pilgrim to Isengard and telling him that the Nine were heading toward The Shire. He unwittingly helped Gandalf escape by sending Gwaihir to Isengard. In the Peter Jackson film adaptation this was accomplished by a moth.
Gandalf refers to him in The Hobbit, and he is mentioned in The Lord of the Rings, at the Council of Elrond, as a “master of shapes” which some suppose to mean he could change his own shape, although there is no further evidence of that.
When Elrond sent messengers to his home Rhosgobel to get help with the War of the Ring, it was found empty and the brown Wizard was never heard from again.
Analysis: Some writings suggest he was chosen by Yavanna (one of the Valar) who begged Saruman to take Radagast with him to Middle-earth. Later, Saruman held him in contempt, and though he belonged to the order of Middle-earth wizards he did not, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings, belong to the White Council.
- “The Nine wraiths are released. The Enemy must have some great and urgent need, but what it is that should make him look to these desolate … parts where men and wealth are scanty I do not know. The Nine are coming this way. Men and beasts are flying before them. They have taken the guise of horsemen clad in black as of old.” (to Gandalf, from The History of Middle-earth, vol. 6)