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In the book, Aragorn has Anduril in his scabbard, but it is broken, as he shows Sam. How could he defend himself in the wild? Is there any reference from LOTR or HoME?

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    This (in my probably misguided opinion) is something handled well in the movies. In the books, I guess no one -- man or beast -- wanted to fight him, because a dude who carries a broken sword must be badass indeed. – Ash May 6 '13 at 12:28
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    I'd just assume that he doesn't always carry it with him, and the time he met the Hobbits in Bree was an exception rather than the norm. I'd have a hard time imagining him bringing it to Gondor during his time there as Thorongil, for example: one would expect that it would have almost certainly been recognised for what it was. – user8719 May 6 '13 at 13:09
  • @mh01 But he had extra need to fight while he was with the Ringbearer. – MadTux May 6 '13 at 13:29
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    IIRC, there was part of a blade there, probably still pretty sharp. Might have been able to use it somewhat – The Fallen May 6 '13 at 17:55
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    While another weapon isn't mentioned, that doesn't mean he didn't carry one. Nowhere in the books is it mentioned that Aragorn/Strider actually used the sword that was broken before it was reforged. Ergo, it's quite possible he had other weapons and used those. Someone traveling the wilds would have a bow, dagger, and likely an axe for example for hunting, chopping wood, cleaning game, etc.. – jwenting May 7 '13 at 5:59
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Throughout the Lord of the Rings, willpower and lineage are far more powerful forces than mere arms. The primary weapons of the Nazgul are not their swords (dangerous though they are) but their voices. Sauron doesn't ever actually do anything in LotR, save command legions of followers and cause his enemies to quail in fear (mostly indirectly via the Nazgul). The Dead strike their enemies with madness, not with weapons. The siege at Helm's Deep was broken by the dawn and the appearance of Gandalf the White, not because the orcs were outmatched by Erkenbrand's newly-arrived forces. Although brute force does play some role (in destroying Isengard, in taking down the gate at Gondor, in the destruction of the balrog, etc.), it is usually secondary.

So I think it is consistent for Aragorn to routinely travel without any weapon at all, or with only a broken weapon, except in times of war. He commands respect--from Barliman, for example--even when being dismissed as a queer ranger, and from animals (the horse Hasufel in Rohan, for instance). In the wild, his stature as the heir of Gondor, and his long years of travel as a ranger, are probably enough (given that he exists in Middle Earth).

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    How does he hunt deer? – MadTux May 6 '13 at 14:35
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    @MadTux Few people, if any, hunt deer with swords, broken or otherwise. If he could get close enough to a deer for a sword to be effective, I imagine he could just as easily leap on its back and break its neck. – Beofett May 6 '13 at 14:56
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    @MadTux Yeah, but I guess I should also add that I get your point. He's got to have something, even if it is just a long belt knife. – Beofett May 6 '13 at 15:16
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    +1 This answer is simply beautiful. The narrative world of LotR simply doesn't work like ours. It's mythical. Ancient heroes and weapons of yore are terrible and powerful because... well, pretty much because the lore of the world says so. – Andres F. May 7 '13 at 1:45
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    @RexKerr - The problem with that argument is that he DID carry a sword around with him in the wild, but it was a broken sword and therefore simply useless extra weight. We don't know if he always carried it around, of course (he might have brought it to Bree because he knew he would be in Rivendell soon and would need to have it reforged), but we also don't know for sure that he didn't always carry it with him.. – Wad Cheber May 23 '15 at 19:39
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He carries the broken sword as an heirloom of his House not as a weapon. And just because his sword is broken it doesn't necessarily mean he has no other weapons. He probably came to Bree from Rivendell and was travelling light as the lands aren't particularly dangerous for a Ranger and he plans on returning before his next journey. He also knows weapons are no use against The Nine anyway.

  • He wields two torches fighting the Nazgul at Weathertop, and that seems to work. – MadTux May 7 '13 at 5:57
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    He definitely doesn't have a second weapon; see Tolkien's letter to Zimmerman: "Aragorn would not "whip out a sword"; it was broken, after all" - tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Letter_210 – user8719 May 13 '13 at 23:00
  • @user8719 That implies he definitely doesn't have a second sword but he could have had other weapons. A knife would seem essential for a Ranger. – TheMathemagician Oct 7 '15 at 10:33
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"There is food in the wild," Strider said, "berry, root, and herb; and I have some skill as a hunter at need. You need not be afraid of starving before winter comes. But gathering and catching food is long and weary work, and we need haste." The Fellowship of the Ring

Remember that Aragorn has journeyed long in the wilderness and is able to procure his own food. Hunting requires at least a good-sized utility knife for skinning, cutting rope for trap-making, and a ton of other things. No good hunter/tracker would journey without a decent knife. So we know that Aragorn at least has one of those, maybe several, that he could defend himself with at a pinch.

I also think hunting would require perhaps a small bow/arrow, not for formal archery but close-range shots. Indeed, the LOTR movies portray Aragorn as having a small bow and a hunting knife as well, which you can see Viggo Mortensen sharpening during some scenes.

It always did seem odd to me that Aragorn should carry around the shards of Narsil, a precious and ancient relic of his house, on his long journeys in the wild. What if he lost it? What if it was stolen? And it clearly would be useless as a sword.

I speculate that he only sometimes carried it around on short journeys, and not all the time. He probably carried a proper sword at other times if he felt he would need it. Just because he had Narsil on him at the time he met up with Frodo doesn't mean he had carried it around always for his whole life.

  • Indeed, he may have brought it with him precisely as proof that he is Strider, given that the blade is mentioned in Gandalf's letter. – chepner Aug 7 at 19:37
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Is it possible that it was broken but still usuable?

Could it have just had the top 6 inches broken off or something? That would mean it is still a functional sword and also is the sword that is broken?

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    No, it broke a foot over the hilt. I can't remember where I read it, probably LOTR or unfinished tales. – MadTux May 7 '13 at 13:36
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    @MadTux - It's in LotR when Sam is suspicious of "Strider": He drew out his sword, and they saw that the blade was indeed broken a foot below the hilt. ’Not much use is it Sam?’ said Strider. ’But the time is near when it shall be forged anew.’ – Rex Kerr May 7 '13 at 14:18
  • Fair enough. It would still be slight use in a fight but not really against another armed swordsman. Certainly not something that you would want as your primary weapon – Stefan May 7 '13 at 14:52
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    A foot of edge of a great sword that retained its edge makes a good knife. – Joshua Oct 5 '15 at 22:37
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He has two swords, Narsil isn't reforged until later in the series, before then he uses his other sword. An example of him using the other sword was during the fight with the Uruk-hai next to the river at the end of movie/book one. Narsil resides in Rivendell and isn't delivered to him until later in the series after it is reforged into Anduril.

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    Narsil is reforged at Rivindell before the Fellowship leaves. – MadTux May 7 '13 at 5:55
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    yes, as usual the movies corrupt the books here. But that doesn't detract from the fact that he'd have another weapon that's actually functional. – jwenting May 7 '13 at 6:00
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    @Itchy - no, this is movie-nonsense. Forget the movies. – user8719 May 7 '13 at 22:48

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