One thing that is never brought up is how Saruman first contacted Radagast. Radagast was described by Gandalf as not being much of a traveler unless driven by great need. Considering Radagast doesn't really play a part in battling Sauron, I can't see him just going to Saruman with a worry about Nazgûl or growing evil.

Surely Saruman himself must have come to Mirkwood to give Radagast his message for Gandalf. Some may say he could have used his crebain to send Radagast a message, but surely the crebain would have been a giveaway of Saruman's dodgy intention? Then again he does deem Radagast to be a fool.

So is there any textual evidence to say how Saruman first contacts Radagast?

2 Answers 2


Radagast only says that he learned from Saruman that the Nazgûl were searching for the Shire, not that they were abroad in the first place. I find it quite plausible that Radagast learned the Nazgul were abroad on his own. This information would clearly fall under the heading of "great need", prompting Radagast to seek out another member of the White Council. Saruman is the likely destination, being both the head of the Council and having a known location.

Thus, there is no need to assume that Saruman contacted Radagast at all; he just happened to show up at a convenient time, and Saruman took advantage of his presence to lure Gandalf into his trap.

  • See my comment above: when Gandalf meets him, Saruman clearly implies that he takes Radagast for little more than a harmless fool. He knew that it would be the best way to convince Gandalf to come to Isengard, as there would be no reason for Radagast to intentionally deceive someone.
    – Tjafaas
    Oct 10, 2016 at 7:21
  • I'm not saying that Saruman had no contact with Radagast. I'm just arguing that it is plausible that they met face-to-face in Isengard.
    – chepner
    Oct 10, 2016 at 14:40

I can find no reference in The Lord of the Rings or The Letters of JRR Tolkien to how Saruman contacted Radagast.

When Gandalf reports his conversation with Radagast to the Council of Elrond, he simply says

‘‘Who told you, and who sent you?’’ I asked.

‘ ‘‘Saruman the White,’’ answered Radagast. ‘‘And he told me to say that if you feel the need, he will help; but you must seek his aid at once, or it will be too late.’’

There are several ways Saruman may have contacted Radagast, and I don't think there is any reason why it couldn't be one of the methods mentioned in the question.

  • Saruman certainly traveled from time to time, so he could have met Radagast at his home in Rhosgobel, near the borders of Mirkwood.
  • He could have sent a message (by crebain or more conventional means). Nobody would have thought there was anything suspicious about one wizard contacting another.

We can guess that the reason Saruman sent the message through Radagast rather than contacting Gandalf directly was either:

  • Because he knew were to find Radagast (at Rhosgobel) while Gandalf is always moving around.
  • He just happened to have met Radagast (perhaps Radagast visited him).

I do not see any reason why Saruman would think Gandalf more likely to believe a message (that explicitly comes from him) if it was relayed through Radagast.

  • Saruman clearly states that "Radagast was just useful enough to deliver his message". He knew very well that contacting Gandalf directly would sound rather suspicious, but a trusted middleman could convince him to go to Isengard. Also, Saruman's agent were infiltrating the Shire for some time before Frodo left for his journey. He also knew Gandalf could be eventually found there. For all these reasons, a direct contact would sound rather suspicous, but a trusted middleman could convince him to come to Isengard.
    – Tjafaas
    Oct 10, 2016 at 7:17

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