The Istari were said to come to Middle-earth in the Second Age (the Blue Wizards) and the Third Age (Saruman, Gandalf and Radagast). So I'm wondering why didn't Saruman, Gandalf or Radagast help the Dunedain in their war against Angmar; seems the wizards could have made a huge difference and even save the Dunedain kingdoms from destruction.

So why didn't they help or participate?

  • 1
    How do you know they did not?
    – Lexible
    Mar 2, 2015 at 15:45
  • @Lexible "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," but in fictional universes the default assumption is that if something isn't mentioned, it didn't happen. Or at the very least, it cannot be definitively said to have happened. Maybe Picard spent a few years on the Klingon homeworld as an infant, but given that that's never said anywhere, we have to assume he didn't.
    – Nerrolken
    Mar 2, 2015 at 17:39
  • 1
    @Nerrolken That is your default assumption, not the default assumtpion. It's also rather absurd. Example: nothing is mentioned with respect to the Istari helping Angmar (or much of anything else the Istari did during this period). The default is that the Istari literally traveled too and fro befriending folks (see Darth Satan's answer) and otherwise did nothing during this time.
    – Lexible
    Mar 2, 2015 at 17:50
  • @Lexible I'm not saying that nothing unmentioned ever happens in fictional universes, I'm saying that if it's unmentioned, it's possible that it didn't happen. You questioned OP's assumption in the question, and I'm saying that since it is unmentioned, it's at least a legitimate question.
    – Nerrolken
    Mar 2, 2015 at 17:55
  • @Nerrolken - it's important to remember that Tolkien's was the first such fictional universe (as we know them today), and didn't necessarily operate according to "the Rules". As the man himself said (Letter 153): "...as if it were a report of 'real' times and places, which my ignorance or carelessness had misrepresented in places or failed to describe properly in others. Its economics, science, artefacts, religion, and philosophy are defective, or at least sketchy". So therefore "if something isn't mentioned it's because Tolkien just left it out" is also a valid assumption.
    – user8719
    Mar 2, 2015 at 18:40

2 Answers 2


They probably did, but if so it's not directly recorded.

In the Istari material in Unfinished Tales we read of Gandalf (with my emphasis):

But the last-comer was named among the Elves Mithrandir, the Grey Pilgrim, for he dwelt in no place, and gathered to himself neither wealth nor followers, but ever went to and fro in the Westlands from Gondor to Angmar, and from Lindon to Lórien, befriending all folk in times of need.

So it's therefore almost certain that Gandalf at least was active in the resistance to Angmar.


Because they were explicitly forbidden to use force. From the Tale of Years, describing the appearance of the Istari:

It was afterwards said that they came out of the far West and were messengers sent to contest the power of Sauron, and to unite all those who had the will to resist him; but they were forbidden to match his power with power, or to seek to dominate Elves or Men by force and fear.

  • 1
    But the angmar wars were against the witch king, and we know that he fought them at weathertop so he could certainly battle with them just not sauron directly.
    – user31546
    Mar 2, 2015 at 15:52
  • But the population of Angmar was Men. Mar 2, 2015 at 15:53
  • 1
    I read somewhere recently that the Valar had a very bad record of sending people to Middle Earth to fight the bad guys directly. So when they sent the Istari, they were limited in power and forbidden from directly fighting the bad guys.
    – Jim2B
    Mar 2, 2015 at 16:22
  • 2
    This is technically true, but kind of misses the point. The Istari could have had a huge influence against Angmar without raising a sword, just like they did during the Quest for Erebor and (mostly) the War of the Ring. Their power lies (or is supposed to lie) in guidance and leadership, which is of course a valuable contribution in war.
    – Nerrolken
    Mar 2, 2015 at 17:37
  • @Jim2B - this is probably the Istari essay in Unfinished Tales: "And this the Valar did, desiring to amend the errors of old, especially that they had attempted to guard and seclude the Eldar by their own might and glory fully revealed; whereas now their emissaries were forbidden to reveal themselves in forms of majesty, or to seek to rule the wills of Men and Elves by open display of power".
    – user8719
    Mar 2, 2015 at 20:18

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