The Lord of the Rings Eagle Theory: FLY, YOU FOOLS!

With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard’s knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. ‘Fly, you fools!’ he cried, and was gone.    

The Lord of the Rings / The Fellowship of the Ring / The Bridge of Khazad-Dum
This is the theory, the ultimate, alternative The Lord of the Rings theory. It makes much of an alleged plot loophole. Consider it closely, dear bookworms. I won’t vouch for it, nor discard it, but present the case to you.  
The Lord of the Rings eagle theory has been around in various forms on the Internet for some time now. There seems to be no one person who can be solely credited to it. There are various long winding scrapes of it, posed by different readers. 
Fly, you fools!  
The whole crux of it lies in the opening extract of this blog post. Three words uttered by Gandalf, his last words as he believes them to be – Fly, you fools!

As the theory, credited to one VulcanDeathGrip goes, it all began in the opening pages of The Fellowship of the Ring.

Gandalf rides to Isengard to meet Saruman, having entrusted Frodo the ring. Unfortunately for the grey wizard, Saruman has turned to Sauron’s side and imprisons the unrelenting grey wizard. It is then that Gandalf takes aid of his friends, the eagles to escape. This is where the theory wedges in: 

It is when the eagles bear him away from Saruman’s clutches, that Gandalf seriously considers the always evident possibility – that he will have to take the onus of destroying the ring.

Running out of time, perceiving the impossibility of Frodo’s mission, Gandalf seriously considers the use of eagles. What better than Frodo to ride with the eagles and drop the ring, airborne, into the volcano of Mount Doom? Yes, it is risky business, but there is an advantage to it. Sauron has not yet contended with the use of eagles. 

The eagles are elusive, aloof creatures, friends of no one but Gandalf. So before turning up at Rivendell, Gandalf meets the eagles at their lair (as marked in The Hobbit – Up north in the Misty Mountains) and discusses the ring dropping plan with them and the eagles consent to it. A secret pact is made between them, that NO ONE ELSE will know of the plan until the time of its execution.
Top secret  
Gandalf now arrives at Rivendell and agrees to the forming of the fellowship. He finds it most appropriate to keep the fellowship clueless of his plans and somehow lead them, slipping past Sauron’s ubiquitous spies to the eagle’s lair.

Finally there, Frodo and the company (as distractions, while Frodo drops the ring) would be carried out to Mordor in a swift surprise ambush. Gandalf now considers the best route to the eagle’s lair. This is his most intimidating hurdle. Just how inconspicuously can he get the fellowship through to his winged friends and then arrange a swift secret flight to Mordor? 

Gandalf thinks of the High Pass, the fastest route to the eagles, but he knows that Saruman would be keeping watch on this route. Infested as it was with orcs and goblins, it was the also the most dangerous route to take. Gandalf may have dared the route with Frodo and Sam for company as it had been originally planned. But loaded with additional company, it was too much of a risk to be seen.

The Redhorn Pass or the Northern Pass was Gandalf’s best bet and this is where he leads the company. But Saruman impedes their steady progress early with storms. Reluctant to take the Gap of Rohan, a route that will take them too far from the eagle’s lair and too close to Isengard, there is but no choice left but to go through the mines of Moria, despite its dangers.  

Out of time and options 
Thus cornered out of options and running out of time, Gandalf hopes to get the fellowship through Moria and then through the High Pass to the eagles.

He almost gets through, only to be taken by the Balrog. It is as he is desperately clinging to the cliff, Gandalf utters his well-chosen final words. He encodes his message cleverly, such that the nearby goblins and orcs do not figure its import. “Fly, you fools!” he says, and falls, hoping that any one of his companions figure out what he has implied.

But nobody comprehends the meaning of these final words and the fellowship is soon broken. 

Rebirth, amnesia  
Gandalf returns in The Two Towers as Gandalf the White. He has seen death and revival; he no longer remembers things, not even his name! So it is no wonder that he has forgotten the plan with the eagles.

Only when the ring is destroyed, and Frodo and Sam are in need of aid that Gandalf recalls the eagle plan. By that time, there is no need. 

Other factors  
  • The eagles could have been easily lured by the ring, so they are not solely entrusted to drop it. 
  • Gandalf has seen Bilbo’s extraordinary will in forsaking the ring, hence he trusts that Frodo will follow suit. 
  • Gandalf himself couldn’t destroy the ring, for he feared, rightly so, that the ring will wield a power far too great to imagine in his hands. 

Tolkien thought of umpteen things for The Lord of the Rings, so it is obvious he must have thought of the eagles.

As a counter to the theory, the eagles never cared for anyone but Gandalf who had discarded the airborne ring dropping idea long ago, considering that it was too obvious to guess for Sauron. In such desperate times, it was too much of a risk.   

(Article by Snehith Kumbla)

A gif image from the  Peter Jackson movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

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