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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
What about Radagast and other Wizards?

sam90
Lorien

Jul 13 2012, 10:55pm

Post #1 of 17 (699 views)
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What about Radagast and other Wizards? Can't Post

We know that when the Ring has been destroyed and the third age ended with the departure of Elrond that Gandalf also went aboard the ship to Valinor his task appointed by the Lord of the West was completed. Obviously Saruman died in the scouring of the Shire and his spirit fled where none can tell but what about Radagast and the remnant of the Wizards? Have they left Middle-Earth as Gandalf did? For their task to help people in Middle-Earth to find strenght and stand against the evil power of Sauron has be done. What is your guess in that matter?


(This post was edited by sam90 on Jul 13 2012, 10:57pm)


DanielLB
Immortal


Jul 13 2012, 10:59pm

Post #2 of 17 (317 views)
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We know nothing of what happened to Radagast at the end of the Third Age [In reply to] Can't Post

And even less about the two blue wizards.

Anything about what happened to them would be pure speculation.


sam90
Lorien

Jul 13 2012, 11:04pm

Post #3 of 17 (305 views)
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Indeed [In reply to] Can't Post

Thinking about it I found that strange that we do not hear anything about them at the end of the book of in the Appendices though they do not have much of a role in the tale. Since their doing a the end of the third age isn't related in any tale we can only guess. As messengers appointed by the Valar they should be bound to come back from where they came but nothing mention if that's what they actually did. If Gandalf left without them perhaps it mean that the remnant were not ready to deaprt just yet. But that's speculation as you said.


(This post was edited by sam90 on Jul 13 2012, 11:08pm)


DanielLB
Immortal


Jul 13 2012, 11:14pm

Post #4 of 17 (302 views)
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Speculating... [In reply to] Can't Post

Since Gandalf returned to Valinor, I think we have to assume that the two blue wizards (completely) failed in their tasks.

Radagast also failed his task. But compared to Saruman, not as much. He may or may not have decided to leave and go into the West. Who knows?!


DanielLB
Immortal


Jul 13 2012, 11:25pm

Post #5 of 17 (343 views)
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Letter 156 may be worth a read [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote

Gandalf alone fully passes the tests, on a moral plane anyway (he makes mistakes of judgement)


Smile




Curious
Half-elven


Jul 14 2012, 12:57pm

Post #6 of 17 (293 views)
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Well, the wizards don't really need the boat. [In reply to] Can't Post

Melian didn't use a boat when she decided it was time to return to her Maia form. Even Saruman, after his power was broken, seemed to exist in spirit form after his death, but was apparently not permitted to return to the West.

However, Radagast seemed to lose interest in his mission, and may end up like the remaining elves or Bombadil, haunting the wild places of Middle-earth, as long as those wild places remain.


squire
Valinor


Jul 14 2012, 1:38pm

Post #7 of 17 (288 views)
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What did Radagast do or say to allow us to conclude he failed or lost interest in his mission? [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree that Radagast is the object of Saruman's scorn during Gandalf's entrapment at Orthanc, in one of the two passages in LotR where the author presents an opinion about Radagast. However, Saruman's judgment is wide open to debate, given that he would probably have said the same thing about Treebeard at that point! And in the other relevant passage, at the Council of Elrond, Gandalf's seemingly dismissive "worthy wizard" epithet is only phrased to contrast the untraveled and chameleon-like Radagast with the weapons-crafty and lordly Saruman. It's arguable that Gandalf is expressing the same love for his woodsy colleague that he does for many of the other "worthy" inhabitants of Middle-earth, signifying a respect for their deep but hidden strengths. I don't think we have any other evidence in the texts to judge whether Radagast "lost interest in his mission"; frankly, we don't even know exactly what his mission was.

Interestingly, Tolkien took the time to re-write his assessment of the success of the Blue Wizards at the end of his working life. Instead of being snared by the wiles of Sauron and the Easterlings, they suddenly became the leaders of the underground opposition in the East! With that to go by, who is to say what Tolkien would have considered Radagast's role and eventual fate to have been, within the story, if he had ever given the good Brown Wizard a second's more thought than he did.

I myself doubt that Tolkien thought about the Istari in the same way that more modern fantasy-trained audiences tend to do, that is, as a well-defined and rule-bound team of power-centers in a "vast game". Radagast may well have made it to Valinor in a cockle-shell, in his later incarnation as St. Brendan.



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DanielLB
Immortal


Jul 14 2012, 2:24pm

Post #8 of 17 (266 views)
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As above, Tolkien suggests in Letter 156 that Gandalf alone was (fully) successful in his mission [In reply to] Can't Post

That suggests all the others failed


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 14 2012, 3:06pm

Post #9 of 17 (268 views)
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It's not so much what he did as what he didn't do. [In reply to] Can't Post

And Tolkien seemed to agree in his letters. He could change his mind about what the blue wizards did or didn't do, but he couldn't as easily change his mind about Radagast. Radagast did one vital thing by accident, but otherwise played very little role in the victory over Sauron.


Radagast-Aiwendil
Gondor


Jul 14 2012, 4:40pm

Post #10 of 17 (260 views)
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Although we can speculate.. [In reply to] Can't Post

Alas, we know that Radagast and the Blue Wizards never returned to Valinor.
Wilt thou learn the lore || that was long secret
of the Five that came || from a far country?
One only returned. || Others never again


"A Wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early: he arrives precisely when he means to!"-Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring.


sam90
Lorien

Jul 14 2012, 6:19pm

Post #11 of 17 (243 views)
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It seems clear then [In reply to] Can't Post

With those words it seems pretty clear then that they did not return but from which book this passage came?

I don't know for the two other Wizards but as for Radagast I do not think he has utterly fail in his task though it seems that Tolkien thought so from the exerpt of the letter that DanielLB put forward. He has willingly helped Curunnýr by lending him birds and beasts and probably giving him tidings and never notice that he was used but was he the only one deceived by Curunnýr? I think not for Gandalf has spent some time lying on the top of Orthanc and could have put Frodo and the Ring in jeopardize in his trust for Saruman the White. The thing is Radagast wasn't as powerful as Gandalf either. He had not Ring of fire as well to help in rekindle the heart of those whose he try to help nor could he really find a path in the darkness. As we all know his ways was with the beast and birds of the wilderness. In my view, I cannot say that it was a failure in that reguard. Though his fate remains uncertain I should think that his stay in Middle-Earth seems very likely.


(This post was edited by sam90 on Jul 14 2012, 6:25pm)


Radagast-Aiwendil
Gondor


Jul 14 2012, 6:29pm

Post #12 of 17 (242 views)
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The passage can be found in Unfinished Tales [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"A Wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early: he arrives precisely when he means to!"-Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring.


Plurmo
Rohan

Jul 15 2012, 10:52pm

Post #13 of 17 (226 views)
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Radagast Failure. [In reply to] Can't Post

I always felt that the meeting between Radagast and Gandalf had a cold tinge about it. Somehow it seems that there is disappointment in Gandalf's narrative, more than anything else. That Radagast could be a worthy wizard and an honest person, but could not be depended upon, that he would not sacrifice himself for anything less sublime than, say, a sparrow or a dandelion. That in the eyes of Radagast there was not much distinction between the Free Peoples and the Enemy regarding cruelty towards the Nature he loved so much. In that sense Radagast failing his mission says much more about us than about him. His failure is an indictment of the inevitability of our crimes against the natural world. Perhaps it is Tolkien's silent verdict on humanity, or at least Yavanna's verdict made explicit.


squire
Valinor


Jul 16 2012, 12:27am

Post #14 of 17 (224 views)
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I know what you mean [In reply to] Can't Post

Because some of those sentiments appear in Tolkien's letters. But it feels like you are projecting a bit of your own feelings and knowledge into the scant dialogue that Tolkien wrote in the book. What exactly does Radagast say, or Gandalf, that makes you think the Brown Wizard saw little difference between the Enemy and the West, or that he would only put himself out for a dandelion or a sparrow? I know you said "somehow it seems" which admits of indistinction - but even that feeling must be based on something textual. Can you lay it out for us a bit more?



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Plurmo
Rohan

Jul 16 2012, 11:31pm

Post #15 of 17 (189 views)
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You're on the right track as usual, Squire. [In reply to] Can't Post

That was a very good description of what I've done, not the least because I know almost nothing about the Tolkien Letters. I did a personal interpretation which runs like this (I apologize for the tortured English):

Gandalf says he hasn't seen Radagast for many a year and yet their meeting dialogue seems to be business-like (compare it to Gandalf's behaviour when he encounters Saruman despite his growing anxiety about him). I assume they have known each other for many centuries at least (probably for many ages) and that Radagast's simplicity and honesty would be characteristics deeply cherished by Gandalf. Then I make the following assumption, that they were closer in the past (while in Middle-earth at least), but they had parted ways on account of profound disagreement about their mission (because they are both essentially good they would probably not have disagreed about methods) and that Radagast's distancing himself from Gandalf would cause great disappointment in the later because he would perhaps see in it his failure in making Radagast understand what were his inner motives (I bet Radagast would perceive vanity in much of the dealings of The Wise), while at the same time it would be easy for him to understand Radagast's motives as more pure (Radagast cannot understand Saruman, but Gandalf can, meaning Gandalf is more susceptible to become evil than Radagast).

"What exactly does Radagast say..."

What Radagasts says is yes to every request from Gandalf, from Saruman (but for fear, why not from Sauron?) without ever making a request for himself, as if acknowledging that Gandalf/Saruman/Sauron wouldn't care about his cares, because they were all the time worrying about victory, a victory that would spell the doom of Nature whatever the outcome. Radagast was fighting the true "long defeat" of Yavanna on his own (damn, even the Light she created ends up in a crystal cage and as a motive for war!), and for him helping the other Maiar was a matter of keeping his loyalty to whom they once were and to the Valar, a cold loyalty without hope.

So you're right, this is a personal view with no textual proof. It's more about trying to interpret what isn't said rather than anything else.


squire
Valinor


Jul 17 2012, 12:47am

Post #16 of 17 (233 views)
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Are you a Silmarillion or Unfinished Tales reader? [In reply to] Can't Post

I like your willingness to assume that Yavanna has an agenda of her own that may cross that of Manwe's and the other "senior" Valar - and that Radagast is her agent in Middle-earth. One can certainly set up such a scenario from reading the account of the Istari in Unfinished Tales, and the tale of Yavanna in the Sil - and it's a fun one, and one that would be very interesting (for instance) to portray in the Hobbit film, if in fact Radagast must be enlarged as a character. It has some consequences, of course.

One, the argument that Radagast "failed in his mission" would have to accommodate the new proposition that his mission was not to defeat Sauron but to lead the defense of Nature against Elves, Dwarves, Men, Hobbits and Orcs together. Yes, as Elessar takes the throne and new lands are opened for proto-industrial settlement, Radagast and Gandalf may both choose to retreat to Valinor, one with a badge of honor and one with a badge of honorable defeat. If Radagast did not leave, but stayed - why would that be? My impression is that Manwe loves and indulges Yavanna, with her anti-eagle perspective, and would not hold her subterfuge in inserting a secret agent among the Istari against her.

Two, suppose the One Ring had never been found, or not for another Age. According to Gandalf, Sauron would still have risen again, and would still have covered the world in a "second Darkness". Despite the Free Peoples' abuse of plant resources, would Radagast still have preferred to stay "neutral"? Wouldn't the consequences of Sauron's return far outweigh in his thoughts a continuation of the animate mis-rule of Middle-earth by a declining set of Good races with little interest in or ability to, say, industrialize?

Interesting stuff - from a Sil or UT perspective. But I do think that, from the perspective of LotR, you are taking Radagast's willingness to follow Gandalf's and Saruman's leads a bit too far!



squire online:
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squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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Plurmo
Rohan

Jul 17 2012, 5:35am

Post #17 of 17 (253 views)
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Yes, I am, but to be honest, [In reply to] Can't Post

the fascinating idea that Radagast could be a real active mole in Wizardom never crossed my mind, but it is a very interesting possibility and would make or a sophisticated subplot in The Hobbit should PJ dare do it. But my views about his actions would have been a bit different, considering the inevitable return of (at least) the ringless Sauron.

Sauron was a geothermal engineering genius, able to build the greatest ever iron structure and to smelt a virtually indestructible form of gold without burning a single tree. Besides, he was fond of sending quality volcano cinders here and there making Middle-earth an even more more fertile place (blessed Ithilien!) As for his orcs, they were well contented living in naked caves on uncooked food and producing a very small output of worked iron. His other allies lived in the desert lands on the far South where plants and animals were fewer.

Despite the propaganda ("made by the elves, you know") there's little evidence that Sauron was ecologically challenged. In fact Tolkien's message was clear when he linked environment-degrading industrialization to a particular mix of men-orc breed by Saruman. Sauron's victory would greatly reduce the availability of men and menorcs, making widespread industrialization less probable. So, overall I think Yavanna would settle for the old ringless Sauron against the ringed Elves configuration and make mincemeat of dwarves and men if she could. In that case Radagast would try to thwart the dwarven plan against the sleeping Smaug (although Yavanna would cherish the idea of having the inhabitants of Esgaroth roasted for the cheek of them having built a whole city off her trees) while at the same time helping make Sauron flee to the South and away from the Ring, supposing Radagast was aware of Saruman's knowledge about the probable fate of the Ring (moths being wide available and useful at that time). And if he knew something about Saruman's experiments in crossbreeding he would be all too willing to devise a strategy for Saruman to be wiped out of the face of Middle-earth (in another hit scored by Yavanna against poor AulŰ). What best way to do that than make Saruman fall away from Gandalf and Sauron?

On a sidenote, the rabid ranting Elrond of movie fame was especially yavannish in his distaste for men and dwarves ("it was in the blood!" would shout third great-grandmother Melian from the Yavanna Clan) and his reluctance in reforging Narsil quite aligned with the yavannian conspiracy. Perhaps PJ is indeed a visionary, in more than one sense.

 
 

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