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How Did Éowyn Slay the Witch King of Angmar if He Wasn’t Alive?

I've watched The Lord Of The Rings trilogy so many times, but I have never actually read the books. In the third movie Eowyn is able to kill the Witch-King simple because she is Not a Man. Does the same thing happens in the book? I mean Is this all that takes to kill a Nazgul? Not be a man, or was it something about Eowyn (maybe a bloodline or something), that made her able to kill him. If so, Arwen could have killed him as well when she was hunted carrying Frodo to Rivendell?

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    The Witch King could be killed by a man. But it was not his fate according to a prophecy by Glorfindel.
    – user8252
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 12:14
  • The Witch King is actually still quite alive (at least up until Eowyn offs him) - see for example lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Nazg%C3%BBl - nothing about any Nazgul ever dying. Despite the effects of his ring he does however remain "mortal man doomed to die" and therefore very killable.
    – user8719
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 21:47

1 Answer 1


First of all, note that the movie and the book diverge in many places. For instance, in the book Frodo is saved by Glorfindel and not by Arwen.

On a second point, in many instances in the LotR prophecies play a large role. The Witch king could not be killed by a man, this doesn't mean that everything which is not a man (a vase of flower is not a man, but I doubt that it could have killed the Witch king by falling from a balcony :-) )

Third (and last) point: Eowyn was very strong willed, she was a true example of a hero, in a typical heroic situation (fighting the Big-Bad-One against all odds). She also got help from Merry.

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    The answer that I linked to contains many answer discussing the issue, with excerpts from the text and from the Letters. The Numenorean sword that Merry got in the Barrow downs was very effective, much more effective than an usual sword wielded by a stronger fighter than Merry. I really advise you to read the books :-)
    – Francesco
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 10:16
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    Prophecies and Fate play a large role in Middle Earth. For example while some things are innately magical (swords that glow when orcs are near), other thing and even people are simply fated to do something in which case it's not that the thing itself is magical. Long before, Galdriel prophecied of the Witch King that "...Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall." Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 11:27
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    Furthermore, the idea that the text of prophecies is there to be quibbles with is a well-established trope.
    – AakashM
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 12:31
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    What @Francesco said is right about Merry's sword. The sword Merry had was made deliberatly to fight the ringwraiths, it was a relic of the old kingdom in the north from when the king of the ringwraiths ruled in Angmar (known as the witchking at that time). So when Merry stabbed the ringwraith with it he was made vulnerable...Merry was not a "man" in the usual sense
    – Dai
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 13:20
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    The fact that the movie substituted Glorfindel with Arwen was probably the biggest delusion of a movie that in general I ejoyed quite a lot...
    – Yaztromo
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 16:15

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