The Istari are sent with a mission on Arda, Gandalf is sent to help humans, elves, dwarfs and all other races to vanquish Sauron. What are the roles of Saruman, Radagast and maybe the other two blue wizards (Alatar and Pallando).

Since Saruman is corrupted by the power of the ring, and Radagast is guarding Greenwood, what are their other roles? Their higher calling.


ALL the Istari were there to resist Sauron; Gandalf was the only one who remained true to his mission.

In a pieced-together essay in Unfinished Tales called "The Istari", Tolkien said:

Indeed, of all the Istari, one only remained faithful, and he was the last-comer. For Radagast, the fourth, became enamoured of the many beasts and birds that dwelt in Middle-Earth, and forsook Elves and Men, and spent his days among the wild creatures...And Curunír'Lân, Saruman the White, fell from his high errand, and becoming proud and impatient and enamoured of power sought to have his own will by force, and to oust Sauron; but he was ensnared by that dark spirit, mightier than he.

But the last-comer was named among the Elves Mithrandir, the Grey Pilgrim, for he dwelt in no place, and gathered to himself neither wealth nor followers, but ever went to and fro in the Westlands from Gondor to Angmar, and from Lindon to Lorien, befriending all folk in times of need.

The remaining two, the Blue Wizards who we only know by their names in Valinor as Alatar and Pallando, are said to have gone into the east; but what they did there, we do not know. Tolkien said in a letter that they may have inspired "secret cults and "magic" traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron."

It is interesting to wonder what might have happened had Saruman and Radagast remained true to their mission. Could all three Istari have travelled with the Fellowship? If they had, could they together have defeated the Balrog more easily, and been with Frodo when he had to make his final choice? With three Istari involved, might Gondor and Rohan have faced the forces of Mordor with greater strength? We will never know.

  • Considering the books, Gandalf with the fellowship were more than enough to gather forces to defeat Sauron, it would be kind of an overkill to have 5 Istari and a fellowship. – Schneejäger Dec 1 '16 at 19:46
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    Hardly "more than enough" - Gandalf with the Fellowship managed to scrape together just enough force to hold off the assault on Minas Tirith, then about enough to attract Sauron's attention. If it hadn't been for the strength of Sam and Frodo, and the final mistake of Gollum, Sauron would have crushed Gondor. Rohan could not have held much longer, and Lorien and Rivendell wouldn't have had a chance. It was definitely not 'force' that won the day. – Werrf Dec 1 '16 at 21:04
  • Well not brute force my dear friend, but cunning and no small amount of charm. But on a more serious note, if Gandalf wouldn't have fallen in Moria, maybe the fellowship wouldn't break this fast at least. Also Sauron had the upper hand until Aragorn and the dead army showed up, if and only if Sauron would have been late a day or two many men and women would've lived. – Schneejäger Dec 1 '16 at 21:43
  • @BalinsonofFundin Actually Sauron had the upper hand until Aragorn showed up with the men of Lebennin and Ethir Anduin, Gondor's southern provinces. They had kept away from Minas Tirith because of the threat from corsairs (pirates), but the pirates were dispersed by the Army of the Dead. The Army of the Dead itself never came to Minas Tirith. – Werrf Dec 6 '16 at 18:49
  • Had Saruman stayed true to the mission, there would have been no need to enter Moria; the Fellowship did so to avoid the Gap of Rohan and Saruman. It's also possible that Gandalf would have identified the Ring decades earlier (though whether that would have made much difference is debatable; Sauron had already returned to Mordor publicly just 10 years after Bilbo found the Ring). – chepner Aug 28 '19 at 22:56

They all had the same mission

According to The Silmarillion, helping the resistance to Sauron was the mission of all the Istari.

Even as the first shadows were felt in Mirkwood there appeared in the west of Middle-earth the Istari, whom Men called the Wizards. None knew at that time whence they were, save Círdan of the Havens, and only to Elrond and to Galadriel did he reveal that they came over the Sea. But afterwards it was said among the Elves that they were messengers sent by the Lords of the West to contest the power of Sauron, if he should arise again, and to move Elves and Men and all living things of good will to valiant deeds.

The Silmarillion: Of the Rings OF Power and the Third Age

There is a similar description of their role in the introduction to the section of Appendix B that deals with the Third Age:

When maybe a thousand years had passed, and the first shadow had fallen on Greenwood the Great, the Istari or Wizards appeared in Middle-earth. It was afterwards said that they came out of the Far West and were messengers sent to contest the power of Sauron, and to unite all those who had the will to resist him; but they were forbidden to match his power with power, or to seek to dominate Elves or Men by force and fear.

The Lord of the Rings Book 6, Appendix B: The Tale of Years

Both quotes describe the Istari as sharing a single mission: to help those who opposed Sauron.

  • The second quote in the answer here: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/14853/68872 suggests that they might have been sent with different tasks, eventhough all of them had the same end goal. – Edlothiad Dec 1 '16 at 19:29
  • @Edlothiad I agree, but I would say that all had the mission described in the first sentence of the question "to help humans, elves, dwarfs and all other races to vanquish Sauron". – Blackwood Dec 1 '16 at 19:44
  • Maybe only Gandalf was sent with that specific task in mind and the rest with different tasks such as healing Arda of black magic(as we see in Mirkwood). – Schneejäger Dec 1 '16 at 21:46
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    @BalinsonofFundin Tolkien seems to be saying otherwise (or at least states that "it was said" otherwise). The first quote includes "they were messengers sent by the Lords of the West to contest the power of Sauron" and the second includes "they came out of the Far West and were messengers sent to contest the power of Sauron" (emphasis mine). – Blackwood Dec 2 '16 at 0:45
  • But couldn't they be like, defeat Sauron and then do something else? – Schneejäger Dec 2 '16 at 0:58

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