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What if...Gandalf didn't fall at the Bridge of Khazad-Dum?
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CuriousG
Half-elven


Feb 12 2017, 5:07pm

Post #1 of 44 (2995 views)
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What if...Gandalf didn't fall at the Bridge of Khazad-Dum? Can't Post

Instead assume he won the battle at the bridge, the Balrog fell into the abyss, and the Fellowship escaped Moria and made it to Lorien.

For the purpose of the what-ifs, try to think how the story logic works, rather than just invent an answer (actually, that sounds like a good game, but not here, please).

1. Would they have lingered as long in Lorien?
2. Would we have seen some interaction between Gandalf and Galadriel? What would they have said to each other?
3. Would Galadriel have felt the need to take Frodo to the Mirror? Would Gandalf have advised against it as too dangerous?
4. Would Galadriel have been tempted by the Ring? [And now that I think about it, was the Mirror just a convenient way to isolate Frodo so she could set up a scenario where he'd offer her the Ring? Again, would Gandalf have seen through all this and tried to prevent it?]
5. Would Boromir have died?
6. Would Gandalf have crossed the Anduin with Frodo and Sam and the other two hobbits, or gone with Aragorn to Edoras and Minas Tirith?
7. Would the Balrog have stayed in the abyss, or would it have left Moria seeking revenge against Gandalf and possibly answering some summons by Sauron?

Following the story line of Gandalf going with the Ring-bearer, I can't figure out what role Gollum would play. Yet I'm not sure that Gandalf knew a safe way into Mordor, so would they have still gone by Cirith Ungol with Gollum as guide? Would Gandalf have battled Shelob instead of Sam?

But with Gandalf absent from western lands, it's hard to see how Rohan would have defeated Saruman, especially if M&P didn't stir up the Ents. Which means Minas Tirith would have probably fallen in the siege, but maybe I'm discounting Aragorn's ingenuity. Who knows? Maybe he would have taken the Army of the Dead to Minas Tirith just like in the movies--there is a certain logic to that, rather than releasing them from their oath before the big battle had been won.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Feb 13 2017, 10:37am

Post #2 of 44 (2878 views)
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Alternative history [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Would they have lingered as long in Lorien?

Probably. They lingered long in Rivendell, and Gandalf was with them then. And anyway, it didn't seem long at the time, with time behaving so differently there. I guess we are assuming that Gandalf won the battle without being injured himself? If he needed to recover his strength that would be a good reason to delay right there.

2. Would we have seen some interaction between Gandalf and Galadriel? What would they have said to each other?

There surely would have been interaction between them, but probably we wouldn't have seen it - we mostly only see what the hobbits see, so we wouldn't see this interaction, any more than we see the Gandalf-Elrond interaction that the movie shows but the book passes over. If there was something that the reader needed to know, no doubt we'd have Frodo accidentally overhearing part of the discussion, as happens when he overhears Gandalf and Aragorn's debate before the attempt on Caradhras. In the story as it's written, we know that Gandalf and Galadriel "counsel...gave and counsel took" after Gandalf is rescued. It would just have happened sooner, and we readers would probably know as little about what was said as we do now!

What would they have said to each other?

Probably many things that the reader will never be told about. The decision of which direction to take would still have to be made, and I'd guess that the plan would be for Gandalf and Frodo to go towards Mordor, while Aragorn and Boromir lead the rest of the group direct to Minas Tirith. There would have been a repeat of what happened at the Council of Elrond when this was announced, and the other hobbits would have tried to insist on going with Frodo. At Rivendell Gandalf took their side of the argument so they got their way. It's not as clear this time what he would decide - but then Gandalf rarely goes for the logical option, so who knows?

(Gandalf knows something unplanned and unexpected has to happen at some point, otherwise the Ring will not be destroyed (since no-one can actually throw it away). If he's with Frodo, the Gollum story won't happen and they will get to Mount Doom with no way for the Ring to go into the Fire. It's basically the Eagle question all over again - if the quest is performed logically and as planned, it can't succeed. Catch-22!)

3. Would Galadriel have felt the need to take Frodo to the Mirror? Would Gandalf have advised against it as too dangerous?

If Gandalf was going to be Frodo's guide, she might not have thought it necessary for Frodo to make that decision. I imagine that she would have discussed the idea privately with Gandalf anyway, before offering it to Frodo. So we'd never hear about it at all unless Gandalf had agreed.

4. Would Galadriel have been tempted by the Ring?

She would have been tempted if Frodo had offered it, I think. But Gandalf might have made sure that the situation didn't arise.

[And now that I think about it, was the Mirror just a convenient way to isolate Frodo so she could set up a scenario where he'd offer her the Ring? Again, would Gandalf have seen through all this and tried to prevent it?]

Frodo wasn't completely isolated at the Mirror - Sam was still there, at least. And the story implies that Galadriel was shocked and surprised when the Ring was suddenly offered to her freely. I don't think she expected or planned it. Still, Gandalf might have foreseen it and counselled against the whole scenario.

5. Would Boromir have died?

If Aragorn and Boromir had gone towards Minas Tirith with the hobbits in tow, then the part of the story that has Saruman mistakenly going after Merry and Pippin might still happen. In which case, the death of Boromir, the capture of M&P, and the Fangorn and Rohan parts of the story could still happen too.

6. Would Gandalf have crossed the Anduin with Frodo and Sam and the other two hobbits, or gone with Aragorn to Edoras and Minas Tirith?

I think it's implied in the story that Gandalf would have gone with Frodo to Mordor. I'm not at all sure that the other hobbits would have gone, although Gandalf might have had to give in to Sam's determination to stick with Frodo. Edoras wouldn't have been on the itinerary at all, I think. That whole detour wasn't planned and would only have happened if Saruman's intervention had still happened as in the book.

7. Would the Balrog have stayed in the abyss, or would it have left Moria seeking revenge against Gandalf and possibly answering some summons by Sauron?

I don't have much insight into what the Balrog might do! My sense is that it lives in the depths of Moria and nowhere else. And that it's a living aspect of the earth, not an independent agent - a personification of the hellish environment that exists in the volcanic depths of the earth. So I don't imagine it having any petty, human-sized emotions such as desire for revenge. Nor do I see it as answering to Sauron - any more than Smaug, Caradhras, the Watcher in the Water or Shelob do. They hate trespassers on their own account, not because they are answerable to anyone else. In fact, it's a theme of the story that no-one is in league with Sauron unless obliged to by fear or force. The evil forces can't cohere because none of them trusts any of the others, and it's the task of the Wise (especially Gandalf) to prevent this lack of trust (for which the Ring is the vehicle) infecting the forces for good and weakening them in the same way.

So that's my 2 cents. Thanks for the questions, CuriousG!


They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



(This post was edited by FarFromHome on Feb 13 2017, 10:41am)


hanne
Lorien

Feb 13 2017, 12:16pm

Post #3 of 44 (2877 views)
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Gandalf to Mordor? Would he have been able to resist seizing the Ring? [In reply to] Can't Post

I know he had resisted up to this point, and perhaps, like Galadriel, he had considered his initial refusal as final. But the temptation seems to grow stronger near Mordor.

I also wonder whether Gandalf would have been easier for Sauron to spot than Frodo and Sam. Like Glorfindel, Gandalf is sure to have shone brightly on the spirit side. Perhaps all he could have done effectively was create a distraction, as indeed he ended up doing.

As you can guess, I'm finding it hard to imagine how Gandalf would be helpful in Mordor, if the story points that made Frodo successful there still hold.

Thanks for the great questions and answers!


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 13 2017, 3:14pm

Post #4 of 44 (2862 views)
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I'll give it a try. [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Would they have lingered as long in Lorien?

Would the Fellowship even have gone to Lórien? Yes, probably. Gandalf would have wanted to consult with Galadriel and Celeborn and the company would have still wanted to rest and resupply.

2. Would we have seen some interaction between Gandalf and Galadriel? What would they have said to each other?

Of course, no question! I imagine that among other things, Gandalf would have wanted to speak with Galadriel about the Ring (as they were both members of the White Council) as well as talk about Aragorn and his probable role in events.

3. Would Galadriel have felt the need to take Frodo to the Mirror? Would Gandalf have advised against it as too dangerous?

Yes, Frodo and Sam might still have been allowed to look in the Mirror of Galadriel. Gandalf might have had reservations, but I think he would have deferred to the Lady's judgement.

4. Would Galadriel have been tempted by the Ring? [And now that I think about it, was the Mirror just a convenient way to isolate Frodo so she could set up a scenario where he'd offer her the Ring? Again, would Gandalf have seen through all this and tried to prevent it?

Sure, she would still have been tempted. However, I don't think that she used the Mirror as a ploy. And I'm sure that Gandalf would have trusted her.

5. Would Boromir have died?

Tricky question. Gandalf might have seen the trouble with Boromir coming and found a way to deflect it. However, the Uruks might still have attacked with the same result. But Boromir's chances of survival would have been much better in a united Fellowship standing together.

6. Would Gandalf have crossed the Anduin with Frodo and Sam and the other two hobbits, or gone with Aragorn to Edoras and Minas Tirith?

It was unquestionably Gandalf's intention to remain with Frodo and guide him. If anything, he might have pressed Aragorn to remain with the company.

7. Would the Balrog have stayed in the abyss, or would it have left Moria seeking revenge against Gandalf and possibly answering some summons by Sauron?

It's hard to say what the Balrog of Moria would have done. It would certainly have survived its fall; that's obvious from Gandalf's account. I do have to disagree with FarFromHome who seems to forget that the Balrog was not native to Moria, but came there sometime after the fall of Morgoth. It seemed to have no direct allegiance to Sauron and might have remained where it was, having remained underground for so long.

Gollum would have still tried to follow the company with the goal of regaining his Precious.It does seem likely that Gandalf and Aragorn would have eventually recaptured him.

Gandalf's route to and into Mordor would have probably been worked out between Aragorn and himself before the two Dúnedain split off to travel to Minas Tirith. They wouldn't have needed Gollum as a guide and I think they would have tried to avoid Cirith Ungol.

The company would have still needed to pass south through the lands of Rohan and might have still been caught up in events there. Frodo and Sam might have also found themselves at Helm's Deep. Might King Théoden have been tempted by the Ring? Would the Grey Company have still caught up with Aragorn? Perhaps Aragorn would have still traveled the Paths of the Dead.

"He who lies artistically, treads closer to the truth than ever he knows." -- Favorite proverb of the wizard Ningauble of the Seven Eyes


Eruonen
Valinor


Feb 13 2017, 5:16pm

Post #5 of 44 (2850 views)
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It could have been disastrous.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Had Gandalf not gone to Edoras and Minas Tirith the entire collapse of the West could have taken place before Frodo reached Mt. Doom. Had Gollum been restrained by Gandalf - assuming he was able to pass through the many paths required without setting off alarms and drawing the Eye upon them - Frodo may have failed as happened and kept the ring until possibly captured. I think the whole premise of "luck" - ""You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole bene-fit?" Gandalf to Bilbo captures the theme. There was a guiding but ever so slight hand tweaking events....Eru.....providence.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Feb 13 2017, 5:17pm)


Darkstone
Immortal


Feb 13 2017, 6:46pm

Post #6 of 44 (2843 views)
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They'd have to re-title volume III. [In reply to] Can't Post

Instead assume he won the battle at the bridge, the Balrog fell into the abyss, and the Fellowship escaped Moria and made it to Lorien.

For the purpose of the what-ifs, try to think how the story logic works, rather than just invent an answer (actually, that sounds like a good game, but not here, please).

1. Would they have lingered as long in Lorien?


Probably. As Gandalf said at Rivendell:

“We shall have to scour the lands all round for many long leagues before any move is made.”
-The Ring Goes South

I would suppose as at Rivendell the Eagles would be consulted:

Even from the Eagles of the Misty Mountains they had learned no fresh news.
-ibid


2. Would we have seen some interaction between Gandalf and Galadriel?

Probably like with Gandalf and Elrond we’d hear that they did.


What would they have said to each other?

Ah, to be a fly on the wall in any of FOTR’s night meetings!


3. Would Galadriel have felt the need to take Frodo to the Mirror?

The disappearance of the temptation of Galadriel is significant.
-Letter #210


Would Gandalf have advised against it as too dangerous?

It is a necessary part of the Music of the Ainur, so no.


4. Would Galadriel have been tempted by the Ring?

Of course.

Galadriel's rejection of the temptation was founded upon previous thought and resolve.
-Letter #246


And now that I think about it, was the Mirror just a convenient way to isolate Frodo so she could set up a scenario where he'd offer her the Ring?

The workings of Providence.


Again, would Gandalf have seen through all this and tried to prevent it?]

He is an agent of Providence so I’d imagine he might have even suggested it.


5. Would Boromir have died?

I think scouts, at least the Eagles, would have seen and tracked the Uruks and the Fellowship could have avoided them.


6. Would Gandalf have crossed the Anduin with Frodo and Sam and the other two hobbits, or gone with Aragorn to Edoras and Minas Tirith?

Yes. Like in The Hobbit he would have popped up in anyplace anytime when needed, especially since he could call on Shadowfax. (That’s doubtless why Tolkien killed him off in the first place.)


7. Would the Balrog have stayed in the abyss,…

I think like the Gorignak in Galaxy Quest (1999) the Balrog just wanted some peace and quiet and so it would have really been happier in the roots of the earth.


…or would it have left Moria seeking revenge against Gandalf…

He’s in hiding from much more powerful beings, and after The War of Wrath would have had much bigger grudges. I think he’d let Gandalf go without a thought.


…and possibly answering some summons by Sauron?

The balrog would sneer in answer that Sauron is no Melkor.


Following the story line of Gandalf going with the Ring-bearer, I can't figure out what role Gollum would play.

Having previously been caught and roughly handled by Aragorn:

”He will never love me, I fear; for he bit me, and I was not gentle. Nothing more did I ever get from his mouth than the marks of his teeth. I deemed it the worst part of all my journey, the road back, watching him day and night, making him walk before me with a halter on his neck, gagged, until he was tamed by lack of drink and food, driving him ever towards Mirkwood.”
-The Council Of Elrond

And tortured by Gandalf:

”I endured him as long as I could, but the truth was desperately important, and in the end I had to be harsh. I put the fear of fire on him…”
-The Shadow of the Past

I’d think Gollum would stay away as far as possible as long as Gandalf and/or Aragorn was with the Ringbearer.


Yet I'm not sure that Gandalf knew a safe way into Mordor,…}

Go to the Emyn Muil and fly the rest of the way on Eagles.

Later as the sun was setting, and the Company was stirring and getting ready to start again, he descried a dark spot against the fading light: a great bird high and far off, now wheeling, now flying on slowly southwards.
'What is that, Legolas? ' he asked, pointing to the northern sky. 'Is it, as I think. an eagle? '
'Yes.' said Legolas. `It is an eagle, a hunting eagle. I wonder what that forebodes. It is far from the mountains.'

-The Great River


Gandalf did send them there to watch:

"The eagle!" said Legolas. "I have seen an eagle high and far off: the last time was three days ago, above the Emyn Muil."
"Yes," said Gandalf, 'that was Gwaihir the Windlord, who rescued me from Orthanc. I sent him before me to watch the River and gather tidings.”

-The White Rider


…so would they have still gone by Cirith Ungol with Gollum as guide?

Nope.


Would Gandalf have battled Shelob instead of Sam?

No Shelob.


But with Gandalf absent from western lands, it's hard to see how Rohan would have defeated Saruman,…

Assuming the Fellowship reaches Parth Galen, meets the Eagles, flies into Mordor, and drops the Ring (and maybe Frodo) into Mount Doom by the end of February, the Rohirrim wouldn’t have to. The common orcs in Saruman’s army would go mad, commit suicide, cast themselves in pits, or run off to hide in holes and dark lightless places far from hope. However, one does imagine a Saruman still having full Wizard powers, along with an army of Uruks and Dunlendings creating far more revengeful havoc on the Shire than Sharkey and a bunch of ruffians. The Scouring is a hobbit massacre, and Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin are dead or worse.


…especially if M&P didn't stir up the Ents.

In the book Treebeard is already considering what to do about Saruman:

"But Saruman now! Saruman is a neighbour: I cannot overlook him. I must do something, I suppose. I have often wondered lately what I should do about Saruman."
-Treebeard

If anything, without the arrival of M&P the Entmoot would have decided to attack Saruman even earlier since they wouldn’t have had to go over the old lists, decide whether M&P were orcs or not, and then add a new line.


Which means Minas Tirith would have probably fallen in the siege,…

Again, if the Ring is destroyed before March, there is no siege.


…but maybe I'm discounting Aragorn's ingenuity. Who knows? Maybe he would have taken the Army of the Dead to Minas Tirith just like in the movies--there is a certain logic to that, rather than releasing them from their oath before the big battle had been won.

If there’s no siege, then there’s no Aragorn to the rescue, the populace doesn’t welcome a hero king, Denethor is still steward, and no way in Helcaraxe there’s a King Elessar.

******************************************
“Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!"
"Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."
"Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may."
"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
"But no living man am I! I am Eowyn, daughter of Theodwyn!”
"Er, really? My mother's name was Theodwyn, too!"
"No way!"
"Way!"
"Wow! Let's stop fighting and be best friends!"
"Cool!!"

-Zack Snyder's The Return of the King


Bracegirdle
Valinor


Feb 13 2017, 10:13pm

Post #7 of 44 (2823 views)
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No Gandalf the White? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
What if...Gandalf didn't fall at the Bridge of Khazad-Dum?
Instead assume he won the battle at the bridge, the Balrog fell into the abyss, and the Fellowship escaped Moria and made it to Lorien.


We're left with Gandalf the Grey and Saruman would not/could not be expelled from the Order of Istari. He would have his White Wizard powers intact. He would escape from Orthanc (which he did anyway - sort of) to reek his White Wizard havoc, not his Sharkey havoc.
The Battle at Helm's Deep may have had a different outcome. Faramir may likely have been killed, etc.
It could have been/would have been? a whole nother tale after Khazad-dum with lots of what ifs and inventions.

‘. . . the rule of no realm is mine . . .
But all worthy things that are in peril . . . those are my care.
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?'

Gandalf to Denethor




FarFromHome
Valinor


Feb 13 2017, 11:17pm

Post #8 of 44 (2819 views)
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I think you've hit the nail on the head [In reply to] Can't Post

It's all about luck, or chance, "if chance you call it" (as Tom Bombadil says). The story only works out because of one chance happening after another - lose any one of them and the story spirals off into all kinds of unknowns that don't seem to lead to any good outcome. It's a trick of the storytelling in a way, I guess - the tale is actually plotted so tightly that it can only work out one way, and yet each turn of the plot seems to rely on chance. As you say, there seems to be a guiding hand at work. But luck has to be earned, and I think Frodo above all earns his luck by his unflagging kindness and pity for Gollum. As Gandalf foresaw, it's pity for Gollum that will "rule the fate of many". That above all, it seems to me, is the one thing that the story really cannot do without.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



Eruonen
Valinor


Feb 13 2017, 11:29pm

Post #9 of 44 (2814 views)
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Tom Shippey discusses the role of "luck" extensively in [In reply to] Can't Post

The Road To Middle Earth.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Feb 14 2017, 1:04pm

Post #10 of 44 (2800 views)
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Hello, eucatastrophe [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the answers, FFH! This was a fun exercise in seeing how a good thing (Gandalf living) would mostly lead to bad outcomes, though Darkstone does suggest that Gandalf + Frodo might have hastened the quest's end to forestall the the attacks on Rohan & Gondor. But still, most people here see bad outcomes from this good event.

And I like your comment farther down that the plot is woven to tightly that there's only one outcome, but it still depends on luck--at the right time and for the right people.

1. My own thought on the Lorien sojourn is that Gandalf would have said they had no time to spare, and maybe a little Mirror-consulting would show just how far advanced Sauron's war plans were, so they'd only get about 3 days and be off again. OK, it's dangerous as a guide to deeds, but still, I don't think they'd need all the time they took to recover from their grief at Gandalf's death if he didn't die. (On the other hand, they lost Bill the Pony as far as they knew, and that could take months of mourning. :) )

2. Everyone seems to agree that of course G & G would talk Big Strategy, and with our hobbit's eye of events, we'd miss out. Curses! I'm sure you're all right, but I'd love to see a real heart-to-heart between G & G, which is hinted at outside of LOTR (either UT or HOME, can't remember).

3. I'm re-thinking the whole Mirror episode as something possibly more sinister. Not my final conclusion, just came to me while pondering this anew. I think Frodo was isolated in that he only had Sam with him. If Galadriel wanted to coerce/persuade/trick Frodo into offering her the Ring, Sam would be no obstacle, but Gandalf would have been. And maybe her impulse to take him to the Mirror was unconscious to herself. But since the Ring acts on people to do bad things, I wonder if it played a role in setting up this scenario where it then tempted Galadriel, and she admitted herself she'd thought for centuries about what "good" she'd do if she got her hands on the ring. I think she was prime fodder for Ring manipulation.

5. I'm personally 50-50 on Boromir dying. Aragorn the tracker was still surprised by the attach at Parth Galen, so I don't see how Gandalf would be any more alert, and he didn't foresee the Warg attack in Hollin either. But if Gandalf had been present, I don't think Boromir would have assaulted Frodo and then, in a moral sense, needed to die to redeem himself.

6. The really bad outcome most responders here see is Gandalf not setting in motion the positive domino effect that started with him going to Edoras. I agree completely, but I do wonder if he really would have accompanied Frodo to Mordor. I'm 50-50 on this one too. His responsibilities were split at this time between larger geopolitics and loyalty to his frightened hobbit friend. I think he would have found a better way into Mordor, but would he, like Glorfindel, have given himself away, leading to capture and certain ruin? Very hard to figure this one out.

7. And I have no idea about the Balrog, so I thank you all for your perspectives. He's as enigmatic as Bombadil to me. I probably agree with everything everyone said! Yes, he'd leave Moria; no, he wouldn't. But I have always thought there was some link between him and Sauron, given the elaborate plans to capture the Fellowship there: the orc chieftain who singles out Frodo for a spear, and the great trenches filled with fire to cut off their escape had they come down from the Grand Hall--that wasn't improvising, nor catching the Moria residents by surprise.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Feb 14 2017, 1:08pm

Post #11 of 44 (2797 views)
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Good point about Gandalf being tempted by the Ring [In reply to] Can't Post

It pulled a woozy one on Galadriel, so not the Wizard too? And in particular, Boromir seems more and more subject to its pull post-Moria. Why not Gandalf too?

One bit of luck that saved F&S in Mordor was dressing in orc-gear and running along undetected in an orc troop. Gandalf clearly couldn't do that. But there are many variables here--maybe the Cirith Ungol episode wouldn't have happened, and maybe none of them would have ever been caught by orcs. But I think you're right that Gandalf is like a Glorifindel in that the Nazgul would sense him, and that would give everything away.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Feb 14 2017, 1:12pm

Post #12 of 44 (2798 views)
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I agree Boromir's survival chances would go up if not isolated at Parth Galen. [In reply to] Can't Post

You bring up a good point about the Fellowship traveling through Rohan instead of the Emyn Muil. I guess that leads to a what-if for another day: what if they had traveled safely to Minas Tirith and set out from there instead? What was this crazy notion to cross the Emyn Muil and Dead Marshes?


FarFromHome
Valinor


Feb 14 2017, 4:02pm

Post #13 of 44 (2783 views)
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Gandalf really wouldn't have been the best companion for Frodo [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with what you and others have said. I was basing my answer on the implications in the story. Aragorn had assumed he wouldn't be needed to go with Frodo to Mordor if Gandalf was still alive, but with Gandalf dead he felt obliged to be one of Frodo's companions himself, implying that he was taking Gandalf's place. So I was assuming, as Aragorn seems to, that Gandalf would have taken charge of the mission to Mordor. But Aragorn does also say that he didn't know what Gandalf intended to do after Lothlórien, so maybe I shouldn't have been so quick to jump to conclusions!

Still, if Gandalf had still been with the Fellowship when it came time to cross the River, I can't think how the Breaking of the Fellowship might have gone to allow Frodo to go off without Gandalf. Frodo leaves alone because he doesn't want to put his friends in danger, and wants Aragorn to follow his heart to Minas Tirith. But would Frodo have had such qualms about Gandalf? One way or another, I think Gandalf would have had to have left the scene by that point anyway in order for the story to work. Making himself scarce at crucial times was his modus operandi in The Hobbit, and he's already done it once in LotR when he's captured by Saruman. Now with the fall in Moria, he's done it in spades!

Gandalf usually finds that "it may have been better so" after he's been unexpectedly taken out of the action. And it's clear that the fall in Moria is another case of that. With him around, the story just doesn't work out well at all!

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



hanne
Lorien

Feb 14 2017, 5:45pm

Post #14 of 44 (2762 views)
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"pulled a woozy one" [In reply to] Can't Post

...Great way of putting it! :)

and so is "eucatastrophe". I can better see now how important it was to separate Frodo from all companions but the humble Sam, but Tolkien does it so naturally, with the two-step Balrog fall and Parth Galen attack, that it doesn't seem forced at all. But there was no other way to keep the Ring safe but to leave it with those of really small ambitions. No wonder Sauron was bamboozled.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Feb 14 2017, 6:14pm

Post #15 of 44 (2764 views)
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The unforced plot [In reply to] Can't Post

From FarFromHome:

Quote
The story only works out because of one chance happening after another - lose any one of them and the story spirals off into all kinds of unknowns that don't seem to lead to any good outcome. It's a trick of the storytelling in a way, I guess - the tale is actually plotted so tightly that it can only work out one way, and yet each turn of the plot seems to rely on chance.


And your comment:

Quote
I can better see now how important it was to separate Frodo from all companions but the humble Sam, but Tolkien does it so naturally, with the two-step Balrog fall and Parth Galen attack, that it doesn't seem forced at all. But there was no other way to keep the Ring safe but to leave it with those of really small ambitions.


We can laud JRR for many things, but these points in particular emerge when we start tugging at the overall plot--it doesn't unravel, does it? I think Tolkien represents storytelling at its best, both the analytical construction of the plot, and the artistic storytelling that makes it all unfold so smoothly. Gandalf needs to die to save the West, and the Fellowship needs to break up for a variety of reasons, but it all happens organically, so no one gets cynical and says, "Of course Gandalf had to die, that was obvious from the start."


CuriousG
Half-elven


Feb 14 2017, 9:51pm

Post #16 of 44 (2754 views)
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Assuming Gandalf went to Mordor [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't see any Isengard destruction. True, Treebeard was getting worked up over Saruman, but Ents aren't hasty, and he might have taken another year to act. With Theodred dead, Eomer in jail, and Thingol under Wormtongue's spell, I see Rohan falling to Saruman.

It's an open question whether Saruman could have withstood the Ents with a full army on hand. Maybe not--the remnants were destroyed easily by the Huorns at Helm's Deep. But possibly he could unless his "devilry from Orthanc" to wound the Ents enough to withdraw. Then, let's say, Aragorn miraculously saves Gondor without Rohan and the Ring is destroyed, but there's a pocket of evil left behind at Isengard with Saruman still in power, and no White Gandalf to break his staff. That, at least, is one scenario.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Feb 14 2017, 10:34pm

Post #17 of 44 (2744 views)
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Good point about Gandalf torturing Gollum [In reply to] Can't Post

Putting "the fear of fire on him" does sound pretty ghastly. We're lucky that in the end of things, the cruelty of Gandalf did not rule the fate of many.


hanne
Lorien

Feb 14 2017, 11:03pm

Post #18 of 44 (2740 views)
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Very well put. [In reply to] Can't Post

It doesn't unravel at all!


enanito
Lorien

Feb 15 2017, 1:40am

Post #19 of 44 (2734 views)
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Gandalf's post-Moria role in the Quest [In reply to] Can't Post

Two thoughts on Gandalf that come to mind from reading these great insights:

1) I believe Gandalf would still have to be "re-born", in some way, in some fashion. While I think the dying-and-brought-back-to-life-from-beyond storyline is great, I also can envision ways Gandalf could have a near-death experience that would serve the same purpose, transforming him from Grey to White. I think Gandalf's formal ascendance to the position of the "Enemy of Sauron" is key to the tale.

2) I also believe Gandalf would have ample opportunity to feel that things are 'meant to be', taking him personally away from the Quest and into other tasks meant for him. Namely, saving Rohan and Minas Tirith, as well as deposing Saruman. It doesn't seem a stretch to me to come up with a scenario where Gandalf sees something happen and interprets it as being the time for the parting of the Fellowship. It works for me even if Gandalf is with them at Amon Hen and Gandalf senses Frodo has crossed the River with the Ring, and feels that its course now lies outside his direct influence.


(This post was edited by enanito on Feb 15 2017, 1:42am)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Feb 15 2017, 1:37pm

Post #20 of 44 (2695 views)
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re: Gandalf *not* going to Mordor by choice [In reply to] Can't Post

I think there's ample reason in the story logic for him to "abandon" Frodo to the rest of the quest for the reasons you gave, along with the very beginning, where he told Frodo to go to Rivendell on his own, even though in the much gentler times of The Hobbit, Bilbo risked getting eaten by trolls on the way to Rivendell--that is NOT a journey to be cavalier about. Moreover, Radagast has told Gandalf that the Nazgul are abroad, and again, Gandalf just sends a letter to Frodo to go to Rivendell (where the latter has never been before), and somehow it will all work out.

Yes, Gandalf trusts to luck a lot, more than I would feel comfortable with myself if he was a friend in real life and I was in a dark alley, all alone with people with guns and knives, and he left me alone and said, "Good luck! I'm called elsewhere." Grrrrrr! Frustrating.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Feb 15 2017, 1:45pm

Post #21 of 44 (2707 views)
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Another view on Gandalf Reborn [In reply to] Can't Post

I guess I see his resurrection and supercharging as The White as somewhere between icing on the cake (nice, but not necessary), and in the deeper theological sense, a desperate, stopgap effort by Iluvatar who's realized the Valar have failed (again) to save the world, and he needs to make a sure success out of the 20% of the Istari who haven't gone astray.

But you see it as more essential to the tale, which I'm not disputing, just curious why? (It's in my name, you know.) I wonder what I'm missing.

I can say, on the other hand, that "transformation" is key to LOTR: Gimli & Lego learn to stop hating each other's races, all the hobbits grow up, especially Frodo, and Strider becomes King Elessar. Even Lobelia S-Baggins develops a kind heart by the end of the story. So, Gandalf needed to be transformed/improved in some way, and maybe when you're a Wizard, death & resurrection is the only way?


Darkstone
Immortal


Feb 15 2017, 3:38pm

Post #22 of 44 (2690 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
So, Gandalf needed to be transformed/improved in some way, and maybe when you're a Wizard, death & resurrection is the only way?


Gandalf is a Maia who is wearing a disguise, so the only way for him to transform is to be called back and issued a new disguise.

******************************************
“Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!"
"Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."
"Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may."
"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
"But no living man am I! I am Eowyn, daughter of Theodwyn!”
"Er, really? My mother's name was Theodwyn, too!"
"No way!"
"Way!"
"Wow! Let's stop fighting and be best friends!"
"Cool!!"

-Zack Snyder's The Return of the King


noWizardme
Valinor


Feb 15 2017, 3:39pm

Post #23 of 44 (2687 views)
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This is a great "what if?" [In reply to] Can't Post

It would be easy to think that Tolkien kills Gandalf off only as a stunt to add some drama (which it certainly does), knowing that he can 'unkill' him later once that drama is achieved. (I think my favourite comic books of childhood used to do that: clones, time-travel, parallel universes, desperate escapes - there would always be some way of bringing back a popular hero or villain.)

But what this discussion has shown is that a lot of the later plot flows from this point - Tolkien would probably have had to rethink it significantly i Gandalf had stuck with the Fellowship too long.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Feb 15 2017, 3:40pm)


noWizardme
Valinor


Feb 15 2017, 5:40pm

Post #24 of 44 (2682 views)
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Gandalf the gambler? [In reply to] Can't Post

That comment about Gandalf relying upon luck made me think about Gandalf as a gambler and wonder what kind of gambler he was. I don't know much about gambling, but it made me think of this article:


Quote
Read any book on gambling and they’ll tell you the same thing: avoid games with terrible odds (read: slot machines). If you are going to gamble, play perfect blackjack[*], bet in a certain way, and set strict limits on how much you’re betting with and when you will walk away from the table. You’re trying to move the needle as close to 50/50 or slightly in your favor (if you can count cards properly).

Casinos hate people like that.

Instead, they prefer the clueless folk: ones who bet based on superstition (I have a feeling about this one!), who aren’t aware of “gambler’s fallacy” (the last 9 spins were red, so this one HAS to be black), who try to get rich quick (betting the numbers in the middle of the craps table) or who just like the pretty lights and sounds of a slot machine.

Steve Kamb https://www.nerdfitness.com/...ortless-weight-loss/


[*] Steve Kamb's article says earlier that blackjack is an eample of a game that inherently has 50/50 odds for 'the House' to win, but that casinos do all kinds of things which tip the odds slightly but sufficiently in their favour. ("They know that if you play long enough, statistics eventually kick in and they will take all of your money. ...[So] They champion the big gamblers, encourage you to make big bets, and tell you that having some fun is worth it. You always want to say “one more hand” and they’re willing to accommodate it")

What about Gandalf - does he make shrewd and quite ruthless bets on things that are less unlikely than they appear (especially if you have correctly understood what is 'meant' to happen)?

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


Darkstone
Immortal


Feb 15 2017, 5:49pm

Post #25 of 44 (2683 views)
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Counting cards [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf has been around quite a while so he knows which card is most likely to come up next.

Plus I think he has the benefit of an occasional peek at the future due to hearing echoes of the Music of the Ainur.

******************************************
“Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!"
"Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."
"Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may."
"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
"But no living man am I! I am Eowyn, daughter of Theodwyn!”
"Er, really? My mother's name was Theodwyn, too!"
"No way!"
"Way!"
"Wow! Let's stop fighting and be best friends!"
"Cool!!"

-Zack Snyder's The Return of the King

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