The defenders had a bunch of things going for them. First, they had nowhere to run. This is the situation Sun Zu called Desperate or Death Ground. "死地則戰" or "on desperate ground, fight". A shaky army, such as made of civilian militia, may fight ferociously if they have no other hope. This is part of Theoden's gambit of taking his people to Helm's Deep. ...
Yes he does
In the film Treebeard talks about how Saruman used to walk through through Fangorn. Implying a familiarity at least from Treebeards point of view, as Treebeard knows enough about Saruman (including his name) to suggest this.
From The Two Towers Film:
Treebeard: "There was a time, when Saruman would walk in my woods, but
now, he has a mind ...
The battle was all but lost until Gandalf turned up with the forest of Huorns, who proceeded to swallow up the Orcs altogether and scare the Dunlendings into surrender.
The defenders themselves had no hope that they would win: Theoden remarks before setting out that it "seems like to be my last riding", is he would probably be killed.
Probably because Saruman considered Gandalf's Ring useless to him. Elrond says of the Three Rings generally,
[T]hey were not made as weapons of war or conquest: that is not their
power. Those who made them did not desire strength or domination ...
but understanding, making, and healing, to preserve all things
from "The Council of ...
A wizard's staff is symbolic rather than a source of actual power, and so breaking a wizard's staff has no effect on the wizard's power.
How do we know this? Because Gandalf was able to defeat the Balrog without his staff.
At that moment Gandalf lifted his staff, and crying aloud he smote the bridge before him. The staff broke asunder and fell from his ...
We learn about Saruman's knowledge of Gandalf's possession of the ring in Unfinished Tales:
And the Grey Messenger [Gandalf] took the Ring, and kept it ever secret; yet the White Messenger [Saruman] (who was skilled to uncover all secrets) after a time became aware of this gift, and begrudged it, and it was the beginning of the hidden ill-will that he ...
The relevant quote is:
Yes, I am white now,' said Gandalf. 'Indeed I am Saruman, one might almost say, Saruman as he should have been.
When the Istari arrived in Middle-Earth, they were as emissaries from Valinor. They no longer wanted to interfere directly in the affairs of Middle-Earth, so the 'wizards' were sent to help the free peoples of middle-...
Balrogs were a specific type of Maia - spirits of fire - whereas both Sauron and Saruman were mentioned as being not of that type.
The only other Maia of this type mentioned in the texts is Arien, the guide of the Sun:
...and she was chosen because she had not feared the heats of Laurelin, and was unhurt by them, being from the beginning a spirit of fire,...
That scene is from the Extended Editions of The Lord of The Rings series.
The success of the theatrical cuts brought about four-disc Extended Editions, with new editing, added special effects and music. The extended cuts of the films and the included special features were spread over two discs, and a limited collector's edition was also released
Scene 4: The Voice of Saruman
This scene was cut from the original film, and was later added into the extended edition from the film, it was one of 4 scenes that were cut entirely from the second half of The Return of the King.
The decision to remove the scene on the cutting room floor was explained by Peter Jackson in a 2003 interview with Ain't It Cool ...
To be on the safe side, just consider this entire answer to be one big spoiler:
The other answers touch on this explanation, but I'll do the long version. The statement by itself could be taken as Saruman simply trying to intimidate Gandalf & party, but when you look at the entire conversation it takes on a different tone. Let's take a look at the scene ...
From "The Palantiri" in Unfinished Tales:
"The palantir were no doubt never matters of common use or common
knowledge even in Numenor"
"It is evident that at the time of the War of the Ring the council had
not long become aware of the doubt concerning the fate of the
Ithil-stone and failed (understandably even in such persons as Elrond,
Balrogs were in the service of Morgoth before Time
Mairon was a servant of Aule, not Melkor
Although VoC claims Balrogs were a "spirit of fire" only two characters in Tolkien's writings are ever described as such. However from The Complete Tolkien Companion we get the following
“In their origins, as a part of the Thought of Ilúvatar, these were MAIAR of ...
Here's a heavily edited except from The Silmarillion, "Of The Rings Of Power And The Third Age":
Even as the first shadows were felt in Mirkwood there appeared in
the west of Middle-earth the Istari, whom Men called the Wizards. ... In the likeness of Men they appeared, old but vigorous,
and they changed little with the years, and aged but slowly, ...
Answering from memory ... I'll have to check the details later.
Saruman's principle goal at this point was to destroy the Rohirrim as a fighting force. There was nothing to be gained by seizing Edoras, since Théoden had already evacuated it, and even if orcs could be persuaded to live there (they usually prefer caves), the new settlement would not produce ...
In The Treason of Isengard, Christopher Tolkien discusses this passage briefly; he admits that he has a hard time reconciling the conflicting narratives, but proposes the possibility that the Three Walkers saw a vision of Saruman, projected from Gandalf's mind:
Against Gandalf's words my father wrote in the margin: Vision of Gandalf's thought. ...
When he went to visit Saruman, Gandalf did not know he had been corrupted. Gandalf knew that there was a certain ill-will, as has been said, but did not know the White Robes had turned to the dark side.
Gandalf knew that he and the others had been sent to shepherd the mortals through the Third Age. The rise of Sauron as a malevolent force would have been ...
The odds could have gone both ways
Looking at historical examples, 10-to-1 numerical advantage when assaulting a fortress (without heavy artillery or air support) is a reasonable match with no clearly guaranteed results - if everything else is equal, then it's a good advantage for the attacker but usually everything else is not equal it all comes down to ...
Gandalf and Saruman discuss Saruman's change in the Fellowship of the Ring:
"I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!"
'I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours. and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.
' "I liked ...
Saruman had been positioning himself in the Shire for quite some time, at least a couple of years and potentially as long as a decade or two. This is foreshadowed during the fall of Isengard in the Two Towers:
‘We understand it all perfectly now,’ said Gimli.
‘All except one thing,’ said Aragorn: ‘leaf from the Southfarthing in Isengard. The more I ...
Saruman is Gandalf's superior in hierarchy twice over, as leader of the Istari as well as head of the White Council.
Interestingly, the latter post was offered first to Gandalf but refused by him (a source of jealousy for Saruman). It seems Gandalf actually prefers not taking a leading role.
I could have put the pieces together, and I am infinitely less wise
You could put the pieces together, because you are reading about it in a book, where the author has specifically pointed out all of the relevant information and none of the irrelevant information, where the things Gandalf was concentrating on were barely mentioned in passing,...
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 Tolkien himself admitting Saruman's downfall.
Saruman the White, fell from his high errand, and becoming proud and impatient and enamoured of power sought ...
Presumably because Gandalf was sent back by the Powers with greater power specifically for the purpose of fulfilling the role that Saruman had forsaken, to contest Sauron.
From The Two Towers (emphasis mine):
Naked I was sent back - for a brief time, until my task is done.
Then to Saruman later:
'Come back, Saruman!' Gandalf said in a commanding ...
Gandalf told to the trio when they reunited
He was so eager to lay his hands on his prey that he could not wait at
home, and he came forth to meet and to spy on his messengers. But he
came too late, for once, and the battle was over and beyond his help
before he reached these parts. He did not remain here long...
I think this answers your question....