Sunday, August 24, 2014

You Can’t Take the Eagles to Mordor — Part 2

No, I'm not drawing runes on it.
I was thinking further about the suggestion that Gandalf meant the Fellowship to fly to Mordor (which makes no sense, since if they were going to do that, why not have the eagles pick them up in Rivendell?). What would be the reason to tell everyone that you were going to walk all the way to Mordor, if you meant to get carried by the eagles at some point? And if you had to travel to a certain place from which to fly the eagles, well, then it would be like taking a airplane.

That’s when I realized that for considerations of space, Tolkien left out the pre-boarding announcement that Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Dwarves received before getting on the eagles in The Hobbit. Fortunately, a scrap of parchment with the faint remains of runic characters was separately discovered. Scholars have determined that these were ancient eagle runes, written with an ink derived from the blood of shrews, voles, and mice.

These pre-boarding instructions make clear why Gandalf did not intend for the Fellowship to fly into Mordor.
Welcome to Eagle Air, serving all of Middle Earth, except Mordor.

As part of our pre-boarding procedures, we’d like to remind all passengers, that while a variety of weapons, including swords, daggers, and axes, whether made of iron or mithril, and including all enchanted weaponry, are permitted on this flight, the transportation of Ultimate Rings of Power is prohibited under applicable regulations.

Passengers are advised that failure to comply with regulations can result in fines, imprisonment, and/or being eaten.

We thank you for flying Eagle Air.
Of course, if they had flown over Sauron’s incredibly well-protected stronghold, directly under the Eye of Sauron (which means it would be certain that he’d figure out what you were up to), they would have had to drop the ring from an eagle into Mount Doom. Seriously. You’d get one shot, and if you missed, Sauron gets the ring.

Further, the book makes it clear that it's very very difficult to just toss the ring away. Not to go all spoilerly here, but The Lord of the Rings makes it clear that it would take a supreme effort to do that. During the existence of the One Ring, that happens exactly zero times.

If you saw a similar sequence in an action film (fly a small helicopter over a volcano in order to drop a ring into it), you'd only be satisfied if the sequence went wrong, depositing the ring on the rim of volcano, meaning the hero wasn't going to get to take the easy way out.

[Final note: Every time I think about "taking the Eagles to Mordor," I cannot help but think about the rock group known for "Hotel California," and other iconic 70s rock songs.]

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