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  1. #1
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    The Rangers and the Shire

    Hey all. I was finishing up the "In Their Absence" quest line, and this popped in my head. The quest chain title refers to the absence of the Rangers after they move South to meet Aragorn, and all the troubles begin in the Shire, which succumbs to evil once they are no longer protecting the bounds. My question is this: Why exactly do they protect the Shire? I understand that they could be seen as protecting all of the lands, but it seems like special mention is made of the Shire, and especially so that they keep watch while generally not making themselves known. Why? What makes it special?
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aggie08 View Post
    Hey all. I was finishing up the "In Their Absence" quest line, and this popped in my head. The quest chain title refers to the absence of the Rangers after they move South to meet Aragorn, and all the troubles begin in the Shire, which succumbs to evil once they are no longer protecting the bounds. My question is this: Why exactly do they protect the Shire? I understand that they could be seen as protecting all of the lands, but it seems like special mention is made of the Shire, and especially so that they keep watch while generally not making themselves known. Why? What makes it special?
    It used to be part of the Dunedain kingdom of Arnor, and the Rangers felt a duty of care towards those who had once been their people's subjects. The same went for the Bree-land, it wasn't only the Shire that was protected by the Rangers. As for the secrecy, well, there were always Sauron's spies to worry about, so the Rangers' activities had to be kept on a need-to-know basis. They acted like Special Forces would, carrying out their missions in secret.

  3. #3
    They are protecting the Shire because that's where the One Ring is before Frodo heads to Rivendell. Gandalf was worried about the threat from both Sauron and Saruman.
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  4. #4
    What Radhruin say's is absolutely true, but what is also worth noting is that the watch on the Shire was greatly increased after Bilbo returned from his travels, at Gandalf's insistence. Gandalf suspected all along that there was something special about Bilbo's ring, and increasingly he began to suspect it may in fact be the One ring. After Bilbo leaves the Shire the guard on the Shire is doubled, by then Gandalf is almost certain that his suspicions are true, but he himself is too busy at this time trying to locate Gollum.

  5. #5
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    While it is true that Gandalf suspected that "Bilbo's funny little ring" was a ring of power and though he hid much of his thought from Saruman, wisely as it turned out, though the oher keepers of the Three, Galadriel and Elrond and probably Cirdan were privy to his counsel on the matter and would counsel a heightened watch on the Shire. I think it is worth considering that like Gandalf those other of "The Wise" would see an intrinsic value in the carefree innocence of the simple folk of both the Shire and the Breelands and would therfore be worthy of protection regardless of other considerations. I certainly can't cite chapters but I believe the Professor T. at least implied as much even if he did not write it outright.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feleg View Post
    Gandalf was worried about the threat from both Sauron and Saruman.
    Sorry, but where did you get that idea from? Gandalf didn't even know Saruman had betrayed them until he was held captive at Isengard. It was only Sauron & Co. he was worried about until then.

  7. #7
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    As far as I am aware - though this requires knowledge of posthumously published, and therefore probably not canon information - as soon as Gandalf saw the Ring, he knew (from its effects) that is was a Great Ring of Power: That is, one of the twenty. Why he did not act right away then? Probably because the Professor writing the Hobbit did not know. In-universe probably because it was "known" that the One Ring had been lost - most likely permanently - into the Anduin, which then must have washed the Ring to the Great Sea. Except that things didn't go that way. However, even if Bilbo's ring was "only" one of the missing Rings (most likely, a Dwarf-ring) then it was still worth to protect. (The problem is, as far as it was "known", all the Great Rings except the One had stones on them, so it really could not have been one of the "Dwarven" rings.)

    It is also strongly hinted that there were more Hobbits than just Bilbo - though admitted, it was still very rare - to go meet Elves and know Gandalf and have adventure (though most never returned to the Shire). So Hobbits might be also useful for whatever reason Gandalf had use for them. And of course, the Dúnedain keeping an eye on their former lands could be theorized also as an act of maintaining the legitimacy of their claim of ruling Arthedain (or even the entirety of Arnor, though most of Cardolan and Rhudaur was deserted). Michael Martinez has an essay on the topic, found at http://middle-earth.xenite.org/2012/...rs-and-things/

  8. #8
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    Were there rings of power which were not accounted for? I'd think the only possible candidates would be the Dwarf rings. Would they make one invisible?

    My impression was always that there are other rings and magical (for lack of a better term) items, that such things were more common than we seem to think, but they did not happen to come into the story.

  9. #9
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    One stated reason given in the story for the Rangers' protection of The Shire is that it is an island of peace. Sauron would've loved to have a hobbit a miserable slave rather than free and happy. He probably would've had that attitude even if the Ring hadn't gone there; it just focused his attention more.
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  10. #10
    ‘But my home, such as I have, is in the North. For here the heirs of Valandil have ever dwelt in long line unbroken from father unto son for many generations. Our days have darkened, and we have dwindled; but ever the Sword has passed to a new keeper. And this I will say to you, Boromir, ere I end. Lonely men are we, Rangers of the wild, hunters—but hunters ever of the servants of the Enemy; for they are found in many places, not in Mordor only.

    ‘If Gondor, Boromir, has been a stalwart tower, we have played another part. Many evil things there are that your strong walls and bright swords do not stay. You know little of the lands beyond your bounds. Peace and freedom, do you say? The North would have known them little but for us. Fear would have destroyed them. But when dark things come from the houseless hills, or creep from the sunless woods, they fly from us. What roads would any dare to tread, what safety would there be in quiet lands, or in the homes of the simple men at night, if the Dunedain were asleep, or were all gone into the grave?

    ‘And yet less thanks have we than you. Travellers scowl at us, and countrymen give us scornful names. “Strider” I am to one fat man who lives within a day’s march of foes that would freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly. Yet we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear, simply they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so. That has been the task of my kindred, while the years have lengthened and the grass has grown.’ – Aragorn: The Council of Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring

    That should answer your questions about why the Rangers do what they do.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    Sorry, but where did you get that idea from? Gandalf didn't even know Saruman had betrayed them until he was held captive at Isengard. It was only Sauron & Co. he was worried about until then.
    It's been a few years since I read it, but in Unfinished Tales - The Hunt For The Ring. I thought that Gandalf knew that Saruman had taken an interest in the Shire without knowing he had turned to evil. The way I read it, he had some subconscious precognition.

    Gandalf knew of Sarumans visits to the Shire. "Nonetheless, he was not ill-pleased when the visits of Saruman ceased, doubting him already"

    But Gandalf laughed...'It is an art of the Little People away in the West : merry and worthy folk, though not of much account, perhaps, in your high policies.'
    Saruman was little appeased by this answer (for he hated mockery...)

    On the same page, Gandalf blows some significant smoke rings.

    It's quite an interesting read, and I must admit that is only my interpretation. The main danger was obviosuly Sauron.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feleg View Post
    It's been a few years since I read it, but in Unfinished Tales - The Hunt For The Ring. I thought that Gandalf knew that Saruman had taken an interest in the Shire without knowing he had turned to evil. The way I read it, he had some subconscious precognition.

    Gandalf knew of Sarumans visits to the Shire. "Nonetheless, he was not ill-pleased when the visits of Saruman ceased, doubting him already"

    But Gandalf laughed...'It is an art of the Little People away in the West : merry and worthy folk, though not of much account, perhaps, in your high policies.'
    Saruman was little appeased by this answer (for he hated mockery...)

    On the same page, Gandalf blows some significant smoke rings.

    It's quite an interesting read, and I must admit that is only my interpretation. The main danger was obviosuly Sauron.
    Yes, I know that passage but there's a bit of a difference between Saruman taking a slightly disturbing interest in the Shire (enough for Gandalf to doubt his purposes) and becoming a full-on threat, with his own army and so on and certainly not that he'd done the especially dark deed of interbreeding Men and Orcs, as that was full-on evil of the sort that Sauron would heartily approve of. Gandalf hadn't got the foggiest idea that might happen, or that Saruman might seize him and hold him captive.

    We have to take UT with a pinch of salt, too, because its contents are indeed 'unfinished' and in the case of The Hunt for the Ring, there's at least one case where it clashes with the published LOTR. (Specifically, in how many Ring-wraiths went off to the Shire after the Ring - in LOTR it was of course all of them, but in THftR it's not). Don't get me wrong, it's a more considered take on things than LOTR itself but still, you have to remember it's not finished work.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radhruin_EU View Post
    (Specifically, in how many Ring-wraiths went off to the Shire after the Ring - in LOTR it was of course all of them, but in THftR it's not)
    3018
    September
    23 Four Riders enter the Shire before dawn. The others pursue the Rangers eastward, and then return to watch the Greenway. A Black Rider comes to Hobbiton at nightfall. Frodo leaves Bag End. Gandalf having tamed Shadowfax rides from Rohan.

    (Appendix B, The Lord of the Rings)
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  14. #14

    Gandalf's suspicions

    All of the dates are from the LotR timeline, as given in tRotK, Appendix B.

    Guarding the Shire:

    It is, I believe, during The Council of Elrond, that Gandalf explains the path of his troubled reasoning concerning the identity of Bilbo's ring, suspicions that must have been formed during the Quest of Erebor, some seventy-seven years earlier.

    Gandalf was not the "Ring-expert" of the Council of the Wise (Saruman was), but he was sufficiently knowledgable to apprehend that Bilbo's ring had to be at least a "lesser" ring, if not, indeed, one of the Rings of Power: these "lesser" rings were the experimental prototypes that preceded the making of the "true" Rings of Power; because he could not possibly know everything about any/all of these lesser rings, Gandalf had been forced to concede that Bilbo's ring might be one of them (perhaps one of the last and, hence, most-powerful of the lesser rings, closest in nature to the true Rings of Power).

    If, however, Bilbo possessed one of the true Rings of Power ... At the Council of Elrond, Gandalf explores this possibility, explaining that, aside from the seven "Dwarf" rings, and the One Ring, the whereabouts of all of the Rings of Power are known.

    Therefore, Bilbo's ring is,

    1. One of the last, and greatest, of the lesser rings, or

    2. One of the surviving Seven "Dwarf" rings, or

    3. The One Ring of Sauron.

    Only the 1st possibility escapes incomprehensible peril, while the other two openly invite the full and unbridled wrath of Sauron; even possessing a lesser ring is not-much-less perilous, as Sauron would demand to confirm its "lesserness", and would still covet its possession in any event.

    I will remind everyone again that all of this reasoning would have occurred very shortly after Gandalf learned that Bilbo had "found" a "curious ring"; i.e. during the Quest of Erebor, T.A. 2941, 77 years before the flight of Frodo and the Council of Elrond.

    Gandalf met, and befriended Aragorn, in T.A. 2956: this is 5 years after Aragorn "came of age" (i.e. his inheritance, and the Legacy of the Dunedain, were revealed to him), so it is likely that Gandalf also knew this man's true identity at that time; it is also 3 years after the "last meeting" of the White Council. It can be inferred that Gandalf has acquired a new agenda of his own, and needs not only to solicit allies, but to solicit allies that are aptly placed, and sufficiently capable (but, to what end ... ?).

    In T.A. 3001, 17 years before the flight of Frodo and the Council of Elrond, Aragorn begins to hunt for Gollum, at Gandalf's urgent request. As of this time, it must be accepted that Aragorn is fully aware of all of Gandalf's fears.

    As has been told already, the northern Dunedain had been guarding Eriador against the legacy of Angmar for over 1000 years (Arthedain fell in T.A. 1974, Angmar in T.A. 1975). So, while it is not explicitly explained, it must be inferred that a "special" watch, particularly over the Shire, began no later than T.A. 3001-ish, and perhaps as early as T.A. 2956; however, the rank-and-file Rangers would not have been informed of the connection of this task to the existence of any ring.


    Saruman the Covetous

    In the Silmarillion, and in Unfinished Tales, it is revealled that Saruman used to be a Maia of Aule, as once was Sauron: the Maia of Aule seemed to be renowned for a fascination with crafted things, objects of power above all; they also seem to possess the greed, ambition, petulance and impertinence personified by their patron Vala. In short, Gandalf recognised Saruman as corruptible, and in exactly the same fashion as Sauron had been; moreover, he recognised this before the Istari even embarked upon their mission to Middle-Earth.

    At the Council of Elrond, Gandalf admitted that he did not share with the White Council, way back in T.A. 2941-2953, that he happened to be acquainted with a pleasant little hobbit bachelor who had "found" a most "curious" magic ring while on adventure through the Misty Mountains, nigh on the Gladden Fields; he explained that he had already begun to suspect that Saruman coveted the One, and was searching for it to claim it for himself.

    So, everything as above, but Rangers, please keep an eye out for Saruman, also.

    I hope I didn't leave anything out.

    HoG

  15. #15
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    The rangers ancient capital of the north was Annuminas so the remnants just hung around, killing baddies like they always did.
    In modern terms it would be like if the US declined into ruins and the remnants of the liberal party continued to live secret lives on the west coast, the Shire would be California and they would toil to protect the rights of the unknowing (and uncaring) endangered hoot owl.
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