Shortly after they were defeated by the mountain of Caradhras, the Fellowship decided to go through Moria so that they could pass the Misty Mountains. One night on their way to Moria, they were attacked by a large pack of wolves. After a little while (and with a particularly powerful spell from Gandalf) they managed to push the wolves back, but in the morning they discovered something strange:

When the full light of the morning came no signs of the wolves were to be found, and they looked in vain for the bodies of the dead. No trace of the fight remained but the charred trees and the arrows of Legolas lying on the hill-top. All were undamaged save one of which only the point was left.

"It is as I feared," said Gandalf. "These were no ordinary wolves hunting for food in the wilderness. Let us eat quickly and go!"

The Lord of the Rings Book 2 Chapter 4: A Journey in the Dark

If they weren't "ordinary" wolves, what were they? I understand that they were probably servants of Sauron, but what was special about them that made their bodies apparently disappear? Where did they come from?

  • 1
    What if the other wolves dragged the bodies away? It doesn't say that just up and disappeared. Ordinary wolves would not drag away the others bodies. Commented May 2, 2013 at 18:38

4 Answers 4


That these were Wargs is confirmed by a passage earlier in the same chapter:

Without warning a storm of howls broke out fierce and wild all about the camp. A great host of Wargs had gathered silently and was now attacking them from every side at once.

Furthermore, they were actually Werewolves, as is confirmed by Gandalf's fire spell:

Naur an edraith ammen! Naur dan i ngaurhoth!

This can be seen to have the same element as Tol-in-Gaurhoth, Isle of Werewolves (which was Sauron's fortress in his guise as Lord of Werewolves for much of the First Age before Luthien overthrew him), and once again, earlier in the chapter, we see Gandalf addressing the wolf-captain as follows:

Gandalf stood up and strode forward, holding his staff aloft. 'Listen, Hound of Sauron!' he cried. 'Gandalf is here. Fly, if you value your foul skin! I will shrivel you from tail to snout, if you come within this ring.'

This therefore equates Third Age "Warg" with First Age "Werewolf" and confirms that they are the same thing (it's important to note that the use of Wargs in the Two Towers is a movie invention that doesn't appear in the books).

  • Nitpick: Sauron did not held Tol-inGaurhoth for "much of the first age". He has taken it (from Orodreth, who held it as an elven fortress named Minas Tirith) in 457 FA and lost it in 465 FA
    – b.Lorenz
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 20:22

It's likely they were werewolves in the service of Sauron.

The fact that the wolves bodies disappear shows that they are werewolves and not ordinary wolves; Gandalf's invocation against them terms them thus in Sindarin ('ngaurhoth').

It bears remembering (although it wouldn't have been known to readers until publication of The Silmarillion) that Sauron has a special affinity with werewolves. He was ‘Captain of the Werewolves’ at Tol-in-Gaurhoth, and it was in werewolf form that he fought and was defeated by the hound Huan in the company of Beren and Luthien. Similarly, in fleeing his defeat, he abandoned his corporeal form and fled as a vampire to the shadowed forest of Taur-nu-Fuin. Link here

It's worth mentioning that it was that event which was likely in Tolkien's mind when he came to mention the Necromacer in Mirkwood in The Hobbit, and the association of events was probably still in his forethought as he wrote this chapter.

  • 11
    Do you mind adding a link to the source for that quote?
    – Alenanno
    Commented Dec 22, 2012 at 20:12
  • @Alenanno - I've found what looks to be the original source quote on a JRRT discussion board.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 0:13
  • @Richard Thank you. :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 6:53
  • Seriously, is there anything that Sauron isn't? He's a fallen angel, a necromancer, a vampire, a werewolf .... am I missing anything? Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 10:28

I can tell you how I see the matter although I have no basis for this answer - maybe it'll make sense to you.

I always felt these weren't wolves at all but rather a spying spell cast by the wizard. The story always reminded me of holograms and such were sent to assess the enemies strengths, have them waste their ammunition, keep them awake through the night etc. without risking anything on the attacker's side.

Again, I have nothing to back this theory up, let me know what you think :)


They were wargs -- intelligent wolves, perhaps originally bred by Morgoth. My supposition would be that they were sufficiently intelligent to remove the bodies of their fallen comrades, as humans might have done.

  • I thought wolves and wargs were synonymous in TLOTR? Also, that doesn't seem to explain why all of Legolas' arrows were undamaged, if either the wargs removed the bodies that had been pierced by the arrows, or they removed the arrows violently first and left them lying around. If they were wargs it seems that the arrows would either not be there or would be quite damaged.
    – commando
    Commented Dec 22, 2012 at 17:28
  • While it doesn't explain why his arrows were undamaged, wolves and wargs are not synonymous in the Lord of the Rings
    – The Fallen
    Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 4:10
  • Wargs are just really big and nasty wolves . Commented May 2, 2013 at 18:39

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