"Indeed there is a power in Rivendell to withstand the might of Mordor, for a while: and elsewhere other powers still dwell. There is power, too, of another kind in the Shire. But all such places will soon become islands under siege, if things go on as they are going. The Dark Lord is putting forth all his strength." - Gandalf "Fellowship"

They are boxed in by the "Bounders"/Men of Westernesse, Tom Bombadil and Cirdan ...so possibly this, or, maybe Gandalf refers to himself since he bears the ring of Narya?

I had originally been as curious as to whether there were references in Tolkien's other works suggesting an alternative meaning besides Hobbits, being bothered by the "Sharkey" elements described in my comments below. The arguments in favor of a Hobbits interpretation are quite sound, however, and later passages in this same chapter actually further reinforce a Hobbits interpretation. Eg., when Glorfindel [ at least I think it's Glorfindel ] lists powers capable of opposing or withstanding Mordor; Lorien, Cirdan and Rivendell are mentioned. The "Power of another kind" definitely suggests a power that is known by Gandalf alone and as is mentioned below, he is well aware of the Hobbits' unique attributes.

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    Voted to close on the grounds this is not constructive
    – WOPR
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 5:49
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    You say "on the grounds" then don't bother actually giving a reason for your assertion? Lame. Define "not constructive". Better, what would make this constructive?
    – Bubnoff
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 5:57
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    I believe this to be answerable, not open ended. Not subjective. Would like others to explain this to me. Ie, I don't know the answer. Not interested in endless debate. There are some here who have answers better than what's currently out there. Curiosity. That's permissable I believe
    – Bubnoff
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 6:07
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    Permissible ...spelling error. Missed the edit deadline
    – Bubnoff
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 6:29
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    Wait... How is this not constructive? I thought it was a great question.
    – Xodarap777
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 5:26

2 Answers 2


I believe this to be a reference to the general resilence of Hobbits to dark influences, as evidenced by Bilbo and Frodo's relative immunity to control by the One Ring.

You mentioned this in your original question and dismissed it, I believe, rather too casually. No, Hobbits wouldn't stand a chance in open warfare against Mordor's armies. But that's not what they'd do. Think guerilla warfare, or even just "going underground". Conducted by people who are more stealthy than anyone else. I believe the prologue of the LotR book explicitly says that Hobbits are living even today, but are never seen by "Big Folk" if they don't wish to be. Combine that with the ability to resist magical influences and corruption, and Sauron's forces have their work cut out until the Shire would be truly conquered.

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    I did dismiss hobbits too casually, I admit. My main objection is that they are easily overthrown or manipulated by Saruman during the trilogy. I think Gandalf realizes that they are ideal for carrying out his plans for destroying the ring ...but failing that, not sure how they could withstand Mordor, again ..they are taken by "Sharkey" in the trilogy. Maybe Gandalf is using this to underscore the importance of what will be asked of Frodo?
    – Bubnoff
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 9:35
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    Gandalf sees hobbits in an offensive position in his plans, taking the ring to the crack of doom. But "withstand" in the above quote suggests a defensive role. I guess I'm wondering if there are references in the "apocryphal" Tolkien works suggesting alternatives.
    – Bubnoff
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 10:09
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    @Bubnoff: You're right, the "Sharkey" part is not consistent with Gandalf's words, but the action of most individual hobbits are. One could argue that Sharkey's rule was rather tenuous and the Shire hobbits would eventually have resisted him on their own. As I wrote, the hobbits' strenght would certainly not be point-defence as in withstanding a siege - they'd just avoid Sauron's forces. Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 10:13
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    @MichaelBorgwardt: well, I don’t know about easy, but drop Frodo and the lads in there, and they sort it out. I’d suggest that when Gandalf refers to power in the Shire, he means potential, in keeping with the “seemingly little people doing unexpectedly great things” theme of the book. Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 13:06
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    That possibility had crossed my mind as well. Cirdan is listed later as a power able to oppose or withstand sauron, but as is revealed later, Gandalf was given the ring by Cirdan. The quote does say "another kind" and I think this may support a hobbit interpretation, however. He includes himself, I think, in the first part of the quote. Also, he does not reside in the shire. It's an interesting take though.
    – Bubnoff
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 6:26

Mordor menace is not only physical. During the whole saga we see often how different characters were tempted and changed into twisted images of themselves upon it's evil influence (Théoden, Saruman, Gondor's Seneschal, Gollum, etc...).

Hobbits are presented as creatures far stronger and able to resist Mordor's evil influence than other races more power prone. That's the strength of the Shire, it's free from power thirst, it's ability to be happy ignoring what horrible thing happens out of the boundaries of the Shire.

It could seem a weak force, but it shouldn't be underestimated, as the saga ends showing.

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    But as I mentioned above, they are taken by Saruman as "Sharkey". I am wondering if Gandalf is being manipulative in this, in order to ease Frodo into the idea of carrying the ring to Orodruin. I don't think he actually thinks they could withstand the "might of Mordor".
    – Bubnoff
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 9:41
  • I'm not dismissing the hobbits as a possibility …just not sure.
    – Bubnoff
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 9:43
  • Hobbits aren't only able to resist the dark influence of Mordor, they'd also be a "torch of light" able to inspire other races to fight this evil force. Their absolute lack of military power or political ambition would make the Shire also an insignifican target for Mordor's military operations (further than ocasionally raid it for meagre loot, even orcs would soon avoid the Shire on an hypotetical Mordor's world invasion), there great individuals of "big" races could find a refuge where start a resistance.
    – Bardo
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 11:33
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    @Bubnoff - Saruman was more subtle and persuasive than any of Sauron's servants, and the creeping takeover he instituted was still extremely fragile; Merry and Pippin hardly had to work at all to rouse a huge fraction of the Hobbit population to oppose them, even if the situation had gotten pretty bad by the time they arrived.
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 17:21
  • @RexKerr - I concede your point. I think I am attributing more meaning to the quote than was intended by Tolkien.
    – Bubnoff
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 17:38

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