First, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone that answered my call to arms! (i.e. my plea for questions). You guys rock! And everyone keep in mind, we ALWAYS need questions. So keep them coming! This week we have a question from Grace that has plagued many a Geek for a long time:
Why couldn’t Frodo have flown with the eagles all the way into Mordor?
Many great stories have plot-holes. Even literary and cinematic geniuses mess up from time to time. Things slip their mind, and their editors fail them, and Geeks come along to nit-pick things. It’s what Geeks were designed for: obsessive analysis of everything. So approaching this question requires that we consider two different possibilities:
A) Tolkien missed something, and left a gaping hole in Lord of the Rings
B) Tolkien was smarter than you, and doesn’t care about your stupid plot-holes
As a huge Tolkien fan, it’s tempting for me to just tell all the Geeks out there to quit whining, because obviously a man that created such an amazingly detailed world and history, would not have missed such a simple plot-hole. But alas, is this really true? If he was aware of this what are some of the reasons he would have ignored it so thoroughly?
There are a slew of arguments out there about why the Eagles carrying Frodo would never have worked, and there are rebuttals to all of them. There exists a rather extensive article that goes through nearly every argument and responds to each of them fairly well: Could the eagles have flown Frodo into Mordor?
I’m not going to go through all of them, but I will try and provide a brief overview. Some of the most common arguments are:
A) The Eagles would have died by way of Nazgul or Orc
B) Sauron would have seen them coming
C) The Eagles were such huge douche-bags that they just straight up didn’t give a fuck.
As for A), sure the Eagles would have gotten into a scuffle or two at some point, but so did everyone involved in helping transport the ring, including poor defenseless Sam and Frodo. The Eagles could handle themselves, and if Tolkien wanted them to get into Mordor he could have had them fight their way in. He is an author, and as such, is capable of making shit up. It’s what author’s do. They decide what’s possible in their own Universe, not you.
If we consider B), Sauron may or may not have noticed the Eagles coming. There’s no reason to believe he definitely would have seen them. He missed plenty, like his own God-damned ring being carried to his doorstep. If he couldn’t spot that too easily, and he had no reason to look for the Eagles (especially if they chose the sneaky path), then we really can’t assume anything.
Lastly, we can just assume the Eagles were dick-holes. But really? Really? We’re led to believe they’re these wise and majestic beasts that are willing to save Bilbo in the Hobbit, and Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, not to mention fight for Middle-earth, AND finally save Frodo and Sam at the end, but they wouldn’t have carried Frodo into Mordor? This is probably the lamest argument I have ever heard. The Eagles frequently got involved in the events of Middle-earth, and always it was for the greater good. They were in to helping out. They were nice guys. They weren’t a bunch of Chaotic Neutral nut jobs that just decided all willy-nilly to help out or not.
I can’t imagine Gandalf showing up and saying, “Oi! Sauron’s fucking shit up! Help us out you great big dunderheads!” And the Eagles being all like, “Gee, yeah… Idunno, I just put on a kettle, and I was really looking forward to taking a nap. Let’s just see how things go.”
The problem was that no one asked them! The fact that this idea isn’t even discussed just makes it seem all the more obvious that Tolkien simply overlooked it. If Tolkien had wanted us to know this was NOT a possibility, he would have included some sort of discussion about it in the story.
While it saddens me, there really doesn’t seem to be any alternative, but to conclude that Tolkien missed it. My best guess is that while he was writing the Council of Elrond he was really drunk on some good English ale and feeling light-headed from too much pipeweed and C.S. Lewis showed up saying, “Hey! John! I just had this amazing idea! What if Jesus… okay, wait for it… what if Jesus, was a Lion?”
Then Tolkien probably started laughing, and was all like, “Clive buddy, that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.” And then Lewis was like, “Shut up you jackwad, as if it’s any dumber than some stupid midget Jesus saving the world from a giant floating eye! Who the hell would read that crap?”
Then they got into some fisticuffs and Tolkien completely forgot about the whole Eagle discussion he was going to add to the Council of Elrond.
The Dungeon Master
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