What Happened to the Blue Wizards in the Lord of the Rings?
The Five Istari (Wizards)
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Where have all the wizards gone?
Anyone who has seen the Peter Jackson films of The Lord of the Rings will be familiar with two of the five wizards that have taken up residence in Middle-earth: Gandalf the Grey (who later becomes Gandalf the White) and Saruman the White (who later becomes Saruman of the Many Colors). But unless the book that this trilogy is based on is read, you would not be aware that there are actually other wizards in Middle-earth.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, it is a chance encounter with Radagast the Brown that ensures that Gandalf makes a visit to Saruman. Radagast was a lover of animals, and spent most of his time with them; but what was also known to both Gandalf and Saruman was that Radagast was a very truthful individual, and he had a tendancey to believe the things that were told to him by his brethren. So, when Saruman told Radagast that he wished to speak with Gandalf, and made it seem as if it was very important that Gandalf make his way to Saruman for that talk, Radagast did not think that there was anything sinister about what was about to happen; and because he did not believe it, Gandalf was not suspicious when he went to see Saruman at Isengard. And it was because of this seemingly chance meeting between Gandalf and Radagast that Gandalf ended up being trapped inside of Isengard for a time (when his help was greatly needed by Frodo along the road).
But even those who are familiar with the book, may not be aware that there are actually two more wizards in the world. They are called the Blue Wizards, since they both wear sea-blue robes. In The Unfinished Tales, Tolkien called these two wizards Alatar and Pallando (with possible meanings of after-comer and far one). But in The Peoples of Middle-earth, their names may give away a bit more what they were sent to Middle-earth to do; within this book, they were referred to as Morinehtar (which meant "Darkness-slayer") and Rómestámo (which meant "East-helper").
What we do know about these two is that they were sent into the east, and they were meant to weaken the forces of Sauron. In this way, they were (just as the other three wizards) sent to Middle-earth as a strike force that would help the Free Peoples free themselves from the evil that Sauron was attempting to turn all of Middle-earth to. But whether they actually succeeded in this mission is not exactly clear. In one of his letters, Tolkien said about the Blue Wizards: "I think that they went as emissaries to distant regions, east and south, .... Missionaries to enemy occupied lands as it were. What success they had I do not know; but I fear that they failed, as Saruman did, though doubtless in different ways; and I suspect they were founders or beginners of secret cults and 'magic' traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron."
So, in their beginnings, could they have been assistance in the saving of the Free Peoples, only to turn around and perhaps become leaders for the Black Númenóreans? It is said that they were enamored of the dark arts, so could it be possible that the Blue Wizards helped them along their way with the use of black magic? Could they even have been instrumental in helping to make the Witch King of Angmar what he became? It is very possible that he was a Númenórean (or at least of Númenórean decent), and could have learned some of the things that he knew from them.
But it must be acknowledged that much like with the Entwives, Tolkien doesn't seem to have a very clear picture in his mind of what has happened to these characters. He has an idea of what may (or may not have happened to them), but there is more than enough room within that faint idea for speculation. Could it be possible that they were somehow killed during their attempt to fight Sauron? We have seen through the events of Moria during The Fellowship of the Ring that the bodies of the Wizards could be killed (while the death of their bodies would not have harmed the spirits that inhabited them, as the wizards began as spiritual beings in the first place) and that they would end up leaving the physical world (to presumably go back to Valinor). If this happened, if one or both of them were killed in their effort to fight Sauron, would they have chosen to come back to Middle-earth to continue the fight?
If so, if they were sent back in new bodies after apparent deaths, could that have been seen by those who lived in the eastern lands of Middle-earth as something other than what it was? Perhaps they did not understand what they were seeing, and thought that the only explanation that there was for such a thing was magic. In this way, maybe this is how they started the secret cults and magical traditions that Tolkien thought that they had started.
A fanfid involving scenes with Gandalf and Saruman
But even this doesn't explain what may have happened to them in the end. We know that Gandalf decided to return to his home in the West after the war was over; and we know that Saruman's spirit was separated from his body while in the Shire, and he was forced to roam the world forever after. It is not clear what happened to Radagast; we only know that when Gandalf went to look for him after the fight with Saruon, his home was empty. It could be that Radagast is still roaming around Middle-earth, helping the animals that he loved so much ... but who is to say that he did not make it onto one of the ships that made its way to Valinor?
The same could almost be said for the Blue Wizards; we know so little about what may, or may not have happened to them during their time in Middle-earth, could it be possible that they made it onto a ship that would have led them home to Valinor? It seems to be implied that anyone who has space on one of these ships would be known to those who are sailing the ships, so that the wrong people will not make it into places where they are not supposed to be; but is it possible that the Blue Wizards had changed so much that they were not immediately recognized by those who were on the ships?
It would create a much nicer end to their tale if they both were able to somehow make it back home to Valinor (and were met by Gandalf and Radagast), instead of that they are forever wandering in the east, without any hope of making it home.
Further reading ...
- Which Towers Was the Title of "The Two Towers" in Reference To?
Could one of the towers actually be in Valinor?
- Review of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey".
My thoughts on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
- Are the Entwives from The Lord of the Rings Really Dead?
Could the Entwives from The Lord of the Rings be alive somewhere in Middle-Earth? Is it possible that they are just in hiding, waiting for there to be peace before they reveal themselves?
- Misconceptions About The Lord of the Rings.
In which I look at a few of the misconceptions that have surrounded The Lord of the Rings.
- Were the Wizards of Middle-Earth a Good Investment?
Did the five wizards that were sent to Middle-Earth to help the Free Peoples defeat Saruman really effective? Did they do more harm than they did good?
- Gandalf And Saruman - The Tale Of Tolkien's Two White Wizards.
Check out this great Hub by Wesman Todd Shaw, about Gandalf and Saruman (the two White Wizards).