We've covered the "indirect intervention only" instruction to the Istari before, and talked about whether defeating the Balrog qualified. But what about attacking Dol Goldur? The White Council made zero attempt to include armies of Middle Earth in that, why did they think that was kosher?

Does it mean that they would have done the same against Barad-dûr if they thought they'd be successful? Or did they expected it to be some minor skirmish, not a battle against Sauron himself?

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    "The Istari" on the white council only includes Gandalf and Saruman (and Radagast? It's been a long time). Surely Gandalf didn't solo the dungeon there. – Kevin Feb 13 '14 at 22:45
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    Hm, according to the Silmarillion: "Elrond and Galadriel and Cirdan, and other lords of the Eldar, and with them were Mithrandir [Gandalf] and Curunir [Saruman]." So is that the answer? Including a handful of Children of Iluvatar is good enough? – Plutor Feb 14 '14 at 0:34
  • @Plutor - did the answer suffice? If not, are there more details you would like answered? – The Fallen Feb 18 '14 at 4:15
  • Hm, well the answer is "we're not given details about who took place in the attack, other than 'The White Council'". Sadly unsatisfying. – Plutor Feb 18 '14 at 12:54

I assume you are referring to the discussion of attacking Dol Guldur at the meeting of the White Council. Since we are never actually given detail of how the proposed attack was to take place, we can't definitively say that it would have been a violation of their charge. At this point (presumably talking about the meeting portrayed in the Hobbit, which was portraying the meeting of 2851), they did not know for certain that Sauron was there (movie version). In the novel, Galdalf had found out by this point that it was Sauron, but Saruman did not want to disrupt his searching for the ring. By the time they did (in 2941 in the novel's timeline), they did attack, although we are not given details about exactly who took place in the attack, other than it was "The White Council".

When Dol Guldur was actually destroyed, in 3019 TA, it was not the greater White Council that did it, it was "merely" the elves. (I don't have the appendices avaliable at the moment)

The elves, led by Thranduil of Mirkwood and Galadriel of Lorien led an assault on Dol Guldur and Galadriel herself threw down its walls, and laid its pits bare. Absolutely nothing of the fortress that had stood for 2,019 years was left. Renamed back to Amon Lanc, it became the capital of Celeborn's realm of East Lórien in the Fourth Age, while he remained in Middle-earth.

Presumably Galadriel herself also took part in the first attack that drove Sauron out, and into Mordor. Who knows what they would have done if they thought they could have taken Barad-Dur, though I doubt they ever would have tried, given the difficulty of attacking Mordor by frontal assault.

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    According to the Tale of Years, Gandalf had actually discovered it was Sauron in 2850, so they did know he was there in 2851. That doesn't seem to invalidate the rest of your answer though, which seems correct to me: Tolkien doesn't describe the Istari going head-to-head with Sauron in the assault, so there's no reason to suppose that they did. – user8719 Feb 14 '14 at 5:05
  • Ah. That's right. I was mixing book with movie – The Fallen Feb 14 '14 at 12:44
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    I corrected it. – The Fallen Feb 14 '14 at 14:10
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    I need to retract some of my comment on account of a remark by Gandalf I've just spotted in The Council of Elrond: "It was by the devices of Saruman that we drove him from Dol Guldur". – user8719 Aug 6 '14 at 19:37

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