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72 votes

Why does Gandalf the White not remember his original name?

The key is that Gandalf the White and Gandalf the Grey aren't quite the same person. The Gandalf that Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli knew died, and the being that came back was similar, but not quite ...
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53 votes
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What happened to Radagast The Brown?

It is not known. We do not know what he did during the whole duration War of the Ring or afterwards. Tolkien doesn't have any mention of him. We do know that by mistake he had Gandalf captured by ...
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43 votes

Were wizards initially intended to be much more common?

Maybe In his 1954 letter on The Istari (Wizards), Tolkien comments on the Heren Istarion (Order of Wizards) being larger than 5 but only 5 came to the North West of Middle-earth. It is worth noting ...
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32 votes

Why do people talk about Wizards as though they are common in The Lord of the Rings?

Book Answer: Tolkien didn't limit the number to five until after writing LotR Tolkien at points believed that they were many wizards, but with five main ones. His views on various details were not ...
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29 votes

Were wizards initially intended to be much more common?

It is difficult to say. The identification of the wizards with Maiar came after The Hobbit, I believe. In the book, Gandalf is presented in much the same vein as past literary and legendary wizards ...
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28 votes

Why do the Wizards have staffs over wands?

TL;DR: Because staves can do everything wands can do, plus some other stuff. Wand vs. Staff: Lingusitics First off, it is worth noting that Tolkien was a philologist (a scholar of language), and ...
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28 votes
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Did Saruman break the Istari's charge to 'inspire not fight'?

He outright broke Rule 1 and Rule 2. to reveal themselves in forms of majesty, or to seek to rule the wills of Men or Elves by open display of power. Unfinished Tales - Part IV: II The Istari With ...
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22 votes

Why do people talk about Wizards as though they are common in The Lord of the Rings?

This is largely covered in "The Unfinished Tales" Basically there were (initially) only 5 of the Istari. Wizard is a translation of Quenya istar (Sindarin ithron): one of the members of an ‘order’ ...
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22 votes

Were wizards initially intended to be much more common?

There is significant evidence scattered throughout Tolkien's works that magic was originally intended to be widespread in Middle Earth. Here are some examples from The Lord of the Rings that show that ...
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20 votes

Did Sauron literally anticipate the arrival of the Istari?

The quote you mention is taken from the chapter "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn" appearing in Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth. In this chapter, Christopher Tolkien presents (...
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17 votes

Were wizards initially intended to be much more common?

Also, consider the flexibility of language. While we know of five (capital W) 'Wizards', it's entirely likely that the term itself would be used flexibly/loosely of magic-users in general (the ...
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16 votes

Can the Istari really forget things?

He can certainly forget things temporarily There are a couple of examples of Gandalf forgetting things, though he seems able to recall them eventually: 'I once knew every spell in all the tongues ...
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14 votes
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Who are the two Istari mentioned in Shadow of Mordor?

According to Shadow of Mordor, they were killed by the Black Hand. That means they only could have been the Blue Wizards, which was the most likely explanation given their location anyway. I think ...
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13 votes

Why do people talk about Wizards as though they are common in The Lord of the Rings?

Its true there are only five wizards, but that can still mean a lot of interactions. My theory is, the wizards wander everywhere, and meddle in everything... so word gets around. It would be ...
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13 votes
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The roles of the Istari

ALL the Istari were there to resist Sauron; Gandalf was the only one who remained true to his mission. In a pieced-together essay in Unfinished Tales called "The Istari", Tolkien said: ...
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12 votes

Why does Gandalf the White not remember his original name?

I don't know about you, but if somebody asks me a question more complicated than "want coffee?" first thing after I wake in the morning, then I'm going to have trouble remembering the answer. Just a ...
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  • 269
11 votes

What would happen if an Istar broke the Valar's rule but saved Middle Earth anyway?

Depending on exactly what you mean by "rules", the answer is probably either "not actually possible" or "bad bad bad very bad things." Can Gandalf shed his physical form? This seems to be the ...
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9 votes
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What happened to Radagast the Brown after the War of the Ring?

Unknown. Quoting from Wikipedia (emphasis mine): The only other reference to Radagast in The Lord of the Rings is after the Council of Elrond when it is decided to summon all the allies against ...
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9 votes
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What's the difference between a Maia and a member of the Istari?

I think you've made a category error. The Istari are Maiar, as discussed in Part Four, chapter I, "The Istari" in Unfinished Tales. They are five individual members of that group who were ...
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8 votes

What happened to Radagast the Brown after the War of the Ring?

As rand al'thor indicates, Tolkien makes no mention of Radagast's fate in The Lord of the Rings proper. However, Tolkien's original intention with the book was to supply it with a quite detailed index ...
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  • 19.7k
8 votes

Why was Sauron's return to Dol Guldur a surprise?

Actually, it's not really clear that the mission of the Istari was "to oppose Sauron". According to Unfinished Tales ("The Istari"): It was afterwards said that they came out of the Far West and ...
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  • 19.7k
8 votes

The roles of the Istari

They all had the same mission According to The Silmarillion, helping the resistance to Sauron was the mission of all the Istari. Even as the first shadows were felt in Mirkwood there appeared in ...
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  • 20.4k
8 votes
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What exactly happened to Gandalf's spirit after he "died" fighting the Balrog?

Wizards are Different The Wizards aren't entirely like other Maiar. While you're generally correct that the Valar and Maiar aren't tied to a specific physical body, and therefore suffer the ...
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7 votes
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How could the Istari act openly against Dol Guldur (or did they?)

Unfortunately, we're given too few details of the actual attack and to what extent were the Istari involved. Hence we have no idea whether the Istari were directly involved in the battle, or if they ...
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  • 25.4k
7 votes

Did Saruman break the Istari's charge to 'inspire not fight'?

For myself, I would consider amassed an army of orcs... to be going beyond what the Istari were meant for. If we use Gandalf and Radagast as good examples (though Radagast barely does anything in ...
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