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  1. #1
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    Gandalf vs. Saruman: no contest?

    So I'm reading through the trilogy again and I get to where Gandalf is recounting his capture by Saruman at Isengard during the Council of Elrond:

    'He was cold now and perilous. "Yes," he said. " I did not expect you to show wisdom, even in your own behalf; but I gave you the choice of aiding me willingly and saving yourself much trouble and pain. The third choice is to stay here until the end."
    "Until what end?"
    "Until you reveal to me where the One may be found. I may find means to persuade you. Or until it is found in your despite, and the Ruler has time to turn to lighter matters: to devise, say, a fitting reward for the hindrance and insolance of Gandalf the Grey."
    "That may not prove to be one of the lighter matters," said I. He laughed at me, for my words were empty, and he knew it.
    They took me and they sat me alone on the pnnacle of Orthanc, in the place where Saruman was accustomed to watch the stars.
    So was it just that easy? I know the wizard smackdown in the movie was well, the movie. But it seems Gandalf has been in some tight spots before, and managed to get out of them. I didn't expect him to go toe to toe with Saruman, but it seems that he could have tried to get away. Just seems like the situation with Frodo would at least encourage Gandalf to give it a shot.

    So what do y'all think? Maybe Gandalf has good reason not to attempt escape?
    Today is a good day for Pie.

    Do not meddle in the affairs of Burglars, for they are subtle and quick to shank you.

  2. #2
    I think the last line of the text you quoted holds the key, "They took me..."
    Gandalf was on Saruman's turf, and clearly outnumbered.
    They were probably about as powerful as each other (prior to Gandalf's resurrection, he was a clear winner afterwards). Both were mortal, in the sense that they could be killed by ordinary weapons, so if Gandalf was surrounded by servants of Saruman he would have no choice other than surrender.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfhelm View Post
    I think the last line of the text you quoted holds the key, "They took me..."
    Gandalf was on Saruman's turf, and clearly outnumbered.
    They were probably about as powerful as each other (prior to Gandalf's resurrection, he was a clear winner afterwards). Both were mortal, in the sense that they could be killed by ordinary weapons, so if Gandalf was surrounded by servants of Saruman he would have no choice other than surrender.
    Yeah that could be it. It just seems so...anti-climatic after all the other stuff he's done. Gandalf was outnumbered in Goblin Town when he went to rescue the dwarves, and like as not in Dol Goldur as well. I guess I just was a little disappointed that he did not mention putting up a fight.
    Today is a good day for Pie.

    Do not meddle in the affairs of Burglars, for they are subtle and quick to shank you.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfhelm View Post
    I think the last line of the text you quoted holds the key, "They took me..."
    Gandalf was on Saruman's turf, and clearly outnumbered.
    They were probably about as powerful as each other (prior to Gandalf's resurrection, he was a clear winner afterwards). Both were mortal, in the sense that they could be killed by ordinary weapons, so if Gandalf was surrounded by servants of Saruman he would have no choice other than surrender.
    Exactly, it is left to our, and to Jackson's imagination. hence the movie, but Gandalf had always been able to show a decent fight even outnumbered eg. goblin town with the fire killing the goblin king etc. I'm not sure a few orcs in the tower would be right but a multitude with exits barred might suffice, and especially if saruman could take his staff.

    It essentially happens however you wish it too, I thought the scene with the doors shutting on Gandalf was okay but only got silly when they started flinging one another around.

    Personally I've always blamed Acca.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfhelm View Post
    I think the last line of the text you quoted holds the key, "They took me..."
    Gandalf was on Saruman's turf, and clearly outnumbered.
    This is probably it, but it's not really made clear.

    Both were mortal, in the sense that they could be killed by ordinary weapons, so if Gandalf was surrounded by servants of Saruman he would have no choice other than surrender.
    No, they were not at all.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by WBS View Post
    No, they were not at all.
    Reckon what Wolfhelm was referring to is that while the Wizards' spirits were immortal, their physical bodies could be destroyed.
    Today is a good day for Pie.

    Do not meddle in the affairs of Burglars, for they are subtle and quick to shank you.

  7. #7
    Something that always struck me is that the Istari are told not to directly contest Sauron, power for power. So it's possible that the Istari specifically (and possibly the Maiar in general) were told not to engage in in-fighting/combat - probably because it lead to tainted and corrupted Maiar who eventually became adherents of Morgoth. So Gandalf may very well have been simply following the orders he received by greater powers by not contesting Saruman's power directly. Remember, at this point in time Saruman is already aligned with Sauron, so it could be interpreted that fighting Saruman was the same as fighting Sauron directly. Something that seems to support this idea is the fact that Gandalf at Isengard says something about having "broken Saruman's power" while not attempting to actually fight Saruman himself.

    Also, note that Gandalf only contests with Saruman after returning to Middle-earth from the Undying Lands. So he may well have gotten an exemption from the non-combat rule while there.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by WBS View Post
    .No, they were not at all.

    Perhaps you misunderstood me, I was talking of their "earthly" bodies, Gandalf was killed by Durin's Bane, while Saruman was killed by a dagger in the back.
    Both were Maiar of course, so their true essence was immortal, even though Saruman was seemingly rejected from entering the Undying Lands.
    My point was that Gandalf most likely surrendered to Saruman and his minions rather than be "killed", taking his chances that he may be able to contrive a more peaceful escape later on, something he ultimately managed to do.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfhelm View Post
    Perhaps you misunderstood me, I was talking of their "earthly" bodies, Gandalf was killed by Durin's Bane, while Saruman was killed by a dagger in the back.
    Both were Maiar of course, so their true essence was immortal, even though Saruman was seemingly rejected from entering the Undying Lands.
    My point was that Gandalf most likely surrendered to Saruman and his minions rather than be "killed", taking his chances that he may be able to contrive a more peaceful escape later on, something he ultimately managed to do.
    Gandalf's 'mortality' is discussed extensively by Tolkien in letter 156 where he makes it clear that Istari could be 'killed' and Gandalf did in fact 'die' and was sent back, not by the Valar, but by Illuvatar himself. The mission of the Istari as emissaries of the Valar is called by Tolkien a 'prudent plan' which 'failed'. Gandalf the White, however, was an intervention made possible by Illuvatar alone.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Ceredig View Post
    Gandalf's 'mortality' is discussed extensively by Tolkien in letter 156 where he makes it clear that Istari could be 'killed' and Gandalf did in fact 'die' and was sent back, not by the Valar, but by Illuvatar himself. The mission of the Istari as emissaries of the Valar is called by Tolkien a 'prudent plan' which 'failed'. Gandalf the White, however, was an intervention made possible by Illuvatar alone.
    Thanks for that Ceredig, I knew that Tolkien had explained the nature of the mortality of the Istari somewhere, either in the appendices or in one of his letters. The following is a direct quote from letter 156, and the part I particularly remembered reading.

    "By 'incarnate' I mean they were embodied in physical bodies capable of pain, and weariness, and of afflicting the spirit with physical fear, and of being 'killed', though supported by the angelic spirit they might endure long, and only show slowly the wearing of care and labour."

 

 

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