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After Gandalf died from the injuries he sustained whilst fighting the Balrog, he was resurrected by Eru:

Gandalf's body lay on the peak for nineteen days, until he was resurrected by Eru and sent back to Middle-earth alive

In the Two Towers movie, we don't get much of an explanation:

I've been sent back, until my task is done.


In the books, do we get a better explanation of who sent Gandalf back and why?

Is Eru mentioned specifically?

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Here's what Gandalf says about his resurrection:

"Then darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell.

"Naked I was sent back - for a brief time, until my task is done. And naked I lay upon the mountain-top. [...] I was alone, forgotten, without escape upon the hard horn of the world. There I lay staring upward, while the stars wheeled over, and each day was as long as a life-age of the earth. Faint to my ears came the gathered rumour of all lands: the springing and the dying, the song and the weeping, and the slow everlasting groan of overburdened snow."

-- The Two Towers, chapter 5: The White Rider

Eru Iluvatar is not explicitly mentioned in the narrative of Lord of the Rings.


Not in the books, but still Word of God:

He was sent by a mere prudent plan of the angelic Valar or governors; but Authority had taken up this plan and enlarged it, at the moment of its failure. 'Naked I was sent back - for a time, until my task is done'. Sent back by whom, and whence? Not by the 'gods' whose business is only with this embodied world and its time; for he passed 'out of thought and time'.
-- Tolkien's Letters, Letter 156

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    “Sent back by whom, and whence? Not by the 'gods' whose business is only with this embodied world and its time; for he passed 'out of thought and time'.” So I guess sent back by Tolkien? – Paul D. Waite Dec 1 '15 at 14:32
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    I just did a search through my electronic copy of the book. Neither the name "Eru" nor "Iluvatar" appears. – Matt Gutting Dec 1 '15 at 14:34
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    Although He's not mentioned by name, I believe Eru is referred to as "The One" in the LOTR appendices' account of the fall of Numenor. – jwodder Dec 1 '15 at 15:43
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    Also, remember, Tolkien intentionally left some things unexplained. Gandalf's language seems an echo of this desire ("...I wandered far on roads that I will not tell.") Indeed, I believe Tolkien considered such mystery a requirement for a good faerie story, though I cannot put my hand to a reference for that. But Tom Bombadil's exact nature is another example. – Dan Barron Dec 1 '15 at 19:57
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    He's basically saying it was a god outside of the machine... – RemcoGerlich Dec 1 '15 at 21:58
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Since he said he was "sent back", it was caused by something very powerful. My theory is that the corruption of other Istari was in part the reason for it. Radagast was bewitched by nature, and lost his original purpose. So were Alatar and Pallando, key figures of whom none of the books as I recall seem to have adequate recount. And more recently, the fall of Saruman, the head of wizard council. He not only left his task, but chose to wear a rainbow-colored outfit, dubbing himself "Saruman-multicolored" in rebellion and a true blasphemy for those who sent him. I don't understand why this change is not emphasized or even seen in the movie, even though Hollywood specializes in visual effects.

It was this disobedience and arrogance by Saruman displayed towards Valar which I think played a major role in Gandalf being sent back. It also explains why he got the color white, as that was now available in the color palette since Saruman's change of identity. I think I remember Gandalf saying somewhere "you must have a leader" or something, hinting there must always be a white wizard, like a company has to have a CEO. So judicially it was Saruman's corruption that ultimately allowed Gandalf to come back from the dead.

  • This seems like some nice reasoning but it would be better if you could edit in some quotes to back it up? – TheLethalCarrot Dec 1 '18 at 14:36

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