After the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Aragorn freed the Dead Men of Dunharrow. However, he could have used them in the Battle of the Black Gate too. Was the mission of the undead only to “defend”?

The army of the dead could easily have passed the Gate and drawn the attention of orcs, goblins, and trolls so that Frodo and Sam could just carry the ring without disguising themselves under restraining and exhausting armor. If they had done that, they would not have been so tired and they could have just thrown the ring down into the lava of Mount Doom. Gollum would have survived and the third giant eagle could have carried him away too.

This raises another question: Did Mithrandír bring three eagles because he was thinking that Gollum might survive? One eagle for Frodo, one for Sam, and one for old Sméagol? Or was it just for protection against Nazgûl attacks? Didn’t the Nazgûl die after Mount Doom erupted? (I know that’s a third question but at least it’s on a related topic.)

The way is shut.
It was made by those who are Dead.
And the Dead keep it.
The way is shut.


1 Answer 1


Major Stackings gave you a link you should read. I'll add some of my own thoughts:

You must remember that Gandalf and co. did not know exactly where Frodo and Sam were or what their plan was. And that was a good thing, in case someone was captured and tortured into revealing something. They had to leave the quest for Mount Doom to the ringbearer and focus on defending Gondor.

At one point there is news from Faramir, but only that they were heading for Cirith Ungol (Shelob's lair) with Gollum. They had no way of knowing whether they [Frodo, Sam, Gollum] had even reached the pass.

The Eagles are proud, not very willing to get themselves killed in the wars of Elves, Dwarves and Men, and are not so easy to get to cooperate. They answer to no-one but Manwë (the chief of the Valar, second only to God himself). In Middle Earth, pretty much only Gandalf and Radagast are "friendly" with them, and even then they can only ask for a favour and hope the Eagles are feeling helpful.

After the Ring is destroyed, Gandalf asks the Eagles to help him find Frodo and Sam, and possibly Gollum. We don't know whether they agreed to this because they felt they owed Gandalf a favour, though it was completely safe, or if they were willing to risk themselves out of reverence for Frodo and Sam's accomplishment.

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    Problem with saying the Eagles were unwilling to help: They rescue Bilbo, Thorin, & Co. from the orcs and wolves. They participate in the Battle of Five Armies. They rescue Gandalf from Orthanc. They rescue Gandalf again from Zirak-Zigil. They directly attack the flying Nazgûl during the last battle. They fly into Mordor to rescue Frodo and Sam. They helped the Elves of Rivendell and Radagast in watching the land and in gathering news about the Orcs They fought alongside the army of the Valar, Elves and Edain during the War of Wrath
    – Wad Cheber
    Apr 24, 2015 at 1:28
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    @Wadcheber: yes, but other than this, what did the eagles do? ((c) Monty Python's Life of Brian) May 29, 2015 at 12:00
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    @OlivierDulac - The aqueduct?
    – Wad Cheber
    May 29, 2015 at 16:48
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    @Wad Cheber - yes, Jackson largely used them as friendly Gandalf-pets to be used as deus ex machina, but that was not how Tolkien wrote them. They were very proud, fiercely independent and somewhat temperamental creatures, with their own motivations and priorities. The fact that they found it in their interest to do the things you list doesn't mean they are docile or obedient. Jun 24, 2016 at 14:49

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