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When Gandalf is recounting to Frodo what happened at the Ford of Bruinen, he says that Aragorn and Glorfindel had moved out of the way of the Black Riders to avoid being trampled.

Your friends sprang aside, off the road, or they would have been ridden down. They knew that nothing could save you, if the white horse could not. The Riders were too swift to overtake, and too many to oppose. On foot even Glorfindel and Aragorn together could not withstand all the Nine at once.

Why didn't Aragorn and Glorfindel strike the last two or three Riders as they went by? They could easily have reduced the number of Riders facing Frodo. Even though we see that this wouldn't have been needed, they still should have tried to help in a small way.

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    This is Lord of the Rings, not D&D. – user8719 May 12 '13 at 15:39
  • Please explain this comment. I don't understand why I was down voted. – jacen.garriss May 12 '13 at 15:41
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    Are you asking why something that didn't happen didn't happen? Are you going to second-guess the actions of every character? You'd have to interview Aragorn -- that's King Elessar for you -- and ask him why, in the spur of the moment, he didn't decide to attack the Black Riders! :P – Andres F. May 12 '13 at 16:25
  • Yes, I am just wondering if there is an official explanation for his not attacking them. – jacen.garriss May 12 '13 at 16:52
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    There is nothing "easy" about a a couple of foot soldiers trying to take down galloping horsemen. Aragorn and Glorfindel would've been avoided at best or flattened at worst. – Nigel Harper May 12 '13 at 18:53
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The answer to this is in the paragraph following the one containing the extract you quoted:

Glorfindel knew that a flood would come down, if the Riders tried to cross, and then he would have to deal with any that were left on his side of the river.

So Glorfindel knew that a trap had been prepared; the safest course of action was to drive the Nazgul into the trap, which was exactly what he did. The only need to attack any Nazgul would have arisen if any had escaped the trap, but until then there's no point in doing so, particularly as Aragorn - a mortal man (and recall Glorfindel's "not by the hand of man will he fall" prophecy) armed only with a broken sword - would have been especially vulnerable.

Killing Nazgul was not the objective here; the objective was to save Frodo and prevent the Nazgul from getting the Ring, and in order to do so they had to get Frodo to Rivendell as fast as possible. Everything in the actions they took worked towards that objective, so there was no need for any further action.

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Basic tactics.

  • They would not have helped Frodo at all unless they killed 100% of them (even one Black Rider would be lethal to him if caught).

  • They would have risked being killed for no good benefit if 7 of 9 riders decided to peel off the pursuit and attack them.

  • All the riders wouldn't have attack them. They were going after Frodo. – jacen.garriss May 12 '13 at 15:42
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    @jacen.garriss - 2 riders would have been enough to take down Frodo. And all 9 were experienced warriors, who'd easily see the tactical disposition and arrive at optimal decision. – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 13 '13 at 1:18

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