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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Questions on the power of Gandalf

Bracegirdle
Gondor


May 31, 6:13pm


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There is a thread over on “Arena” pitting Gandalf the White against Sauron, which brings some thoughts to mind possibly worthy of discussion here in the “Reading Room”.

Gandalf was sent to contest the will of Sauron by uniting the Free Peoples of Middle-earth as counselor and advisor, and was forbidden to match Sauron’s power with equal power. So, my questions are– how “physically” powerful were Third Age Gandalf and Sauron? How would Gandalf the White fare in a one-on-one physical contest against Sauron were he (Gandalf) allowed by the Valar to use his power to the maximum?

Interestingly we know little of the actual physical potential of Gandalf the White. His physical fighting ability at Helm’s Deep is either not used at all or at best vague - “The White Rider was upon them, and the terror of his coming filled the enemy with madness.” (III, 7) (This was, as far as I know, the singular quote of his actions during The Battle of Helm’s Deep. And whether he “took a stroke” is unclear.)
I think his only known “physical” use of power was in the rescue of Faramir. He sent a “flash of white and silver” to Faramir’s aid. Also “a shaft of white light stabbed upwards” at the Nazgul steeds during the same encounter.
A few days later he faces off with the Witch-king but strikes no blow during the entire Battle of the Pelennor Fields!
Again from the slag hills before the Morannon it seems he strikes no blow. (See VI, 4.)
So, it seems, Gandalf the White’s only indisputable use of “physical” power (that I recall) was the rescue of Faramir and his men on the Pelennor, and his true might remains an enigma.

Perhaps we could glean some idea of Gandalf the White’s capability by looking back to Gandalf the Grey.
First as the Grey he fought the nine Nazgul to a stalemate atop Amon Sul. (Could we go so far as to say he won this encounter as the Nazgul were split into two factions?)
Next he goes against the balrog – another draw. (Yes, I have discounted The Hobbit, for the sake of this discussion, as he was wounded at The Battle of Five Armies – a stray arrow perhaps?)
Thus his physical power as Gandalf the Grey seems quite formidable, and we can only wonder how much more formidable was Gandalf the White?

Sauron was a devious manipulator/controller with some mystical powers, and he was apparently of a somewhat higher order of Maiar than the Istarit, but we never learn anything about his Third Age personal physical abilities (that I know of (?)).
Had Sauron found The Ring first it would have been grave for Middle-earth without Divine intervention, and Gandalf the White would probably be bested. But without The Ring who knows what would be the outcome of the mentioned competition?

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Subject User Time
Questions on the power of Gandalf Bracegirdle Send a private message to Bracegirdle May 31, 6:13pm
    Gandalf the Grey Hamfast Gamgee Send a private message to Hamfast Gamgee Jun 1, 10:27am
        Valid points Hamfast . . . Bracegirdle Send a private message to Bracegirdle Jun 1, 7:49pm
            Gandalf in The Hobbit and Gandalf in LotR.. Radagast-Aiwendil Send a private message to Radagast-Aiwendil Jun 4, 5:00pm
                Well put squire Send a private message to squire Jun 4, 6:07pm
                    Thanks, squire! Radagast-Aiwendil Send a private message to Radagast-Aiwendil Jun 4, 6:30pm
                I say, R-A – We seem to be in agreement . . . Bracegirdle Send a private message to Bracegirdle Jun 4, 7:18pm
                    Apologies for any confusion caused Radagast-Aiwendil Send a private message to Radagast-Aiwendil Jun 4, 7:44pm
                        We're good.. confusion deceased . . . Bracegirdle Send a private message to Bracegirdle Jun 4, 8:45pm
                    Well, I'm not sure that I am Hamfast Gamgee Send a private message to Hamfast Gamgee Jun 6, 9:52am
            He chose to remain the faithful servant, unlike Saruman, Eruonen Send a private message to Eruonen Jun 5, 2:51pm
                Good points Eruonen.. Bracegirdle Send a private message to Bracegirdle Jun 5, 6:53pm
                    I think the invented contest in Dol Gulder between Gandalf and Sauron Eruonen Send a private message to Eruonen Jun 5, 7:48pm
                He "left it to Galadriel to throw down the walls of Dol Guldur"... Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Jun 5, 11:00pm
                    I was referring to the action not the timing. Eruonen Send a private message to Eruonen Jun 5, 11:16pm

 
 
 

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